28 April 2011

Hamas and Fatah... Peace agreement!


The New York Times reported today, “Fatah and Hamas, the rival Palestinian movements, announced an agreement in principle on Wednesday to end a years-long internal Palestinian schism.

"It is time for the Palestinian people to reject the corrupt and useless leaders who have used violence and strife to insure their positions. It is also time for Israel to reject the extreme factions of their government." Taher Al-Nounou, a spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza, said the two sides had reached a preliminary agreement to form a transitional unity government for the Palestinian territories to be followed by new elections after a year.

While the deal, reached after secret Egyptian-brokered talks, promised a potentially historic reconciliation for the Palestinians, Israel warned that a formal agreement would spell the end of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Even before the press conference to make the announcement, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, sent a stern warning to the Palestinian Authority president and Fatah chief, Mahmoud Abbas.

“The Palestinian Authority has to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a televised address on Wednesday. “Peace with both of them is impossible because Hamas aspires to destroy the state of Israel and says so openly.” “ (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/world/middleeast/28mideast.html?_r=1&hp)

This is never good news for Israel. When the enemies of the Jewish people join together, buckle your seatbelts; the next target is Israel. I said this when Tunisia erupted a few months back. I said this when President Mubarak was removed after 30 years in office in Egypt. And I’m still saying it. When Sunnis and Shiites stop aiming at each other, the next target will be Israel.

I’m not the only one, of course, who worries when Hamas and Fatah link arm in arm. But I am one.

At the press conference in Cairo Wednesday, Moussa Abu Marzouq, a representative of Hamas, said the preliminary agreement between the two rival worldviews “ended a painful period in the history of the Palestinian people.” Adding that the Palestinian division had given Israel an opportunity to continue building settlements in the West Bank, he said, “Today we turn this page and open a new page.”

In other words, buckle your seatbelt. It’s not good news for Israel. Let’s see how the world reacts and especially those who love peace react. Hamas is no friend of anyone. The Times reported on the US reaction, “Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said that the administration was seeking more information but that it considered Hamas a terrorist organization that would not be a reliable partner in peace talks with Israel.”

Holding a machine gun behind a child-shield in one hand and an olive branch in the other, let’s see how this plays out.

26 April 2011

Attacks in Australia

Look out, the violence of the world hits our world in unlikely ways today.
First, the asylum seekers in Villawood detention centre are copping it, as the row of violence and destruction have now caused Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to announce that anyone who acts out in this way will be denied permanent protection visas. These rooftop sitters and tossers have caused quite a bit of stir the last week or so in Sydney.

Bowen said, "This type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
Yesterday two dingoes attacked a 3-year-old girl on Fraser Island in Queensland. Today they were put down. The girl was hospitalized with cuts to her legs, but will be fine, according to her father, David Kennedy, in today's interviews.

South African-born, Sydney lawyer Mark Treisman and his wife Haylene were holidaying with Mr Treisman's family when they went to Ruffey Lake Park in Doncaster near Melbourne yesterday. According to the Herald Sun, "The couple, their three sons, daughter and niece were walking along a path when a swarm of wasps descended on them and attacked, stinging the group dozens of times.

The couple's 11-month-old son, Gabriel, passed out after the attack. “It was very, very frightening,” Mr Treisman said. “Maybe it was just the fatigue, but he had passed out. My wife and I thought that we had lost him.” "

Wow, who would imagine so much violence, and so many attacks.
The news, of course, is filled with such, like in Libya and Afghanistan and we are used to those. But so close to home? So near to us? So possibly coming to roost in our world tomorrow?

That compartmentalization, that separation of trouble from us, that makes us feel comfortable. That makes us feel safer. And in a lot of ways, that's a good thing. Most parents want that for their children. Certainly Mr Kennedy and Mr Treisman want that for their children. I want that safety for my children.

But reality is that we all will cop things in our lives. We will all suffer. We will all experience pain and suffering and sometimes it's warranted, and sometimes it just happens.

Tonight ends the Jewish holiday of Passover, an annual reminder of both the bondage of the Jewish people in the land of Egypt some 3,500 years ago and the divine response of delivering us with an outstretched arm and a mighty hand. We remember the 10 plagues and the lambs and the blood of the lambs which saved us.

Two days ago the Christian world celebrated Easter as well. That is a holiday which celebrates and memorializes both the resurrection of the Messiah Y'shua (Jesus Christ) and his death which precedes it by a few days. The suffering of the Messiah looked fairly bleak, suffering is never something we would choose. And no father would choose suffering for his child.

