Cassandra Moton – Children’s Programming Pastor
I’m sitting at the airport, patiently waiting for my husband to pick me up. He’s going to be at least another hour – so I’ll just sit here. I am tired from the longest flight I’ve ever taken, in desperate need of a shower and sleep. I’ve just landed from a ten day adventure in Israel/Palestine that has left its imprint on my heart forever.
I’ve met people who still live with the sounds and sights of the Holocaust deeply embedded in their hearts. The reality of what happened to their grandparents has not left them. The pictures and stories are unimaginable.
“Tell people to never forget this horror,” they say.
I’ve met people whose families have been torn apart by dividing a land, building walls of separation to keep “them” from “us”.
“Tell our history,” they say.
I’ve met an Israeli woman who chooses to live beside the Gaza wall. She raised her family and has grandchildren here where their lives are always in danger and the children have bomb shelters for school bus stops. Why? So she can reach out and help the two million Palestine people who are caged in on the other side of the wall.
“Tell people what you have seen,” she says.
I’ve talked to a woman in Gaza who dreams of going to the university she has been accepted to so she can study and be a great dentist. But she lives in the cage of the Gaza walls and cannot get permission to leave.
“Tell people we are here,” she says.
I’ve met an Israeli and a Palestinian who have both lost loved ones in the violence between their two people groups. But instead of walls of hatred, they are choosing to build bridges of love and support.
“Share our stories,” they ask.
I’ve walked the streets where roads are closed and villages are divided by checkpoints, military and snipers. The streets are caged in to keep the “Americans” safe. Children peer out of windows – but not allowed out on the street by military order. I look over and see the remnants of what was once a school … but is hollowed out by fear and war.
“Tell people what you see,” my heart screams.
I’ve met Palestinian families who live in refugee camps – the same camps their grandparents were forced into in 1948 … they have hope for a future where they are free of fear. Yet the playground is empty; too many children have been shot there. The nights are sleepless; ten children aged two and up were taken in the middle of the night at gunpoint by military just two weeks ago. Yet they dream. They dream their children do not have to raise their families here. They dream of a better tomorrow.
“Tell people what you see,” my soul aches.
I watched our guide break down and weep, thankful for us to come and hear both sides of the Israel/Palestine story.
There are two sides to every story.
My heart cries out peacemaking.
Often we are too busy in life to take the time to stop and listen to someone else’s story. We believe the story we’ve been taught. Sometimes it comes from our families, the media, social web sites or politics. But I’ve learned that is a one-sided point of view. And there is always another side. There is always a human being on the other side – a child of God created in His image. So do I choose to follow God and be a peacemaker. Will I truly walk in the path Jesus has set out for me? It’s easy to look at Israel/Palestine and scream out this is wrong.
My heart cries for peace.
As I sit here – in America, I realize the America I left isn’t even the America I came back to. I left for Israel before the election and came back post. We too are a nation divided. Ready to build walls and point the figure at everyone else. The “us” verses “them.” The “right” verses the “wrong.”
I am half Mexican/ half white; my husband is black; our children are mixed; and American is divided. But let’s not pretend, America was divided before the election, we just tried to ignore it, or maybe we were blinded to it. Our churches are also divided. Black Lives Matter, the LGBT community, Undocumented workers, Refugee’s, American Muslim’s, homeless …. Everyone has a story to tell. I need to stop and listen.
“God loves everyone,” my heart cries.
I am a follower of Jesus, but what have I been doing to help peace … in Israel/Palestine; in America; in our church?
As stated by one of my new found friends, “Beyond RIGHT and WRONG, there is a field. I will meet you there.”
Peacekeeping is now my heart.
Click here for the photo credit on this post
“Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they will be called the children of God” Matthew 5:9