Dear Friends and Supporters,
At the start of every new year, we review the one that came before. We may focus on the negative things and blame ourselves for mistakes or endings, like losing a job or friendships. We then look forward to the new year and pray that it will be better, that family is united, no bitterness remains among friends, that our work is not oppressive.
And then we return to the present, to the reality in front of us.
We see the opposite of our dreams. The number of people below the poverty line is growing, there is a high percentage of divorces, violence is increasing around the world, fear and discrimination are feeding off each other.
People ask: “Why is God silent?! Where is God in all this? And especially, where is God in the Middle East and Africa?”
For those that don’t examine or live with God, the presence of God might not be a relevant question. But it is not really about “God”. It is about how we live. It is about who is present for God’s commandments. We discover God’s grace when we give, when we see the other when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.
But what about our real hardships and social boundaries? Will our challenges stop our dreaming? Will they stop us from building communities, from stopping the abuse of women, child labor, weapons sales and killing in the name of God?
Can we stop teaching hate, homophobia, and xenophobia? Can we end apartheid regimes in all countries? These are big challenging questions.
The answer is yes. Yes, we can. Because God is able, and God is in control. God is love in all circumstances. And we must, because the absence of goodness brings evil, the absence of light brings darkness, the absence of love brings hate.
In the old testament, it is written: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts” -Deuteronomy 6: 4-6
And in the new testament, it is written: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” -Jude 24
Above all the prophet David said in the Psalms:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I am not preacher nor prophesier in doctrine. I am a simple man from Palestine who has lived 34 years in a military occupation. I have lived 34 years of daily suffering, humiliation, fear, and restricted movement. And from this life experience, I encourage everyone who reads this letter to start acting in love and stop blaming God or others.
Be part of the House of Hope dream; come and build a healthy, safe community for children. Don’t waste your time of thinking of past or the future. Start now sharing the good news of peacebuilding, nonviolent movement and artistic resistance in El Azariah. Share the good news about hope.
Salam, peace, shalom,
Milad Vosgueritchian, co-founder and chairman, House of Hope