Tea with Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies Table Our Journey Through the Middle East

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Overview

Is it really possible to love one’s enemies?

That’s the question that sparked a fascinating and, at times, terrifying journey into the heart of the Middle East during the summer of 2008. It was a trip that began in Egypt, passed beneath the steel and glass high rises of Saudi Arabia, then wound through the bullet- pocked alleyways of Beirut and dusty streets of Damascus, before ending at the cradle of the ...

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Tea with Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies Table Our Journey Through the Middle East

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Overview

Is it really possible to love one’s enemies?

That’s the question that sparked a fascinating and, at times, terrifying journey into the heart of the Middle East during the summer of 2008. It was a trip that began in Egypt, passed beneath the steel and glass high rises of Saudi Arabia, then wound through the bullet- pocked alleyways of Beirut and dusty streets of Damascus, before ending at the cradle of the world’s three major religions: Jerusalem.

Tea with Hezbollah
combines nail-biting narrative with the texture of rich historical background, as readers join novelist Ted Dekker and his co-author and Middle East expert, Carl Medearis, on a hair-raising journey. They are with them in every rocky cab ride, late-night border crossing, and back-room conversation as they sit down one-on-one with some of the most notorious leaders of the Arab world. These candid discussions with leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas, with muftis, sheikhs, and ayatollahs, with Osama bin Laden’s brothers, reveal these men to be real people with emotions, fears, and hopes of their own. Along the way, Dekker and Medearis discover surprising answers and even more surprising questions that they could not have anticipated—questions that lead straight to the heart of Middle Eastern conflict.

Through powerful narrative Tea With Hezbollah will draw the West into a completely fresh understanding of those we call our enemies and the teaching that dares us to love them. A must read for all who see the looming threat rising in the Middle East.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307588272
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/26/2010
  • Pages: 245
  • Sales rank: 553,521
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Dekker
Ted Dekker is the author of many nationally best-selling novels, including Bone Man’s Daughters, The Circle Series, Thr3e, and House. His unique style of storytelling has captured the attention of millions worldwide. Visit him at TedDekker.com and Facebook.com/TedDekker.

Carl Medearis is an international expert in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations. He acts as a catalyst for a number of current movements in the Middle East to promote peace-making and to promote cultural, political and religious dialog leading toward reconciliation. He is the author of the acclaimed book on these issues Muslims, Christians and Jesus. Visit him at www.carlmedearis.com. 

