Just finished reading Mosab Hassan Yousef's story, Son of Hamas. Absolutely a wonderful read. Ripped through it in a couple of sittings. The story of the son of one of the founders of Hamas caught in the vortex of the eye-for-an-eye Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I've been privileged to witness a number of occasions where a people group receives the New Testament for the first time in their own language (one story here), so perhaps it's not surprising that I found the most gripping passage in the book to be where Mosab reads the New Testament for the first time in his life. This young Palestinian, deeply involved in the conflict, reads Matthew's record of the Sermon on the Mount. This is what he has to say about his first encounter with the words of Jesus:
Everything He says is beautiful. I couldn't put the book down. Every verse seemed to touch a deep wound in my life. It was a very simple message, but somehow it had the power to heal my soul and give me hope.
Then I read this: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."
That's it! I was thunderstruck by these words. Never before had I heard anything like this, but I knew that this was the message I had been searching for all of my life.
As a simple taxi-driver for remote missionaries, I feel a bit ridiculous even commenting on the most unsolvable international problem in our world today...but looking at these words of Jesus that completely changed the direction of Mosab's life—and gave him a love for the Israeli people—it seems to me that a small movement of people, on both sides of the Jordan, comitted to loving their enemies...this would be Jesus' starting point.
2000 years after Matthew records Jesus' words, they are still having an impact in the land in which they were written...bringing true peace to a few in the Middle East.