God's Politics

God's Politics

Philip Rizk: Will Na’el Walk On His Own?

posted by gp_intern

I spent this morning with the Sisters of Charity at their shelter for disabled children in downtown Gaza City.
When I first started going to the shelter, a boy called Na’el, with a consistent look of fear in his eyes, would hold on to me – not wanting to let go. Sister Delphina told me that it was the first time since he had arrived at the home that he had allowed a male to hold him. Na’el is deaf and she assumes his father had abused him before he was dropped off at their shelter. Na’el can walk but he has to be holding on to something while doing so, either a person’s hand, a table, door, or his little wheeled chair.
So today sister Delphina and I tried to get him to walk on his own, because I am sure he can – he just doesn’t trust himself. Sister Delphina would wave him towards her with her gracious hands, her constant smile drawing him toward her. As soon as I would try to let go of him to let him walk alone his face filled with an immense expression of fear.
Today fear fills the hearts of Gaza’s people. A fear that they may one day return from their perpetual search for charity and donation empty handed (80 percent of Gazans are receiving food aid from international organizations); a fear of waking to another day of hopelessness (70 percent of Gazans are either unemployed or only partially paid government employees); a fear that the economic disaster they are experiencing today may overcome their lives (60 percent of the population live under the poverty level of $2 per day); a fear that this economic crisis will divide the entire population in inter-factional feuding and result in a lawless chaos as factions and political parties vie for the little power that still remains in Gaza.
The difference in the atmosphere between the Gaza Strip and the sisters’ home must have something to do with each place’s wardens. The Sisters of Charity live out an undying love and care for these children; Israel, legally responsible for a people they occupy, has thrown away the keys to a piece of land they would rather forget about.
One day soon Na’el will walk on his own.
I trust that one day Gazans will live the life of peace so many of them long to live, free of the closure, the embargo, and the prison walls surrounding them today.

Philip Rizk is an Egyptian-German Christian working with the Foundation for Reconciliation and Development in Gaza.

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posted June 12, 2007 at 12:06 pm

We had a missionary from Israel speak to our Chalice Christian a few weeks ago. She was inspiring. And she also commented about the hopelessness that is so troubling. You wrote of “a fear of waking to another day of hopelessness (70 percent of Gazans are either unemployed or only partially paid government employees).”
It makes me wonder if that isn’t a good place for us to focus our efforts. What if U.S. interventionism focused directly on restoring the economies of troubled places. Not, now, as an afterthought, but what if that was the thrust of what we did. I wonder if we could sell to our conservative brothers and sisters the idea of going into places with the purpose of growing consumers? I think we could; I think it could lead to peace.

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Sue Badeau

posted June 12, 2007 at 12:44 pm

What a beautiful post – thank you for sharing it and for all you are doing for Na’el. Perfect love drives out fear, as we know, but yet that perfect love is in such short supply. We beseech God to send it and yet forget we are the vessels He uses. Thank you for a wonderful contrast between the two environments and a reminder that we can all be the vessel of the perfect love that drives out fear. Prayers for you and for Na’el!

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posted June 12, 2007 at 2:20 pm

God bless the Sisters of Charity. It must be tough, difficult work in a place of so much violence, fear, and hate.
I pray that some day the Gazans will put an end to the violence that eminates from their midst so that the walls that separate them from the world can be torn down. It’s unfortunate that little innocents like Na’el have been betrayed by their leaders and can’t grow up in a hate-free environment.

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posted June 12, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Peace will come when being a Christian is not seen as a crime.
I so wish that I could work with these kinds of children in Israel.

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posted June 12, 2007 at 7:28 pm

“I so wish that I could work with these kinds of children in Israel.”
What’s stopping you – fear?

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posted June 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm

One day soon Na’el will walk on his own.
With things going the way they are in Gaza – the greater question is how long will he walk? If Islam is such a peaceful religion – why are they fighting? There are several differing denominations in the Christian Faith and we for the most part seem to make ‘living together – worshipping seperatly’ work. OK – Northern Ireland – more political than religious. Yes there is a sorted history in the Christian faith – but we seem to have progressed to a higher understanding of freedom of religion. In the west and the US specificly, Christianity, Jewish, Muslim (for the most part) Hindu and others worship in safety here. Can we talk about what Christians in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria have and are going through – hell comes to mind.
So will he walk – yes. How long – if we were in the US, there are any number of hospitals that were established by churches and denominations that would come to his aid.
Have a great day – worship safe this week in your building that you go to.