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Read an Excerpt

 
Chapter 1: Into the Lion’s Den
A JOURNEY INTO MADNESS
 
 
THE FIRST CLUE that I had thrown myself into the mouth of madness should have been clear before the Middle East Airlines 767 took off from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with hardly a soul aboard besides me, the lowly writer, and Carl Medearis, the fearless trailblazer who sat beside me, trying to look at ease.
Correction. The first clue should have come five days earlier when I received the call that the Hezbollah had just stormed the parliament buildings in Beirut, had declared their own form of martial law, and were killing dissenting party members who’d taken up arms. A full-scale war had broken out in the very city Carl had talked me into visiting on this quest of ours.
Tanks and military vehicles, hundreds of them, were rolling down the streets. Citizens were fleeing. Hezbollah had seized control of the airport and stopped all flights. The American State Department had just issued a travel advisory, essentially prohibiting travel into the region.
I remember the call vividly. I was standing in a small luggage shop in my hometown of Austin, Texas, trying to decide whether the exorbitant price they were suggesting I pay for Tumi bags was worth the extra coin. I could buy a good Samsonite suitcase for a third the price.
It was then my cell phone chirped and I stepped out of the shop, glad for the distraction.
“Have you heard the news?” Carl asked in his ever-nonchalant voice.
“What news?”
“Lebanon’s at war.”
“Huh. Really?”
“The airport is shut down.”
“Wow. Really?”
“Many are reported killed.”
“Seriously?”
You see, my own use of those words, really and wow and seriously, should have sealed the deal for me. Going to Beirut at a time like this was ill-advised. And going to Beirut to have tea with the top leaders of the Hezbollah, of all people, was now just plain absurd.
“What about Saudi Arabia?” I asked with as much bravado as I could muster. I was the apprentice here, playing the role of adventurer-in-training, and it was important that I didn’t start squealing like a frightened child.
“Well, this is the Middle East,” Carl came back casually. “Samir just evacuated his children on a private plane. He’s adamant that we cancel the entire trip.”
Samir. One of Carl’s many friends in the Middle East, but unique in that Samir knows and is trusted by everyone. A linchpin for this trip, he was responsible for many of our appointments. If he said cancel, clearly we canceled.
My partner wasn’t panicking, so I followed his most admirable example. I glanced back through the window where my wife, Lee Ann, was talking to the clerk about the Tumi bags. Naturally we wouldn’t be needing either Tumi or Samsonite—the world was coming to an end.
“What about Syria?” I asked.
“Yeah, well, the road from Lebanon into Syria is blockaded with burning tires.”
“Seriously?” Again that word. “So our meeting with Assad’s government—”
“Is now probably out of the question.”
“What about the West Bank? The Hamas?”
 “Yeah, crazy, huh? Same with the bin Laden brothers in Saudi Arabia. The whole region could erupt. This is big news.”
“What does Chris think?” Chris is Carl’s Greek goddess, his marriage partner who has given him three children and traveled the world at his side with superhuman grace. That’s my take.
“Yeah, she thinks the trip is dangerous.”
Now that I think about it, I did take notice of those early clues that traveling through the Middle East to ask “never before asked questions” of Islam’s most influential ideologues and America’s “enemies” was a misguided mission. In fact, I distinctly remember feeling buckets of sweet, cool relief washing over my body as Carl broke the news.
The trip was off. I felt jovial! I was liberated from the fear that had nagged at me for many months as Carl slowly but surely put together this unprecedented trip.
Honestly, I never really thought he’d pull it off. Without fail, my mention of the trip to publishers or people of influence would garner the same coy smile. “Yeah, good luck with that.” Who’d ever heard of such a thing? I mean, it’s one thing to sit in a coffee shop in downtown Denver and dream about the ultimate trip to the most dangerous parts of the world, but the list of people whom Carl wanted to meet amounted to a delusional dream. Or a nightmare, depending on your perspective.
Did I say delusional? Add impossible to that. No one from the State Department could get the meetings Carl was going after. In fact, no one but Carl Medearis could land them, but more on that later.
As the months stretched into a year and the appointments began falling into place, I tried to back out a dozen times. Finally, two days before we were scheduled to leave, God Himself had reached down and mercifully rescued me from almost certain death. Not to mention an overpriced luggage purchase. Being the puppy in tow of the great mastiff, I put on a brave face.
“So, what do we do?” I asked.
“Well, we wait and see.”
“Wait for what?”
“For things on the ground to change. Could all be fine tomorrow.”
I’m here to tell you that nothing was fine tomorrow. I’m still not sure what—besides foolishness—put me on a flight from Denver to Cairo two days later.
And I’m even less sure of what absurd notions could possibly have persuaded me to board the first flight into Beirut four days later, following a week’s upheaval that had sent souls far braver than me either running for cover or to their graves.
