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I recently wrote an article called, “I Love Terrorists” for restorationliving.com
Check it out! Pass it along to friends. Add some comments in the comments section on restorationliving.com
READ THE ARTICLE HERE
First of all, this is not THE book I am working on – that book is a memoir. THIS is a compilation of my academic writings about the Middle East. Check it out! And be sure to tell your friends too! Enjoy. Preview it HERE.
The book is approximately 140 pages long (depends on the device you read it on). Here’s the Table of Contents:
Table of Contents
Issues in the Modern Middle East: Questions and Answers
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)
Israel’s War of Independence
The Middle East in the Ottoman Empire
Snapshots of the Crusades: The Battle for the Holy Land
Afghanistan’s Taliban: A consideration of justice, injustice, & Christian response
Zionism: Zion is mmmmm . . . a lot of things
Jewish Thought and Practice: Rites Regarding Life and Death
A Look at Christianity among Arabs in Israel
The Islamic “Story of Jesus”
The book I am writing is coming along. I’m on page 173. Here’s an excerpt shorn from a trip to Turkey in 2003. Enjoy it and give me feedback in the comments section, please. : )
I actually snapped a shot of the women shopping, but felt badly later for perhaps making them feel exploited (one woman turned her head as I was covertly taking the picture). The last thing I wanted to do was to make the covered women feel objectified, as they already are in their culture, and often around the world – faceless, placeless, shadows and representations of the oppressive ways of Islam. That’s part of the deep, and evil, irony too. Women in Islam are often forced to cover themselves for the sake of “decency” and family honor so that they don’t cause men to lust after them, but this kind of “de-sexualization” often just makes the culture even more hyper-sexualized. It’s like if you had a zebra in your city and it was a really rare, priceless zebra and in order to keep people from staring at it or thinking about it, you build a strange cage around it, and then another, and then another, until your city was actually oriented around this enclosure to “protect” the zebra from onlookers. Pretty soon everyone is thinking about the zebra, imagining the zebra, trying to sneakily get a glimpse of the zebra, and “zebra” becomes the most googled word in the whole city. Everyone has ZEBRA on their minds. Making something “illegal” or “unseeable” never addresses the real issues, the heart issues.
This is part of what makes the gospel so REVOLUTIONARY – particularly in the Muslim World. The gospel is a law of grace.
“For sin shall not be your master,
because you are not under law,
but under grace.”
It’s a law of empowering people. It’s not about avoiding the wrong choice, but wanting the RIGHT ONE. It’s not about training people not to steal their neighbors potted plants; it’s about transforming the mind so there is no drive to steal potted plants. It’s about being so full of heaven, so full of LOVE, so full of the freedom Jesus purchased, that cheap thrills have no allure.
One day after carving a gentle stream of life through the masses in Fatih for a couple hours in 98 degrees Fahrenheit air, while wearing long sleeves and an ankle-length skirt, I was weary. I was sweaty. I walked to a park and plunked down on a bench. I said, “God, if you want me to talk to some people, just bring them to me.” Immediately, two women seated across the park from me rose and glided over, plopping down on my bench. “Hi. Do you want a snack?” the woman closest to me asked in accented, but smooth English. I was amazed! “Sure,” I replied, stretching my hand into the bag of chip-like snacks. She was wearing all black, but a headscarf, not a charshaf. And she spoke English! This was astounding! While a fair amount of young women in Istanbul spoke Basic English, it appeared that even the male shopkeepers in Fatih knew nothing beyond, “Hello.”
Her name was Doğannur. She was eighteen and she taught English and the Q’uran to young kids. And she was lovely. Her spirit was doe-eyed. And her eyes were heart-filled. We talked for about 30 minutes, until I had to catch the bus, and made plans to meet later in the week so she could show me around Fatih! Answered Prayer! My own friend and tour guide and IN – INto the culture, the shops, the mosque gardens. It was incredible. I won the lottery! And what spiritual mansions I would invest in with the winnings! Houses in heaven for people from Fatih!