Except the Bible says something about this.. "But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand." (Is. 53.10)
God the Father sent his only son, not to avoid the suffering, but to die for us. And that 'sending' and that 'pleased to crush him' was the only way we could be bought back. Our sin had separated us from the Lord, and God had to redeem us, all of us, in one fell swoop-- the death of Messiah. Life for life, blood for blood, the great exchange.

Thank you, Lord, for your love for us and for all people. For South African lawyers, for Queenslanders and asylum seekers, for all of us. God's love is real. Receive that love today by faith. Believe in God; believe also in Y'shua.

What do you think?

25 April 2011

Chinese church lock down

The New York Times reports (on Easter) the entire article at the bottom of this blog.

Seems Chinese authorities are involved in arresting and detaining up to 500 Christians who are attempting to meet together in non-government-approved meeting places. The report features Shouwang (meaning "Lighthouse") Church. Their pastor and dozens of others are not allowed to gather, especially on Easter, the most significant day of the Christian calendar.

Any person of good will, and those who believe in freedom, especially freedom of speech, worship and assembly, are upset at the hostility shown by the Chinese government. The government shut down the church website overnight.

Freedom of religion and belief are recognised as human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948 as ‘a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations’. Article 18 states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

Here in Australia, the Australian Constitution says very little about religion and religious freedom. Chapter V, Section 116 of the Constitution, which deals with freedom of religion and belief states:
"The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth."
(This taken from the Australian Human Rights Commission which released its ‘Freedom of religion and belief in the 21st century’ report published March, 2011)

But apparently neither of those documents is of value to China.

Does this Chinese action outrage you? Would you seek to prevent the church from meeting together? What rights, if any would you extend to those who worship and believe differently than you do?

I believe it's sensible to allow others to gather, to pray, and to believe what they want. They even have the right to express what they believe as long as it doesn't prevent another from doing the same. We are in a world of multi-everything. And that means someone, maybe Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or our Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard wandering today in Asia might want to have a word with Chinese authorities.

I would.

Maybe that's what this blog is doing today.
Maybe someone out there is listening.
I'll hope so.



Here's the NY Times article in full:
China Detains Church Members at Easter Services
By ANDREW JACOBS

"The authorities stepped up a three-week campaign against an underground Christian church on Sunday, detaining hundreds of congregants in their homes and taking at least 36 others into custody after they tried to hold Easter services in a public square, church members and officials said.

The church, Shouwang, or Lighthouse, an evangelical Protestant congregation that was evicted from its rented quarters earlier this month, has been at loggerheads with the government since announcing plans to gather outdoors rather than disband or return to worshiping in private homes. The authorities have repeatedly stymied Shouwang’s efforts to lease or buy space for its 1,000-member congregation, one of the largest and most prominent so-called house churches in the capital.

The Chinese Communist Party tightly manages religious activity, requiring the faithful to join state-run churches, mosques or Buddhist temples. Until the most recent crackdown on Shouwang and a handful of other unregistered big-city churches, such congregations had enjoyed relatively wide latitude from religious authorities.

Founded 18-years ago in a private home, Shouwang insists that it has no political agenda and only seeks government forbearance that would allow it to occupy the $4 million space it bought in 2009. Church leaders say the owner of the space, under pressure from the authorities, has refused to hand over the keys. Last week, a foreign ministry spokesman defended the government’s stance, saying Shouwang had “no legal basis” to operate.

Most of those seized on Sunday morning were taken away in buses after they showed up at the plaza, which is not far from several of the country’s top universities. A CNN crew said they were briefly detained and had their credentials confiscated before being turned away by the police.

Several church members, all of whom requested anonymity for fear of further provoking the authorities, say they were confined to their homes by security agents, some as early as Thursday, in an effort to keep them from joining Easter services. ChinaAid, a Christian advocacy group based in the United States, put the number of those under temporary house arrest at 500, although that figure could not be immediately verified.

On Sunday night, Shouwang’s Web site was blocked and its chief pastor, Jin Tianming, could not be reached by phone. In an e-mail circulated last week, church leaders asked parishioners to make their way to the elevated walkway where services were supposed to take place even though they would probably be intercepted by the police.

The letter took note of the upcoming Easter holiday and likened the congregation’s struggle to the tribulations endured by Jesus Christ before his crucifixion.

