Most of my souvenirs from several trips to the Middle East bring back pleasant memories. One, not so much.
It's a copy of The Jordan Times newspaper. The headlines, articles and photos tell the horrifying story of near-simultaneous suicide bomber attacks on three American-chain hotels in Amman in which 64 people were killed and more than a hundred maimed.
I was only a mile away when it happened. Beyond Today TV host Darris McNeely and I had just finished a four-week trip through Jordan and Israel, and we'd turned in early at our hotel to get a good night's sleep before catching our long flight home to America.
We'd been asleep only a short while when we were startled awake by a loud pounding on the door. As we stumbled to open it, a hotel employee burst in shouting: "Emergency! Emergency! You must evacuate now!" We hurriedly threw on clothes and, with several hundred other guests, made our way through the lobby, out into the street and to a nearby vacant lot. We shivered in the cold November night air as hotel employees passed out much-welcomed blankets.
In the distance we could hear sirens and see flashing lights but had no idea what was going on. We assumed it was a fire, but smelling no smoke we concluded it must've been a bomb threat.
After what seemed like an eternity, the hotel manager quietly told a few persistent questioners of the murderous attack that had happened nearby. When the police and military had finished sweeping the hotel for explosives and any other possible bombers, we were allowed back in for a quick call to our wives to assure them we were okay and a few uneasy hours of sleep before leaving for our flight home.
It's remarkable how past and present—and, yes, sometimes even future—collide in the Middle East. Only a few days earlier Darris and I had stood overlooking the battlefield in Galilee where the forces of the Muslim general Saladin defeated the Crusaders in A.D. 1187, ending almost a century of Crusader rule in the Holy Land. From this spot we could also see the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee and pick out the locations of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida, the principle towns of Jesus Christ's ministry.
A day or two before, we had stood atop the ancient mound of Megiddo—biblical har-Megiddo or Armageddon—and gazed across the broad Jezreel Valley to the ridge on which Nazareth lay in the distance. Yes, the Prince of Peace grew up as a boy in a village overlooking the most fought-over piece of land known to man—the battlefield that lends its name to the final climactic clash of man vs. God that will determine who will rule the earth at Christ's return.
Meanwhile, human clashes come all too often in this bloodstained land where ancient resentments resurface with alarming regularity, leaving temporary victors but far greater numbers of permanent victims—for no one ever truly wins at war in this age of man's misrule.
Before our border crossing to Jordan and that terrible night in Amman, Jordan, I'd stood at the Western Wall in Jerusalem and followed God's admonition through King David in Psalms 122:6 Psalms 122:6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love you.
American King James Version×to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem"—a peace that will come only with the return and reign of the true Messiah, Jesus Christ.
In an age of daily headlines of Middle East chaos, that day can't come soon enough. That's why He tells us to pray regularly, "Your Kingdom come!" I hope you'll join us in praying that always.