Over the days I spent with Doğannur I learned a lot about Turkey, Muslim culture, and the dynamics of life as a Conservative Muslim woman. One day she took me to the lush gardens of the largest mosque in the neighborhood. The grounds of a neighborhood mosque are often community gathering places in the Muslim world – especially for women and children who typically lack public places to gather socially (restaurants, cafes, etc are usually men-exclusive). As we went to the gated gardens, I observed a certain irony – these women were literally hidden behind the mosque. From the mosque there was no indication of a garden, much less a garden speckled in over a hundred people! It was clandestine. Behind the mosque woman chattered in small groups, families picnicked on blankets, children ran and played. It was a very private public place.
And it was gorgeous. This particular garden overlooked the Bosphorous Strait and therefore a large chunk of the city of Istanbul. It was amazing. As we sat down on a low wall facing the water, I was in awe. I would not have found that place on my own. And it was one of the most beautiful, unique places in all of Istanbul. And there I was, probably the only non-Muslim in the place, but nonetheless on the inside track of the Muslim worldview – garnering wisdom and insight. God got me there. He got me into the inner courts of the Muslim community in Fatih and His Presence was wafting off of me.
As we sat there, in awe of the view, we chatted about life and the world. I loved talking to Doğannur. Her curiosity was intoxicating. Her openness was exhilarating. Her sensitive heart was inspiring. She reminded me of the little kids that approached Jesus: eyes full of wonder, hearts full of expectation – secretly knowing that He would accept them more than anyone else on earth. At one point, she grew silent, her black sky eyes dull, but then beginning to glimmer with the stars of a bold question: “Um, I need to ask you a question,” she said, not making eye contact and somewhat nervously folding her hands. She looked afraid of my answer. “Okay, go ahead,” I responded. “Do you believe Jesus is God?” Her body braced itself. I looked at her, night eyes waiting, “Yes, Doğannur. I do believe Jesus is God.” “Oh!” she cried out, as if hit in the gut, “But we don’t believe that! That’s shirk, the worst kind of sin!” “I know. I know what the Q’uran says about not giving God an equal,” and then I went on to explain the three-in-one reality of God and that Jesus is the Son of God. She was perplexed, but also very very attentive. I could tell she was suspicious that my words held truth. I could tell that her quiet listening and careful processing was a real moment of wrangling for her. She was looking an intense possibility in the face: Islam could be wrong. The premise of her culture could be erroneous. Love could be fully revealed in Jesus. And Jesus could be both God’s Son and God.
A part of my heart panged to see the tension in her. I longed with compassion for her to break through from Islam to a red hot romance with Jesus that would beyond doubt set her AND HER PEOPLE free!!!!!
Another part of my heart gave God a standing ovation for getting me into that garden and into that conversation.
The biggest part of my heart shouted, “Doğannur is about to become a Jesus-lover!!!!”
That moment, perched in Istanbul – one of the most historic and picturesque cities representing the bridge between east and west – will always be one of the most lynchpin moments of my life. The simple desire to walk and pray through a neighborhood led to a heart-to-heart with a woman perfectly positioned to set her people ablaze!!!!
After I returned to America, Doğannur and I wrote back and forth for about a year, but then mysteriously my letter came back with some kind of official “wrong address” note scrawled on it. And the email address she gave me didn’t work either.
One day I hope I will see her again – somehow, somewhere. She will be all smiles and in her own way she will say, “I know the Truth and the Truth set me free!” And I will jump and scream and hug her. And my heart will explode with the hope and fulfillment of heaven. We’ll sit and drink tea and she’ll gush about all Jesus has done in and through her life. She’ll tell me stories of whole households of Muslims following Jesus and I will weep for joy. She will tell me about the day her mom, dad, and siblings confessed belief in Jesus. My eyes will grow so wide in joy, my brain will be swallowed and all I will feel or say is praise to God! My voice will jump outside of time and join the multitude in heaven shouting, “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!” (Revelation 19:6)
While I was in Baghdad, Iraq in November 2011 there was a conference called, “Making the Impossible Possible.” I was given an invitation to attend, but our schedule did not permit. Regardless, the event was a milestone of HOPE for precious Iraq. There will be another TEDx event in Baghdad in 2012. I would LOVE to attend.
