Posted by: Kerry Spencer | December 9, 2008

Peace on Earth is a BIG deal!

Yesterday I had one of those experiences that helps to broaden your worldview.  After a great Sunday worship service, several of us decided to try a little hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean place for lunch.  Though I’d simply hoped for a tasty gyro and some good fellowship, we all received so much more.  The experience didn’t start out so well as there were eight of us and one solitary guy, Abdul, playing the roles of owner, cook, server, and cashier.  Possibly feeling a little overwhelmed, as he had other customers as well, Abdul was at the very least unpleasant, if not grumpy.  While we were deciding on what to order, I asked where he was from since the décor and his visage indicated he was not American.  He told me he was from Palestine.  Interesting, I thought.  As we waited on the food and discussed Abdul’s bad attitude I made the comment to someone, “You’d be grumpy too if you were a Palestinian.”  It was mostly a joke.  But I had no idea.

 

After a great meal, we stacked the dishes and took them back to the kitchen as a kind gesture for our overworked server.  Soon after that he came out to chat with us.  Somehow, Abdul’s attitude had changed.  He asked us where we went to church, where we were from, and how we knew each other.  We asked him about his religion (let’s call him a nominal Muslim), his family, and other details of his interesting life.  He did most of the talking.  He had a lot to say, and a lot to teach young, spoiled Americans like us. 

 

At the age of 6, Abdul began training to be a soldier.  In his words, he was being “raised to be a terrorist.”  At age 9, he made his first kill.  A tank was turning its turret toward his home, so he ran up to the second floor and threw a grenade into the tank’s open hatch, thus saving his family.  He asked us what we were doing when we were 6 and 9.  Among other things I remember playing with toy guns, knives, and G.I. Joe’s – playing war.  He was living war.  By sharing his story, Abdul helped us to understand how people might be led to perform terrorist acts (Though not justifying them, for he made clear that he did not consider terrorists to be true Muslims.).  He helped us to better appreciate the peaceful lives we’ve so often taken for granted.  He helped us to see another perspective.

 

In the end, with typical Middle Eastern hospitality, Abdul served us free tea and dessert.  But that was the least of the gifts our new friend had given us.  I look forward to going back to visit with Abdul again.  I hope to be able to share something with him as well.

 

 

 

 

 

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