The Front Page Touch
This past week, the national weather and the war between Israel and Hezbollah along the Lebanon border have dominated the news. Five or six times a week, I usually get my update about the news while working out on my treadmill. Normally I’d be watching the news anyway and it lowers my stress and improves my overall health to be working out on a regular basis. Often the news seems like something “way out there” and remotely connected to my personal work in publishing and writing. This week I had a connection to both stories.
Let’s first consider the story about the weather. I know it’s been warm across America and it’s not surprising since it is July. Yesterday in the Phoenix area marked the warmest temperatures in a decade. Last month was the warmest on record with the average temperature well over 100. It felt hot to me yesterday but I was surprised to see it reached 118 or one of 11 days to this temperature since 1895 or when they began to keep records on the weather. You can talk about the dry heat of the desert (a common theme around here) but 118 was plain old hot. Thank goodness for air conditioning and I took the AC less for granted yesterday when our power went out for over 45 minutes.
My connection to the battles in the Middle East is much less obvious but equally present. In March, I had the opportunity to attend the Sounds of Hope Conference on the campus of Wheaton College. Each of the speakers lived in the Middle East and the purpose was to listen and learn about the 50 million Christians who live in this part of the world yet are rarely heard. After attending this conference, I wrote a couple of articles about this event (here’s one and here’s the other). One of the speakers was Dr. Martin Accad, who is the Academic Dean of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beruit, Lebanon. This Oxford educated Christian brought an articulate message and it was my privilege to talk with him a bit during the conference. Last week, Dr. Accad was lecturing at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California and because of the bombing of the Beruit airport, he is stranded in the United States and unable to return home. I was surprised to learn this detail and see his fascinating article on the Christianity Today website. For me, it made the news a lot less remote and more personal. I appreciated the prayer advice Leonard Rodgers, the founder of Venture International has about this war situation. Rodgers spent a number of years living in this portion of the world so has great insight. Wherever you stand politically about this conflict, I appreciated the perspective of Brother Andrew and his book Light Force, who regularly travels to the Middle East and meets with leaders of Hamas (another part of the story which seems to have disappeared in the media). For my model, I’d prefer to follow the example of Brother Andrew. No matter what the background of the person, he is talking with them about Jesus.
If you are looking for an excellent, well-told novel about the Middle East, I recommend you consider Ezekiel Option by Joel Rosenberg. Here’s my review of this book. It is a page-turner and many of the characters continue into Rosenberg’s next book, The Copper Scroll which releases next week—and is equally well-done.
Ok, now you know how the front page news has touched my life. It’s much more than the images on the television or in print. I’ve got some personal experiences that connect me to these events.