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Yeshua Explored

Reaching out

todayDecember 14, 2020 11

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On a recent trip to Jerusalem (more of that later) I was confronted by a surprising sight. A group of Muslims in religious garb had congregated on the upper steps leading down to the Western Wall. It was a Shabbat, the holiest time of the week. After a short talk the group proceeded down the steps, the ladies to the Wall and the men to the underground tunnels to the left of the Wall. I followed the men into the tunnels, where their group squeezed single-file past the collection of religious Jews, congregated around small platforms, reading from Torah scrolls, or swaying backwards and forwards in prayer on rickety chairs. The Muslims silently and without fuss did a circuit of the first long chamber, then left the tunnel area. Again I followed them as they started to leave the Western Wall plaza and heard them speak among themselves. They were English, there were recognisable accents, from Manchester to London. I was intrigued and spoke to them.

Here’s an observation. There was no appreciable interaction between the Muslims and any Jewish observers, despite any perceived feelings of ‘enemy infiltration’. There were just a few curious glances in their direction as they moved through the crowd, yet no hostility, from either direction. I had a great conversation with them, they were just ordinary folk who just happened to be religious Muslims. They were acting just like any other tourist, curious to see how others live and worship and nothing more. Yet, in accordance to media stereotypes, they were the ‘alien invader’, a natural enemy to the Jewish people. Of course, a short conversation is never going to achieve full mutual understanding, but sometimes we must look beyond the form (the ‘battle dress’) and even the perceived function (their interpretation of Islamic theology) and … at the person beneath the hijab (women) and thaub (men), at the soul given life by the beating heart beneath the robe.

And there it is. Most of us would probably be happiest if God only sent nice people across our path, people we feel most connected to, people we may feel best equipped to evangelise. Our God ain’t that predictable, He isn’t that polite English gentle-god exuding fairness and bonhomie, bowling safe balls to ensure a fair game and a pleasant conclusion. No, like any loving Father, He stretches us, pushes us, takes us to our limit and thus equips us to run the human race, with all the obstacles and setbacks that come with the territory. All we have to be is willing to trust Him.

So the next time you open your front door to a dishevelled and slightly whiffy ‘street person’, perhaps it’s not just to help them out with a few coppers from your loose change?

This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp

Are you prepared for anything?

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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