Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Change in Blogs

Hi everyone,

I've split off into two other blogs now and want you to feel free to visit them as you wish. This blog will get the odd post once in a while, but it will mostly be related to my personal life and anything I choose to post here in that regard. You may only get a post or two a month so don't hold your breath.

The first blog I want to introduce you to is specifically for CrossRoads Church. I will be posting once a week to this blog and give you a little bit of church life behind the scenes that you might not otherwise get reading our Crossing magazine or the bulletin on a Sunday morning. Each time I create a blog I'm going to ask you a question that allows for you to interact with me and others that may read it. Some of these questions will be a great help to the leadership in planing the way forward for CrossRoads.

The second blog is an attempt to start a leadership blog for me to get my thoughts down on paper around some of the lessons I am learning and of course, looking forward to what lessons are coming around the corner for me and anyone else that might be reading. This too is probably a weekly blog and will end with some thought provoking question that you might want to engage. It's called Leadership in View.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Well I had a light hearted "funny-thing-happened-to-me-one-day" story and it got pulled by the legal department. :)

So perhaps something new tomorrow.

Blessings and peace!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Personal Boundaries

Okay, so this last question that I'm going to post on Lebanon might get me in trouble with some of you. So be it. We will all feel better tomorrow.

What were some of the things that stretched your boundaries?

First let me make clear that I believe that there is only one way to God, that being through Jesus Christ and His work on the cross and His resurrection. You can’t move me off of this position. (If I didn’t say all that then you wouldn’t have read past the next paragraph and I would lose you as a reader for good!).

Now having said that, I find it amazing how God leads people differently to that same knowledge and understanding, and He seems to do this through the culture in which you find yourself living within. Before this trip I would have not accepted the term “Muslim Believer”. Today I believe that God is bringing Muslims to himself and showing them the finished work of Christ, yet not asking them to give up their Muslim culture, just their Muslim beliefs.

It’s true, they are slowly giving up those rules and laws that have bound them for many generations, but the traditions and key cultural points remain very important to them. For most of these new believers, it’s still a very long road to move from rules and regulations to a practical view of grace and freedom in Christ. But it’s still happening. They will always respect the Koran but they have a new love of the Bible and the words of Christ and it’s changing them.

So I come home thinking how many times I was quick to judge the bartender that came to know Jesus that was still bartending, or the couple that came to Christ and still lives together, or the . . . . well, I’ll let you finish the line with your own judgments. The fact remains that the Holy Spirit changes us all into the likeness of Christ at each our own speed and not necessarily everyone at the speed that I think it should happen, or God forbid, we would all be in trouble.

For our Muslim brothers and sisters in Christ (did that hurt your head?!), they will always feel uncomfortable around “Christians” but very comfortable around “believers” no matter where you come from in this world. (The word “Christian” means something completely different to them than the word “believer”.)

Pray for them with me. Many are losing their lives for Christ, for they are not ashamed of this new Gospel that has completely set them free.

If you made it this far in this blog then I'm sure I just stretched your boundaries a bit. Smile, take two pills, read some scripture and call someone in the morning.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Likes and dislikes

What did you like the least about this trip?

Probably the food. There are a lot of breads but much the same kind, like large pita breads. Lots of variety but my system was just not use to it all. My plate at home has 3-4 items on it. Maybe 5. But never 20+. I didn’t think that I’m that fussy of an eater in general, but over the past 4 months I’ve been working real hard to bring my weight down under control. So I’ve been doing it by not eating the thing I enjoy. Desserts and various breads, quite a few less potatoes, etc. So it’s been very challenging but very rewarding at the same time. I had dropped my weight by around 25 pounds leading up to the trip to Lebanon. So while in Lebanon, I found myself eating things I was not crazy about and gaining weight the whole time. Frustrating!!!

So I leave for home thinking I’ve gained 5-10 pounds. I get on the scale the first morning back and found that I had lost 4 pounds while I was gone. I laughed at myself. I suppose a different diet just made me feel differently.

