Tag Archives: Egypt

Book Review:: Tea with Hezbollah by Ted Dekker & Carl Medearis

29 Jan

I always thought sitting down with chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk was key to peace in the Middle East—if only we could all agree to sit down together. That’s what Carl Medearis suggested to novelist Ted Dekker one evening over dinner—only the pair would drink tea, a popular drink in the region, with the likes of Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Samaritans.

Tea with Hezbollah by Dekker and Medearis is the travelogue of the duo’s adventure into Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, and Israel to meet with some of the most dangerous key players on opposite sides of the Middle East conflict. The result is a fascinating book, which culminates with a visit to the 700 remaining Samaritans who occupy an area just outside Tel Aviv. Written primarily by Dekker, the book is a fascinating look into the world of Arabs, Christians, and Jews who are confronted with Jesus’ second greatest commandment—to love one’s neighbor. Dekker also weaves together the story of a girl named Nicole, an American who seeks to find her roots in the ghetto of Beirut.

Through Medearis’ extensive contacts g in the Middle East region, Dekker and Medearis are able to meet with everyone from Osama Bin Laden’s brothers, who think Osama is a jerk, to Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, known to Westerners as the political voice for Hezbollah. To me,  the most interesting parts of the book were not the interviews with Hamas leaders or sheiks, but the thoughts of every day people such as the scholarly Dr. Micah and Sami Awad, a Christian living in Bethlehem (not Pennslyvania—the one where Jesus was born) who embraces non-violent beliefs.

When I say Tea with Hezbollah is a must-read, I’m not mincing my words. To truly understand what Arabs think about Americans and their neighbors, you must read this book. Plus, you will also gain a sense of the “humanity” of our “enemies.” Ted Dekker’s true story of his journey in the Middle East with buddy Carl Medearis rivals the suspense found in any of his novels.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Because of the fine folks at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, one lucky reader can win a copy of TEA WITH HEZBOLLAH for free. Simply tell me your favorite kind of tea (if you don’t like tea, pick a favorite drink) when you reply below. Easy as pie and just as tasty. The contest will end on Feb. 5 at 12 PM EST. You can also e-mail your entry to amy@backseatwriter.com or reply via Twitter or Facebook.  Don’t forget to leave a valid e-mail address so I can contact you if you win…and don’t worry, I won’t share it with anyone!

Congrats to Donna S. for winning TEA WITH HEZBOLLAH! 🙂

**Don’t forget to enter BSW’s OWOH giveaway here!**


Crappy Children’s Church Crafts

18 Dec

My mom just called me to ask me if the local craft store had pony beads in various color for a craft she was putting together for the children’s program at her church. She that the children were learning about the plagues brought on Egypt when Pharaoh refused to free the Israelites from slavery; each bead was to represent one of the plagues. The children, then, would make a color-coded plague bracelet so they could remember the plagues. By committing this to memory, the kids were to be reminded of God’s faithfulness and His power to deliver his people.

When I was a kid, we used to make “gospel bracelets” with red, white, black, yellow, green, and blue beads to tell the salvation story to curious individuals who spied our bracelets. We were prepared in advance for these witnessing opportunities. However, I never made a “plague bracelet”. If some unsuspecting person were to ask the child about the plague bracelet, would the child then explain the plague of boils or locusts? Frankly, I could see some kids getting more excited about the massive destruction brought onto the Egyptians rather than the redeeming power of God. (When I was a little girl, I always loved the part of the story where Moses parts the Red Sea. Then right as the Egyptian army is about to cross–WHOOSH!–they all get washed away. It still gives me chills.)

Seriously, who thinks of these crafts? Are these the same people who make the flannel board figures that go along with Bible lessons? Probably. I mean, those flannel graph people have hairdos from the 1940’s and all look Caucasian. The stories took place in the Middle East; therefore, the characters should look Middle Eastern.