Yet here I was, cranking open the vent over my head to dry the ribbons of sweat seeping from my forehead, never mind that the cabin was already freezing. Samir Kreidie, the wealthy Muslim businessman in Saudi Arabia who’d helped to set up the trip, was returning to Beirut with us. Indeed, without his help, the trip would have been impossible—many of the muftis and clerics we would meet agreed to do so only because of his unshakable reputation as a powerhouse of reconciliation.
But Samir himself, only days earlier, had insisted the trip was now far too dangerous.
Such is the Middle Eastern mind-set. I suppose when you spend your whole life dodging bullets, the threat of a sniper on the corner doesn’t keep you housebound for long. Better to run rather than walk, naturally, but you can’t let dissenters with machine guns make you a prisoner in your own house.
On the bright side, Carl, Samir, and I had virtually the whole jet to ourselves. It turns out that the owners of Middle East Airlines know Samir well. We’d canceled our flights from Saudi Arabia to Beirut a few days earlier on my urging, during a time when all three of us possessed our full share of good sense. Rebooking would normally have been impossible at a time like this, but a single call from Samir and we were on. Such is the power of a man who spends the day talking to heads of state on his flip phone.
And business class to boot. Wonderful. The staff was excellent, as was the food. It was certainly better than any service I’d experienced in the United States. The stewardesses all knew Samir—no surprise there.
But the essential facts remained: One, Beirut was a city besieged by the Hezbollah. Two, we were on the first flight in after a week’s closure. Three, according to reports, anywhere from dozens to hundreds had been killed in fighting around the city, and the Lebanese army controlled the streets only by lining them with tanks and machine-gun placements.
Four . . . I mean, please. Anything could happen. Anything.
Sometimes I feel like hugging Carl and slapping him on the back. The kind of guy who would befriend a starving grizzly bear, he is loved by all, and I do mean all. Other times I feel more like locking him in the bathroom and making a run for it. Both his love and his bravery are greater than mine.
Sweating bullets at thirty thousand feet and headed into the lion’s den better known as Beirut, I was feeling the bathroom might be a good idea. But I had nowhere to run. I was committed.
No longer interested in stewing in my own fears, I turned to Carl. Thankfully, the seats in business class are large, because Carl—a good Nebraska boy with blue eyes and a smile that won’t quit— stands six foot two and is built like the grizzly bears he befriends.
“So you really think this is a good idea, huh?”
“Teddy, Teddy, you worry too much.” His standard answer. I don’t find it remotely comforting and I don’t even try to smile.
“Seriously, Carl.” There’s that word again. “I got a bad feeling about this.”
“Samir wouldn’t have agreed if it wasn’t safe,” he said.
I looked over at the wealthy Lebanese businessman who made his home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He grins and winks. Honestly, this is a man who could make the most hostile enemy lower his gun and settle down for a cup of tea. Being with him coaxes a perpetual smile from all in his presence. I’d just spent two days smiling.
But that was before this flight.
I politely forced a smile and remembered that Samir went to extraordinary lengths to get his family out of Beirut just days ago. I’d lain awake each night since then with visions roiling inside my head of gunmen bursting into my hotel room.
We’d already been to Egypt and met with perhaps the most powerful ideologue in the Muslim world. We’d spent three days in Saudi Arabia meeting with those who shaped Saudi thought, and we’d sat down with Osama bin Laden’s brothers.
I’d heard countless nerve-wracking accounts that testified to the frailty of human life in this part of the world: the time when the CIA had kicked Carl and his family out of Lebanon for their own safety; the time when he was kidnapped at gunpoint in Iraq and very nearly assassinated; the time when Bonnie, one of his coworkers from the United States, was shot in the face and killed, south of Beirut. And this was just Carl—everyone we met had a dozen similar cautionary tales of death or near death.
This was only the beginning of our trip. Ahead lay the gravest dangers, the West’s greatest perceived enemies, the making and unmaking of war: Beirut, Baalbek, southern Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank.
I’ve had my encounters with danger, naturally. I was born in the jungles of Indonesia, where my parents spent their lives as missionaries among headhunters. The father of one of my best friends was killed and consumed by the cannibals in the valley next to ours. He was one of two missionaries who were eaten by the locals when I was a child. I saw war and destruction, and I’ve had more than my share of close encounters with death.
But that was my life before I turned twenty. Since I’ve been living as an adult in America, the danger I’ve faced has been of my own making—the dark antagonists who populate my novels.
Now I was facing real danger again, and it made my blood run cold. Honestly, I was having difficulty remembering exactly why we were subjecting ourselves to this madness.
