From: T.M. Schoewe
Just last week we wrote about tongue therapy and wouldn’t you know it before another week was past we lost our temper! How could that happen? Well, it really turns into a long story.
Back in 1967-69 we were assigned to an Air Force Support Group for the military personnel who were assigned to NATO in Izmir, Turkey. Being the head chaplain there my senior NCO after a few days mentioned that we might be called upon to send a chaplain to visit our troops in Saudi Arabia, where he wouldn’t be allowed to wear a cross on his uniform and where church services were to be held in a locked theater with military police standing by the doors. Then he related how one of the chaplains that had held services there felt compelled to speak about Jesus to one of the Saudi janitors that was at the theater. The janitor must have reported it to his supervisor because the Saudi authorities soon after demanded the chaplain be turned over to them. Sensing the serious danger, our military personnel bound the chaplain in chains and carried him off to a waiting plane, telling the Saudis that the chaplain had gone crazy and needed immediate medical help. So they were able to fly him to safety. We regret not getting more details from the sergeant about that incident, and fortunately we were not requested to send a chaplain to Saudi Arabia during our assignment.
Now how after over 40 years did that story come to mind and cause our temper to blow up? Well, we happened to see and read something in the WSJ. It was a belated holiday card with a “Merry Christmas” from Saudi Arabia, sent by the Saudi ambassador to the United States and the public relations genius Adel al-Jubeir. The message cited a verse from the Quran: “O Mary, God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: His name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God.”
Can you believe this? We get this greeting from an ambassador whose government prohibits Christians from worshipping publicly. We can not build a church, wear a cross or bring Bibles into his country. In addition to this intolerance, the Saudi Education Minister spoke in Atlanta recently. He characterized the educational system in the Saudi Kingdom as a model for the Middle East and North Africa. Saudi educational textbooks are terribly radical and provocative. One declares “The apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews, and the swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.” Another 9th grade textbook says “the Jews and Christians are enemies of the believers, and they cannot approve of Muslims.” It is precisely in this system that millions of children have been and continue to be indoctrinated into the sort of religious intolerance that breeds hatred and produces many recruits for Jihad and terrorism. This is the same system that produced Osama bin Laden.
That Christmas card is a prime example of the hypocritical relationship Saudi Arabia has with us and other nations. This hypocrisy is what caused the temperature of our temper to rise beyond control. And what does our Secretary of State Hilary Clinton say about this super hypocrisy? And just why does the U.S.A. have a relationship with a country that doesn’t tolerate what we stand for? Diplomacy will put out many words when actually there is only one, and that is “oil.” Speaking of oil, it’s unfortunate we do not take advantage of and put to use the vast resources that this great land has at its disposal. To this we add, the U.S.A. said it reached a $30 billion dollar agreement to sell advanced fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia. Now that just might help Saudi Arabia convince Iran that the Sunnis, not the Shiites, are of direct lineage from Mohammad.
But now my temper is cooled down and we do not know whether to laugh or cry about that Christmas card. We choose to laugh and choose to remember from Psalm 2: “the Lord that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh and have them in derision.” And one thing more, that Child Who came at Christmas was big enough to go to the cross and die for the whole world (not just a selected few); where he prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” And so, after thinking about that Christmas greeting within a Biblical context, we will laugh with Him and say “thanks.”
P.S. We would believe, if Jesus were born in Saudi Arabia today, he would likely be imprisoned, flogged or probably be beheaded.