He sits nearby, his eyes on his Arabic translation of Ephesians 2. The music behind us is thrumming, but we both treat it as background noise. Suddenly the tempo changes, the music takes on a middle eastern flair. His eyes shoot heavenward, then lock on me. “This is from my country!” he says. He stands, claps, sings with robust joy. I sing along, butchering the Arabic, I’m sure. But I sing because he is my Iraqi brother, and this is his language, his form of worship.
Funny how his demeanor changes with the music. It’s as if he is now sharing a piece of himself with me, a beautiful, priceless piece. We then sing in English about God’s peace. During the song, the worship leaders ask us to give peace to each other, so we do. He is the first to grab my hand. “The peace of the Lord with you,” he says. He, a man from Iraq, wishing me, a white American, peace. It touched me so deeply that he would open his heart in such a beautiful way to me.
Jesus trumps it all, doesn’t He?
Later we watch a Palestinian Christian woman say about her Jewish neighbors, “Jesus gives me the power to embrace them. When I am with my messianic Jewish brothers and sisters, I feel like I am home. In the Messiah,” she says, “there is room for all of us.”
Next to her stands a Messianic Jewish man, sharing his heart for the Palestinians. A physical picture of the dividing wall between cultures torn down because of the love of Jesus.
But even more interesting and compelling is watching my Iraqi friend raise his camera to take a picture of this. He smiles, then snaps another picture. “Alleluia!” he declares. “Alleluia.”
That’s really my only response.