I’m still in Israel and Palestine as I write this…

where there are modern dividing walls, and an ancient wailing wall, biblical ruins,  refugee camps, olive trees, and ubiquitous tour buses, with sheep and shepherds liberally sprinkled throughout the countryside.


It’s a place where it’s easy to see why David described God as his Shepherd.

The 23rd Psalm might be the most famous go-to Psalm, but I’m wondering how many people really experience verse 5“You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies”.

That’s the line that keeps running through my head as we meet with Daoud Nassar at his farm on a hill outside Bethlehem that is ringed by Israeli settlements.

He is a Palestinian Christian who says “We refuse to be enemies”



Daoud has declared his farm a “hate-free zone” – a sanctuary.

The Israeli government has made that difficult. In spite of the fact that they have the deed to their land that has been in his family for generations, the Israeli Defense Forces…

  • Dump boulders to block the road to his farm.


Daoud’s response? We refuse to be enemies.

  • Pass an ordinance prohibiting him from building above ground on his own land.

We refuse to be enemies.

  • Cut off water and electricity.

We refuse to be enemies.

  • Repeatedly destroy his crops.

We refuse to be enemies.

Instead, Daoud invites any and all to come to his farm – to talk, to share personal stories, to work side-by-side, to get to know each other as image-bearers of a loving God.

A year and a half ago, the Israeli Defense Forces bulldozed 1,500 fruit trees – fig, apricot, olive, and apple trees, shortly before harvest.

As a kind of “in your face”, one lone tree was left standing.

When we met with Daoud the other day at his farm, he told us the rest of the fruit tree demo story.  The redemptive part.

After the IDF destroyed his crops, he still refused to treat them as enemies. There was an outcry from around the world, and volunteers started showing up to help Daoud and his family replant.

Included in the volunteers was a group of Jews from the U.S. People who were supposed to be “enemies” worked side-by-side, and the Jews returned home to form the Center for Jewish Non-violence.

1,500 trees were destroyed, but 4,000 were planted in their place.

“You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies”.

And the one lone fig tree left standing? It became a symbol of hope among the ruins.

A steadfast witness to love in response to hate.


But here’s the secret I learned from this farmer in the Middle East:

You can’t love like God without the power of God.

Daoud forgives again and again, because he knows he’s been forgiven again and again. By God.

This is a dramatic story. It could be one we’re inspired by in the deluge of information and news stories bombarding us each day. But what if peace in the Middle East, actually starts with us?

What if we think today of someone who has wronged us and refuse to be enemies with them, but instead choose love? Loving like God with the power of God.