Middle East Monday: Freedom for Palestine & Coldplay

There is much rumbling in the Middle East these days: the conflict in Israel and Palestine; and the rising of ISIS in Iraq are both horrible events that I soon hope and pray will end.

In the midst of such clamor, some are using their public roles to raise awareness. One such example is the band Coldplay. Check it out. 

Coldplay

Middle East Monday: How powerful is YOUR passport?

I lived in Israel and the Palestinian Territories for three years: 2006-2009. I knew there was a global inequity regarding the utility of certain passports. I knew mine was more of a door-opener than many. This reality was made painfully obvious by the restrictions placed upon the Palestinians I lived amongst. Most of them were unable to LEAVE the Palestinian Territories at all. They couldn’t go into Israel proper, they couldn’t get visas to other nations, and this greatly influenced their worldview, their concept of identity, and their sense of injustice.

Likewise, when I was in Baghdad in 2011, I talked with a number of people with a similar problem. However, for many of them, it was a matter of emigration. They wanted to leave Baghdad and they could not get a visa etc to do so. Thus, they were stuck in a war zone. That is absolutely awful. Can you imagine the sense of powerlessness, desperation, and hopelessness one might feel? Daily, friends and family are dying from acts of war and terrorism. You worry about your family, your kids’ safety, and your family’s income in the state of national instability. Not only that, you are exhausted from the daily journey of normal activities which could find you unwittingly at a bomb site, harmed or even dead. That is a very rough life.

Ironically, the following infographic doesn’t represent the Palestinian Territories! That is a further indicator of the lack of awareness about the issues therein.

So, wherever you are from, be thankful for the mobility you have – even if it is limited. Moreover, open your mind to have more compassion and understanding for those who are without some of the simple options you take for granted.

ALSO, what are you going to do with YOUR passport? It’s a key, you know. A key to new places, new spaces, new faces. It’s a courier train, taking your ideas from your norm to someone else’s norm. It’s a library that flies. It’s a thing of wonder, possibility, and beauty.

It’s a pass to other ports. Enjoy it. 🙂

 

Middle East Monday: Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube

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Me, Andrew, and Lina in Baghdad in 2011

 

Andrew White is a dear friend of mine. He is the person who invited me to go to Baghdad with him in 2011, and we went! We share a deep love for Iraq, the Middle East, hope for the nations, peacemaking, absurdity, and revolutionary risk-taking (otherwise known as “faith”).

If you would like to see him speak in person, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

 

Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube.

Middle East Mondays: Iraq’s Soul and “What We Left Behind”

roosevelt quote

 

Iraq had national elections last week. Prevailing through the pain of disillusionment, death, and destruction, people arose and shared their voices – putting votes of possibility into the collective POT-ential. This is crucial. In times of uncertainty, sharing one’s voice is key. Yet, it is not easy to do so in a nation belabored by official and unofficial war. Much is shifting since the end of the official war in Iraq in 2011 (the war ended the same month I returned to America from a visit to precious Baghdad).

If you’d like more perspective on Iraq these days, here’s a great article from The New Yorker.

What We Left Behind” by Dexter Filkins

As you consider the staid countenance of Prime Minister Maliki, send him some loving thoughts. Point your mind toward “What would it look like for Iraq to move past its conflict and flourish?” Imagine that world. Dream with Iraq and for Iraq.

If you want, pray that Maliki receives an infusion of courage today straight from the heart of God. Pray that he feels safe, peaceful, and appreciated. Pray that he comes to a full revelation of how loved he is by God. Pray that he arises as a model of courageous vulnerability in Iraq. In a schema of self-protection, mistrust, violence, threats, assassinations, and power-play after power-play, CREATIVITY and VULNERABILITY can bring healing. When people are scared, they hole up. They lash out. They use might to establish power, instead of leading through humility and love. Iraq is stuck in this cycle of fear. Yet, the nation can be un-stuck! We can collectively use our hope and resources to invest love in Iraq. Consider today how you can help Iraq, or your next door neighbor, experience more freedom from fear-cycles. Get on the hope-cycle.

 

vulnerability quote

 

Middle East Monday: Iraqi Elections

This Wednesday (April 30), Iraq will have national elections. These are the first elections post-war. Yet, Iraq is experiencing sectarian violence, lawlessness, and bombings at the highest levels in years. This week is a key opportunity for Iraq to move past fear, history, statistics, power-plays, and bad habits into HOPE.

It is an important time to pray for Iraq.

HERE is a great infographic to help you better understand the elections.

Fight Death in Iraq with HOPE for IRAQ

Youth in the emo-subculture in Iraq are being stoned to death for their creative self-expression which runs counter to the religious spirit of the so-called Moral Police and extreme Shia groups. This is horrifying and really grieves me. I feel like running to Baghdad and gathering all those youth and protecting them, then going to the murderers and having a real heart-to-heart until love breaks through. They must know the true LOVE of the Father.

This kind of killing is anti-joy, anti-innovation, and anti-art. It must be stopped.

For me, I am not in Baghdad now, but I am able to grow a HOPE movement for Iraq from here.

If you’d like to give an encouraging word or prayer for Iraq. Come to the HOPE IRAQ facebook page

If you’d like to be part of a real counter-terrorism movement and proclaim it, buy an “I ♥ Baghdad” shirt and wear it in confident expectation that IRAQ WILL SHINE. Love is the best counter-terrorism movement there is.

Read an article about these killings here.

In the midst of many voices talking about the Middle East. Choose to be a voice of hope.

I (heart) Baghdad - shirt