“Carl, remind me again exactly what we hope to accomplish with all of this,” I said, turning back to my friend of fifteen years.
“Well . . .” For the hundredth time we rehearsed our ambitions.
It all started nearly two years earlier when Carl Medearis, the man with a thousand stories and ten thousand friends, had lunch with one of those friends, Ted Dekker, the man who has befriended his computer keyboard. It was a pleasant day in July and we sat in an outdoor patio at a Hard Rock Cafe on the Sixteenth Street Mall, downtown Denver. Our wives, Chris and Lee Ann, were deep in a discussion about traveling abroad; Carl and I had each other’s ear.
“Tell me, Ted,” said my good friend, “what is one thing Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesus have in common?”
I thought for a moment. “They were all murdered?”
“Actually, that’s right. And they all died for the same message, at least in large part. So, what was that message?”
 “Tell me.”
“To love your neighbor. Even if they’re the enemy.”
I nodded. “They make us all look like hypocrites. Is it really possibleto love your enemy?”
We both fell into a few moments of introspection. Then Carl looked up with bright eyes.
“Why don’t we find out?”
“Okay.”
“Seriously.” That word. “Why don’t we go to this country’s greatest so-called enemies and ask them what they think about this scandalous teaching.”
“The Middle East?”
“Not just the Middle East. The Hamas, the Hezbollah. The greatest minds and influencers in Islam.”
“And ask them what they think of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesus?”
“Well, it’s a thought. The parable of the Samaritan is probably the most famous teaching on loving your neighbors. Muslims revere Jesus, who gave the teaching. We could start with that.”
He actually was serious.
“So we go together, sit at the table of our greatest enemies.” I paused. “We’re talking about one of the most complicated regions of the world, brimming with violence. Huge divides between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Bus bombs, terrorism, massive loss of life . . . You honestly think anything we hoped to accomplish with a trip to the Middle East would really do anyone any good?”
“It would do me good,” Carl said. “And it would do the people we talked to good. Talking is always good.”
“You’re talking about the people who blew up the Twin Towers! Thousands of our soldiers and citizens have lost their lives at the hands of Muslims. They want to push Israel into the sea, for heaven’s sake. Talking would do no good.”
He shrugged. “Maybe not. But it would be one heck of trip. Imagine it.”
“I am, that’s the problem. My imagination is pretty good and I’m imagining nothing but trouble.” Pause. “You really think you could set it up?”
“It will be difficult, but yeah, I think I can.”
“We sit with these so-called enemies, ask them what their favorite joke is, and what they think of the parable of the Samaritan, which teaches us to love our neighbors even if they are our enemies. And we do it all to discover if anyone really can love his enemy. That about it?”
“Pretty much, yes. And in writing about it all for an American audience, we would be sitting Americans at the table with their enemies. We’ll let them decide what to do with this radical teaching that got Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesus killed. I would be willing to go out on a limb for that.”
He stared at me and his lips slowly curled into a daring smile. When Carl talks about going out on a limb, it brings to my mind the time he went out on a limb in Iraq and was kidnapped at gunpoint. I have no desire to follow Carl out on his limbs.
“Sounds dangerous.” But man, imagine the book. “You could really pull off meetings like that?”
“If I could . . . Interested?”
I let my mind go. The idea suddenly sounded irresistible, in part because it seemed so impossible. A protected fantasy.
“Maybe. If you could, maybe I could. Maybe. If you could.”
As it turned out, he could. And he did.
It took Carl a year to talk me from a maybe to a yes. It took another year to line it up. And a third to write the book. Though Carl and I are about as similar as the mastiff and the puppy, we do share some basic points of connection. We both used to live in Colorado, where we first met eighteen years ago. We’ve both lived in predominantly Muslim communities (Carl in Lebanon, me in Indonesia) for many years. We both realize our views of the world are colored by our own experiences and as such are subject to change.
We are both Christian. We both cringe at being called Christian, because in both of our worlds, Christians are the bad guys who either slaughter civilians or destroy civilization in the name of God.
We both have a personal, profound belief that there is purpose in this world that has little to do with rules and regulations and has everything to do with faith in God. We both believe that whether you are Christian or Muslim, the teachings uttered by Jesus in the Middle East two thousand years ago are utterly life changing. We both believe that over the centuries those teachings have been misunderstood and misappropriated by most of those who claim to revere them, both in America and abroad, Christian and Muslim.
And we have both developed a fascination with the one teaching that Jesus himself claimed was second only to his instruction to love God, namely to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Carl was right—Martin Luther King and Gandhi were both killed in large part due to their message of hope based on this one teaching.