I wonder how many times my perception is off and I just don’t have a scale nearby to bring me down to earth and show me the realities of the situation.

Lord, you be my scale. Show me the realities from your Word that I can stand on and know that all is okay.

What did you like the most about this trip?

I’ve got three things that I think Iiked the most.

1. The team I got to serve with. No exception, they were all great and I'm glad I got to do this with them. Check them out here.

2. Thr cedars on the second last day. You can read about it here if you have'nt yet.

3. The Chidren I got to speak with and laugh with. I wrote about it here.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

God's heart, my heart

Couple more quesions:

What have you learned about God’s heart for the nations?

I believe that God has a lot of love and compassion for the nations. If I can say this - I had the overwhelming feeling that He was fully present there, in the middle of all the heated action, caring for those who were suffering and for those who were putting their lives on the line for Christ, but . . . not so much present back here in Red Deer. It’s like, where’s the action here? It’s boring. No bullets. No Bedouins. No deaths. So God doesn’t come by as often, but rather, He spends most of his time overseas where His people take bullets for him and people are in high physical and spiritual need. He has big dreams for those nations but for Canada? I doubt it. We don’t need anything.

Okay, that was a load of ….. I said all that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.

So really, here is what I have come to think.

I have become convinced that this same God that loves and engages fully with the nations abroad loves and engages the people of Canada and yes, that means here in Central Alberta too. Our broken world here in Red Deer hides the ugly stuff underground and the less-ugly stuff is just woven into our culture and made acceptable to the mass while it all still continues to break the heart of God. Our world here is in desperate need of a God of action. A God of love and compassion pouring Himself out of our nation through His people.

So I believe that If you and I would ask God for a greater understanding and likeness of His heart for our nation, then we would begin to see just how much action and suspense exists in our own back yard through our lives being spent for God, taking bullets (figuratively) for Jesus here in Central Alberta.

So while I saw His heart for the nations, I have a renewed sense of His heart for our nation and our people.

It’s time to join Him in the action already underway.

Was there anything that broke your heart during this trip?

You mean besides no Tim Horton’s?

I would say that I felt as though there was a blanket of spiritual darkness across the whole land. Everyone seems caught up in their own sense of justice, their own political soap box and religiosity. On the first day Matthieu and I went to find takeout lunch for everyone on the team and we were refused service because we were Christian and not Muslim. I got the impression that no one trusts anyone else. Suspicions run wild. The political corruption is rampant.

I met a fellow one day in a store that was very friendly, kind and helpful. We chatted for some time. He said Lebanese are like the fingers on your hand. In Canada we use the term “two faced” to describe a person that is not very authentic. This man described the people of Lebanon as a hand with 5 fingers. Every finger has a different size and shape. Not two faced but multi-faced. You never know what you have in front of you when you chat with someone. You are being categorized and the interaction calculated based on the assumptions made. (I speak in general terms. We met some really beauitiful people as well that are quite authentic.)

This created great sadness for me. Authenticity takes a back seat to respect. And to gain or maintain respect you put on the appropriate face or choose the right talk you need for the occasion.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Things I learned and didn't learn

Here are a couple more quesions that Anton threw our way.

What have you learned about yourself during this trip?

I’ve been asking myself this question for the past 5 days and have not come up with anything. I’ve learned a few things to add to my life, but nothing really new about myself.

(My wife is calling to me over my shoulder telling me she learned that she loves to flush toilet paper. In every corner of Lebanon there are garbage cans sitting right beside the toilets. You don’t flush any paper down the sewer; rather you just wipe and place your paper in the garbage. Someone will eventually remove it later in the day or week . . . or month. She quipped off a few other things she learned about herself but I’ll keep them to myself. Very funny stuff.)