At the moment, I can’t think of a replacement craft, but I’m sure almost anything would be better than a plague bracelet.  I have a few lesson suggestions of my own.  Next week, the class will be collecting rocks and etching each and every one of the ten commandments into the rock, using verses from the King James Version of the Bible (because KJV is more elegant, of course). The week after that a herpetologist will be bringing on a brood of vipers to bite the children. Upon being bitten, the kids can choose anti-venom by looking at the paper snake hanging from the ceiling (you know, the Israelites all get bitten by snakes for their unfaithfulness and they’re dying. But Moses lifts up the snake on a stick and all the sick people have to do is look at the snake to be healed. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read your Bible!!!) Now that’s a practical Bible lesson.

Honestly, do we need to waste our resources on stupid things like plague bracelets? The materials used to make the bracelets were probably put together by slave labor in China anyway. Why don’t we actually do something memorable with kids? Why don’t we think of better ways to show God’s redeeming power? Kids need to learn the great history of the Bible, but they also need to learn how to apply it practically. Beaded plague bracelets are far from practical, and they’re a bit sadistic, too.

Abraham’s Other Women

9 Dec

Sometimes when reading through my Bible, I come to a long list of names. Bildebad beget Salmon who beget Herring who beget Peanut Butter and it goes on and on and on. More often than not, I skip over the biblical genealogies and get to the “good stuff”–you know, the big epics, the scandals, the psalms–the meaty stuff.

But I’m starting to learn that those long lists of names aid our study of the “good stuff”. For example, as I’ve mentioned before I’m currently reading Exodus. I started thinking about Zipporah, Moses’ wife, and how she was a Midianite. Who were the Midianites, I wondered.

So I hopped online and did some research. The Midianites were descended from Abraham’s son, Midian, the result of his relationship with a concubine, Keturah. Hmm…I thought that kid’s name was Ishmael, not Midian and Sarah’s maidservant’s name was Hagar. Well, my friends, Abraham did a little more bed-hopping than is mentioned in Genesis. According to I Chronicles 1:32, Keturah bore Abraham a whopping six sons–Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.

Now where did this other woman come from? I never read anything about her in the Bible, or at least I must not have read very carefully. According to Genesis 25:1, after Sarah died, Abraham took another wife–Keturah. Here it mentions that she bore him six sons, who in turn, bore more sons (and probably daughters, too). Plus, how old is he at this point? He was already old when Isaac was born; but then he goes on to have more children after Sarah dies. This guy is virile!

When Abraham dies, he leaves everything he owns to Isaac, but while Abraham was still living he gave gifts to the “sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the lands of the east” (verse 5). It begs the question–exactly how many sons with how many concubines did Abraham have and why? We only know of Hagar and Keturah, but there could be others, many others.

Apparently, Abraham’s the love ’em and leave ’em kind of man, showing favoritism to Isaac, the son of his favorite wife. A trait which Abraham’s grandson, Jacob also seems to inherit favoring Rachel over Leah and therefore favoring the sons she bears–Joseph and Benjamin. Then again, isn’t it Joseph who saves his family from famine and gets them all to move to Egypt? And isn’t it in Egypt where the Israelites are enslaved in Exodus? So Moses the Israelite leaves Egypt and marries a Midianite, a descendant of his father Abraham.

Now I imagine Midian, like Ishmael, weren’t terribly fond of Abraham. Even though he gave them gifts, it was apparent to all that Isaac was the favored and promised son. Abraham sent the “unmentionables” to the east away from Isaac. Did he fear that Isaac’s life was in danger because they would kill him in a jealous rage? Were they unworthy to be near Isaac? Or is Abraham ensuring that Isaac gets better land than his half-siblings? This sort of behavior breeds contempt and jealousy, hence causing the wars and bloodshed the Israelites endure through the Old Testament. If only Abraham could have controlled his sexual urges and waited on God’s promises….if only…

They’re only a few verses with a bunch of names, right? Yet they tell a whole story about Abraham’s life, about the other children he had, and the problems that caused for the future of God’s Chosen People. Not only do people beget people, but they also pass down curses, consequences, and poor family judgment.

It’s fascinating how what seems to be a small question (Who are the Midianites?) can lead to a period of fascinating Bible discovery and research. Continue to wrestle with obvious questions and deep ones and you will be amazed at what there is to discover.

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