Alleged spy relaxes in Clearwater
Clearwater resident Laura Mackenzie (l) relaxes with her brother, Bruce Balfour, after his return from nearly two months in a Lebanese jail, charged with espionage. "We were told he could get anything from deportation to the death sentence," Mackenzie said.
A man jailed for almost two months in Lebanon for allegedly spying for Israel now is spending some time in Clearwater and Dunn Lake Bible Camp, collecting his thoughts and writing about his experiences.
"I'm never going back there, not so long as that evil regime is in place," said Bruce Balfour.
The Calgary man is the brother of Clearwater resident Laura Mackenzie. He has visited the North Thompson several times, and his sister was one of the main organizers of a media campaign that many believe helped to get him released.
Balfour's interest in the Middle East began in 1981 when he went there to study the Bible and to learn about the land where the book was written.
In 1982 he lived in a kibbutz in Israel, as well as in Lebanon.
During that year the Israelis invaded southern Lebanon, and Balfour was involved in a humanitarian mission, providing food and medicine, as well as tens of thousands of Bibles, to the people in that area.
"That's when we came to be considered enemies by some people ... I had several friends killed during those years," he said.
He left the Middle East in 1985, returning briefly in 1993, when he worked for several months at a radio and television station in northern Israel. While there, he prayed God to ask when he would be let back into Lebanon (at the time the Israelis and their allies, the South Lebanese Army, were fighting a guerrilla war in southern Lebanon against Hezbollah, a militant Islamic group. In 2000 the Israelis pulled out of southern Lebanon).