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posted June 15, 2007 at 1:19 am

I wish some of the posters here could go to Palestine, as I have, and see what those people have had to endure for the last 60 years – refugees forever, never allowed to go home, and not wanted anywhere else either. Why do you assume that the violence starts with the Palestinians? That is merely their reaction to the violence used against them by the occupiers, and to the theft of their land. For decades they have put up with this, far longer than I suspect many of us could have. I was constantly amazed by how little hate there was in Palestine, and how much welcoming there was – and yes, to Christians and Jews. And why blame Islam for this situation and ask if it is a peaceful religion? The violence in Gaza today has nothing to do with religion – it’s political. As for how many denominations would come to their aid in the U.S., it is Hamas which has fed, clothed, and healed Gazans for years, when no one else would. That is why Hamas is popular there, because in that respect it follows the teachings of Islam.

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posted June 15, 2007 at 11:05 am

Karima – You’re right that the Palestinian people are being treated unfairly and have had to suffer through more than we can possibily imagine. But even if Israel gave the Palestinians everything they wanted Hamas and it’s leaders would still be conducting daily violence in Israel. I don’t know anyone who would deny this.
And I can’t imagine anyone excusing support for an organization like Hamas that intentionally kills innocent men, women and children (both Israeli and Muslim) just because they feed, clothe, and heal other Gazans. Essentially they’re buying off the people’s support for their terrorism. They’re not doing it to be good Muslims.

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posted June 15, 2007 at 11:11 am

“I so wish that I could work with these kinds of children in Israel.”
What’s stopping you – fear?
Posted by: neuro_nurse | June 12, 2007 7:28 PM
Yes. In Israel/Palestine/Mid-East, you get shot, beheaded and arrested for being a Christian wanting to convert people to become Christians. Even though that would end the violence. I cannot help people in the Name of Jesus and not present conversion.
God has not called me as yet, to go to the middle east. It is enough to fight the adversaries of Christians (Liberals, Progressives, Secular Humanists, Atheists, Gays and Lesbians, Democrats et al etc.,) that are creating enough suffering youth here in America, to keep me busy.
Study and find out that it is westernized Christianity that is violent and perverted. Of course, following European lifestyles and beliefs one would figure it would. But the faith delivered only once to the saints in the Middle East, seems to have the correct foundation. If I preach and live that here in America, I think I’m doing OK.
But yes, I am fearful of people that kill and lock-up Christians for doing nothing more than being Christian. Soon it’ll be that way here in the US, so I’ll be facing my fears right at home.

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posted June 15, 2007 at 12:29 pm

From a news report today:
“Jamal Abu Jadian, a top Fatah commander, fled his home in the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday evening dressed as a woman to avoid dozens of Hamas militiamen who had attacked it. He and several members of his family and bodyguards were lightly wounded.
But when Abu Jadian arrived at a hospital a few hundred meters away from his house, he was discovered by a group of Hamas gunmen, who took turns shooting him in the head with automatic rifles.
‘They literally blew his head off with more than 40 bullets,’ said a doctor at Kamal Udwan Hospital.”
But, but, but…Hamas feeds the children!!!

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posted June 15, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Thanks for your response.
After reading your post on another thread, I realize that you have a very valuable ministry in this country (working with inner-city youth).
I have my doubts that ministry in the Middle East is as dangerous as you seem to believe. The news media in this country loves to blow things out of proportion (sensationalism sell advertising and increases profit), which is not to say that serving in that part of the world is entirely safe.
I lived in Tehran in 1978 – at the beginning of the revolution that overthrew the Shah. There were frequent anti-American demonstrations, and several times I inadvertently found myself right next to a crowd of people chanting, “Bad, bad, America!” Those experiences could be a bit disturbing, but no one ever bothered me.
I have also spent a significant amount of time in North Africa and lived in Ethiopia, which is about 40% Muslim. In general, I have found Muslims to be kind, generous people, among whom I feel much safer than I do in some parts of this country!
I take what I hear about Muslims in the media with a very large grain of salt.
Given the opportunity, I would not hesitate to serve in the Middle East, except that now I am married and my wife is frightened of living in a Muslim country.
I’m sure that your reasons go beyond fear. My earlier post on this thread was an inappropriate jab at you, and I apologize.
You wrote that God has not called you to ministry in the Middle East. I have no doubt that if He did, you would answer His call despite your fears.

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posted June 15, 2007 at 1:36 pm

“Study and find out that it is westernized Christianity that is violent and perverted.”
That’s an interesting statement. I’m not completely sure I understand what you mean, but I think to a certain degree, I agree with you.
Would you care to elaborate?

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