But who is willing to follow Martin Luther King today? Who will turn a cheek to the enemy’s batons as Gandhi did? Who will love the heretic as Jesus did?
Two thousand years ago the world was torn by conflicting beliefs and terrible political struggle. The Romans occupied Palestine and subjugated the Jews, among many others, stripping them of their rights in the same way that today invites war. Into this world was born a man who came with a message so offensive that most followers abandoned him two years after he went public with his outrageous teachings: to love rather than revolt against the Romans who subjugated them. Even more extreme, to love heretics, such as the Samaritans, who were viewed as the Great Satan, blasphemers, so deceived and evil that they could hardly be counted as human.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself. This was his cry in the wilderness. When those who had given their lives to following God asked him what he meant by loving your neighbor, Jesus did what he frequently did.
He told them a fictional story.
Like all good tales, his story had a strong antagonist, a killer who took a man, pummeled him within an inch of his life, and left him for dead. And it had a strong protagonist, a man who went out of his way to nurse the victim back to life after others refused to help the dying man.
But what really cooked the goose of those who heard the teaching that day was the twist at the end of the story. In this story, you see, the protagonist wasn’t the pious man or the religious leader. The hero of the tale was a Samaritan. A heretic. A bigot. Scum. It would be like telling a story in which the hero was a Christian among Muslims. Or in the West, a Muslim among Christians. This man, Jesus said, was following the most important teaching. This man was the hero of his story.
So, what is it like to love an enemy? What are our so-called enemies really like, one on one? What are their favorite movies? When was the last time they cried? What is their favorite joke? If we could only take People magazine–like snapshots of the very people who make many in the United States cringe.
And what do our “enemies,” being deeply religious people, think of this great teaching to love your neighbor, even if that neighbor is your enemy? It’s no secret that Muslims believe that even though Muhammad is the last prophet, Jesus is also greatly revered, having lived a perfect life, and destined to return one day and claim his own. What do they think of the parable of the Good Samaritan? Do they follow its lesson as poorly as most American Christians?
The events and people of the Middle East are inarguably crucial to every human being’s future, whether or not they recognize that fact. Our presidents are elected and rejected in part because of what occurs in this misunderstood land so far away. Mothers will lose their sons, and daughters will lose their fathers, as ideas and convictions clash in the desert. Countries will stand and fall. It’s an important place and its people are even more important. Are they our enemies? And if so, should we love them?
Surrounded by the aroma of food in the safety of a Hard Rock Cafe, Carl and I toasted the ideal travelogue. Assuming it could come together, of course. Little did we know what trouble we were inviting.
First, what this book is not: This is not a religious book that seeks to correct anyone’s misguided beliefs, Christian or Muslim. This is not a political book that undermines any one ideology. And it certainly is not a historical narrative that pretends to revise any previous work by far more qualified historians.
Rather, this is a travelogue, albeit one with some fairly majortwists.
In the pages that follow we will trace our journey of discovery through the heart of the Middle East with some simple questions for some unique and influential personalities whom most in the United States, including the government, think of as enemies who belong on Most Wanted lists.
We will ask ourselves whether anyone is interested in loving his neighbor. Whether, for that matter, it’s even possible to follow this scandalous teaching.
Along the way we will wander through the corridors of littleknown history in Egypt, Baalbek, Damascus, and Jerusalem to see just how the teaching of love has fared among enemies over the centuries.
And with each step we take we will seek the Good Samaritan, both figuratively and literally, because we’ve learned that there are still roughly seven hundred Samaritans alive today.
But as much as these, this is the story of the mastiff and the puppy, boldly and not so boldly going where few have tread. It is the story of fear and misunderstanding, of ignorance and pain, and, above all, it is a story of love.
“Right,” I said, peering out the window as the jet banked toward the streets of Beirut lined with tanks below us. “Right,” I repeated hopefully. But it didn’t feel right.
Carl leaned over. “Streets look deserted. Sophie says there are two tanks guarding the house we’re staying in.”
“We need tanks? Why’s that?”
As we arrived at Samir’s house we saw the two tanks stationed outside the building. When we asked why, Sophie said it was for security reasons.
“We’re staying with her? What happened to the Marriott?”
“Naw, man. We’re their guests—that would be rude. Besides, this will make it more real for you.”
I turned back to the window and swallowed, in desperate need of distraction. Maybe I should have bought the Tumi luggage after all.
 
