A Halloween to Remember

31 10 2019

halloween.jpgHalloween—the dentists’ favorite holiday…

My American friends who take a walk through their neighborhoods today will be greeted by an assortment of scary decorations in front of their neighbors’ homes: carved pumpkins, skeletons, witches, ghosts, gravestones, giant spiders, black cats, even skulls placed on a stick. In American culture, decorating homes like this is a fun way to celebrate a holiday that is mostly focused on children dressing in costumes and getting free candy.

I sometimes wonder how a new immigrant to America might respond when he sees this. Imagine someone fleeing a war-ravaged nation where gravestones and skeletons are reminders of the horror they left behind. Suddenly they have to face the same images every day in their neighbor’s front yard.

I also wonder why Americans enjoy these macabre decorations. Is it because these are things we no longer fear? Perhaps generations past were haunted by such realities, but now we feel safe in our modernity?

If so, maybe these decorations serve a positive purpose—to declare our victory over the horrors and fears of our past. We can use Halloween to remember that we’ve been brought “from darkness into light” as the Bible says.

But I’d like to encourage us on this holiday to also remember those who are still traumatized by recent horrors, and offer a prayer for them.

Living in Indonesia, we’ve had to deal with 8-inch spiders invading our home, a ghost haunting our school, and real witchcraft destroying people’s lives. But even worse, the image of a skull on a stick reminds us of the horrific genocide that occurred the year our daughter was born.

A conflict between the indigenous Dayak people of the interior of our island, and the immigrant Madurese, turned into a vicious ethnic cleansing of the central province, sending tens of thousands of Madurese fleeing into our port city and then fleeing our island altogether. Roughly 100,000 people ran for their lives with what they could carry on their backs. We helped feed some of them at the harbor waiting for boats to take them off-island. It broke our hearts to hear that some of them were offering their children for sale for the price of a meal because they couldn’t stand to see their children starve.

But the worst memory for many people in our area was that the main road between our city and the central province was lined with spears, each spear holding a severed human head. This was not even 10 miles from our home.

Thank God, today the Madurese are slowly trickling back into the central part of our island and are at peace with the Dayaks. God’s healing power is stronger than man’s evil.

But let’s remember the suffering people of the world today—in Syria, Congo, the Rohingya of Myanmar—there are many for whom skeletons may represent their own loved ones.

As you bless the costumed children of your neighborhood with candy, please pray a prayer of blessing for a hurting world still trapped in the darkness, for those who long for a day when the horrors of the past are far behind them and they can experience true peace. Make this a Halloween to remember them.





Web Interview with Jim on Loving God and Others

2 02 2015

bc12e5bb[1]   This week on the always uplifting blog 7 Christians (http://7christians.blogspot.com/), Victoria Buck has posted Part 1 of an interview with me. Part 2 will be posted next Monday. She asks some really insightful questions. If you’re interested in what other American Christians are concerned about regarding Islam, check out this interview!

I was excited to see the interview was picked up by the First Manuscript Daily News:  http://paper.li/DaxMacGregor/1308327425

Victoria is also an author of the futuristic Christian thriller, Wake the Dead, available at Amazon.com, and a Christian who publicly takes a stand for the Great Commandment—to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves—even if that neighbor is from a different religion that scares us.

My wife arrived home yesterday from a trip to London, and one thing that stood out to her was how many Muslims she saw at the airport, at the grocery store, just about everywhere. She said it felt like going to parts of our home town of Los Angeles where entire neighborhoods are Asian or Latino and a Caucasian or African-American really stands out. Many of the perspectives from this interview address an American audience for whom opportunities to love Muslims may be fewer than our British counterparts today, but looking at population growth and immigration trends, we know this will be an increasing opportunity in America for us and our children.

I hope you see it like that—as an opportunity. I recently heard of yet another Christian leader who wants to move to the mountains of Montana to escape all the troubles coming to America. To me, this is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught and lived.

When the Samaritans built a cultural and religious wall to keep the Jews out, what did Jesus do? John 4:4 says that “he had to go through Samaria.” No Jew ever went through Samaria—from Galilee in the north they would cross the Jordan River, walk south along it and then recross the river to visit Jerusalem rather than take the direct route through Samaria. Why does the Bible say Jesus had to go through Samaria?

I believe it’s because the kind of love emanating from the Messiah’s heart had to go touch everyone, regardless of the human walls built by either side. Jesus never walked down the opposite side of the street to avoid the demonized, the prostitutes, the Roman soldiers, the lepers, or even the hypocritical religious Jewish leaders who were out to kill him. He even told his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem to die. He went to the cross, not away from it.

So the next time you are in a rush and have to go through the part of town that’s different from your culture, or have to go to the drugstore or gas station attended by someone who doesn’t look like you, try to look at it through Jesus’ eyes. Maybe you have to go there because there’s a wall that needs to be broken by Jesus’ love in you.

Check out the interview at: http://bit.ly/165ZSGk . And maybe post a comment thanking Victoria for being a Christian doing her part to make a difference. Enjoy!