Friday, December 20, 2013

Tiberias and Nazareth

Hello, friends!

There is so much I want to write – I’m not sure where to start...

Saturday, I was with a new friend named Bill who has lived in Tiberias for the past 20 years, working with the Jewish people in that region. He serves at a church in a village called Poriya, which sits at the very top of a mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  His church is primarily filled with Russian Jews. 

Between 1989 and 2006, about 979,000 Soviet Jews and non-Jews eligible under the Law of Return emigrated from former Soviet Union, when the liberal government of Mikhail Gorbachev opened the borders of the USSR and allowed Jews to leave the country for Israel. I have been constantly reminded while I've been in the land of the Old Testament prophets who spoke of a time to come when God would bring his chosen people who are scattered to the four corners of the earth, back to the land promised to them. "The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their forefathers to possess,' says the LORD." (Jer. 30:2). Bill has a very large area pinpointed on a map circling Tiberias that he and his team have been praying over for many, many years – and God is blessing those prayers with many Jewish people who are now back in their land coming to faith in Christ. Amazing. 

While near Tiberias, Bill took us to see Capernaum, which is right along the Sea of Galilee. We saw Peter’s mother-in-law’s house, which is immediately next to ruins of an old Synagogue dated to the first century AD. “He [Jesus] said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.” (John 6:59). Below is a picture of the Synagogue at Capernaum, and the Sea of Galilee (where Jesus calmed the storm, and walked on water).

The v-shaped area between the two mountains is called "The Valley of the Doves," and is likely where Jesus traveled by foot to enter Capernaum.

Sunday we traveled to Nazareth, to an Arabic Baptist church. Nazareth is 100% Arab, and certainly does not look like it probably did when Jesus was a child growing up there.

One year ago, the church was near closure with five faithful Arab Christians who met weekly to pray. A man named Bashar, an Arab Christian, along with his wife were called by God to go to lead that church – to outreach and share the good news with Arabs in Nazareth. When we visited, the church was full of people, all new believers, and alive with music and hearts fully worshipping the Lord. They host outreach events for the locals – who aren’t overly welcoming initially of their presence in the area – but who are loved on and cared for (so different from Islam) and many end up putting their faith in Christ.

Below is a picture of Bashar and his sweet wife Noura, Lubna who was our translator, and the team members I was with from Operation Mobilization.The second picture is a sweet missionary named Sara with an Arabic friend from the church.

God has provided above what I could have ever planned or expected, in opportunities, teaching and learning. One highlight for me was praying at the top of Mount Carmel over the city of Haifa, at night, for the people who live in the land of Israel.

Monday I was finally able to get into Jerusalem. Public transportation was not running at all to that point because of the record-breaking snowstorm. Their has been great damage to the land, including to crops. News sources said nothing quite like it has hit in Israel in 70 years. Prime Minister Netanyahu called it a "once in a century phenomenon." Fortunately I was still able to connect with with Eugene with Chosen People Ministries Jerusalem.  Nurit and Mike joined us later to tour the Old City. Below is a picture of the Old City covered in snow, with the Dome of the Rock.

 The Western (Wailing) Wall (below)

A picture of the Mount of Olives, where Jesus was arrested, is below. If you look closely you can see it is covered with sarcophagus' which are stone box-like funeral receptacles displayed above ground (a cemetery).

Met Megan on Tuesday in Frankfurt (wonderful!) and then the next morning we were off to France to meet our friends Lucien and Bridgette Castera. More to come from France...

Love you all!

Grace & Peace,

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