Since the team didn’t know me that well, I’m sure they all learned a few things about me that they didn’t know before. I got the odd look that would suggest disbelieve in what they just heard or saw me do. D’oh!

We had fun together.

What have you learned about God during this trip?

God is a God of great love for his children. Particularly for me.

We are quick to “teach” and encourage others about the grace and love that God has for them but not often do we stop and reflect on his love for ourselves as an individual. When God comes up close and personal with His love, all of a sudden life get’s very real and we have a choice to make. We can see ourselves as unworthy scum and push God away, or we can relax and just let the love of God land on us and do its work in us.

After being very sick for the first trip to the cedars (check out the blog on this day), He provided a second opportunity to go to another part of Lebanon to see the cedars on our second last day of the trip (check out the blog after this day). I had completely come to terms with my disappointment the first time, and rested in the fact that I would never see the cedars on this trip and the likelihood of seeing them before the new earth was also slim. I knew that for some reason, God’s reason, this was the way it was to play out.

So when I heard a few days later that we were going to take some time at another cedar location, my heart was not elated, but cautiously optimistic. When it actually happened and I found myself in the middle of the forest I was overcome with the love that God has for me. That He would gift me with something that I thought he didn’t want me to have. He wanted me to see this forest and not the other. This forest blew me away. It was fragrant, it was beautiful, it was mysterious, it was magnificent, and it was a picture of great strength.

Thank you God for your love for me; that you would give this good gift to me is beyond what I am worthy of, but I receive it with great joy and I love it.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Material what!!??

A couple more questions asked ....
What did you learn about material possessions while on this trip?

The culture in Lebanon is quite different from our own, yet we were never really exposed to abject poverty. The country is filled with those that have and those that have not, perhaps more noticeable than here in Canada.

Some things they didn’t have were quite surprising because I would have thought that most people could have afforded some of the basic things yet still chose to do without. Why, well, because you could.

For example, I have a broom and a mop for cleaning my house. Our host home didn’t seem to have these items, and I’m thinking that it was not because they couldn’t afford it, they just never saw the necessity of it like we see here in Canada. So some things were less clean than a Canadian would want it to be, yet they were content. They found other ways to keep things presentable.

In the compound where we worked there was a noticeably shortage of tools to work with. Basic screw drivers, wrenches, pliers, hammer . . . completely non-existent. All that could be found was one flat headed screw driver and one oversized hammer that would not be used to hammer a nail. It was more like a small sledge hammer.

So I think some things are just not thought as being very necessary and not always because they couldn’t afford it. The one home we visited was spotless. I have no idea how they kept it that clean but I’m thinking that their creativity is far greater than ours to solve the same problems. We buy things for convenience. We even celebrate inventions that make life simpler. This type of thinking is not even on their radar. They find existing things to use in which to accomplish their objectives, and if no creative solution exists then perhaps it wasn’t that important after all.

(Lebanon has a 40% unemployment rate. Some of these people work, they just don’t report it to the government.)

Did you resolve to make any changes in your own life in this regard?

I can most certainly do a second take next time I “think” I need something. I usually run to the store for just the right tool to do the job at hand. I am good at spoiling myself.

I can use a little more creativity and probably solve my problem without the purchase. This is going to be a huge challenge for me because I love to go to Home Depot early on a Saturday morning and look at the tools. Many times I leave with something that I somehow justified in my mind. I don’t think I’ll do that anymore.

Feel free to join me.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Smells, sights, sounds and tastes +

Anton has asked us to work through some reflective questions after our two weeks in Lebanon. I'm going to post a few of the questions and my thoughts over the next few days. Here are the first couple of questions.

1. Take a moment to describe as many sites, smells, sounds, and tastes as you can from your trip.

Bullet holes everywhere. Buildings riddled with gunshot and others with gaping holes from bombs.

No wood construction. All brick and mortar. Rebar sticking out of everything. I hear you don’t have to pay land taxes if there is rebar sticking out waiting for an addition.

