Faith, Hope, and Love
March 2, 2003
Since then, the violence spiraled deeper and deeper, taking its toll on thousands of lives, limbs, homes, lands. But friends and family had mostly stopped asking us when we'd leave. We knew our way around, spoke passable Arabic, the locals knew us. We'd stuck around this long - there wasn't any use in trying to talk sense into us at this point.
But then there was the particularly deadly suicide bombing last Passover, linked to nearby Jenin. Our telephones were cut, our schools were closed, and tens of thousands of Israeli reservists were called up for military duty in the Territories. No one knew what would happen, but everyone knew it could be very bad. We were afraid for our safety and, without school or internet, we couldn't do much of our work. There was no need for persuasive emails; we made the very difficult decision to leave Zababdeh, fleeing across the border to the quiet safety of Nazareth.
We were only gone for a month, but many people back home assumed we'd
left for good. Perhaps it was our poor communication, but more likely
it was collective wishful thinking that we'd finally come to our senses.
Yet here we are.
We're still here because we believe. We came here out of a commitment
to serve the Church in the land of its birth, to be in solidarity with
our brothers and sisters in Christ. What our American government
says or does cannot change that calling, or pry us from this place.
Our presence here (in Zababdeh, Nazareth, Jerusalem, or elsewhere) is a
religious calling, not a political affiliation. The cross overshadows
the crown, not the other way around.
We are still here, because we love. We love the people of this region. From Baghdad to Beirut, we have visited them, eaten with them, laughed and cried with them, worshiped and prayed with them. Having done so, it's impossible for us to think of them as the enemy - or as candidates for collateral damage. Arab, Christian, Muslim, Jew, they have become our brothers and sisters, fellow children of God trying to carve out life in a region of imported death. For their sake, for our sake, and for God's sake, we continue to do what we can to bring peace here. Those of you sending us emails and making phone calls, before you ask us to come home again, we ask the same of you, to do everything in your power to stop this disastrous war.
So we're still here because we're still called to work and minister
here. But don't worry; we're not seeking our own martyrdom.
But we haven't bought those plane tickets yet.