I’ve been torn recently by two conflicting, but related, realities in my heart. Many of you know that Carol and I are trying to buy a house. The market is good for buyers and interest rates low so that is bringing this aspiration closer to a reality. A year ago that would have been a long stretch, perhaps impossible. Pray for us. We want to have an adequate place for friends, family and ministry. It is about making a home, having a place we call our own. A basic need, right?
There’s another story that is rattling around in my head these days. It makes me conflicted. Last week, I heard a young Palestinian women at a chapel service share the heartbreaking story of what is happening to many of her friends in Palestine. Home demolitions are still commonplace in the West Bank, most often happening to Palestinians, to make room for new Israeli settlements. An alarming fact struck me in her talk. A full 80% of Palestinians have lost land in recent years. Furthermore, the huge wall, standing 26 feet high which has been built “for protection,” often separates family members, farmers from their land and makes normal day-to-day life very difficult. Many Palestinians are not given legal citizenship and if they leave the area, then need a visa to return. For many, they are not a legal citizen anywhere but just resident aliens. These stories resembled the ones I heard last fall when I was at a leadership conference in Palestine. I know some of these people. Their stories break my heart. I know the issues are complex and they resist simple solutions. It just seems wrong. I was encouraged to hear that some Israeli soldiers are being jailed for refusing to be involved in home demolitions and forceful takeover of land in the Palestinian Territories. A new word has been coined to identify these courageous contrarians–they are called Refusniks. [click the link for more information].
If you want to know more about the situation check out this website: Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
My last thought in this vein brings the issue of homes full circle. I just plopped some good money down on an airplane ticket to North Africa this summer where I will be joining a team building homes for a community struck by a recent earthquake. I’m reminded of the Psalmist who identifies the importance of shelter. I don’t think David was just speaking metaphorically.
“For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5