Our journey ends at the Dead Sea. Last night I watched the sun set over the Promised Land. Nothing like it!
As a fellow journalist once said, floating on the Dead Sea is like being dunked in a vat of hair gel. It feels more like glycerine than water, and you couldn't sink if you tried. It's fun to float. And then slather mud all over your body, let it bake (which won't take long in the blazing heat), and wash it off. It won't make anyone more beautiful, but it'll definitely soften up the skin.
Our day is set aside for some much-needed rest after a grueling schedule. This afternoon I have an interview set up, and we have our farewell dinner this evening.
Fear has kept many from traveling here. Our wonderful guide brought his wife and three little girls to the hotel last night so we could meet them. He went June, July, and August without work. Both he and his wife told me separately that they trust God daily for provision, and somehow they always have food.
Last night I talked at length with a Christian leader from Amman about the Arab Spring, U.S. foreign policy, and the plight of Christians in Iraq and across the Middle East. We also talked about Christian/Muslim relations and how to be wise as serpents, harmless as doves. Jordan is an example in the region of how to live together not just in co-existence, but in harmony. He says he does not view himself as a minority; he views himself as an essential part of the community. Here he has the love and respect of his neighbors, not just their tolerance. He believes that even though Christians make up only 2-3 percent of the population, it is dangerous to view one's self as a minority because that sets up a victim mentality. Rather, as an Arab who is Christian, he stands in solidarity with his brothers and sisters for what is best for all. I heard similar sentiments from other Christian believers.
Christianity is not an import here. Everywhere we go we see evidence of a one-time dominance in the region. Our history began and spread from here. The Arab Christians with whom I've spoken have a strong sense of their heritage and deeply love those in neighboring countries--"our brothers and sisters and cousins."
One word that constantly came to mind as I listened to Christians here is that they take seriously Jesus' statement, "Blessed are the peacemakers." They are not avoiding conflict. Rather, they are actively doing and saying the things that make for peace.
May their number increase.
Disclosure: The Jordan Tourism Board is covering most of the expenses for this trip, though it exercises no influence over what we say or write about it.