I got a warm welcome when I arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, but, of course, nothing like the unprecedented welcome that Stephen Harper received! He was here with about 145 parliament, news and support people. Some will worked on economic and trade matters that are important to the present government. I hope that they also sought to understand the political realities and that they will work towards peace in this land.
Recently I was talking to a taxi driver. The conversation went like this:
PB: Were you born here in Bethlehem?
Driver: Yes, but I used to work in Jerusalem before the [security] wall was built around us. I had a good job but now life is very hard. Can I show you the special art on the wall?
PB: Thanks. I have seen the art. It expresses some very strong and painful feelings.
Driver: This is my country! I was born here but I am not allowed to go even five miles to Jerusalem. I have become very poor. I can't help my children to get a good education, to get properly married or to get a good start in a job.
PB: I am very sorry about the situation here. I go to the mosque twice a week to pray to my God that there will be justice and kindness shown to the Palestinian people.
Driver: (Reaching out to me with emotion) You care for the Palestinian people. I can see it in your eyes!
I am excited about my classes at Bethlehem Bible College. In them I have a number of pastors and church leaders, including a board member of the college. They have responded very positively to the themes of pastoral care and counselling.
The English copy of Pastoral Care and Counseling in the Middle East, which I co-wrote with Glen Goss, was sent to the translator and then to Egypt for publishing in Arabic. Please breathe a prayer that I will be effective in offering the help that is needed. Our goal as a class is to become compassionate, trustworthy, skilled, Christ-centered caregivers who are full of faith in God and in the people that we are seeking to help.