“We pray especially for those brothers and sisters who in the past week or two have already been forced to move or leave their jobs,” it said. “We ask God to remember the price they have paid for holding on to their faith and ask him to take care of their families and their daily life needs.”

23 April 2011

CHRISTIAN BASKETBALL PLAYERS PAY SOLIDARITY VISIT TO ISRAEL


Bill Alexson, a pioneer in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Chapel Program and former chaplain with the Boston Celtics, thought he had seen and experienced everything in basketball, until he went to Jerusalem with an all-Christian team of NBA stars. Ten past and present NBA basketball players belonging to the Christian athletic foundation Power Sports International recently made a week-long pilgrimage and solidarity visit to Israel, putting on clinics and exhibition games and meeting with dignitaries to express their support for the Jewish state.

Organized by Bill Alexson, the 23-member delegation was hosted by President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, where he was presented with an NBA shirt. The players were a big hit with youths from basketball leagues in the Jerusalem area as the NBAers dazzled them with trick passes and alley-oop dunks at a skills clinic. The team then played a friendly in the evening against Bnei HaSharon of the Israeli national league. Alexson said "The purpose of the visit was for Christian NBA players to show their support for Israel and the Jewish people," he explained.

"As we told the crowd at half-time, we were there because we believe what the Bible says; that the Jewish people are God's chosen people and the God who gave them the land is going to allow them to keep the land. We met with the president at his residence with the media including television cameras, covering it. President Peres took the microphone and said, 'You don't know what this means to us for you, as Christian NBA players, coming to show support of the Jewish people at this time.

"The trip changed our lives and it humbled us that God used us to touch the whole country to let them know that there were Christians who had come to their land and show their support. If Christians don't take a stand; then who is going to?" Alexson said "Personally, as a Christian, I've always wanted to go to Israel because it's the Holy Land, but more than that, I had become aware of some countries who were distancing themselves from supporting Israel."So I wanted to do my part and I started talking to some of our NBA players about the possibility," he said.

"The trip was off the charts for us. It changed our lives and it humbled us that God used us the whole country to let them know that there were Christians who had come to their land and show their support."

"If Christians don't take a stand; then who is going to?" I then asked Alexson if he was from a Jewish background.

"No, I'm half Greek and half Irish, but I'm a spiritual Jew who knows Yeshua [Jesus] and he's the Messiah of the Jewish people," he told me.

"Then the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest pro-Israel group lobby in America, heard about my interest and we cooperated on the trip. "We went to the edge of the Gaza Strip, to the Lebanon border, and also to the religious sites. It was very moving experience. The players had their lives changed, God used us and now we're taking NBA players around the world to preach the Gospel at halftime on nationally televised games" Alexson concluded.

Organized by former Boston Celtic chaplain Bill Alexson, the tour featured former New York Knicks Allan Houston and Anthony Bonner, former Toronto Raptor Jerome Williams, ball-whiz Charles Smith of the Harlem Globetrotters,former San Antonio Spur center David Robinson (The Admiral), as well as Dwight Howard, Sr., father of one the NBA's top stars at present.

Source: ASSIST News

22 April 2011

Memorials

911 memorial by bobmendo
911 memorial, a photo by bobmendo on Flickr.

Today is called "Good Friday" by many. It's the anniversary of the death of the founder of the messianic movement, Y'shua of Nazareth. According to the record, found in the Brit Chadasha, Y'shua had a Passover meal with his friends, colleagues and the future leaders of the movement. That was on a Thursday.

After a seriously flawed kangaroo court held during the night, contrary to all true Jewish justice, Y'shua was found guilty and delivered to the Roman government for sentencing. His sentence? Death by crucifixion.

That crucifixion took place on the Friday of what would later be labeled "Holy Week." They buried him in a new sepulcher owned by a certain Joseph from Arimethea. Then the Sabbath came.

On Sunday, the third day, Y'shua rose from the dead. He was seen by dozens, even hundreds of Jewish people over the next 6 weeks. A week before Sh'vuot, he ascended into heaven before them all.

Ever since then, the community of faith, now which is labeled the Church, has been calling this day "Good Friday." Why? It's the day the most innocent men of all time was unjustly executed on a Roman cross. What is good about that?

Ah, fine question. That which makes this day so good is that the death of Messiah allows God to forgive us for the sins we have committed against him. His death opened the door for our entry into heaven. It's good because we can now be reconciled with the Father. That's something to shout about.

