We arrived at the Wildgoose Festival in Pittsboro, North Carolina on Thursday evening. the festival is a gathering of Christians dedicated to social justice and riding the wave of significant change that is effecting Christianity in the Western world. The "emergent church" is led by men and women who understand that church is not in mission; Christians are sent from faith communities to live a life of mission.
We sat in on an evening presentation of "The Gospel of Rutba". Shane Claiborne and colleagues told the moving story of their peace making trip to Iraq in the midst of war in 2003 and their return trip in 2010. In their first trip they were in a serious car accident as they were heading, by car, for the Iraq/Jordan boarder. They were rescued by Iraqi citizens who took them to the small town of Rutba, where the hospital had recently been bombed by a US air strike. Because the hospital was closed, doctors did triage and treatment in a make shift clinic. Those in serious condition were stabilized. When the peace makers tried to pay the doctors, they refused any money. Instead they asked that the Americans remember Rutba and tell others about the hospitality of The Iraqi people, hospitality that came despite the on going war.
Claiborne talked about the gospel lived out in Rutba, a modern day Good Samaritan story. He experienced the compassion of Christ that crossed geographic, political, ideological and religious boundaries. Acts of peacemaking do that.
In 2010, the group returned to greet their Good Samaritans" in Rutba. Currently, they are working with a newly established "sister city" partnership between Rutba, Iraq and Durham, North Carolina.