THE PARABLE OF THE SAMARITAN
 
On one occasion an expert in the Law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
            “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the Law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
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Table of Contents

1 Into the Lion's Den: A Journey into Madness 1

2 Squalor at the Gate: Egypt 13

3 To Live by the Law: Saudi Arabia 30

4 Nicole: One of Seven 52

5 The Lion That Bites: Beirut 64

6 Nicole: Two of Seven 84

7 Ancient Sacrifice: Baalbek 93

8 Nicole: Three of Seven 107

9 Tea with Hezbollah: Southern Lebanon 115

10 Nicole: Four of Seven 130

11 Road to Damascus: Syria 137

12 Nicole: Five of Seven 157

13 Ground Zero: Jerusalem 165

14 Nicole: Six of Seven 180

15 Living Among Enemies: The West Bank 185

16 Nicole: Seven of Seven 211

17 The True Samaritan: Lands Unknown 217

Glossary 235

Timeline of the Modern-Day Israeli-Palestinian Issue 243

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 32 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 20, 2013

    Fantastic read! Ted and Carl take the readers on a journey throu

    Fantastic read! Ted and Carl take the readers on a journey through the Middle East in search of the good Samaritan. Can enemies truly love each other as Jesus commanded? Can we put aside our differences in politics, religion, lifestyle and background long enough to see each other as real people, people who laugh and cry, work hard for their families, and hold tightly to what they cherish? This is not a book about politics, religion, right or wrong. Rather, it's a diary of sorts, a log of their travels through this often misunderstood part of the world. I also read it as a call to every man and woman to examine themselves - if we were to stumble upon an enemy of the United States, our enemy, near death, in need of care, would we show compassion and love, or would we walk away, ignoring the needs of a dying man?

    Eileen K Parsons, author, "The First Rose of Summer"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    One of my favorite books of all time. Changed the way I think a

    One of my favorite books of all time. Changed the way I think about loving others. Very thought provoking and life changing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2012

    Very good

    I found this book very informative and right on with its facts. It made me look at things differently after living in this part of the world for one year plus. Thanks

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2011

    Highly recommended.

    This non fiction transcript includes a good story and detailed information regarding the world's view of The Good Sameritian.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 3, 2010

    who is my neighbor?

    Tea with Hezbollah is a journey to find out whether it is possible to truly love one's enemies. It is both awe-inspiring and downright terrifying at points, as the authors Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis embark on this highly unusual journey. This journey covered thousands of miles, and not a single mile of that was wasted.

    I particularly liked the method of documentation of the journey. They recorded every conversation, and most conversations include a direct transcript in the book. There is nothing paraphrased as to not put words in anyone's mouth. I was able to more readily understand the mind and ideas of those that were interviewed as well.

    The book revolves around two central ideas. One: that the foremost teaching of Jesus was the commandments to love God and to love others, as shown by the parable of the good Samaritan. Two: What if we sat down and talked to those we believe to be our enemies and asked them what they thought about the very same parable and the idea behind it?

    Ted and Carl did just that. They went on a groundbreaking adventure around the world to the middle east to meet with the very leaders of our enemies. The Islamic leaders, specifically the Hezbollah and the Hamas. They met everyone from taxi drivers to clerics and finally even a Samaritan. The story of this grand adventure gets a shot in the arm from an amazing amount of knowledge about the region, its history and its dangers.

    Whether you are reading the terrifying stories of Carl Medearis' firsthand encounters with terrorism and near death, or reading about the dramatic history of Baalbek, you cannot help but get sucked into this book. But what truly brings you into this book is the dramatic retelling of the story of one woman named Nicole. The story of Nicole is a modern tale of the good Samaritan if there ever was one. You read each chapter of her story with bated breath, hanging on every last word. It is truly amazing how Ted Dekker could stumble upon Nicole's story during his travels, and even more amazing how powerful her story is.

    The book raises many questions for you to tackle on your own and encourages you to do so. It certainly gave me a newer and better understanding of the teaching to love one's enemies! Tea With Hezbollah is an amazing read and certainly the best non-fiction title I can remember reading. This book was very interesting and memorable and I do hope that many of you would be interested in reading it yourself!

    Ted Dekker is the author of many nationally best-selling novels, including Bone Man's Daughters, The Circle Series, Thr3e, and House. His unique style of storytelling has captured the attention of millions worldwide. Visit him at TedDekker.com and Facebook.com/TedDekker.

    Carl Medearis is an international expert in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations. He acts as a catalyst for a number of current movements in the Middle East to promote peace-making and to promote cultural, political and religious dialog leading toward reconciliation. He is the author of the acclaimed book on these issues Muslims, Christians and Jesus. Visit him at carlmedearis.com.

