do not let the rust of sorrow near you,
do not waste time in superficial company.
When you become satisfied with little
you will belittle the world.
Someone posed a question to me a few weeks back. I can’t remember the exact wording but it was along the line of, “do you ever get tired of the resistance you face?” The question surprised me since it was someone I didn’t think understood just how much resistance I do face. The answer was yes. Yes, I get really tired.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record, especially when I get back from the Middle East. I repeat the same themes over and over again. “Hey guys, Muslims are lovely people. Muslims are my friends. Muslims take care of me in the Middle East. Hating on Muslims isn’t the gospel. Hating on Muslims isn’t healthy. Islamophobia is really ugly and bad. Maybe you could engage Muslims. Find out what Islam is by asking a practicing Muslim. Learn from a Muslim. Muslims are human beings. How do you offer reconciliation? How do you deal with the darkness of your heart? Who do you exclude from the love of God? Jesus loves the Palestinians. Palestinian are refugees. What does justice look like for Palestinian refugees? As a Christian, how do you serve Muslims or Palestinians? How do you live out the gospel? Palestinians are human beings. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy.”
I could go on. And bet me that one of those themes is in every single blog post I have written over the past two and a half years. I feel like I am beating my head against the wall. Guys, can we please just love and respect each other and Muslims? Can we as Christians reflect the ways of Jesus to this world and give hope? Can it be that basic?
I try to remain as clear as I can and repeat the same message over and over again, because this is important to me. I’ve noticed over the years that the Pro-Muslim/Islamophobia camps or the pro-Palestinian/pro-Israel camps are often merely agendas. Not personal, these people groups become an agenda or an argument to be won. To be debated. To be fought over. But I rarely hear about the actual human beings that are the “agenda.” It seems that the loudest voices of those advocating or hating on are the only ones we hear. An innocent question, such as "why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism or ISIS" isn’t so innocent anymore. Their voices are out there; we just can’t hear them over our yelling. For example, Google “Muslims against ISIS” and see what you find.
So you see, serving Palestinian refugees and advocating for their basic human rights (without adding hate or venom in an already charged topic) isn’t an agenda for me. Well it kind of is, but it's far more than that. It’s what I’ve given my life for, it’s WHO I’ve given my life for. 12 years of my life. Yes, I do get tired and yes, I do want to give up - ALL the time! But since it is personal, and since I have Palestinian friends, and since I know their hopes and dreams and struggles and pain and hearts and lives, I wouldn’t be a very good friend if I did give up. I would be settling if I didn’t continue to do whatever I could to share their stories over and over again.
It brings me to the edge of my calling and the edge of my personal struggles. In many ways I feel like that’s where I live, on the edge. I’m in way over my head and many days I come to the end of my own skill set. Sometimes the battle is against myself. Does my personal struggle prohibit my work? Can I do it? How can I do it? Who the hell do I think I am anyway?
This documentary film project brings me to the edge of myself currently. At the same time, it brings me so much hope. The hope is in the Palestinians themselves. The hope is their story, seeing myself in them. Knowing that we are tied together as human beings and as neighbors.
Take a look at our trailer for the film that I am producing, This Is The Camp. These young men are so incredibly courageous to share their lives with the world. Hopefully we can filter through all the noise to listen and see them.
Story. It’s what brings us together.