Meeting with two Giants

Last week I went as usual to the Bible College thinking that it is going to be just another day. I never thought that it will be one of those special days, where God brings special people for a short period into your path.

First I was surprised to learn that the speaker in our weekly chapel was none other than Brother Andrew, the famous evangelist – also known as the “Bible Smuggler” or “God’s smuggler”. If you have not heard of Brother Andrew, he is best known for his mission activities in the communist countries in the most difficult times, and also for his work in Muslim countries as well. (He preached once for a crowd of Hamas enthusiasts in the Islamic University in Gaza). He is the founder of “Open Doors” – a mission organization that is very active in third world countries. What always strikes me about Brother Andrew is his humility! He is very down to earth. And his stories.

Brother Andrew always has lots of stories about his adventures. Among the many stories he shared with us this time in chapel, one was about his encounter with the grant mufti of Bosnia, and how a simple joke opened big doors. The mufti asked Brother Andrew about “in which religion is God closer to humans?” Of course Brother Andrew said that it was Christianity. God is our father. He is always near. Islam on the other hand ranked last in Brother Andrew’s estimation, because we need a loud speaker for God to hear us! The mufti couldn’t stop laughing, then said, “I can’t wait for you to preach in my masjid!” Wow.

But when Brother Andrew went back to his hotel, he never expected what he was going to discover. He read in a magazine report about an ecumenical conference in which this same mufti was a participant. Brother was shocked when he discovered that the mufti’s wife and children were killed in front of his eyes in the civil war… by Christians. Ashamed, brother Andrew went back to the masjid weeping, and apologized for this mufti – who despite what happened to his family, opened his doors to a Dutch evangelist.

Brother Andrew next had some prophetic words to tell us. He commented on this encounter and another encounter with Ayatullah in Iran. Speaking about the “cruel regimes” in this world (or the axis of evil as Bush famously called them), he said, and I quote,

“How much of their being is a result of our failure”

How much of their being is a result of Christendom’s failure. How true. How prophetic.
The Bible College is located between two refugee camps. Thinking of the nakba (catastrophe) and the Christian influence on the events of 1948, how much of these refugee camps’ being, is a result of Christendom’s failure. Many times I wonder whether God has located us here for a reason. What prophetic role do we have to play as Palestinian Christians for our people? Just a thought… Anyways.

Earlier in the chapel, we were introduced to “Jeff”. Jeff is the president of World Evangelical Alliance. 420 million people are under the umbrella of this body. They told us he was important. So I thought why not invite “Jeff” who is staying at the College’s guest house for dinner later in
the day. So I did. It turns out Jeff was really an important dude.

I could sense that Jeff was a special person when I offered the different restaurant choices in the area and he picked the popular falafel and hummus one. So we went to Afteem together. Jeff was really a very humble and simple person. A fellow believer in Christ. Sitting around a table with hummus and falafel, Jeff told me about his regular meetings with presidents and prime ministers and famous politicians and clergy people. In fact the same week Jeff was scheduled to meet with the Israeli prime minister – in the prime minister’s house. We talked about Zionism and Palestinian Christians’ struggles here. We talked about American Evangelicalism and their pro-Israel inclinations and how that is changing in recent years. It was encouraging to be reminded that not all Evangelicals are prophecy fanatics. Evangelicals it seems are waking up, and they are realizing that we do not have to choose between the “salvation from sin” Gospel and the “social” Gospel. We can and should preach and practice both without compromising one of them. It is encouraging to see more Evangelicals buying into “the holistic ministry” concept.

Well I just hoped that my dinner with Jeff gave him some thoughts ahead of his meeting with the prime minister. However, I doubt the food he will eat in his house will be even close to the hummus and falafel we shared in Afteem.

Thank you God for a very special day.


Greetings from far away. Just came across your blog. I notice you have not blogged for a while. How are things in Bethlehem? I am pleased that you have seen Brother Andrew. He is an insiration to all. May God bless you and your ministry.