The other day I walked in Los Angeles past this memorial to the dead who were killed on 9/11/01 (with global apologies to the world who would have labeled that day 11/9/01). The flag unfurled above me into the never-ending sky. It was a deeply moving single strand of expression. I remembered where I was in Sydney when I heard the news and stayed up all night to watch the continuing coverage by the media.

Memorials make sense. History is filled with what might look to outsiders like littering or undue emotional expression. But that day in LA, and today in Sydney, I'm pondering again what really matters in life, and what I want to memorialize in my life. I want to remember the victims in the terrorist attack of 9/11.

More importantly to me, I want to remember Y'shua, or as others label him Jesus Christ. He died on that Good Friday to give me eternal life. How can I not stop and say 'thanks!'? He is worthy of all memorials built to him. Mostly he is worthy of my life.

And yours.

20 April 2011

If Moses had Facebook

Click on this link and then 'play' the video. It's fantastic.Google Exodus
One of the funny things about jokes in the modern world is the capacity for anachronism with the internet. Here some Orthodox Jewish people have mixed in the social media of Facebook, and You Tube and other media and re-told the story of the Exodus. I like that.

Y'shua did this frequently. He told stories and made the people who listened understand old stories anew.

I like to do that. I hope you enjoy this one and that your celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish people is rich and real.

Chag s'meach!

19 April 2011

Shameless and Primping

Adelaide’s Channel 9 news reader Kate Collins has made the news having been captured on video in what the Adelaide News calls, “a hilarious unguarded moment.”

Collins, who has been with Channel 9 in Adelaide (Australia) since 2006, was caught preening herself and fixing her hair. The footage has made its way on to AOL daily news, to YouTube and is expected to go viral. But to call it ‘hilarious’ is not on. It’s shameless. She simply is adjusting her hair.

Like Collins is the only person on TV who wants to look good and pays attention to her hair between segments. Please.

Let’s list some others who did it very publically:
1) The Fonz. “Get a black comb. The Fonz always made sure he looked good, especially when he came across his reflection. Pull the comb out from your side pocket when you come across a mirror and check your hair.”

Read more: How to Dress Like the Fonz http://www.ehow.com/how_4523653_dress-like-fonz-halloween.html#ixzz1JuzFFDZm”
2) Edd Byrnes. From his fan page on Facebook:
“Edd… American actor known for his starring role in the television series 77 Sunset Strip. He also was featured in the film version of Grease….His most famous role was as Gerald Lloyd "Kookie" Kookson, III, on the ABC television detective series ‘77 Sunset Strip.’ He played a continuously hair-combing serial killer in the pilot, Girl on the Run, but he was so popular as a result that the producers brought back the following week as a regular cast member in a different role.”
This from Time magazine, Monday, May 11, 1959
“The most famous head of hair in the nation last week belonged neither to Senator John Kennedy nor to Pianist Artur Rubinstein, but to a 25-year-old television actor named Edward Byrnes, who in three short weeks has become the hottest new property on records. The source of Byrnes's top-of-the-head fame is a peculiarly wolfish ditty called Kookie, Kookie (Warner Bros.) in which Byrnes sings scarcely a note. His contribution is a series of jive lingo replies to a marshmallow-voiced girl who implores him over and over again: "Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb!" Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,865832,00.html#ixzz1Jv1tavYf

3) Ted Baxter from the Mary Tyler Moore show. His friend Gavin McLeod wrote, “[In 1981]: I called Ted a delightful Polish ham. Look at him when he gets into his car to leave the studio. There's Teddy combing his hair in the mirror before he starts the motor. Who knows how many fans will spot him and wave on the freeway?”

People love to ridicule others. It makes good comedy, or at least fills television evening comedy time slots. But Ms Collins is merely the brunt of media boredom, hunting for anything which is hysterical, and finding the barely noticeable. Shame on them.

On the airplane today from Dallas, I asked the flight attendant if she wouldn’t mind making a general announcement wishing all the Jewish passengers on board a “Happy Passover.” She declined saying it was against airline policy. What?

I was sitting next to a lawyer, a corporate lawyer and told him of her comment. Well, he said, that’s the safe answer. We spoke about general announcements of sports scores and such, but he said, those haven’t been litigated yet. So the pilot is generally safe in making such known.

