from Cheri Holdridge 4:31 pm
subject: your story
I read your story on Sojo mail. Then I went to your blog on Xanga and read quite a bit there. You are an amazing person. I’m a United Methodist pastor. I’m going to tell your story in my sermon tomorrow. I just wanted to tell you that. I’m preaching about seeing God’s vision for our lives; and surrendering to that vision. Mary gave her life over to God, when the angel told her she would bear God’s Son, she said, “I see it now; let it be.” You also have seen God’s vision for your life, and you are living it. I pray that you will continue to touch others with the love of Jesus and with the story of your life. If you have any particular prayer concerns to share with me, please feel free to e mail and I will pray for you.
Central UMC Toledo Ohio
from Lucky Laituri 9:24 pm
subject Re: your story
wow, there is so much to be praying for. in the last month that i have been in the ‘holy’ land, i have not stopped whisperring prayers under my breath for a land so driven by hatred and discord, hidden only by the great ignorance on the part of the entire world. i would ask you to pray for two things only, and i will explain why each is so important to me.
first, please pray for the town of Jesus’ birth, where i am staying now, not in an inn (not because they are all full, but because most of them are closed due to lack of business), but with a great family with another story you may find captivating. you should google Jerry and Sis Levin when you have time later in the week, they are true missionaries and full of a love i envy, and wish to someday share with a wife He chooses for me. bethlehem, which has two millennia of rich history, particularly to Christians, is a prison. surrounded by an apartheid wall which keeps those awful Palestinian terrorists (which continue to elude me…) from visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem. this constitutes no less than religious harassment and racist prejudice. i say that with a deep grief on my heart, because of it’s truth, despite my wish to be more restrained in my language. the lucky few who have citizenship elsewhere have emigrated and fled; those who remain are trapped perpetually in Bethlehem, removing its allure as a historical city and replacing it with an image of an ominous gotham to those who know the truth. religious festivals have ceased, they are a security risk. women cannot take their children to cultivate land confiscated by Israel, they are a security risk. taxis cannot travel outside the small city to earn a decent wage to support their families….. you guessed it, security risk. it is behind this new, all-encompassing, all powerful word that Israelis have hidden, at the expense of their neighbors the Palestinians. whose security is being protected? Israeli citizens who are wooed by economic incentives by the state of Israel to make aliyah to a settlement/colony on ‘disputed’ territory, a violation of several international laws. through all this, bethlehemites remain strong and refuse to acquiesce to the oppression they face daily. last week 20 youths were kidnapped by plain clothes soldiers at a coffee shop, a ‘random’ search that turned into a seizure. i fail to see how IDF authorities waited until these 20 youhs just happened to be at the same place at the same time to enable them to be captured. what i see, with my military lenses, is the opportunity to make a statement to the local community; ‘ we are in control, not you, so there!’ i know because we did the same thing in Iraq, and that it is no less immoral than it was then. despite this, the people here haven’t lost hope, and it is in small part due to the internationals who have seen the truth, whose veil has been removed. i love the Israelis as much as i can, but sometimes, in true agape, a spade must be called a spade. so please ask your congregation to pray for all the Bethlehems in the occupied Palestinian territories, because it is a systemic invasion of the entire west bank which must be stopped.
second, i ask that you pray for our own nation. i love my country dearly, but i weep for the state it is in now. i see a widespread sheet laid over the entire country, where we have all the things we need and we forget Christ’s command that we seek out the outcast and show them they have intricate value to Him, and to us. we must look beyond our borders, and be willing to step outside our boxes in faith and trust in an omnipotent God, to find those that are truly the least among the global community, the universal church instead of simply our local church. Palestine is at the heart of the middle east conflict, and will remain that way until the most powerful nation does something to stop it. we must not support any other country unconditionally. this is because no nation-state can ever claim to be a holy nation, because no nation confesses Christ as Lord. without him as our president/prime minister/King, we are bound to fail because we are all broken, sinful human beings. humans are victims to pride, envy, greed. no matter how hard we try, we will never be perfect, so no human institution will ever be perfect. nations make horrific mistakes which often have catastrophic consequences, this does not come from the Lord. we need to take a step back and ponder if Israel is passing the test of its own (religiously based) moral code. i have spoken to rabbis who know that it is not, i have spoken to orthodox jews who know its not, and i have spoken to IDF soldiers who know it is not. we must insert a condition into our national support of israel; only if what they practice abides by international law and basic human decency. my prayer is that the US can boldly, and faithfully allow God to remove it’s veil so that it may see the prophetic truth about it’s own responsibility in the continuing strife in the middle east. we must stop blanketly vetoing every UN resolution that demands that Israel ceases its illegal policies and practices such as home demolition and their ‘fence,’ which crosses the green line of 1967 and annexes 16% of the Palestinian homefront. if the Christian nation within the US is to have any credibility, we must show that we lie in solidarity with the least of those among us, that we will not support any country that acts outside God’s plan for mankind, and that we will not support the next ethnic cleansing. i ask that we pray for those who would forget that we must see the entire global community as our family, because I fear that the Father may not see them that way in return. By our own judgment we will be judged. Let us remember Sodom’s sins as written in Ezekiel 16:49. As a nation, let us repent of our political arrogance, economic obesity, and lack of concern for our fellow man. Let us be as the publican Jesus describes, not as the Pharisee, in Luke 18:4-14. May God have mercy on us; sinners.
Cheri, i apologize for the length of my response; when i begin writing on something that i am passionate about, i find i cannot pull myself away from the computer. i know they are big prayers, but i believe very strongly that we need to stop praying seriously about parking spaces and start taking seriously our prayers for peace. i included a picture i took yesterday coming into Bethlehem, which had a certain interest to me, and you may find it interesting too. i also included a slideshow that was given to me, perhaps it might answer some questions i have left you with, but hopefully it will also inspire more questions, deeper questions.
in all the fullness of Christ’s love,