Jerusalem, a Heavy Stone

Report: 2024 Israel Mission Tour

We have all seen videos of young Americans violently protesting Israel’s right to defend herself on college and university campuses. Those clips are also seen in Israel. Before we departed for Israel on May 17th, we repeatedly heard, “Don’t you know there is a war going on over there?”
It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it. - Zechariah 12:3
People could not understand why we would take the Fellowship Team (Keyshawn, Emma, César) to the epicenter of the Middle East conflict. Despite what is observed on the “news,” the safest place is in God’s hands. What we accomplished together was important. But it wasn’t easy.  
As of this writing, no American carriers are flying into Israel. Our paid-for flights on United Airlines were canceled three times! From my vantage point, United’s service cancellation to Israel is more about politics than safety. Lufthansa, British Air, Austrian Air, and Air France have planes arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport daily. A trip usually takes about 20 hours. The fights we finally secured using United, Lufthansa, and Austrian Air had four legs and took over 35 hours.

Upon arrival, the airport was eerily quiet. Placards lined the walkway to passport control, each one dedicated to one of the 252 Israelis and foreigners taken hostage by Hamas on Saturday, October 7th.

One of the major reasons for this trip was to provide a ministry of presence, a tangible counterbalance of support for the people of Israel, Jews, and Arabs alike. The team had collected hundreds of handwritten cards and letters of support and encouragement from Jesus’ followers in the States. They were delivered one by one to those we met along the road. One Jewish teenager at En Gedi searched for us after reading the one given to her by Keyshawn. “I read your note. It was beautiful.” Repeatedly, Israelis affirmed our presence in their blood-soaked land. “Thank you for coming, for being here at this time.” Seeing how the Lord Jesus used our tiny team to encourage so many has been amazing.  
Following our arrival in Israel, we headed south towards Beersheva, making stops at the Elah Valley (David and Goliath), Tel Maresha (birthplace of Herod Antipater), and Tel Lachish (defeated by Sennacherib of Assyria). All of these locations testify to the unique role of Israel in God’s proclaimed plan for history. The land promised exclusively to the Jewish people has always been a land of struggle. Our last stop of the day was Kibbutz Be’eri, adjacent to the site of the Nova music festival, where over 1,000 young Israelis were brutalized in the early morning hours of October 7th. Kibbutz Be’eri had more loss of life than any other community that day. About 1,200 people lived on the kibbutz before October 7th. One hundred forty were killed that morning. Our team was escorted through the most damaged section of Be’eri, listening to the eyewitness testimony of one of the first responders, himself a kibbutz member.
Amidst the charred remains of once-happy homes, we heard the horror stories of dozens of families, occasionally interrupted by the sound of artillery shells exploding in the distance. The global delusion that peace is possible with the Palestinians in Gaza has been shattered. The same is true in the north, where Hezbollah is firing Iranian-supplied rockets from Lebanon.
A father of two on staff with one of the largest churches in Israel commented that there is a spiritual war underway around the world. The Bible tells us what is going to happen before Jesus returns. What He told us would happen is happening. Jesus is coming soon. Israel doesn’t want this war. Hamas and Hezbollah do. Christians need to be focused on what is really important these days. The war is focusing us as believers on what needs to be done. It is strange to say, but in this, the war is good. What moral clarity!
Despite all of the darkness and destruction in Israel these days, God is at work. We saw it on the faces of those we spoke to. “We follow Jesus, and we are here because of Him.” As we handed out cards and letters provided by some who are reading this now, the Good News you wrote about was welcomed with open hands. The Church is strong. Our team spent an evening with Israeli youth at the Jerusalem Assembly. The next day, one of the staff members commented: 

“Your team is like family. Consider our church as your home.”
In a few weeks, the team will leave the States again to minister abroad during Summer Serve. This would not have happened without people like you.

Also, if you know of other people like you who might be interested in supporting this work financially, please consider introducing them to us.
Posted in

No Comments