By Rev Rich Leatherberry
“Tell them we are not terrorists”, she says in response to our question; “What would you say to our congregations?” She is 17, a Christian, in her senior year of high school and hoping to attend college next year. She is bright, well spoken and looks like any other 17 year old here in Bellevue with one big exception. She is Palestinian and lives with an international stereotype which, like the 26 foot wall that separates her from the rest of the world, prevents us from ever knowing who she really is. All her dreams, hopes and aspirations will remain hidden behind the wall and obscured by the stereotype assigned to her for the rest of her life. Because of the economic insecurity created by life behind the wall, she will graduate from college but will live most of her adult life unemployed and poor. Unless something changes.
“Hope” is a 4-week class I am teaching in May. The class will provide an overview of what is going on in Israel/Palestine; examine the varying perspectives and biases which influence the way we interpret current events there; look at the Bible and what it has to say about what God might want for Israel/Palestine; and how we can bring change.
Personally, my experience with Israel/Palestine has caused me to examine my own faith walk with Jesus. It has questioned how I view the world as a follower of Jesus and what I allow to influence my worldview. It has questioned my own sense of calling and how God might want to use me each day. It has questioned the way I interpret the Bible and how I allow it to speak into my life today. The truth is that Israel/Palestine is making me a different follower of Jesus.
My hope for you who take this class is that Israel/Palestine will be an outward journey of discovery, discussion and decision around what is happening and the people who live there. I also hope this class will launch you on an inward journey to examine your own faith and help you become a different follower of Jesus.