I was a stranger . . . .
Having two days off, I headed to Jericho. My intent was to see some of the historic places and visit with the Jericho EA team. When I arrived in Jericho, I took a taxi to the Auberg Inn which is close to the foot of the Mount of Temptation. Yet when I got to the Inn, I felt drained and totally unmotivated. My time in the West Bank was soon coming to an end with nothing accomplished. What good are we doing? Why does this injustice continue year after year with no end in sight? And here I am, playing tourist while many of the people in Palestine do not have the freedom or means to travel.
The next morning, I packed up and took a 40-minute walk to town not sure what I wanted to do or where to go. I wandered a bit and thought maybe of having a tea.
Then there was a tap on my shoulder
It was Mahmoud and he is in town because he drives taxi and must have noticed me wandering. I had met him the previous day when he drove me to Auberg Inn. He said come to my house. So I went with him to his home in the refugee camp. His wife made coffee and Mahmoud told me about his family. He had married at the age of 17. His father wanted him to have a son. But his wife had trouble conceiving and finally after nine years, she became pregnant and had a girl. They tried for another nine years and even with IVF, no success. She convinced him to marry another woman and he did since their religion allows for it. Now he has a second daughter. His father has since died and he said that it is not as important to him to have a son. He feels blessed with his daughters and his second wife is pregnant again.
They all live together in the same house. He and his second wife live on the first floor and his first wife on the second floor. His mother also lives in the home.
So I had coffee with Mahmoud and his wives and children. I felt very comfortable and amazed that they so easily shared their lives with a stranger. I showed a picture of my family and talked about them.
When Mahmoud suggested visiting some historic places around Jericho, I was glad to go.
As I was leaving Jericho to join my team mates in Bethlehem, a verse from Scripture came to mind.. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…. (Matt. 25:35). God came to me through a Muslim man tapping me on the shoulder and offering me hospitality. And I realized that God tells us to do that for others no matter their religion, culture, social status. His love is unconditional as our love for others ought to be.
Later when I was checking into the Bethlehem Inn, my phone rang. It was Mahmoud wanting to know if I arrived safely.