Missionary Stories

Drawing on Faith

I was 13 when the Nakba began. Afterwards, some of the Palestinian Christians we knew were relocated by boat to the border of Lebanon. The churches looked after those of us who were internally displaced.

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You Shall Not Pass: Christians in Jerusalem During Holy Week

“Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the
 Lord,
   to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
   and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
   and the word of the
 Lord from Jerusalem.” Isaiah 2:3, NRSV

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Give Them What They Want

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42)

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Don't Kick a Man When He's Down!

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The First Demolition Site

Today was a beautiful, blue sky summer day. My teammates and I had just finished a meeting with one of the analysts at the UNOCHA offices in Ramallah about all the humanitarian issues that we track together. As we boarded the bus back to Jerusalem, I thought to myself: "Gee, we haven't been to any house demolitions lately, isn't that weird?"  Predictably, that's when our phones began flashing an emergency text: Ongoing demolition of a house and under-construction structure in Al 'Isawiya.

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An Algebra Lesson

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Freshly painted playground
at the Nabil Samwil School

Algebra”, he said “is really just about making something that is broken, whole again”. Asam, a middle-aged Palestinian math and science teacher, dipped his bagel in hummus and thought for a moment. “I used to teach high school, but it was a struggle. The problem is that these kids have grown up as second class citizens under occupation and they have no drive to do better, to learn, to succeed. I feel like when I am teaching the younger ones, that I have more of a chance to point them somewhere good. They haven’t yet lost hope.

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Reflections on a trip to Turkey May-June 2017

Turkey_-_Frank__Ken___Betty_pic1.jpgFive years after retiring to California from our appointed work in Turkey, we unexpectedly received an invitation to return. The Health and Education Foundation in Turkey asked us to join them on a weekend in May for the historical dedication of a new school campus (see photo). We had worked as colleagues with the Foundation for several years before our retirement, so we knew what this invitation meant, and we were honored to accept.

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The Call to Be Small

John 6:5-15

The following message was delivered at the Near East School of Theology's 85th Commencement on June 10, 2017

The church today, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, is living perplexing and challenging days. No matter what the sphere of human existence – science, culture, the family, religion, the arts, education, technology, politics, economics, and on, and on, and on… – the terrain around the church is shifting to the point of unrecognizability, making it difficult for Christians to find and keep their bearings. And one of the most basic challenges, and one that we often overlook because we rely so fully on it, is the propensity to quantify life – to render it in numerical terms. This has completely overtaken the church, individual Christians, and anyone who holds a smart phone or sits at a computer, such that we don’t realize how fully it has changed our perception of the church and our fellow humans. Look at the term we so blithely use to describe our age: the “digital” age. Digits. Numbers. Ones and zeroes. That’s all it is, you know. All the pictures in your photo album, all the messages you launch hither and yon, all the voices you hear on your phone, all the cat videos and breaking news reports you take in are just ones and zeroes. You and I have become virtual ones and zeroes in this brave, new world.

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For Living Water

Thirst. Have you ever been really thirsty? Have you been so thirsty you thought you would faint or die? Have you ever had really good clean water, water that is sweet to the taste? That not only quenches your thirst but fills you up?

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Fight for Life not Death

Lebanon_-_McGrail_Memorial_Day_2017.jpgDeuteronomy 30:19-20
Matthew 5: 1-12

In 1946 Sargent Paul McGrail landed on the Normandy Coast along with thousands of other American and allied soldiers. Not much is known about what he did during the war because he didn’t talk about it but he must have done something heroic because there was a bronze medal in his top drawer in a velvet box.

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Strain and Stress, Day by Day

Lebanon_-_Bakalians_-Iraqi_Armenian_Conference_IMG_4401_(2).jpegYesterday morning, after we told an acquaintance here that we had left the United States to live and work in Lebanon, he told us bluntly, “You made a big mistake. Are there no churches in America that you came here? This country will not straighten out. Not for a long time.” Later, at a community event we attended in the evening, we told another couple the exact same thing we had said in the morning. Their reaction was the direct opposite: “What? You moved to Beirut? This is wonderful news! You have put our minds at ease.”

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