Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Love - and Fear

On my very first Volunteer in Mission trip (Guatemala – 1998), several people asked why I was going.  I didn’t have a very good answer.  I just felt that I was being called – that this was something I needed to do!  While in Guatemala, our team leader, Larry Monk, gave a sermon in which he addressed that same question.  His answer – and one that I think could be adapted to mission activities across the globe was, “I came to say with my hands what I couldn’t put into words.”

As I tell people about my upcoming mission work in Palestine/Israel, I am often asked the same question – usually followed by some variation of, “Aren’t you worried about your safety?  Isn’t that a dangerous place to go?”  My answer to the first question is the same as it was 14 years ago – I’m going because I need to be there; this is the way I feel I can make a difference.  And I will be “speaking with my hands,” whether holding a pen, a camera or a Bible.
Israeli soldiers in Old City of Jerusalem

As for the second question, it honestly has not crossed my mind to be fearful.  Fear comes from facing the unknown – and nothing about where I am going or what I will be doing is “unknown” to me.  I have been in Palestine/Israel twice – three times if you count my “tourist trip” in the early 1990s.  I’ve been in the West Bank; I’ve met Palestinians and Israelis as individuals - and they are people just like me.  Perhaps they are a bit more fearful than I am – but I think that is because the “other” is an unknown to them - most have not had the opportunity to cross the barriers that divide them and learn to know each other as individuals.  I am also not fearful because I know that I will not be there alone.  Not only will I be supported by friends, family, EAPPI , and my church family, but I know that God will be with me every step of the way. 

Since I started writing this piece, fear has shown its face in places as far apart as a shopping mall in Oregon and a school in Connecticut.  Neither was a place that would have evoked any thought of fear – until last week, when the unspeakable came home.  It was a feeling we had after 9/11, a feeling that we thought we’d buried, until it happened again – and again!  And now the unknown lurks in the familiar – and maybe it helps us all to stop and remember.  We are all God’s children; we are bound in love – and should not be separated by fear.

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