Pastor’s Corner – March 10, 2024

Inshallah, God Willing

A five year old injured child was brought in by a stranger who found him standing alone in the street. When asked where his family was, the little boy answered they were bombed and were all killed. This broke Dr. Khawaja Ikram’s heart, as he shared his experience in Gaza. A few days ago I met Dr. Ikram, an orthopedic surgeon who lives in Plano. He volunteered to go to Gaza when his colleagues asked him to join them, and recently returned to tell his story and witness to student activists at University of Texas Dallas. There were two hundred plus students, organizing protests and tactics to disrupt and draw attention and put pressure on politicians. After learning about a gathering and panel discussion at the UTD Student Center on my social media feed, I drove three miles south from my office to see for myself how students were responding to Gaza. 

There was a lot of passion, intelligence, empathy, courage and creativity, as you would expect from young adults. They were fearless in the way they spoke with moral clarity and passion that humbled me. Some have been jailed and others threatened with expulsion from school. They wanted to make their world a different place than they inherited. They asked what more they could do? They were pushing the limits, was it enough? Until conditions in Gaza change, they will continue to ask these questions so that they would not be complicit to suffering and genocide in Gaza. Most of the students were Muslims. Before we had our pizza dinner, men lined up to pray Salah, the Arabic word for Muslim’s daily prayer. I shared a table with Dr. Ikram and asked how he decided to go to Gaza with the risk of being bombed. He said that after receiving a call from an organization that needed his set of skills to assist with the medical situation in Gaza, he sat with his family, his wife and children. After everyone shared their concern for his safety, he concluded that one day he will die, we all will. “Inshallah,” he said (Arabic word meaning “if God wills”), and asked, “What is a better way to go, inshallah, while helping and alleviate human suffering in Gaza or while here in Plano, inshallah?” So he went, like so many others who volunteered to go, something we don’t hear much from the media. The conversation I had with Dr. Ikram, his witness, and the students’ ongoing resistance, persistence and activism has inspired me to reflect more deeply my own faith and call to love the world. For they lived out their faith and love with deep commitment.

We are on a Lenten journey as followers of Christ. Yes, one day we all will die, our mortal body laid to rest, inshallah! We don’t know when but how would you imagine the end of our lives? The question really is about how are we really living? In the light of our mortality, what do we love and value most? We began our Lenten season with Ash Wednesday. Though the imposition of ashes on our foreheads are long gone, the reality of our existence and the question of meaning still remains. And for Palestinians in Gaza ashes are real and the question more pressing.

Come let us worship God this coming Sunday and ponder more deeply and reflect together our faith journey. Amen

Pastor Dae