Sunday, December 31, 2006

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid -- Jimmy Carter

To be honest with you, this was not necessarily one of the books I had on my "must read" list, but it was a Christmas gift so I began to read it. I know the book was controversial, and that Jimmy Carter had received a fair amount of criticism.

The book is essentially a historical look at the situation in Palestine and Israel with a strong focus on the time since 1973. Carter writes a significant amount about his personal experiences in this part of the world with many of the leading P
alestinian and Israeli figures -- from before the time he was President to 2006.

Simply put, the book is a call for peace - not a a form of apartheid between Jews and Arabs. If peace is to become a reality Carter believes 3 things must happen:

1. A recognition that if there is to be peace in this part of the world the security of Israel must be guaranteed. Arabs must acknowledge openly and specifically that Israel is a reality and has a right to exist in peace, behind secure and recognized borders and with a firm Arab pledge to terminate any further acts of violence against a legally constituted nation of Israel.

2. Israel should have permanent borders that coincide with those prevailing from 1949 to 1967. Any change in these borders should be negotiated and can be modified with mutually agreeable land swaps.

3. The sovereignty of all Middle East nations and sanctity of international borders must be honored. There is little doubt that accommodation with Palestinians can bring full Arab recognition to Israel and its right to live in peace.

It seems to me, that the most controversial part of Carters book deals with what he believes are the actions of Israel over the past 25 years to disregard previous agreements with Palestinians, illegally occupy land, cease to honor human rights, severely restrict the ability of Palestinians to earn a living, travel, educate their children, vote, and have access to healthcare. In addition, the building of the wall through Palestinian lands further exacerbates the issues related to finding a lasting peace.

While Carter clearly blames both Palestinians and Israelis for the seemingly ceaseless violence, it is clear that he holds the Israelis responsible for being the provokers.

I do not know as much as I should about the situation between Israel and Palestine. But I do think that anyone who wants to learn and gain perspective should read the book -- even if you disagree with Carter.

One of the things I will do is contact Palestinian believers I know who live in Bethlehem and work with both Palestinians and Israelis in an attempt to bring reconciliation between these two groups. It will be interesting to hear their perspectives on Carter's book.

In the meantime, read the book with an open mind.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Amazing Grace -- The Movie

"You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know." This was William Wilberforce's conclusion to his three hour debate in the Houses of Parliament before Members of the British Parliament voted on his Abolition Bill in 1789.

While Wilberforce was able to see slavery abolished in the UK, unfortunately slavery is still alive and well in many parts of the world.

On February 23, 2007 a movie called Amazing Grace will hit theaters around the world.
Amazing Grace, based on the life of antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce, is directed by Michael Apted (The World is Not Enough, Coal Miner's Daughter) from an original screenplay written by Academy Award® nominee Steven Knight.

The film stars Ioan Gruffudd (Black Hawk Down), Albert Finney (Erin Brockovich), Romola Garai (Vanity Fair), Michael Gambon (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Benedict Cumberbatch (Hawking), Rufus Sewell (Legend of Zorro), Ciaran Hinds (Rome) and introduces Youssou N'Dour.

You can check out the trailer for the movie as well as a lot of background information by clicking on the link below.

  • Amazing Grace

  • For information on the associated campaign to change slavery in 2007, click on the link below.

  • The Amazing Change

  • He has shown you, O man, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
    To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God
    Micah 6:8

    Saturday, December 23, 2006

    The Muellers Annual Letter -- 2006 Edition

    Hard to believe that 2006 is almost over, isn't it? I don't know about you, but this year went by way too fast. Maybe it is just old age creeping up on me (you better not agree!). Anyway, here are the highlights of 2006 in the life of the Mueller family.


    Donovan had quite the year. He started the year on his Discipleship Training School (DTS) out
    reach in Uganda and Kenya. Then it was back to Switzerland for a couple of weeks before heading to France for 3 weeks with a friend. Finally, in late April he arrived back in Mesa -- only to be off to Korea six weeks later. Donovan spent 3 months in Korea visiting a friend. He arrived back in Mesa in August, ready to stay home for a while.

