Monday, February 10, 2014

"Tea with Hezbollah" by Ted Dekker & Carl Medearis Book Review

Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis take you on an amazing adventure through the middle east in 2008 or 2009, I estimate. Along the way they speak to a number of high-ranking political and religious leaders (and not so official leaders) such as the Bin Laden brothers, a Bedouin Prince who loves Jim Carrey, Ayatollah Fadlallah, the Hezbollah sheik, Nabil, the mufti of Damascus, and a top leader in Hamas. In the end they will travel to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel.

Starting out in Denver with the question,”What do Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesus all have in common,” they end up talking to these leaders asking them how they understand the teachings of Jesus on loving your enemies. They include word for word (un-edited) dialogue so you can see what it was like too.

They are also in search of the “Good Samaritan”—or at least to see if anyone is taking this parable seriously 2,000 years later. They wonder if there is anyone in the middle east who actually loves their enemy and would respond like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable did.

Along the way, as if this journey wasn’t enough, Ted introduces another story that explores the “Good Samaritan” idea even further. Ultimately, it goes a long way towards illustrating what it looks like to truly love your enemy.

These guys are my heroes. They do some risky things. I love that they believe so much in the story of the Good Samaritan that they would risk their lives to discover it anew and even challenge world leaders with it. In fact, I believe they do just that.

I also learned a great deal about what’s been happening in the middle east all of these years. Like many I know, when the middle east comes up in the news, I just check out. How can I ever understand. I feel like I’m too far behind. Ted and Carl (and those they meet) catch me up quickly. And at the back of the book is a neat timeline of modern middle-eastern history that sheds even more light on it. 

In the end, I feel like I have a much greater appreciation of what it means to love your enemy—or your neighbor. And I also have a greater appreciation for the power of turning the other cheek and the power of peace rooted in Christ.

It’s more than a documentary. It’s more like a docudrama with another story woven in. It’s a sermon and a challenge. If you want to learn more about what Jesus meant when he told us to love our neighbor as ourself (even if they are your enemy), this is the book for you.