This post is part of a series on peacemakers I met in Israel/Palestine.I recently wrote about some observations I had after my second trip to Israel this year (see: What Israel Taught Me about America’s Election). I first went to Israel three years ago and documented at that time many of the Biblical sites I experienced on that trip (click here to read through my posts from 2013). Now my second time there, what stood out to me the most was some of the remarkable people I met who are giving their lives to building peace in the region. If you know much about the history of Israel, you know that Israel only became an official state in 1948. I wrote about the difference between Israelites and Israelis on a post on Central’s blog recently that briefly tackles this (see: Israelites or Israelis). Since that time the land has been deeply divided and fractured. My goal with this series of posts is to inspire us all to live as peacemakers as we are inspired by others who are doing it well. The first person I want to write about is someone who has actually become a friend of mine over the last few years. His name is Sami Awad, and he’s the Executive Director of Holy Land Trust. Sami is a PalestinianÂ but does not see the Jews or anyone else as his enemy. Instead, he works to rally both sides of the debate toward loving each other. Sami is one of the people who has deeply impacted my understanding of the Christian concept of nonviolence. Here’s a bit about him from his blog:
He was born December 4th 1971 in the US. His parents are both Palestinians; his father, Bishara Awad became a refugee at age nine after his father was killed in the 1948 war and the family was forced out of their home in what is now West Jerusalem. Samiâ€™s mother Salwa is from the Gaza Strip. At a young age Sami was influenced by the teaching of his uncle Mubarak Awad, the Palestinian activist who promoted nonviolent resistance to the occupation during the first Intifadah (popular uprising) and was arrested and deported for his peaceful / nonviolent activists by the Israeli government. Through working with Mubarak, Sami was introduced to great leaders and visionaries of the global nonviolence movement; from Jesus to Gandhi to King.Here are a few of the things Sami said while we were with him (or thoughts I had as I listened to him and tried to keep up):
- Jesus’ strategy for peace is simple: love your enemy.
- The real enemy is a narrative, not a person.
- Don’t let any narrative cause you to see a person as an enemy.
- Matthew 4:23 shows us the four ways Jesus carried out His ministry: walking, teaching, preaching, and healing.
- True freedom is when you are freed from the constraints of the past.
- It’s hard to see the humanity of your enemy.
- Our job is to make the Kingdom possible even when it looks impossible. And peace is always possible.
- Learn from the past, but allow the future to be independent of it.
- Transformation begins when you lose your fear of an enemy.
- Persecution is the real test of peacemaking.
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