Brutality surrounds missionaries
April 6, 2002
Surely anyone who pays attention to the situation between the Palestinians and Israelis sees the anguish on both sides.
It's all well and good to pontificate politically or religiously about the ancient roots of the conflict between the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishmael.
But such discussions do nothing to solve the intransigence with which both sides defend their claims to this tiny slice of land holy to three major religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The Israeli military action and occupation of the West Bank is a personal situation for Presbyterian missionaries Elizabeth and Marthame Sanders, who have managed to stay in touch with friends and family through e-mail.
They were living and teaching school in the Palestinian Christian village of Zababdeh.
"Around suppertime, after the mosque's loudspeaker announced the closure of schools, we discovered that telephone service had been cut outside of Zababdeh; we could call within the village, but nowhere else. The only link to the outside was cell phones. ...
"Late that night, the Israeli army began re-entering Jenin. The sounds of scores of tanks and shooting resonated across Zababdeh."
The missionaries decided they must leave, but it was with heavy hearts at leaving behind friends.
"We are terribly sad and worried about them," they said in their e-mail message.
Elizabeth's mother lives in Lubbock, and I'm sure she's been watching the news closely and with anxiety for their safety.
"We were chilled by the prospect that the horrifying scenes in Ramallah and Bethlehem might be repeated in villages throughout Palestine, including Zababdeh," they wrote.
"People trapped in their homes without enough food, water, medicine and fuel. People shot on sight for venturing out. Journalists expelled so the world can't see what's happening. Ambulances attacked and medical help denied. People buried in a mass grave in a parking lot. ... Executions. Our e-mail was overflowing with messages sharing the latest developments and desperately calling for intervention."
From the battlefield, the carnage is always up close and personal. Violence breeds violence.
The most urgent need, said the missionaries, is prayer for peace.
"The Israeli military is brutalizing whole cities, breaking international laws with impunity," they wrote. "Not only is it endangering thousands of people, it is robbing millions in Israel and Palestine of a future together, finishing off hopes for a peaceful settlement in which coexistence is still possible."
For more information about the Sanders' view of the war raging around them, visit them on the Internet.