Tuesday, March 13, 2012


This is a picture of Hala and her sister.  Along with their brother, they live in two caves.  Yes, two caves.  Historically, these two caves may have served as the barn area for one of King Herod's palaces.  They are located right outside the entrance to the Garden Tomb, beside a bus station, near the Damascus gate.  Both her sister (on the right) and her brother are mentally challenged, so Hala must care for them.  She has been a believer for over 40 years and has taught children's bible classes in various homes for most of that time.  Her life is hard but she carries the sweet spirit of one who walks with the Savior.  She has been a part of Pastor Steven Khoury's church in Jerusalem since it started.
As Hala shared her story with us, she told of how the love of God melts the hearts of people.  She would go into an area and start teaching the Bible.  She would have some Muslim children taunt, or interrupt or try to intimidate her to quit.  She would engage them, inviting them to join in, or have a snack with them.  Or she would take extra time to talk to them and just show love to them even though they were acting out against her.  She saw over and over again how the love of God broke down the walls and these young men would join her, even bringing their mothers at times. We were told how some of the young boys she has taught are older men now in higher positions in the Palestinian political organization.  It reminded me of the Scriptures:

1 After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

The Lord touches people in high as well as low places.  Hala is not unrealistic.  Before she died, her mother told her that God had given them the responsibility to care for her brother and sister and so they are the burden they must bear gladly.  She told her mother, yes, but that does not mean that the burden does not get heavy at times.  And she smiled.  God has faithfully cared for her through the years, protecting her, providing for her.  And at her age (65) she is as full of life, faith and joy.

Many of us think life is "hard" for us.  But we don't live in a cave nor have little income while caring for two mentally challenged siblings.   We don't face the persecution she faces for being a Christian or teaching the Bible.  I was moved in my heart to realize that many also don't have the joy that Hala has.  The secret?  Daily she lives in absolute dependence on and personal interaction with Jesus Christ.  And that makes all the difference. 

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