US Tour by Aziz Abu Sarah
It's been two weeks since I have got back from the USA trip. I traveled around the East Cost. I was invited by different peace organizations together with another Israeli woman to speak about our choice of working for peace between Arabs and Jews instead of seeking revenge. Both of us have lost our brothers in the Conflict. The tour was for 2 weeks and we got to speak at over 20 different places, mostly campuses such as Yale, Brown, Brandeis, Columbia, UMD, etc. The trip turned out to be really awesome as we met many students (Arabs and Jewish) and some Americans :), as well as got to give a few interviews to local TVs, newspapers, and radios.
I got the chance as well to speak at a synagogue in NYC. Almost 400 people were in attendance. It was a great experience and I was very welcomed. We also spoke to a Muslim community in Hartford and they were just as welcoming and supportive. The main point of my speech was to clarify that it is so easy for us (people) to make stigmatize someone else, especially those that we call enemies. It is so easy to build assumptions and forget that we are human beings, forget that more important than being members of any race, first we are all humans. Many people have lost hope that the conflict can end one day.
Some people think that one of the two will just assassinate the other. My co-speaker and me tried to inspire people to have hope and not to support one side alone and not to trust blindly TV news and --political campaigns. We found that many people in the USA had a strong opinion on the conflict with very little information. We tried our best to give more information and to show that the situation is harder than just blaming one side or the other.
I was very excited as well to meet some of the disciples that either came to lectures or just met at other times. I was very happy to have Andy Fleming driving all the way from DC to NYC so we could spend a couple of hours together and then attend the lecture at Columbia. We have been trying to meet for few months at the Middle East Leaders' Conferences, but I have failed to get visas to the last 2 of them. It was so good to catch up.
Thankfully I had a couple of free days during the trip. My co-speaker decided to rest at those days. However, I decided to take the chance to meet more disciples 🙂 on Friday, 22nd of May. I was honored to speak at the Singles Devo for the NYC Church. It was so encouraging to see hundreds of singles getting together to worship God.
On Sunday the 24th, I was honored again to preach at the Central Jersey Church of Christ. I feel like home when I am there as this is the 3rd time I got to speak there. I am so glad to have friendships -- with many people there, people who care, who advice and challenge me. I am very grateful to the campus guys that welcomed me to stay with them and made sure that I had everything I needed. The Jerusalem and Bethlehem Churches are very grateful as Central Jersey is collecting their special contribution to support the work here.
As for the Churches here, Tel Aviv had many celebrations last month. Rahamim was baptized. After studying and disappearing for a long time, he came back with the heart to go for it. Rahamim got baptized on Sunday Evening. The Jerusalem Church normally has a Bible Talk on Sundays. But everyone decided to cancel and go to Tel Aviv to see the baptism. Baptisms are not that common in this country, so you never want to miss one. But as well, I could not hide my joy of seeing the unity that is being built between the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Churches. And I am very grateful to the leadership of the Tel Aviv Church that pursued this unity. Jeff and Davene, the couple leading the church there, just had a baby (David) who is so cute and looks like his older brother (Josiah).
In Jerusalem we had Ellen, a sister from Tel Aviv, move in. we are so happy to have her. She has already been a great encouragement to the Jerusalem church.
In Bethlehem, we are planning on having an evangelism campaign for this summer. People are dreaming. Many of the disciples are looking forward to have a summer where more and more people will know about Christ.
Regarding the Summer Mission Trip. We are very busy in Jerusalem preparing for the Summer Mission Trip. We have around 60 people from all over the world coming to Jerusalem this summer. We had to stop registering people because we are not able to host more for this time. However we are hoping to make such trips available yearly or even more than once a year.
A final note: I want to write about something that came to my mind after the NYC Singles Devo. I received emails from some of the disciples there to thank me for the message. Some of those emails said things about my wife??? Now, I am not married, not even dating :). I got the impression (also because of similar previous occasions), that many people expect that a church leader must be married or that being married is the climax of the Christian life.
As a single I can encourage you not to wait until you get married to serve God. As long as we are single, let us enjoy the time of being singles and use the freedom that we have. SERVE GOD as singles. When you get married I guess it will mean entering a different stage of your servanthood for God.