I recently returned from the middle east.
My heart is so beautifully broken and full of love for a culture I knew little of.
America tells me that that region of the world is dangerous. Be careful it insists. The church tells me the ground is hard and the land is barren.
I’m ever so glad I went.
I saw a land ripe for harvest and a people hungry for the gospel. I met a generation eager for something different than the rules under which their families have lived for generations, a people hungry for a new freedom.
And I have never felt so safe…. truly.
I made friends that taught me about hospitality in the way they welcomed us, inviting us over, buying us coffee and lunch. We opened our lives to one another and learned lots about each other’s cultures, religions, priorities, hopes, and dreams. We are all so much alike.
And it was in talking with my friends, that my heart broke. I found myself overwhelmed by a love so deep yet so familiar–that same love I have for children with different abilities, the love I have for orphans, the love that comes from God, not man.
I found Christianity and Islam to be amazingly similar: the same stories of the prophets and many of the same truths. I encountered a people following their religion, living righteous lives. However, they do not believe that Jesus was the son of God or that He died on the cross. The one thing we don’t agree on is the one thing that matters.
Thus, I fell in love with a people as my heart broke for the freedom they do not know-not of their own fault but generations of religiosity without a Savior. As I would listen to my friends share their hearts, I only wished I could help them understand that the freedom they spoke of longing for is the freedom that comes in my friend Jesus.