According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Raising Yeshua-Followers in the West Bank

Ariella, a Messianic Jew, raises four children amid violence in the Holy Land.

by Michelle Van Loon
June 15, 2011

“It’s ironic, but I feel that my kids are safer here than living in the U.S.,” said Ariella B. I met Ariella nearly two decades ago when we were attending the same Chicago-area congregation. Recently I had a chance to visit her on a recent trip to Israel. She is now a vivacious 40-something wife and mother of four elementary-aged children living in the West Bank.

“Safe” is probably not the word that comes to mind when most of us think about raising a family in a Jewish settlement on the far side of the Green Line. But Ariella insists that her family’s rhythms would be familiar to most American parents: school activities, piano lessons, chores and outings shape their day-to-day life.

“We don’t have too many fears of child abduction or mugging. There are the usual safety measures - areas you know to stay away from, and where pickpockets are in the Old City. But normally, kids stay out late here with no problem. Everyone here is required to serve in the army, so everyone knows how to take care.”

Ariella, who emigrated to Israel from the U.S. nearly 15 years ago, is a Messianic Jew. “Our town of about 40,000 is a short distance from Jerusalem. Most living here hold to some form of religious Zionism, otherwise they would not feel comfortable living here.

“When I was 13 and had my Bat Mitzvah - my coming of age ceremony - the Torah portion for that week was Ezekiel 36:24-39. This set of verses turned out to have incredible impact for me in my 20s as I came to faith in Yeshua (Jesus), and again a few years later when I became part of the community of returning exiles.” She married another Jewish believer she met after moving to Israel.

Though the number of believing Israelis is growing (current estimates place the Israeli Messianic population at around 10,000 out of a population of more than 7 million), Ariella and her family have long been accustomed to living as a sometimes-persecuted minority in the country. They attend a small Hebrew-language Messianic congregation, but have friends in many other congregations as well. This network of relationships provides support as they live their lives among those who don’t share their faith in the Messiah.

“We have a lot in common in terms of morals and lifestyle with our neighbors,” Ariella noted. “My husband and I believe God brought our family to this community. The move here was attractive as well because rents are sky-high in Jerusalem. We can afford to live here.”

There is a cost to that affordability: bars on every window of their one-story home, an armed security guard at the entrance to her community, and the gauntlet of checkpoints, concrete barriers, armed soldiers, and United Nations monitors, all ever-present reminders of the tensions that exist in her region of the world.
Two incidents of terrorism this spring struck especially close to home for Ariella’s family: the massacre of a five members of the Fogel family in Itamar, another West Bank community, and a bombing that killed a Christian Bible translator at a Jerusalem bus stop. The Fogel murders shook the entire country to the core. The funeral was broadcast live on Israeli television. Days later, the bus bombing triggered fears that a third intifada had begun.

Talking with her children about the danger in their world is a necessity, but Ariella’s approach is shaped by her faith as much as it is by the hard facts of life on the other side of the Green Line. “All Israeli kids are briefed not to touch or be around objects left alone without an owner, for instance. They know that terrorists don’t want us here. My family prays regularly for those who want to harm us. We pray for their salvation, that God will have mercy on them and stop them from doing evil.”

Ariella noted that prayer doesn’t automatically banish fear in her household, but she and her husband process scary issues as they arise in order to prepare their children to embrace their role in their culture. “They understand that here and being a believer means they won’t have an easy life. But I also want them to know that only God’s promises are our foundation for safety.”

Ariella believes she's responsible for modeling openness and fear-free engagement with both their Jewish neighbors and the Arab community. “God has given my husband and me opportunities in our daily lives to share God’s love with Arabs. I like it when the children are with me for these ‘divine encounters’ so they can witness them. Last week, I met a lady from Gaza who was in a hospital waiting room with me. In the course of our conversation, I shared my faith with her. She knew I was Jewish, but I explained my faith in Yeshua (Jesus) to her, and she let my 7-year-old daughter and me pray for her healing. My little girl has been praying for her since that encounter.”

Ariella and her husband are quick to counter any hatred the children may pick up from the polarized culture in which they live. “We don’t want the prejudices of others to be the foundation for our family’s responses,” she said. “The children know God’s heart to redeem, and that brings perspective.”

And according to Ariella, that healthy, hopeful perspective is a gift parents can give to their children, no matter what their zip code is.

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