Hint of sewage smell everywhere. Garbage is prolific. No recycling here. Plastic bottles will degrade over time, I’m sure of it.

Honk Honk!. The sound of the road. No traffic signals, no lines, just horns. Used to let people know you are mad at them, or that you are coming along side and butting in, or if you want someone to watch out for you.

Lots of Roman ruins. Cool stuff. 2,000 year old structures.

Fruit! The valley is filled with all kinds of fruit and vegetable farms. Beautiful. Vineyards everywhere.

No houses! Everything is apartment based.

Huge billboards of faces. Faces of those assassinated and lost their lives for Lebanon. Many are Christian. Many say “We will never forget.”

Tastes are many. A Lebanese meal has multiple flavors and textures. Lots of yogurt and sour cream mixtures. They say “meat” lots! Whenever I asked what kind of “meat” they just stare at me with a blank look. I would say, “Beef, mutton, pork, dog or horse?” The blank looks never go away. They couldn’t figure out why it mattered.

Lots of parsley and garlic, not a lot of spices. Lots of goat cheeses to choose from. Some stronger than others. All good.

2. What did you find most shocking or surprising about Lebanon?

The political landscape is much more complex than I originally thought it would be. You are one of many sides. Every side has a color so every color has a meaning. Don’t put on the wrong colored t-shirt, or wear the wrong colored scarf. It’s a statement of who you are for, or who you are against.

There are political lines that are religious driven, but then there is also nationality and surrounding country factions. Are you Syrian? Are you Palestinian? Are you Bedouin? Are you Lebanese? Are you female or male? Are you registered with the government and have papers? Do you know anyone in power? Are you Muslim? And if so, are you Sunni, Shia or Druze? Are you Christian? And if so, are you Greek Orthodox? Greek Catholic? Armenian Orthodox? Armenian Catholic? Evangelical Believer? Each of these titles have further definitive sects. I’ve even heard the term Muslim Christian here.

There is a vast matrix of political, cultural, and religious diversity here and everyone seems to navigate it with great skill. They know who to shun, who to hate, who to tolerate, who to love by the look in their eye, the way they dress, the way they talk. A country of 5 million people, all living together in a form of chaotic rhythm and order.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Great people

I’m now at home on my couch typing this up. Seems like the past two weeks just flew by when I look at it from this side. I’ve got a few reflections that I am going to be working through over the next few days but first I want to tell you about these wonderful people that I was able serve with.

Albert: What a wonderful guy. Full of joy. Easy to make laugh, easy to be the cause of laughter. He worked real hard at a couple of key projects and did a wonderful job. But more than that, he made instant meaningful connections (relationships) with our host. He has this way about him that is both kind and gentle, yet he has the courage of a lion. Both Albert and Glen brought wisdom and insight to the men’s program.

Glen: I really like this guy. He is a steady rock. Deep thinker. Fun to hang out with. I know that he probably didn’t want to be painting for two weeks since that’s what he does at home, but he was the one key person that made our time productive on the painting front. Many worked hard, but he was most definitely our painting leader and our model. In a world where tools are scarce, he rose above all of them and showed us that we can do it, and do it well. Thanks Glen.

Rita: She is a such great person. She put the web site together for Bridges of Love and we hope to see it in production real soon. I saw the initial design and it looked great! It’s hard to say who was the hardest worker on the team. But wow, she worked hard. Every time I saw her she was carrying a broom, a paint brush, a paint roller, etc. Besides the work projects, she also helped Debra with the women’s program. I know she had an impact on the hearts of some of those women. She has a tender heart too like Albert. I like her.

Rebekka: So young and full of life! She was our youngest yet she fit in with the rest of us all very well. Picture with me a crazy mix of painting, cleaning, and women and men programs, with 15+ children running through everything all day long. Our first day was crazy until we asked Rebekka to invest some time with the children and keep them busy and out of our hair, but also build relationships with them. She did both very well. She was our blessing.

