The focus of this trip is to GO Deep, which includes spending extra time understanding the cultural context around us. Our partner helped open our eyes to the shame/honor based society here, which was also the type of society found in ancient Israel. As we discussed today as a group: Jesus countered the principles of his society in this area. He took upon himself the shame we deserved in order to rescue us. He faced the shame of the cross (Hebrews 12:2). Now the cross has become a sign of triumph.
Tonight we went to a local cafe. This was a really cool place and not what you’d expect to find necessarily in North Africa. In fact, it would have fit well in Savannah! It’s a house that has been turned into a coffee shop/art studio. There are rooms for dance and painting and reading and a gallery. Outside there’s a fairly large courtyard with chairs made from wood pallets and a small stage for live performances. The vibe is very chill. This is where our workers meet weekly with college students and young professionals for what they call ‘Talk Time’. They practice their English by engaging in conversation about all sorts of current events and relevant issues.
Tonight there were about 10 that came, not only from this country but from other Middle Eastern/North African countries and Europe. Jason led a discussion on the conflict in Israel and Palestine. It was a hot topic. Everyone was respectful, but had strong opinions. Talk about going deep! Clearly there are no easy answers to the deep problems surrounding this issue, but we were able to steer the conversation from policy to true peace…away from the politics to the state of people’s hearts. We talked about Jesus and the transformational power of forgiveness in the face of persecution. In our hearts we know this is the only way of true peace. It was a fascinating and powerful conversation.
Afterwards Billy and David played a mix of secular and carefully chosen contemporary christian music in the courtyard while the rest of us continued to talk with our new friends. We laughed and told stories and talked about faith and family. As we walked with some of them back to get a taxi home we joked that our big group was quite a spectacle walking down the road and one of the girls said, “yea, people from here, Europe, America… It’s beautiful”. It really is. Our team is praying we will all be together again in eternity.