This Spring, Joel was invited to attend the Global Youth Ministry Summit sponsored by Nazarene Youth International. The summit gave leaders from around the world an opportunity to not only visit the Holy Land but also opportunities to interact with Believers from the Middle East. Interacting with leaders from Jordan, Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Territory, South Africa, Guatemala, Ireland, Germany, Argentina, and the USA - issues relating to emerging leaders and youth ministry to the global dynamics of middle-eastern politics were shared formally and informally. What follows are a few comments from Joel's personal journaling:
The short journey from the Jewish Western (Wailing) Wall to Islam’s Dome of the Rock doesn’t give a person nearly enough time to process internally the dynamics of being in a city where three major religions collide with…rather, repel each other. Even as I attempted to soak in as much as I possibly could during my recent participation with Nazarene Youth International’s Global Youth Ministry Summit in Jordan and Israel—all of the phenomenally overwhelming details of being in the land of the Bible; meeting some incredibly dynamic Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian Christian leaders; and trying to sort out all of the lies and truths of the constant political struggle that takes place in that beautiful part of the world —- I couldn’t wrap my mind around all that I was experiencing.
Three things stand out in my mind as I process my 10 days in the middle-east. One, our church has a tremendous future as we consider what it means to reach the lost with the message of the Great Commission — the Believers in the middle-east have a clear vision for reaching their Jerusalem, Judea, and the ends of the earth — this gets me so excited! Two, while walls may have good intent at times—to protect, shelter, and shield...they also can serve as symbols of impenetrable bitterness. Walls, whether between Israel and the Palestinian territories or between El Paso and Juarez...tend to say, “Keep Out!” — this seems to contradict the message of grace. While the political discussions on this issue have tremendous legitimacy...and at the same time, fault, my mind keeps asking, “How do walls fit within Christ’s Kingdom?” Honestly, I’m still trying to sort all of that out...it’s a tough issue to deal with.
Thirdly, I am convinced that this is the greatest time in the life of Christianity to be in the “business” of reaching the world with the Good News. We are seeing missionaries being sent from many areas of the world — God is raising up willing servants at all stages of life throughout the world to take His message to those who are lost — what will your part be?