Ten years ago I was invited to travel to the Middle East and engage with religious leaders, business leaders, and social-community leaders in several countries.  At first, I was filled with the fear of the unknown.  After all, the only things I knew about Arabs, Muslims, and Middle East culture was promoted through the lens of the mainstream, western news media.

If I am honest, I have to confess, I was scared.  I was scared I might find caves with terror training camps.  I thought I would find religious centers ready to pounce on the first Christian to walk down the street.  I didn’t know how to engage with women covered from head to toe in black, or how far I could go to talk about faith issues.

What I found SHOCKED ME!

I met faithful religious people who were promoting peace, not the violence we see on the news.
I met families who were just like mine.  They longed for education, a stable economy, and a life for their children that’s much better than their own.
I met business leaders interested in bringing solutions to some of the most static places in the region.
I met new friends.

So for the last decade, I’ve been working diligently to connect my friends in the Middle East with my friends here in America.

We talk about things we’re dealing with in real life.
We talk about the differences in cultures.
We talk about how we can encourage one another in our careers.
We talk about how we can work out our faith positions (without trying to make one become the other).
We talk about God.
We talk about Jesus.
We talk about what it means to have a friend, a true friend, who cares and loves for another.

Last night, Cole Crawford sent me a picture from our KIVU Gap Year students in Jordan.  They were having their celebration dinner on their last evening in Amman, Jordan.  For the last three weeks, they’ve been staying with host families, learning about relationships in the Middle East, and making friends.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hit the floor and thank God.

The news is full of violence and extremism.
The politics of the powerful always focus on the negative problems that need to be solved.
But in this one picture, Christians and Muslims, men and women, business leaders, teachers and students, all celebrating what the world might look like if we lived in a place where we truly loved one another.

It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Are you looking for some good news coming out of the Middle East?  Well, look no further. LOVE is Winning.  We can do this…


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