Lia and I just returned from a life-transforming trip to Israel. In the coming days, I am going to do my best to share it with you.
I am daunted. The task will not be easy. For one, there is much to be said. For two, there is much I'm still absorbing. For three, there is a magnitude to this region that is better experienced than read. (Plus, the fear the Mossad could be eavesdropping and never let me return!)
Here, Lia and I stand on the precipice over the city of Nazareth (the same precipice the Nazarenes threatened to throw Jesus off!) with so much to see and so many things to discover. It is day one of our trip and already we are filled to overflow.
So come. Consider this an invitation. Join me as I share over the next couple weeks some observations on this beautiful, strange, complex, volatile, explosive, and remarkable confluence of cultures, religions, ethnicities and peoples.
Hunter Lambeth (along with is wife Lauri and daughter Haley) is the Young Life Area Director for the Middle East. We're on his committee (not sure how or why, but I'm not asking questions), which is the reason we were invited on the committee trip overseas to see what's going on. Here, Hunter (can you pick him out in the crowd? Lia's in the way back) prepares to speak to the ninth and tenth graders at Nazareth Baptist School (where he does Young Life).
He starts with a picture. What do you see? There are whispers. Points. Then, ahh's. Then, more ahh's as people begin to see that there are not one but two pictures, two faces - one old, one young. (Do you see them?) He transitions into the point that so often we can look at the same picture but see entirely different things. It's a great point -
- a point that hit home over and over again throughout the course of our visit.
A picture that for me would change day to day as I met people from every side of the issues and from every walk of life - the privileged to the oppressed - and I was forced to face my prejudices and racism - and discovered a new appreciation and love for the people who live here. Every single one.
|Young Life Club|
|Islam our van driver - takes me back to China with the peace sign|
|Nancy Keshian and girls at Young Life|
|House of Hope - Bethlehem|
|Osam and I - both dads.|
|Priest at the Church of the Nativity, checking how his stocks are doing|
|House of Hope - Lia and Ibrahim our tour guide|
|Gary and Cindy Bayer - the two most hospitable people on the planet|
|Lia gets yelled at by a nun for showing too much skin|
|Ari spends his Sabbath with me at the Western Wall|
|Yousef and Nisreen share our anniversary!|
|The best falafel in Jerusalem|
|My entry for next year's National Geographic amateur photo competition.|