Thursday, September 14, 2006

Greetings from the Beautiful Shores of Gaza

A few days ago, I received the following from an Egyptian-German friend living and working in Gaza. I hope his words touch you as they did me. P.L.

greetings from the beautiful shores of Gaza.

my times of isolation are not so much defined by a social isolation from others who know me, but rather by distance from people i can truly worship with. Some of the categories that are real in my mind mean little to others here. I seek to not only worship and pray as Jesus did but live a life that reflects his. I want to worship God, seek truth, serve the unserved and oppose the powers of deception, the powers of force. Jesus did all these things with a consuming humility to bring to light, to embody the kingdom of God. This is both the God i worship and the Jesus I seek to be.

at times it helps to understand this inner cry for companionship when I recognize the content of my differences with the community I live in. I realized this past week, as i was driving home in a rackety taxi from a volleyball game in Jabalya refugee camp and an afternoon visit with my atheist/agnostic professor friend, that very few people get to see what I see through the eyes of an outsider as I do. As warning messages are reported about the danger of foreigners in Gaza, I remain in part because I do not fear and I may just fit in enough. Along with this rare opportunity comes an isolation that shakes me. Trying to understand, to peer into a society that is unseen by so many, I also have become isolated from the outside world but unlike others around me, who belong here and are known by their own, I am isolated in the sense that I am so rarely understood by people whose exposure to the world has been so minimal. All this sounds elitist.

Gaza is a constant downward spiral, I will spare you the details this time. Suffice it to say I struggle at times knowing there is a kingdom of God made up of disciples that seek to walk the walk of Christ and yet a world such as this one still exists in this cage. i consider myself part of the cause of the hell of this place. i am not surrounded by lambs here, that only seek peace and love each other. I live in a community of broken and often selfish people, like any other place. Some who seek good and others who don't. I live among fishermen, resistance fighters, doctors, thieves and politicians. It is made up of exactly the kind of people that lived in the world that Jesus walked. What concerns me is how forgotten this place is. It is a sense you can get both in the church I attend here, forgotten by its fellow Christians, but much more so in the people all around, forgotten by their fellow humans. They are a marked people, their character has already been decided upon, accordingly, their fate has been determined.

Jesus never lived by pre-conceived notions, but acts rather naive at times towards the people he encounters. It is a trust he lived that knew no boundaries, even when he knew what human hearts were made of. Here I have been shocked by the hospitality and kindness from a people who have exceedingly little. And this has come predominantly from outside of the church. At times strangers, families in refugee camps, friends who live from aid agencies' distributions still invite me in for tea, juice or a meal. This is what Jesus came with, a drink, a meal. In the course of the love story we learn that the drink and meal was himself. and I learn that so much of my existence is about giving drinks and meals, work of my own hands, whether spiritual or physical there is little need to distinguish between these two synthetic spheres. It's the matter of giving that is at stake.

I choose to give rather than take, i find it hard.

1 comment:

Debra Norris said...

Wow, I read this with tears in my eyes. The author has certainly nailed my feelings about having lived in Gaza. Please be encouraged, though...the church is not forgotten. Many of us who served there before are always urging our american brothers and sisters to see with their hearts and to pray for our pal brothers and sisters - those within the church and those outside. Telling about the gracious nature of pals brings looks akin to be recognized as an alien - the outer space kind! But we keep doing it and we keep praying and we keep seeing the people of Gaza as Christ sees them. With eyes filled with tears and love. May God bless you as you walk with Him in that dark, closed part of the world.