After stalling for a few days after getting back from Jerusalem, I decided I’d better get something on line about the trip. Unfortunately I found that something went wrong and most everything that I had already typed had gone away. I apparently did something that erased most everything. So…let’s start again. Ugh.
Because this trip was quite short we didn’t arrange to be part of a tour. We also wanted to experience Jerusalem without having a rigorous schedule to follow. We figured that we would have a much better chance meeting people that lived in Jerusalem as opposed to traveling with the tour group we were scheduled to be with.
There are of course also disadvantages to doing this—especially when visiting a large city in a different part of the world. Jerusalem proved to be a difficult city to get around in, partly due to its dense population, partly because of it being such a hilly city, and also because the streets of Jerusalem are not straight—anywhere! Rush hour was a real challenge as it is in most large cities, and the New York taxi drivers don’t have anything over the taxi drivers in Jerusalem. By the way, there are 5,000 taxis in Jerusalem! After riding taxis two to three times a day, we found that the preference of vehicles for most drivers is the Mercedes. These cars really get a work out, and I’m sure it becomes quite evident which automobiles are up to the constant abuse!
We also found that the majority of the taxi drivers were of Arab descent. At least, after riding in taxis all week long, that is how it seemed. The Israeli government allows people of different nationalities to have work permits within Israeli territory as long as the permits are properly processed and the typical requirements are adhered to. Foreign workers seem to have found it to be a good deal for them to get the work permits because it provides them a way to make a living, and they are protected just as the Jewish citizens are.
We asked several people what the population of Jerusalem is, and no one seems to know for sure. Most say that the population within the city limits is between 750,000 and 800,000. The metropolitan area is about twice that much. One thing that was said by most everyone was that people are moving into the city by the multitudes. There is so much construction going on—both new construction and remodeling of old structures, that the crane has jokingly been called the new national bird. That is one thing we noticed as soon as we were within view of the city. There are cranes everywhere!
One thing that really struck me from our first day of arrival was the tremendous amount of infrastructure that has been put in place since Israel became a nation once again in 1948. Obviously there are buildings in the city that were built before 1948, but compared to what is in place today, there was very little to speak of. The Jewish people coming home to their ancient homeland came to an overwhelming task! When you begin to think of the buildings that needed to be put up, the roads built, sewage systems brought up to modern standards—especially in a city as hilly as this one (think of San Francisco, and you get a bit of an idea of what kind of a job that was!) Then is the need for a working power-grid. There also had to be public transportation. A functioning government had to be set up. And then the immediate attacks from enemies all around, emphasized the desperate need for a formidable military that was capable of protecting this tiny nation from enemies that outnumbered them hundreds of times over. Then, there is the fact that Israel has become one of the largest exporter of fruits and vegetables in the world. This has happened after the land literally not having rain for 1800 years—since the Jewish people were dispersed. The Bible said this would happen, as well as a great deal more.
Israel also needed to build schools, universities, and prove themselves in the scientific community. Their overwhelming number of patents per capita since 1948 is nothing less than astounding. Then, there was the need for an international airport. What is now called “Ben Gurion” international airport actually was started in the mid-thirties. It has come a long way since then, with over 10 million passengers using the airport every year. The record is somewhere around 13.5 million or so this last year, and is nearly at its maximum. A second international airport has been on the table for quite some time now. The price tag for another airport is not a small issue. There are four tentative locations being considered, but there are serious concerns for all four, not the least of which are the security concerns. Ben Gurion Airport is considered one of the most secure airports in the world. Several attempts have been made by extremists to get by security and bring about mass death or at the least, chaos. To this date, none have been successful.
My intent in this post is not so much to go into the history of Israel since it became a nation again but rather to give a short run-down on our own experiences while visiting there so at this point, I’ll change the emphasis of this article.
We were told by Christian folks we met in Jerusalem that 30+ years ago, there were only a handful of groups that called themselves “Messianic Jews”. For those that don’t know, these are Jewish people that have accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah. For those of us who live in the U.S., we don’t know what it is like to have our beliefs rejected by most of the people around us. In Israel, it is different. Even though a large percentage of the population is secular, the acceptance of Jesus as Messiah is still rejected by the Jewish people. In fact, amongst the 17 or so different sects of ultra-orthodox Jews, the people who believe in Jesus as the Messiah, are hated. Yet, in the last thirty plus years, there are now many thousands of home groups that have accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Most of these people have to meet underground, but they do exist; in fact are flourishing. Their numbers are multiplying!
There is much to be said about the different harvests that God has planned for these last days, but I need to go into that at another time. The point for us today is this: We have an opportunity given to us by God and we need to make the most of it. We can’t expect others to do something that God has planned as our part of the job. One of the things that God raised America up for was not only to send missionaries all over the world, but also to send funds when God calls for them.
Anne and I went to Jerusalem specifically to find the contacts that God wanted us to connect with. We found three of these, and one of these in particular grabbed our hearts with an immediate need. In order to protect his identity, I won’t use the name of this pastor in this post, but his small group of people put their lives on the line getting Bibles into places that are very difficult to access. Every one of these people know that they could very well be caught and never return to their families. Yet, they feel it a privilege to serve the Lord in this way. The way they describe it, they already “died” when they committed their lives to the Lord. If they are called upon to pay the ultimate price, it is no less than the greatest honor. With a commitment like this, we found the Lord speaking to us as well. We could do no less than obey what God was asking of us. The latest batch of boxes full of Bibles (translated into Arabic), are to be delivered into a neighboring country. There is a great need. About 10-16 people share one Bible in most areas of the mid-east. I think I have about that many in my own library! I’ll have to admit, this made me feel a bit guilty! We have really been blessed here in America.
I will continue sharing much more about our trip to Israel and also what is happening over there, but want to get this on line today. Prophetic events are coming together at lightning speed, and every single day now.
If anyone feels God would have you contribute toward the Bibles being bought and delivered in the Mideast through this organization we are now regularly in contact with, let me know by e-mail and I’ll offer instructions in how to do so. There have already been people that have committed themselves to Jesus since the first batch of Bibles was bought. These include an ultra-orthodox Jewish couple and also the daughter of a well known radical Muslim sheik that recently passed away. This family is now coming into contact with the love of God for the first time in their lives. There is much to do and time is so very, very short…
To be continued…