Learning from My Muslim & Jewish Friends

Got one of those “8 years ago today” messages in Facebook today. Wow wow wow. It was the week I met Safi Kaskas and Mark Braverman at a week long conference in Denver. It was June 2011. So much has happened since then. A lot of Arabic coffee with my Muslim friends from Syria. Half-a-dozen trips to the Holy Land with extended stays of up to 3 months in the West Bank. Two movies. Lots and lots of conversations with friends in the work of peacemaking. Meeting my best friend, Cari Conklin, who shares this passion and then marrying her. I remember asking Mark Braverman how to talk to my Christian tribe about the Holy Land. He said something like “read Jesus and Paul. It’s clear that God did not instruct his people to focus on real estate!” And Mark is a self described blue blood Jew. His advise came providentially a few months before I left to serve in Hebron. Safi’s story of learning to know Christians who loved Muslims, and his work on a modern translation of the Qu’ran with references to the Bible (that he wrote with a Christian brother) still is a beacon to me in my own bridge building work with Muslims. I remain deeply indebted to both of these friends, for their deep passion, insight and spirituality. Both are godly men, one Muslim, another Jewish. We share a conviction to love God with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves. Such great partners in the subversive work of true peacemaking where we look at our “other” as fellow human beings with similar needs and longings, made in the image of God and worthy of our respect and love.

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  1. Andrew…sitting here in the warm sun in Germany this morning, your blog post today hits home in an important way. My wife and I are over here with other friends, but came over to be with our 98yo brother-in-law and his wife, my wife’s oldest sister, as he was in the first landing craft to reach the beach at Normandy during that invasion. 75 years later, the need for peace, both inner peace and peace between people and nations is as acute as ever. Your words, your pictures, your life exude that. I thank our God that you are a shining light in their world…the Triune’s…this world in which we live…that is also ours to care for.

  2. Author

    Dear Wes, you are so kind to mention this, to affirm this journey God has me on. My path is so filled with joy. I consider myself most fortunate to be in places, and with people I was told to either fear but have now come to love.

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