Crossing Borders and the Ziggurat of Ur

Today is a story in two acts. The first is about crossing borders, which we all did to get here. But this morning the ninth and final member of our team was turned back. Dr. Tharwat, who was coming to us from the seminary in Cairo, flew in this morning from there and landed at Basrah airport like the rest of us. Caught up in the politics of countries in disagreement, his visa was deemed invalid and he was not allowed in. We pray for him to make the long journey home safely. But being unable to cross this border caused grief to the wonderful young new pastor of Basrah church, Magdy, who was looking forward to seeing his professor/mentor again after living in Basrah these last 14 months. Indeed, it was Dr. Tharwat who helped Magdy discern his call to this place. Please pray for Magdy, that he would feel the loving arms of our Lord reach around him and comfort him, that he would be able to see God must have had another plan, and that he would have the strength and words to deliver the message at the church service Sunday evening. Borders and walls. Our human brokenness builds them high; our missio dei leaps them all. May God in his wisdom help us to knock them down and invite all inside.

Roomies Babs and Julie with handy-for-the-day umbrella on the great staircase of the ziggurat.
Roomies Babs and Julie with handy-for-the-day umbrella on the great staircase of the ziggurat.
Assis Magdy with Betty and Frank, who will celebrate their 35th anniversary this year.
Assis Magdy with Betty and Frank, who will celebrate their 35th anniversary this year.

Act II: Putting aside his disappointment, Magdy jumped on the buses with the rest of us for the day's main activity, a trip to the historic Ziggurat of Ur. The ziggurat was built by the Sumerians around 2100 B.C. and was dedicated to the moon goddess, Nanna. We didn't see the moon while we were there because of cloud cover. We did experience a thunderstorm that rolled in while we were on the top which made the experience all the more dramatic! We hurried up, took some photos and hurried back down to the buses as the clouds burst and the rain poured down. Needless to say, our picnic lunch was in the buses on the way back to Basrah. It was a great outing for this team to take with our beloved brothers and sisters from the Basrah church.

We know our God is a God of hope and grace and mercy. On this day, even as we experienced the disappointment of a blocked border, we saw that this normally dry and desert place had been greened by the winter rains. His mercies are new every morning. As surely as he brings rain to the desert and greens the dormant grasses, he will knock down the walls between his people and fling wide the doors of welcome into the kingdom.

Inshallah.

The Outreach Iraq Team