by Susan Contakes
…learn to speak the language of love where the main language spoken is not Hebrew or Arabic, but hate…
These were words from Labib Madanat, head of the Palestinian Bible Society*, a man who lives in the midst of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He said, my enemy is my greatest opportunity.
Labib explained that those around him want many things, but as for him, Let me have Jesus. Labib is a man who showed me Jesus.
He is living free of fear even though his home is in an area where his colleague and friend was martyred, a man who was a husband and father like himself with a wife and small children.
His very first words were in loving remembrance and honor of his beloved wife far away.
He is a man who is part of a ministry who purchased washing machines for the hardworking and impoverished mothers “on the other side,” not because they hoped to change them to “their side” but simply because they were hard working and impoverished mothers who could truly be helped by having washing machines. He saw them, trapped in their situations, trying to care for their households, a husband, 10 or more children, parents and parents-in-law, trying to do the best that they can, day after day with little hope of change ahead.
He showed me Jesus.
He gave gifts with no strings attached and possibly with very little fanfare or even words.
a gift freely given
not indebting the receiver in any way
seeing those across the great divide as not so different than himself–
persons who are wanting to love and care for their household.
I heard a man who said, if you want to help this region, what is needed are examples of how to be leaders of integrity…
not teaching only
not funds alone
but real flesh and blood persons who can demonstrate responsibility, accountability, faithfulness, integrity,
the ability to make decisions and stand for what is needed while being free of self-interest, desire for gain,
not as a superficial cover for evangelism, but as a genuine desire to help and demonstrate Christ.
–A man who when asked how he would pray for the Church in the western world, said,
I am so hesitant to ever speak critically of the Church… She is so precious.
He encouraged us to not be paralyzed by fear of what others think of us.
I saw Jesus in this soft-spoken, quiet, deeply humble and thoughtful man.
I didn’t see a dynamic speaker; I saw true joy.
I didn’t hear shrill words and harsh rhetoric; I heard peace.
I didn’t hear plans and strategies and formulas; I saw prayer and trust.
I didn’t see grasping; I saw patience and hope.
He said, there is a creativity born of love that finds a way to love those whom it is impossible to love without God’s Spirit working in us.
For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. – Galatians 5:22-25 ESV
*SBCC has suppported the Palestinian Bible Society through our missions budget for many years.