Vicar Andrew White from the Iraqi church in Baghdad spoke at the Shabbat service I attended in Jerusalem today. It was an honor to meet such a man of faith and courage who has been a voice for persecuted peoples throughout the Middle East.
Vicar White reminded us not to assume that Christians who are being persecuted, live as refugees, or still haven’t seen healing must be in such circumstances because they are praying the wrong way or don’t believe quite the right thing. More likely, those Christians who are persevering in the face of adversity are closer to breakthrough and are walking in deeper intimacy with God than those living in ease and comfort.
“Don’t say to me ‘Take care!’ Because we must take RISK to see the Glory of God.” — Vicar Andrew White
So far, my time in Israel has been nothing but a blessing. I’ve been catching up with old friends in Jerusalem and getting to know others serving at the school. However, I’ve also visited the town in the West Bank where I’ll be staying and I didn’t see a Starbucks anywhere in sight.
All jokes aside, the dichotomy of lifestyle, freedoms and respect granted to peoples on different sides of the Wall are stark and saddening. Although I could easily focus on the challenges of adapting to a new culture and standard of living, I prefer to consider it an honor.
I am honored to be in Palestine
It is an honor to have the chance to pour into the lives of children who have boundaries placed around their future by human hands. It is an honor to be able to share Hope and spark a risk to dream of opportunity made possible through a limitless God.
It is an honor to come alongside those who are suffering and help ease their burden to some degree. There is a reward here that far outweighs the risks.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:2-3
Where to go from here
When we take risks by faith to stay or go where God leads, we are sure to face people who oppose us and earthly discomforts, but such things are not a deterrent when there is a reward ahead. Suffering with purpose can be endured quite joyfully actually.