Debra: A woman of God. Wants to honor Him in all she does. And she did an amazing job with the women’s program. It takes a special kind of leader and facilitator to get people to share deeply. Someone who is able to help others feel save to share. That’s Debra. She also helped out in a lot painting. Always had paint on her! I got to paint a couple times with her and enjoyed our conversations.

Kurtis: A man who thinks deeply about the things of God. Kurtis was the brunt of a lot of kidding. He wears it well, but in reality, all of us greatly loved and respected this guy. I loved visiting with him, talking about life, parents, work, God, Bedouins, etc. He made me smile often. Not because of the kidding he took, but because whenever I thought of him, I was proud to be on a team with him. He’s a great person.

Kathleen: I might be a little bias on this one, so I’ll try and be fair. She is drop dead gorgeous! If I
can say that! I love her creativity. She did such a great job of putting the murals together. She had to juggle many women who wanted to partake in painting a part of the mural. So between teaching, directing, redirecting, and helping she never got to do much hands-on painting. Yet she produced something beautiful through so many hands. Good job! She also lead two major children programs with Kurtis and Rebekka and did a great job with all the children, who were totally nonstop hyper.

Anton: This guy held us all together. He knew when he needed to join with us in a task of painting a wall or cleaning. He authentically modeled the whole way through the two weeks what he expected of each of us. He was honest about his own thoughts during our debriefing times, he modeled for us the work ethics he asked of each of us, he prayed for us, he encouraged us when we needed encouraging. He was sensitive to our needs when we became stressed and responded with grace. He prepared us well for how flexible we needed to be throughout the two weeks. In a world where there were many expectations from many directions, that being our team, the school, the BOL Team and Matthieu, I felt as though he showed exceptional balance. Well done

I know that I could never do all these wonderful people justice by writing this, so please take everything I wrote and know that I short changed them on their greatness and servant-hood. If you see them this Sunday at church, be sure to bless them with a smile and a hug.


Monday, September 7, 2009

From one child to another - love and compassion

Before I left for Lebanon I had a young girl from our church ask if she could send some of her clothes to Lebanon for someone that could use them since she had out grown them. I said sure, I’ll take them and see what I could do.

On the last Friday we spent in the Bedouin village I asked Siham and the wife of our host if they knew of anyone in the village that would need these clothes, some sunglasses, an English bible, and a stuffed toy dog. It was easy for them to come up with family in need.

This family is without a father. He has been out of the picture for a little over a year. A single mom with 10 children of which there was more than one set of twins. Siham and our hostess brought two little girls from this family into the compound and into a room where I could visit with them a bit. I could see in their eyes and by their actions they were both shy and yet curious. No smiles. They were wearing some clothes that looked a little grubby. Siham later told me that their mom had dressed them in their best clothes before she sent them over to the compound.

We began to see what might fit each of the girls, one a little older than the other. It wasn’t until they received an article of clothing in their hands did we begin to see some smiles. A couple of articles were a little too small and our hostess told us that they had a little sister that could use the clothes that were too small. Then we gave the youngest one the toy dog and the sunglasses. She beamed from ear to ear. Neither of them spoke a word through this whole time. Siham spoke to them and asked them to share the dog and the glasses with each other. They were happy to do so.

We added to their gifts some pencil crayons for the older one, wax crayons for the younger, candy, scissors and glue and some paper for coloring.

I spoke to Matthieu later about this exchange and he filled me in on a little more about the family. A little over a year ago the father had become a new believer. Just two days after asking and receiving a bible from Matthieu he was shot to his death on is way in to town. Many here lose their lives here after confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Now our host, chief of this Bedouin tribe takes care of this family as best he can with the limited resources he has.

