The following is a brief description of the first part of my current trip to Israel. It covers my time with a group of intercessors and worshippers as we went throughout the land. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this team, which was led by my good friend Jim Pociluyko. Check out the team blog at www.arrows4israel.com.
Our trip started in Tel Aviv. We stayed two days in this major city, which is quite a contrast to Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is modern in every sense of the word. From skyscrapers to skimpy sunbathers, the city is the New York of the Middle East. We spent time praying for more Messianic Jewish Believers to enter the land and to help bolster the Church in Israel.
While in Tel Aviv, we met with Elana Cantor. She told us some very gripping stories about the difficulties that young Jewish Christians face in the land. Hearing the heart of this godly mother and teacher was enough to make us all cry. The next day we visited Caesarea on the way to Haifa. Caesarea is important because this is where Peter met with Cornelius. The first real outreach to Gentiles took place here. The apostle Paul spent time in Caesarea before heading to Rome. This was a major port built by Herod to showcase the importance of his kingdom to the Roman Empire.
We then went North to Haifa, a major port city. Haifa is also the home of the Baha’i Faith religion. We visited the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, which were eerily beautiful. I sensed while I was there that the gardens suggest a false peace and tranquility connected with the Baha’i Faith. I spent some time praying that false religions would be revealed as lifeless without the power to cover sin. Later that night, we prayed around the ports for Israel and its economy. A few of the team members also had some wonderful conversations with some Jews on the roof of our hotel. This was one of many casual conversations that the team had with Israelis about our visit and love for Yeshua.
The next day, we fellowshipped with a large congregation called Tents of Mercy in Haifa. This was an incredible time as people there represented a number of nations from around the world, including Israel, USA, Korea, Russia, etc. I really felt this was a picture of what heaven will be like as people gather from around the globe to praise the name of Jesus. From Haifa, we headed to Megiddo, the site commonly know as Armageddon. This ancient fort city is located along a major trade route overlooks the Jezreel Valley. It is some of the most fought over land on the planet. We prayed about the impact of prophecy and wars on the land as well as the End Times. It was a powerful moment of prayer as we asked for wisdom to understand how this site speaks to us today. How are we challenging the forces of evil in our hometowns?
As we made our way North, we went to the Galilee region, which has always been my favorite spot. Not only is this where Jesus did most of his miracles and teaching, it is also a beautiful location. It is less secular than Tel Aviv and Haifa and less religious than Jerusalem. We met some locals as well as some Jewish guys from New York as we sang worship songs along the beach our first night in the Galilee. We visited Capernaum the next day and spent time praying for the region. Capernaum is the city where Jesus did a number of major miracles. It is the hometown of Simon Peter. We had a strong time of praying for the people in Galilee along the shore. Later that night, we met with a group of Messianic Jews who leader a small congregation in Tiberias. This was a highlight of the trip for many of us on the team. The Holy Spirit really flowed through our worship and prayers. We could really sense the exchange of grace that took place between our team and the local church leaders. Pastor Claude from Tiberias spoke some very frank words about the importance of Israel in God’s plans. I really felt this was a confirmation of my call to help the American church realize that God is not down with the Jewish people or Israel.
A number of the young folks on the team were baptized in the Galilee the next day. It was a very moving experience for Jim who had worked with many of these young people for a few years. Later that day, we went to the Golan Heights to see and pray over the Northern border of Israel. This is always a moving experience because you can look out on Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
We then went to an IDF Artillery Base and spent some time talking with a handful of soldiers. This was one of the most moving experiences for many of us on the trip. We really feel like we connected with them and lifted their spirits. Debbie directly talked to a number of them about Yeshua. It was a divine moment. This base was supposed to be visited that day by a group of important dignitaries. At the last moment, the group had to cancel. The entire base was really down about it, but our visit lifted their spirits. I hope to keep contact with a few of the soldiers that we met. I know that our conversations were a highlight for me so far. I was really impressed with the IDF soldiers, which makes we wonder if the IDF gets a bump rap in the mainstream international press. I think so.
There is more to tell about the first part of my trip. I will leave that for the second update. Please pray for me as I get ready to go serve on an IDF base as a civilian tomorrow. I will be put on a facility to do non-military activities that help the state of Israel. This is a secular program that fosters relationships with Israel and its friends abroad. I look forward to the challenge. But I a honestly a bit nervous about it too. Godspeed!