    read this and other reviews of mine at http://fablefreak.wordpress.com

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    thought provoking

    Tea with Hezbolah was a very thought provoking read. Ted Dekker is a gifted author whose novels I have enjoyed. With friend Carl Medearis, Dekker embarks on a journey to find out how "America's enemies" feel about one of Jesus's most famous teachings. Dekker and Medearis travel to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Isreal in search of "the Good Samaritan". As Dekker and Medearis interview people such as Bin Ladin's brothers, a cab driver in Lebanon, leaders of Hezbolah and Hamas, a Christian Palestenian, a Bedouin prince and more, they provide the actual transcripts from the interview so the reader can make up his or her own mind without the author's opinion of what was being said seeping in. I was amazed with some of the responses from people I was sure were "monsters" and to hear what they really think of Americans was rather eye opening. While this book is not meant in any way to justify terrorism or to take sides in the conflict in the Middle East, it gives one a new perspective on the grievances from all sides of the conflicts. Whether speaking with Christian, Muslim or Jew the same sentiment seemed to abound...we need to love one another, but politics seems to get in the way.

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  • Posted April 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Enlightening story of loving your enemy.

    This enlightening book delves into the reason behind one of the most widely known biblical stories: The Good Samaritan. Dekker and Medearis travel across the Middle East, meeting with various fighters, religious leaders, and common civilians, in order to unearth the true teaching and belief behind The Good Samaritan story Christ spoke of. These two men interviewed a wide range of officials and posted them, word for word, within the book. Raw emotions and thoughts are woven throughout this journey. What may seem as just another one-religious-based book, is in fact a book about a journey to uncover the commonalities between Christians and Muslims and shed light on the growing situation in the Middle East. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a deeper knowledge of the religious basis of the people who are living in the midst of war in the Middle East. I was pleasantly surprised to gain a new understanding and perspective through the eyes of numerous individuals living in a world unlike mine. I devoured this book in a matter of a couple days. Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis do not disappoint!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    Makes you think...

    This book really does open eyes. Dekker and Medearis travel through the Middle East and approach those who the Western world (and especially America) would consider our "enemies." The take a very simple question to them: Is it possible to love your enemy?

    The interviewees' responses are very enlightening, offered word-for-word by the authors.

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  • Posted January 27, 2010

    Who is Your Neighbor?

    Grade-A

    Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, Carol O'Connell and Ted Dekker. These are a few authors whose to do list I would be willing to read, because I think they would be exciting.

    Novelist Ted Dekker and his friend Carl Medearis, who lives in the Middle East, traveled through the Middle East, asking the question, what do you think of Jesus teaching "love your neighbor." They traveled through Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabi and Egypt sitting down with leading Jewish, Christian and Islamic clerics. They also met with leading members of Hezbollah, Hamas and other Freedom Fighters throughout the region. They asked what made these men cry and laugh, what they thought was the biggest misconceptions Americans had about them, what they thought their people had about Americans, and what they thought about Jesus story of the Good Samaratian. It is an interesting look at those whom we call enemies, who are really no different than we are. We need to get to know our global neighbors on a more personal basis. The trick is how we get my block to know their neighbors in Beirut, Damascus and around the world. Interspersed throughout the account of their travel, Dekker weaves a story that parallels the story of the Good Samaritan. Everyone should read this.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    Tea With the Enemy

    The premise of the book is based on the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10) in which Jesus taught to love your neighbor as yourself and the verse (Matthew 5:44) to love your enemies. Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis journeyed to the Middle East to the sit down with both Muslim leaders and ordinary Muslims to find out what they thought about this specific teaching of Jesus.

    Tea With Hezbollah starts out very strong. Ted Dekker's writing is a pleasure to read with his clever dialog and his reaction to Carl Medearis' idea to travel to one of the most dangerous parts of the world. There is some history of the area and descriptions of the sights and smells as they travel from the least dangerous to the most dangerous locations to meet with individuals. They asked them simple questions:

    . What is the greatest misunderstanding Americans have of Arabs?
    . And Arabs' greatest misunderstanding of Americans?
    . What makes you cry?
    . What makes you laugh?
    . What kind of car do you drive?
    . Do you believe we should love our enemies as Jesus teaches?

    I thought that some of the questions asked were superficial and tedious for what could have been an important dialog. They frequently ask the Muslims to tell a joke. The humor did not translate well. Actually, not at all. Once the important questions were asked about Jesus' teaching, there was little or no follow-up to dig deeper into the minds of our enemies.

    There were several instances of comments made about Jesus and Christians by the authors that were very disparaging. As an excerpt for this:
    "We are both Christian. We both cringe at being called Christian, because in both of our worlds, Christians are the bad guys who either slaughter civilians or destroy civilization in the name of God."