So from around the world a young girl at CrossRoads understood all on her own what it means to give life to another person in a foreign country. She has impacted three little girls, showing the love and compassion of Jesus in a very practical way. I’m sure there is also one more mother in Lebanon now that has received some encouragement and hope as she sees a little joy being inserted in the lives of her children.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Cedar of Lebanon, His Cedar.

Yesterday we finished up with tea and coffee with our wonderful hosts and exchanged some gifts. I was given some royal threads and made an honorary chief of a Bedouin tribe. The team pointed out to me that I didn’t have any people in my tribe but I told them I’m starting out with a cute blond with glasses. Today Matthieu told me that he has never seen them do that for anybody so he said we made a huge impact on them and they really appreciated our efforts. I asked why me and Matthieu just said they know who. . . ?

After that we took off up the mountain to see the cedars of Lebanon! The cedars we saw this day were much different that the ones that I missed seeing last week with the team. The team said these were far greater to see. Thanks Lord, for giving me this amazing opportunity.
The air was thick with mist swirling through the trees. It was an amazing sight. It was like someone started a huge mist machine for us on that mountain side and it created a sense of mystery and beauty.

Some of these great cedars are over 3000 years old. The tops on mature cedars break off and fall to the ground or just snap to the side and keep growing. Psalms 29:5 says that the voice of the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. It’s like the only way to get to a certain level of maturity, it takes something big to happen. A breaking, a moment of stress, but then after this moment the branches start to spread out in all directions and create a huge amount of shade for the forest. Psalms 80:10 talks about the shade that comes from mighty cedars. Hosea 14 talks about the shade that a person gives to many others when a repentant heart is healed, cared for and loved by God. I think the best verse is from Psalms 104:16 where the Psalmist states that god himself planted the cedar seed and watered it and cared for it through all times. Good and bad.

He breaks it in its time and it matures and never stops growing.

I hope I’m one of those to God. A cedar of Lebanon, His cedar. Worthy of being a part of His temple, producing a fragrance that glorifies Him and draws others to some shade.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hockey Night in Lebanon

(Best to read the blog on the team and then come back to this blog.)


So this family mentioned in the blog, ( yes, you must read the blog so go do it!) has a young boy that was wearing a Montreal Canadians shirt and shorts. Over the conversations that were taking place I caught his eye from across the room and pointed to my shirt and his shirt and smiled and attempted a weak gesture to see if he knew what that meant. He ran out the door. D’oh! I scared another one!

About 5 minutes later and a little more tea, I see the boy re-enter the house. This time I ask the interpreter to ask the boy if he knew what that name meant on his shirt. He started to head for the door again but this time all eyes and ears were centred on him and he had nowhere to go, his brothers and sisters had blocked the door.

So I asked him if he would like to know and if he did, then come and sit in front of me so I could tell him. He did. So for the next few minutes, all attention was on him and me as we spoke together through the interpreter. I asked his name. He gave it, I pronounced it wrong, he laughed, everyone laughed, I finally got it right. Then I started to explain ice, and skates, and a stick. The puck was hard to describe. So I went with a round ball, squished flat on opposite sides. Everyone laughed. I was serious! No one had a better way to explain it so I eventually won through the interpreter. So once I explained it in brief, I talked about it as a team game and there are 6 professional teams in Canada. (He knew we were from Canada.) I then told him about the Canadians, the Maple Leafs, the Senators. Then I said that the best team was the Flames. I got a few groans on that in the background. Then I talked about the Oilers and the background noise seams to improve. Sheesh! I forgot to check that factor before I signed up for this team!

So the conversation ended a short while after that. I’m thinking now that he probably wondering what we did with the puck, how big the ice surface was, what’s a professional team, and who the heck is Tim Horton.

After a visit outside, the man of the house startles us and invites us to a feast. He is willing to kill a lamb and prepare a large meal for us tonight. This is a great honor. The cost of a lamb for him would be very high. Their whole family may eat meat only once or twice a month. I’m not sure of the exact cost, but I’m reasonably sure that the cost of such meal for them would be greater than a month’s salary. It would significantly impact their yearly cash flow plan.

