We are coming to an end today of our week in Israel, and as usual it has been a wonderful, pognant, and painful experience. The plight of the Palestinian Christians is more evident every day. As most of you may know two weeks ago several innocent women and children were killed on a Gaza beach by the Israelis while these persons were minding their own business. And of course there are also various Palestinian women and children in jail here, simply because they are under suspicion and have no rights as citizens to fair treatment. They are not allowed to be citizens of Israel. My tour guide Mike, born and raised in Jerusalem, has lived under a Jordanian passport his whole life and he is nothing but a friend of Christians and leads tours of the Holy Land. He has a ministry of tourism. The pain he and his family experience from being separated from their friends by the wall put up around Bethelehem and the west bank is palpable, and it is unjust. The Palestinian Christians are being starved out of Bethelehem and they are moving to the U.S. in droves. Soon there will be few if any indigenous Christians in this land. And now of course Hamas has taken prisoner an Israeli soldier (not a civilian) in hopes of exchanging him for some of their family members. Israeli tanks are massing on the border of Gaza. We could degenerate into another stupid war in which all will lose and none will win.
I would ask you to pray for the peace of this place as the Psalmist urged us to do. It is what our Lord asked of us, for as he said "blessed are the peacemakers". We are off to Turkey this afternoon-- thanks be to God.