    There was a side story about a woman named Nicole that was interjected throughout the book which may have been interesting if it had not been chopped up almost as space filler.
    I thought the book was good - but not great.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A book that shows just how similar we all are.

    This is a review copy sent to me.

    The first thing that comes to mind when trying to explain this book is that we really are all the same. We all laugh, we all cry, we all live. It doesn't matter what religion you follow, what beliefs you hold, how you choose to live your life, on a fundamental level we really are all the same.

    In this book Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis travel to the Middle East to sit and talk with people that our enemies of America. They talk to everyone, from the taxi drivers to the heads of "terrorist" organizations. During these talks they ask everyone the same basic questions and even though the answers are as different as the people answering them they really go to show how similar we all are.

    The interviews are so basic but yet they really make you think. They show people who we perceive as enemies and animals in a way that shows they're human just like the rest of us.

    The idea for the book is amazing, and I think it was written superbly. The authors take great care to not skew what was being said in the interviews, and thus they are not adding their beliefs to the answers. The interviewees words are left for the reader to interpret without any bias.

    There were a few themes that reappear throughout the book. These themes show how similar we all are and give the reader a way to connect with people we may think we have nothing in common with.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    Excellent!

    Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis took a trip to the Middle East that no one thought was possible. Their quest: to find out what our enemy has to say concerning the commandment Jesus gave to love your neighbor. You are taken on this journey with them as they interview Bin Laden's brothers, the head of Hezbollah, clerics of the Islam and regular people of the Middle East. Ted Dekker narrates as if you were sharing a cup of tea with him discussing his adventure in the Middle East. Instead of long interviews steeped in religion or politics, Dekker and Medearis try to get inside the hearts of those they spoke with. Revealed is a truth that will challenge you. This book is a must read for every American. It is not often you get a glimpse into the heart of our enemy.

    Intertwined throughout the narration is a parable Dekker created to illustrate the Good Samaritan. His masterful illustration is griping and inspiring. In true Ted Dekker fashion you will be turning the pages in fury of excitement. Whether you are a fan of Ted Dekker or not, this book is not to be missed.

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  • Posted January 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This Book Changed the Way I Think!

    When I was invited to review Tea with Hezbollah by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis, I was intrigued. I had never read anything by Ted Dekker, though I knew him as an acclaimed Christian novelist. I expected Tea with Hezbollah to be fiction about the happenings of the Middle East. I was surprised to find that this book is a travelogue of sorts.the true story of Dekker and Meaderis' journey through the Middle East.

    Tea with Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies' Table, Our Journey through the Middle East was conceived out of questions. Is it truly possible to do as Jesus commanded and love your neighbor, even if it means loving an enemy? Are the principles found in the parable of the Good Samaritan realistic in today's world? Dekker and Medearis traveled through much of the Middle East in pursuit of answers.

    Having a conversation with the brothers of Osama bin Laden, meeting the men who most influence the interpretation of Islamic law, sharing an afternoon with a modern day Ghandi, drinking lemonade with a Samaritan, and sipping tea with Hezbollah fighters-these are the things Medearis and Dekker experienced on their journey. Along the way, they asked these key leaders questions such as: what is your favorite joke? What makes you laugh? Do you have any hobbies? What makes you cry? Their answers shocked me and shook my preconceived notions to their core.

    I read this 250 page book in two afternoons. I did not want to pull myself away. Dekker's writing is incredible. As an admitted literary snob, I was impressed. It was not simply his artistic use of words and masterful blending of history into the book that pulled me in, however. The book's message is what most gripped me. I was moved by the humanity in Tea with Hezbollah. As an American, I picture the Middle East as what I see and hear on the news. This book put a human face on those citizens of the world. Jesus called us to love our enemies. These "enemies" of the United States-the people living in these countries have suffered much. They live every day in danger. They love, they lose those dear to them, they hurt, they laugh, they have hopes and dreams. They are more like us than unlike us. They are humans caught in the crosshairs of horrific religious and political battles. They need love, compassion, and Jesus.

    I will not hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend this book. The world needs this message. Read Tea with Hezbollah. If you open your heart to the humanity crying out on every page, you will be moved. Indeed, your entire outlook will be changed for the better. Become a Good Samaritan and reach across your enemy's table.

    This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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