That’s what I was thinking last night as we crept down a steep row of uneven steps. A sharp drop-off on our right, a weakly affixed pipe on the left. Our only illumination coming from the flashlight app on our cell phones. (Obviously I have no picture to attest to this event.)
We were making our way to the home of a former Palestinian cultural minister. And what a spread! We were treated to smoked chicken, rice, yogurt, a thin broth soup followed by arabic coffee. We huddled in a large rectangle, asked a blessing from “The Great God who loved us all” and dug in.
It was the end of a rather astonishing day.
We had begun by worshipping Redeemer Lutheran in the Old City of Jerusalem. (A local minister explain the church relationships like this: No Methodists or Presbyterians here — come to find out there had been a ‘gentlemen’s agreement in the early 1900’s, the Anglicans & Lutherans “got” to establish churches in the middle east while the Methodists and Presbyterians had free reign in Africa)
From there we visited the town of Efrat – described by a resident as a “planned community” and by others as an “illegal settlement”. By any name, the community of Ardie Geldman is expanding…and expanding rapidly. There is increased demand for the
kind of high quality homes Efrat is building. Ardie (formerly of Chicago) testified to the industrious work that goes into creating new towns.
Yet a few hours later we experienced the kind of tension that this construction creates: we had planned on doing a short hike down to Solomon’s Pools (located on the other side of the hill from Efrat) when we came across a group of young teenage boys throwing rocks at some Israeli soldiers. In response the soldiers were shooting tear gas.
But the lesson of simmering tension was made clearly. As was the instruction that there aren’t easy answers here. There isn’t a holy “good guy” and demonic “bad guy”. There are all people who ultimately all want the same thing.
It’s clear that what we’re doing isn’t working. But what to do? Today we’ll see some who are trying to make a difference and how they are measuring success.