November 29, 2002 Matthew

Cultural Glasses, Israeli Checkpoints

We took a week-long trip to Turkey in the middle of the school. This is Ephesus.

“And I will shake all the nations and the desire and the precious things of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:7

It’s been tricky trying to find time to write up another update because of all the things we are being kept busy with at this school. We have been studying much about culture with some days going from 8am to 10pm. We have learned a great deal about how we see and judge other cultures through our own “cultural glasses”. In every culture—every tribe, language, people—there are treasures/desires that God has placed, that can only be fulfilled or redeemed by Jesus, and part, if not most, of doing missions is finding out what and where these values are within a culture, and then showing them that they too have a place in heaven. Jesus gave an example of how to do this when he was only 12 years old, just sitting and listening in the synagogues and answering their questions afterward, and also with the Samaritan woman at the well. I have also seen how ethnic diversity was always intended by God from the beginning and didn’t result from the rebellious tower of Babel incident. For example, you read of different languages, territories, nations, families, etc. before the tower of Babel story (Gen. 10). Then the rebellious act of the people seeking to be one “lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:2-4) so as to go against God’s eternal purpose of blessing all families/peoples on the earth through Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Paul talks of this as the “mystery of Christ”, how “the nations/gentiles should be fellow heirs…” in Eph. 3:2-13 and also in Acts 17:26. And of course the model of his outreach to them in 1 Corinthians 9:22,23.

Next week and the week after are two long weeks of a world missions “Perspectives”course. Which we are doing along with the DTS. Sleep will probably be little.

The Israelis are of course uptight and checkpoints are on the increase (places where they block roads or stop cars/vans). The bombing in Jerusalem a few days ago was treated as a routine procedure, no real surprise or fear in the people really… Although Bethlehem has been placed under curfew once again (closed from going in or out, and certain hours when you can be out of your home.) and other Palestinian towns are also being raided.

This Monday night is the highest point of the Ramadan. It’s called the Night of Power, when, they say, the Qur’an was delivered. 600,000+ Muslims cram in and all around the temple mount around the mosque to pray the one night they believe that God will actually answer ay prayer request they might have. I am told the spiritual activity is massive ad the Muslims open themselves up to trances ad visions and such. We will be praying through the night taking turns.