Would I give away a month’s salary to a stranger that knocked on my door and asked to visit me? I’m immediately put out if a couple of Mormons drop by. Or a couple of JWs. Do I show this kind of honor to those that cross my path? No. . . . Usually it’s an inconvenience to my current plans. Yet that’s all he was doing. Showing honor to me and my friends. Then one of his wives grabs Kathleen and wants to give her a dress. They are totally giving people, of possessions that I’m sure they cannot afford to part with. They are giving away out of their own needs supply.

When was the last time I gave out of my resources that were to meet my basic needs? . . . . Perhaps somewhere in the distant past, . . .maybe. I know that I regularly give my tithe and then sacrificed extra dollars over and above that tithe on a few occasions. But that’s not the same as taking a hit on the core resources that I`ve built up to meet my family`s basic needs in life. I’m not sure what that looks like for me.

I’ll have to do some serious thinking about that over the next few days.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bedouin Ways

(Yesterday's blog, late post.)

The work continued today with Anton and I meeting with Matthieu on the ministry plans ahead. Rita would work on the web site, painting, murals and cleaning would continue. The big thing today that we were all looking forward to was the Bedouin feast that was being planned tonight in our honor.

We have been invited to participate in something that is very rare. A lamb would be killed, and the day spent preparing many foods for the evening meal. There were guests invited, us, and the chief’s extended family. Others were invited but they took a second seat to us, and ate either before or after the main meal.

The table was set, which consisted of two table cloths on the rugs in the large community room. Bowls and plates were set out. The bowls were all filled with yogurt and sour cream mix. The chief showed us how it is done. He reached into the plate of lamb and rice and grabbed a fist full of food squishing it into a solid mixture and then popped it into his mouth using some kind of special action. I don’t think I mastered it well. I have no idea how many hands got into the bowl.

Most of us tried to use our spoons as often as we could, including them.

I ate lamb tongue, lamb brains, someone told me I ate an eye but then it turned out to be something else. The food was good. The salad was amazing. There was limited tongue available so Albert and I got to split it. It was an honor. Really. Or so I was told. . . . While everyone watched and laughed.

Music and dancing took place after the meal. We were also celebrating a little girl’s birthday. It was a good night.

Later that evening I took a walk with Matthieu around the compound. I went because it was with Matthieu so it should be safe. It was dark. As we left the compound a group of kids collected around us and followed us for a few houses. Matthieu shares about the houses on the right. They were cow shelters before we turned them into houses. We turn the corner and the kids disappear. We walk on in the dark for about 100 yards. We pass two family buildings along the way. One building was structure in progress. They build in stages. This house was a room that got a second floor at one time, and then another room on the ground floor was bricked in with a second floor kind of started. Probably preparing for a couple of sons that would one day have a wife and family. He’s been slowly working in the house for probably 10 years. We get fairly far down the road and Matthieu tells me we need to turn around and go back. The next section belongs to another tribe of Bedouins that do not share in our efforts. Over the last month two have been murdered by fellow tribe members because they had become believers and told their family. One was a 14 year old girl.

We get part way back up the road and a vehicle slowly passes us, but then stops and speaks something to Matthieu. The vehicle moves on slowly down towards the other tribe. I ask what was said and Matthieu says to not bother with it. We keep walking and get to the entrance of the camp and we turn left and walk by homes, some are still pretty rough looking, others are brick and cement. Matthieu keeps looking over his shoulder.

We talk about employment. Unemployment in the camp is around 90%. No one will hire a Bedouin. The kids can work in the fields surrounding the camp for 3+ dollars a day. They pool their funds and life goes on. He has been able to get some microfinance happening for a couple of the families. A honey operation; a delivery service. The costs of microfinancing here is high.
I ask him about the little groupings of tin houses just outside the entrance to the camp and he says that those people are Syrians. Another type of tribe, but not Bedouins. They are living in little tin shelters that are nothing greater the 6-10 feet across, back to back with a three foot dirt/sewage walk way between the rows of shacks. The bathrooms on the outskirts and look like outdoor showers that we would create in the woods while camping. Some plastic and anything else they could find to create a little privacy.