    Donovan playing guitar in Uganda

    Over the past few months Donovan has been working as a web designer/programmer for several companies and organizations. His client list is growing! In January he will continue pursueing a degree in Computer Sciences in Software Engineering as well as continuing to grow his web business.

    For his parents, it is great to have him home again.

    Donovan at Home!


    Debbie continues to work part-time as a receptionist at Word of Grace. But her real love is throwing pots. She is taking classes at Mesa Community College, and is not only enjoying the classes and developing her skills, but also building friendships with people who are not yet followers of Jesus. As the proud husband I can honestly say that she is getting really good, and this year she has been able to sell a lot of her creations.

    Some of Debbie's Creations

    In August Debbie's mother passed away. So all three of us flew to Kansas City for the funeral.


    I've had a busy year as well. I've been to Africa twice (Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Uganda), to Turkey once and on several trips within North America. After racking up more than 50,000 miles, I'm glad to be home!

    I continue to be responsible for Local and Global Outreach at Wor
    d of Grace and recently took over the young adult ministry as well. I am spending an increasing amount of my time and energy on the HIV/AIDS pandemic -- especially in Africa where more than 25 million people are HIV+. God has given us some amazing opportunities to walk alongside African Christians and churches particularly in Malawi. In 2007 I will probably be in Africa at least 3 more times.

    Here I am at a borehole/well we drilled for the community of Matanda in Malawi.

    Istanbul, Turkey in November

    25 Years of Marriage

    This year Debbie and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a wonderful two week trip to the Big Island of Hawai. We had a wonderful time exploring the island, swimming with the fish and turtles, and simply being a couple. It was the first time since our honeymoon that we were just the two of us on a holiday for 2 weeks. During our time in Hawaii, we also met some very interesting people -- as the pictures below indicate.

    We found the Hawaiians to be friendly, but a bit wooden.

    Recommended Reading

    1. The Myth of a Christian Nation (Greg Boyd). When 1,000 people leave your church because of your sermons two things are obvious. First, you must be preaching the truth. Second, you should write a book based on these sermons because it will obviously be a bestseller.

    2. A Generous Orthodoxy (Brian McLaren). Some people love this book, others hate it. I found it to be interesting, challenging and thought provoking. Even if you don't agree with McLaren you should read this book to understand where the emerging church is moving.

    3. Escaping the Matrix (Greg Boyd and Al Larson). In this book theologian and pastor Greg Boyd and clinical psychologist Al Larson bring together Biblical and neurological truths that help you understand how Scriptural principles and how God wired our brains work together. This book shows you how you can transform your thought processes to experience a deeper life in Christ and escape the world's Matrix that control you.

    4. God is not . . . religious, nice, "one of us", an American, a capitalist (D. Brent Laytham). This series of essays is well worth the read if you want to be challenged about our North American perspective on Christianity.

    5. If Jesus Were Mayor (Bob Moffitt and Karla Tesch) A terrific book that lays a foundation for Christians and churches to see communities transformed by the power of God through service.

    6. Race Against Time (Stephen Lewis) Perhaps the most important book written on the AIDS pandemic in the last 5 years.

    7. African Friends and Money Matters (David Maranz) If you are working with Africans or have African friends this book is essential reading. Africans and westerners use and manage money and other resources in very different ways. Understanding these differences will help you avoid misunderstandings, friction and conflict.

    8. Cross-Cultural Conflict (Duane Elmer) If you work with people in shame-based and community oriented cultures, you must read this book. Lights go on, on almost every page.

    Well, I guess that is all for 2006. If you read this entire letter, you should receive a prize (you may not get one, but you probably should).

    Have a wonderful Christmas and a terrific 2007.

    Karl, Debbie and Donovan