“How was Israel?” “What did you get to do?” “What places did you get to visit?” I was bombarded with questions upon my return from Israel. Struggling to find the balance in explaining the fun things, how God worked, and how brokenhearted I returned because of the current situation, I found I didn’t give the experience the justice it deserved. I wanted to put into words how incredible the people, the culture, and the country were, but more than that I wanted to be put into action. I felt guilty for being uninformed of the conflict happening in the Middle East. For so long I believed the conflict was far away and that it didn’t affect me. Why should I care and what could I possibly do to make an impact? As a firm believer in the Word and seeing God’s heart for his people and his faithfulness through his promises to them, I believe the Jewish people have a right to their own state. While I learned during my Passages experience that I can make a huge impact on even a small few by being an advocate for the Jewish people and Israel, it wasn’t until recently, while doing a section of the leadership course, that I found my personal stake in the matter. I was struggling through week two of the course because I did not feel emotionally connected to the issue. Yes, I believe the Jewish people have the right to Israel. Yes, I believe that God promised it to them throughout scripture. Yes, as a Christian, I believe it is my Holy Land, but I still felt emotionally disconnected.
I attend the University of Minnesota and my best friend in nursing school is Jewish. About two weeks ago, a different U of M Jewish student returned to his dorm room and found an anti-Semitic message written on the inside of his door. It was drawn on his dry erase board and stated,“Nazi’s Rule” above a swastika and what appeared to be a concentration camp. This is the seventh anti-Semitic incident on campus since December. Nearly 70 bomb threats have been called in to Jewish community centers across the United States, one in which my friend’s mom had to evacuate from in Wisconsin. This is my personal stake. The conflict is no longer solely on the other side of the world. Seeing my friend heartbroken and scared breaks my heart. It was one thing to see people living in fear in Israel, but another to have friends affected daily while I can walk around freely without fear.
On my last day in Israel, one of my group members and I were walking around the market and soaking up the last precious moments. A security guard at a small restaurant started up a conversation with us. One thing he said will stick with me forever; Jerusalem is a city for everyone. Throughout the hate, the destruction, and the fear, the Jewish people still have so much love for everyone and it was extremely evident to me. Everyone should feel they have a personal stake in the matter because Jerusalem is truly everyone’s city. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the Middle East, and for Jewish people everywhere, that God’s love and faithfulness be evident and powerful. I cling to the hope that the new earth will be centered in Jerusalem fulfilling the promises God made to deliver a land to his people.