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Middle East

Learn more on the Office of Social Justice website.

What Kind of Israel/Palestine Tour Should I Go On?

After serving more than 38 years in congregational ministry, Rev. Bill Vanden Bosch and his wife, Lyn, have been leading “disciple’s pilgrimages” to Israel since 1999.  They have studied twice in Israel at Jerusalem University College and twice under the leadership of Ray VanderLaan, Director of “In the Dust of the Rabbi” ministries and the teacher of the “That the World May Know” video series. Bill has a Doctor of Ministry Degree in multicultural ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. This post is the first of two from Bill Vanden Bosch on traveling to the land of the Bible.

So You're Going to the Holy Land?

As I listened, the truth became clear to me: These are not issues. They are people. 

Religious Persecution and True Godliness

Egypt is a country of contrasts and inconsistencies; the uneven application of justice in relation to the Christian minority is one example. Of course, in the Western news media, we hear of the persecution and escalating terrorist attacks which are often directed against Christians. When a young Christian man is attacked by religious extremist youth who do not want to see him in a relationship with their Muslim sister, his business and home are burned, and his family ousted from their village, there may very well be little support from the police or courts.

Who Will Make Us Salty Again?

In 1 Peter 2:9-10, and in Matthew 5:14-16, and in Philippians 2:14-15, we are told that, having received mercy, having been given the role of light (in a world that so desperately needs it), and having God at work within us—we are to see ourselves as royalty. But how should being royalty make us act?

January Series: Our Picks

Have you seen the line-up for this year’s January Series from Calvin College yet? Every year, the college puts on a free series of talks on various issues of the day, presented at their campus in Grand Rapids and streamed online, as well as at remote sites across the continent. (Each address begins at 12:30 PM EST.) We commend Calvin for a diverse, high-quality line-up of speakers with important things to say, especially about justice and diversity. Here are our staff picks for this year.  

Worship Resources for Peace in a Time of Fear

In response to the San Bernardino shooting and increasingly hostile anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rhetoric, the Office of Race Relations and Office of Social Justice have collaborated on this litany and prayer. The litany is drawn from the Christian Reformed Church’s three confessions, the Contemporary Testimony (Our World Belongs to God), and one Ecumenical Faith Declaration (Belhar Confession).

Litany

People of God, from where does your hope come this day?

Loving our Enemies on 9/11

On 9/11 the West was suddenly confronted with the reality of Islamic extremism in the form of Al-Qaeda and the ideology of Osama Bin Laden. We all woke up to the dangers of fundamentalism. This was especially true for the Church in North America. Since 9/11 and despite or, as some might argue, as a result of the war on terror, extremism has only increased. Now we hear constantly about ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, and other groups. Our own countries of the USA and Canada are more secure thanks to the efforts of Homeland Security and CSIS.

Not to Speak is to Speak

Can I be honest with you, reader? The last thing I want to do is write an article about Gaza.

Because in the face of what has just happened there, all the words that I keep trying to string together into some kind of meaningful or helpful thought seem superfluous, empty, and trite.

Listing the numbers also won’t do, as horrifying as they are.

2,168 people, killed.

521 children, killed.

12,000 people, injured.

500,000 people, displaced.

We are Iraqi, We are Christian

On our Salaam Project Facebook page, the post that has received the most views is one called “We are Iraqi, we are Christian.” The article describes Muslims standing alongside Christians in Baghdad protesting together the persecution of Christians in Mosul by ISIS or Islamic State. This parallels the #WeareN hashtag that is spreading over social media and that was recently highlighted in a post by Phil Reinders.

The Olive Trees of Cremisan

On the last afternoon of Christ at the Checkpoint conference several hundred of us stood on the ancient, stony terraces among the olive trees to celebrate a Eucharist of solidarity with the people of Beit Jala (pronounced ‘bait-yala’) –Bethlehem’s smaller sister. It was icy cold and rainy. “Why don’t we do this inside the nice warm monastery?” I thought to myself.

I would find out why a little later.

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