Shame. Unbelievable shame. You want to hear one? Up in Washington state, “Up here, a school changed the name of an Easter Egg hunt to a Spring Sphere hunt...ridiculous!” Thanks Stephanie for this news item. Unbelievable.

I remember Christmas concerts when I was a youth. Great music. Baroque, classical, significant. Now, all gone, traded in for Frosty and bells that jingle. What a waste. What a shame.

In fact, shameless is the key concept today.

Brian Lowry of Variety Magazine wrote this in January, “Rossum is certainly appealing, but too many of the supporting players (led by Joan Cusack as a germaphobic mom, and the Gallaghers' wacky neighbors) come across as cartoonish concoctions there to capitalize on pay-cable license rather than service the story.

The series does cast light on a world (relocated to the grimiest part of Chicago) where nothing comes easy, and kids don't have the luxury of idleness or childhood.

For the most part, there's nothing here to be ashamed of. It's just that at a time when TV drama is so flush with riches, "Shameless" plays like a poor relative.”

That’s a review in part of the new television show on Showtime. I hadn’t heard of it until today when I saw a billboard in Los Angeles with the cast and the name. And I thought of the shame in Adelaide and in the airlines and that’s so desperately missing in people’s lives.

A bit of shame is good, you know. When you do wrong, you should feel ashamed. Adam, the original one, not Sandler, was naked and not ashamed before he ate of the forbidden tree. Immediately after he ate, he was embarrassed and that’s healthy. He sought or rather was sought by the Almighty, and the shame he felt was overcome by the blood of the animals killed for Adam.

God has a way to take away our shame. And to give us healthy and sustainable life in its place. For that, I’m especially grateful. And wish that for you today and this week as well.

To all my Jewish mates, Happy Passover!

06 April 2011

Israelis and Messianic Jews

This article is worth a read all by itself.

Israeli media stands up for Messianic Jews

Average Israelis may be indifferent at best toward their Jesus-following Jewish brethren, but their distaste for the domineering attitude and behavior of many in the Orthodox Jewish community has resulted in a new phenomenon of average “secular” Israelis coming to the defense of Messianic Jews.

Nowhere has this been more pronounced than in the Israeli media, which over the past several years has on numerous occasion portrayed Messianic Israelis in a positive light.

The latest occurrence of this was on Wednesday evening, when Israel Channel One’s “Second Look” program compared local Messianic Jews to the anti-missionary group Yad L’Achim, which has dedicated itself to harassing and driving out believers in Yeshua (Jesus)... read the whole article (see http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/22729/Default.aspx)

I think the historic Jewish community needs to rethink its strategies against the work of the Lord in the messianic community.

Caroline Glick, Israel, and Jews for Jesus

In the midst of a decent article about American Jews and their views on Anti-Israel Jewry, for some unknown reason, Glick goes into a diatribe, or at least a forthright knock against Jewish believers in Jesus. It seemed to be from left field.

Her article published in the Jerusalem Post on 1 April 2011 begins with "Over the past year or so, American Jewish opponents of Israel like writer and activist Peter Beinart have sought to intimidate and demoralize Israelis by telling us that American Jews either no longer support us or will stop supporting us if we don't give in to all the Arabs' demands. But statistical evidence exposes these threats as utter lies."

OK, fair enough, I get the idea, she wants the anti-Israel sentiment to stop. I get it.

She continues, "In fact, American Jews under 30 are more hawkish about the Palestinian conflict with Israel than Jews between the ages of 31-40 are.According to the Brandeis survey, 51 percent of American Jews oppose a future division of Jerusalem, while a mere 29% would support it."

She cites examples of pressured groups on East and West coasts who have buckled to anti-Israel sentimentalists and organizers. She worries about Israeli support in the USA. OK, I get it, and appreciate her remarks. But out of nowhere comes this, "To get a sense of how unprecedented this is, it is useful to consider the American Jewish community's response to Jews for Jesus. While Reform and Orthodox rabbis agree on almost nothing relating to Jewish laws and practices, since the emergence of Jews for Jesus in the 1970s, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis have been unified in their rejection of the Christian missionary group's protestations of being Jewish.

Everyone understands that while Jews have a perfect right to change their religion, they have no right to force the Jewish community to accept Christians as Jews. That is, they have no right to change the definition of Judaism to include people who worship Jesus.

So-called Messianic Jews falsely call themselves Jews to undermine the community from within. But no Federation feels compelled to invite a representative of so-called Messianic Jews to proselytize on stage as part of a panel discussion in order to "welcome multiple voices."