We get to the end of the camp and turn down another road and he stops and says he can’t go anymore. Needs a rest. Matthieu’s heart is giving him some pain. He suffered a heart attack a few months ago. He continues to push himself physically and is suffering more that he should allow himself to suffer. The last few days I’ve seen him struggle with strength. Pray for him as you read this.

We rest. We talk about his dreams for his family, for the Bedouins.

On the way back we pass a wide open grassy area that is not being used for anything right now. I ask him what this is to be. He tells me that about 10 years ago this Bedouin tribe were living in the same type of tin make shift housing that the current Syrian tribe is in, and it was in this area. Over that time, we got them moved into permanent structures of bricks and concrete that you see most of them now living in. He tells me about the time when they (he) was finally able to clean this area up and get rid of the tin structures and clean up all the sewage and filth that existed.

As we get close to the compound we finish talking about the things I wrote about in the previous blog regarding compassion. These people do not want compassion that comes from pity. If they receive any compassion, they would as that it be out of love.

A long day, but a good one.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wedding Feast Joy

The day is done. I won’t get this up to my blog for another day because Kathleen and I have relocated to one of the Bridges of Love Team’s home near the Bedouin camp. Up to this time we have been traveling back and forth each night from Beirut. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes to cover 50km. Back and forth, up and down, start and stop, HONK! HONK!, no traffic lights, no lanes, many check points, . . . and about 4 million other vehicles in similar motion.

So the day after the day doing loops between the bed and the bathroom went okay. I woke up feeling feverish but at least the stomach had settled down and I was good to go for the day. I remember distinctly waking up to a deep yearning for a piece of toast with some butter. Not a toaster or loaf in sight. Every piece of bread here has a weird shape and it would be sin to attempt to toast any of it, I’m sure. I never accomplished much today for the team but I was vertical and walking. Jordan dehan!

I had many people praying for me and I was so grateful. I’m writing this at the end of the day and I don’t think I have any symptoms right now. Wow! Thank you Lord!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we are doing here and wonder about our North American ideas of compassion. Do we have compassion that’s birthed out of pity on those who have far less than us? Or is our compassion of another form? One that sees suffering in a fellow human and we choose to serve that person out of respect? Respect or pity?

I think our general way is pity until you come face to face with that other human being that is suffering in some way (in our limited perception of suffering, these people would not see themselves as suffering) and you come to know them, their hopes and dreams, and in that encounter you begin to see that they are far greater than you. They are far more adjusted to the circumstances of life around them that you ever would be. They have far more faith for their daily needs than you have, and they have far more love and compassion to give away than you have. You come to have a great deal of respect for them and out of that sense their greatness.

I think Philippians 2:1-5 corrects all our thinking on this matter. It states that as we come into a full realization of the unity that we have been given in Christ, and having experienced the comfort of His love, and have come to deeply know His tenderness and compassion, that we are compelled, not by duty but by a deep seated desire to do likewise to absolutely every person we encounter. (Freely we have received, freely give.) Value every person you encounter as greater than yourself. Out of this view comes the love and respect that is due these people we meet here in Lebanon. It’s out of this view that I can love my neighbour or that person in my life that causes me grief, etc. You name yours. I’ll name mine.

The day has passed and I’m left thinking that these wonderful people, the Bedouins, will be among the greatest in heaven. As they come to love Jesus like I have, they have more courage, more faith and more passion for the things of Jesus than I could ever hope to have. It will be an honour for me to meet them at the wedding table where I hope to have the privilege of serving them as they sit close to where our Saviour is seated.

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