In the meantime, I think their videos and related videos provide a great view into the GOOD happening in Iraq. Please do not let your hearts be overwhelmed by what you hear in the news about Iraq. Dare to have outrageous HOPE for Iraq. Direct your thoughts and prayers toward optimistic growth in Iraq. The people of Iraq need your advocacy, not that you would write them off as hopeless, but rather champion them as HOPE-ful despite the look of things.
The TEDx Baghdad website
The new year has dawned. My return to Iraq is in a holding pattern: unknown and waiting. The gift of this time, the glory of this time, the guts of this time – this month, this season, this blink – includes finishing the book I am writing. I have written 150 pages thus far. I estimate over 100 to go. It’s quite an undertaking, but I am confident it will transform lives, and inspire people to do the “impossible”, live with outrageous hope, and love their neighborhoods to life. In honor of my first day of book writing in 2012, here are some excerpts. Enjoy, share with others, and let me know what you think.
The background on why I am writing a book:
Go ahead, make a cup of tea, light a candle, open a window for some fresh air, take a deep breath, and relax. All our lives are roads of joy and discovery, success and wonder. Come journey with me.
About my grandma and seeing the unseen:
About being delivered of ten years of chronic depression and suicidal thoughts:
About travel, wonder, and nations falling in love with Jesus:
About my first experience speaking in tongues:
About God speaking to my mom through the actress Cybill Shepherd:
About making a new friend in Bulgaria and running into him in Massachusetts months later:
About a Muslim friend in Turkey and courageous questions over the Bosphorus Strait:
About a community house and a mentally unstable refugee at Easter lunch:
About one particular impossibility-defying day living in Palestine:
Also, my book is available for pre-purchasing. In fact, I need to raise money to pre-purchase my own books from the publisher. Every $20 contribution you make reserves you a copy!
Check it out and spread the word!
Also, please “like” my author page:
I completed my last exam for my Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Cultures and Religions!
I did almost all the coursework at Jerusalem University College during the three years I lived in Israel. Then I left it untouched for two years as I attended Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California. Now, I’ve done the last requirements. Five years after beginning the degree, I am done. hahahahahaha. When the diploma finally arrives in the mail I’m going to massively celebrate.
This makes Master’s degree number three: one in Religion, one in Counseling, now this one.
Sometimes I think, “How did this happen? How did I get three Master’s degrees?” Then I remember the prophetic word I got when I was eighteen: “You will get countless degrees.” And I laugh. God saw it all coming. It’s all part of His magnificently gorgeous plan to bring me into my destiny and to transform the Middle East into a garden of His love.
He’s really smart. And He really is LOVE.
I adore Him: this Creator King, Father God, Leading Lover.
Be encouraged. If you have a vision that seems far off and it’s a promise of God, it WILL come to pass. All His promises will chase you as you chase Him. And often the promises chase you even when you don’t chase Him.
He’s faithful. I’m grateful.
As you ponder your own journey, as you meditate on His promises, as you dare to dream, I recommend the following song:
“Trust” by Kristene Mueller: http://www.box.net/shared/0eq76f8suu3gyi098lvj
Father God loves YOU more than you could ever understand. He is 100% good and 100% trustworthy. Let Him love you to life. Arise and SHINE. Dream bigger. Faith is often spelled “R I S K.” Step out, be courageous; the love that awaits you is worth more than anything. God wants to explode your life with joy, freedom, and hope. He wants you to flourish, thrive, and transform the world. He wants you to fulfill the destiny you are uniquely designed to fill.
“You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
<Thanks for lavishing me with Your pleasure, Father! Thanks for establishing me in You. Thanks for this degree. Thanks for making me a mountain that cannot be shaken. You are my great reward.>
(Here’s a lil’ photo album of some of our field trips while in Israel. Andrea and I spiced up our learning by acting out scenes connected to certain locations, or recruiting our friends to act them out. Enjoy: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.6708360079.15486.862340079&l=121efd75f6&type=1 )