Hillel organizations have rightly refused space and funding to Messianic Jewish groups.

But today, American Jews find themselves helpless when a marginal group of anti-Zionist Jews demands - like the Messianic Jews of their day - communal funding and space for their anti-Israel activities.

The anti-Zionist groups make the same arguments as the Messianic Jews. They call themselves pro-Israel even as they engage in activities aimed at harming, defaming, weakening and delegitimizing the Jewish state. They claim that refusing them communal funds constitutes a violation of their free speech rights.

Yet while communal leaders did not hesitate to call the so-called Messianic Jews' bluff, they cannot find the way to expunge anti-Israel groups from their umbrella organizations."

What! What a conflation of ideas and misstatements and borderline indictments. I'm so glad someone (and many have done so) replied. Case in point. Matt Sieger is a senior editor at Jews for Jesus. He took Glick to task in his reply on TownHall.com. I quote him in entirety.

"Dear Caroline,
In your column, "American Jewry's Fight," you use Messianic Jews (those of us who believe in Jesus) as a barometer of what the American Jewish community's response should be to anti-Israel propaganda emanating from Jewish groups. In doing so, you have tarred us with the same brush as those anti-Israel groups. To set the record straight, I would like to make the following points:

• Messianic Jews are almost invariably and unapologetically pro Israel.
• Messianic Jews in Israel show that commitment by joining the Israeli army.
• We do not attempt to "force the Jewish community" to accept us as Jews. We are Jews, descendants of Abraham, who believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.
• We do not seek to "undermine the community from within." Undermining the community is not our agenda. Our only agenda is to proclaim that Jesus is Messiah.
• As far as I know, Messianic Jewish groups demand neither space nor funding from Hillel organizations.

Your one sentence is particularly misleading: "But today, American Jews find themselves helpless when a marginal group of anti-Zionist Jews demands—like the Messianic Jews of their day—communal funding and space for their anti-Israel activities."

This sentence implies two things: 1) that Messianic Jews demand communal funding and space from Jewish groups; and 2) that we demand it for anti-Israel activities. Neither of those statements could be further from truth. I believe you owe us and your readers an apology for that implication. Thank you."

Sieger, don't hold your breath for such an apology, although I generally find Glick a person of good will. We'll keep a watch for whatever comes next.

02 April 2011

Flowers of the Son

By Rachel Friedlander

Israel is home to some seven and a half million people. But to billions others, it is a stray and distant thought—the very mention of which often evokes images of terrorism, religious conflict, and concrete rubble. But from amid the sounds of conflict, one group of missionaries hears the cry for peace and salvation.

Flowers of the Son documents the experiences of the volunteers participating in “Behold Your God,” a four week evangelistic outreach that spans twelve geographic regions of Israel. Through pamphlets, banners, skits, musical performances, phone calls, and door-to-door visits, these missionaries engage both young and old, religious and irreligious in conversation about the Messiah, Y'shua.

Directed, written, and produced by Emmy award-winners Herb and Amy Kossover, Flowers of the Son packs quite the punch in a short, 30 minute time slot. Despite its slightly cloying, Hallmark card introduction, this half hour is not filled with typical evangelistic fare—there are no heartrending accounts of injured orphans and puppies, no sickening musical number. It is the truthful, occasionally gruesome story of what these missionaries face on a daily basis.

It is made apparent that whether serving on the front lines or behind the scenes, these campaign workers have the unity of an army and the resilience of soldiers. Despite their uniform of brightly colored t-shirts, they are of different genders and nationalities with unique gifts and testimonies. But just like the campaign itself, this film is a collaboration. The voices of all types of missionaries are heard through narrative, interviews, and both live and reenacted footage.

But the cries of opposition are also heard, loud and clear. Instances of verbal abuse and physical assault permeate the film, providing a realistic picture of the spiritual war that is taking place in the streets of Israel. Fortunately, there is hope amid the horror. Serving as the dessert of this cinematic meal, two inspiring accounts of religious seekers leave a lasting taste of promise.

Whether showing moments of the ugliness of human nature or the beauty of salvation, the audience will be captured by the stunning cinematography, enjoyable soundtrack (including the sounds of New Light Ruins), and vivid storytelling. Flowers of the Son inspires those around the world to look past the crumbling cement and to see the life that is bursting up through the cracks.