January 31, 2012
I lectured at the Bethlehem Bible College (BBC), founded by Bishara Awad, for the three years the Oslo Peace Process was getting underway (1993-1996). For my youth ministry courses, I required students to make several visits to the YMCA Rehabilitation Center in Beit Sahour, the village literally down the hill from Bethlehem (also the traditional site where angels told some shepherds about Jesus's birth). There, they spent time with Muslim young men who had been shot or tortured by the Israeli military.
January 26, 2012
We highly recommend this TED talk by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store. In it, he talks about the importance and positive impact of dialogue, even when the beliefs and values of both parties differ. Fantastic for peacemakers, and applicable to all kinds of relationships.
January 24, 2012
One of our favorite ethnic restaurants in the Phoenix area is a place called Jerusalem Foods, run by a Palestinian friend of ours. Peace Catalyst's Jim Mullins recently took our cameras on a tour of the place, so check out the video, and drop by the restaurant and enjoy it for yourself!
January 23, 2012
A favorite author of mine once mused, "I pictured semi-trailers on American interstates bearing slogans like 'There is No God But Allah and Mohammed is His Prophet' or a big blue Star of David with '˜That Jewish Carpenter Wasn't Our Messiah." This author was pointing out the double standard that seems to exist among Christians about the right to publicly proclaim one's faith tradition, rooted in the perception that Christianity is in danger of extinction in American society.
January 19, 2012
My friend, Pastor Jay Pathak was talking to the mayor of Arvada. Jay wanted to know his vision for the city. After sharing a number of things, the mayor confessed, "I guess I want people to be good neighbors." Jay assured the mayor that he could help with that one! Since then Jay has mobilized and worked with more than fifty other churches in Colorado to encourage their people to "rediscover the art of neighboring." They are taking the love commandment seriously by pursuing relationships with their neighbors.
January 16, 2012
The word carniceria can be found in shopping malls all over Phoenix. In Spanish, the word means "meat market." Most of these carnicierias are owned by entrepreneurs from a Latin American background. However, there is one not far from my house called Somali Carniceria. It's a fully functioning store that serves the East African community of East Phoenix. Instead of buying a new sign, the owners adapted the sign that was left behind from a Latino butcher that had formerly rented the space, making a Hispanic-Somali monument to the layered diversity of Phoenix.
January 12, 2012
My friend Carl Medearis tells an enlightening story about teaching at a large church in Texas. He asked the group, "what is the gospel?" and then made a list of the students' answers on the chalkboard. They answered, "the free gift of God, freedom from sin, eternal life, grace, unconditional love, healing and deliverance, redemption, faith in God, new life." Next he asked the class if they missed anything. The class sat silent for a minute. Then a girl raised her hand and asked, "How come none of us mentioned Jesus?"
January 2, 2012
I read a book last week on mediation and laughed when the author (a lawyer who has mediated over 7000 cases) shared personally. She said that her 90 year old parents still mediate between her and her sisters! Wow, a trained lawyer and veteran mediator still needed the practical help of her parents to mediate conflict with her siblings. Mediation is a profoundly practical and important aspect of peacemaking.