You Look Like a Ruth

(“Back to Beit Lehem”, The Jordan Journey – Part 2)

“You look like a Ruth!” Hermana shouted through her car’s open window to her Jordanian friend, who stood at the King Hussein crossing point with a sheaf of white wheat.

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Briskilla threw her gorgeous black curls back and laughed heartily, stating, “Your discernment is accurate. If only you knew why I was here.” Hermana’s comment had struck a chord, as Briskilla has been spending hours in the story of Ruth and Naomi, yearning to see a modern version of this co-operation.

She was born in Jordan and was taught by her father from a young age to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and bless the family of Abraham. Her heart was always full with love for the Hebrew nation, so she wanted the nations to realize that the Hebrew family is a part of theirs. Briskilla believes that Israel needs to see Jordan and the Arab peoples as family, and that we cannot be restored without each other’s help. But for now, she crossed the Rift in prayer for her people’s part.

Unknown to us at that point, the crossing over, the Hebrewism which I spoke of in my previous post, started that day, when Hermana picked her up.

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That visit to Israel (on March) was brief. Her goal: to wave sheaves of wheat
over the fields of  Beit Lehem and pray for the old bread to be replaced with a fresh one

Hermana gave her a copy of my book – “His Faces” [see “His Faces” ]. I wrote it to recruit gentiles to their position as a modern Ruth on behalf of the modern Naomi, as she is making her way back to the House of Bread and to a renewed relationship with her Redeemer.

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Hermana with her constant big smile

Briskilla read a portion of the book, and knew we must meet before she leaves. A couple of days later we met. Sitting across the table from her felt like talking to my spiritual mirror. This was my first impression after spending a long morning with her. Some of the vocabulary and imagery she uses when speaking about God’s Kingdom is pretty similar to the one He uses with me – the Tabernacle, Ruth, Naomi, Altar, Table of Shewbread…

She was surprised and humbled when I heard some of the insights she gleaned from the book of Ruth. I thought I knew it so well, but listening to her made me realize I only understood Naomi’s side of the story. My Zionist bones are so full of sympathy towards Naomi’s exile and I have gained much understanding of her sorrow, estrangement from God, her bitterness and widowhood. However Briskilla brought a new angle to the table. She explained Ruth’s heart, the heart of a “foreign” daughter who is eager to serve her Israelite mother-in-law (even to the point of allowing her to “use” her womb) and feel welcomed in the House of Bread.

It only then occurred to me that had Ruth lived today, she would be a Jordanian. She would even look like Briskilla. Writing it now embarrasses me a bit, but up to that morning in the restaurant I never thought of the Arab Ruths. Whenever I talked or shared about her, she was always a Westerner.

Back to our first meeting in the restaurant

When we started speaking about travelling to Jordan together, Briskilla could already envision how that could create a platform for healing – not only at a personal level but also between the two people groups. But I was still in the “Marah” mode, focusing on the symbolic healing I wanted to carry on behalf of my wounded nation, by going into “exile” and journeying back. I could not even see how Jordan would benefit from that.

Briskilla wanted a few more prophetic sisters to join us. I didn’t care how many Ruths will be there to hold my hand or pray with me, as long as this journey would be launched. So this is how Rania (from Nazareth), Jesura (Jerusalem), Tian Jie (China) and Hermana (Migdal) joined and formed the team.

We started working on the details. We knew there aren’t any specific locations mentioned in the book of Ruth, besides the fields of Moab and the final destination – Beit Lehem. Checking what the Bible teaches about the region, it became clear that we have to include Jacob’s journey to Canaan on his way back from Laban. Thus we added Gilead, the passage of Jabok and Peniel to our list.

Mount Nebo, Aman, Medaba, Tishbi – these too were must see locations. Petra? Na, not on this trip, we decided.

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A map of Israel and Jordan with which we made our plans.
In black are the Biblical names of the sites; red is the modern ones.

It took a few weeks to figure out the dates. Brisklilla was to fly in from TX, Tian Jie from China. Finally the trip was settled for May 15-22.

“We are in a God moment”, said Briskilla, and everyone involved understood this.

Other than that…

This journey was so deep and multi layered, that it will take a few posts to cover. I don’t really think I can cover it all, but I will certainly try to share with you some of the depth of this experience, and the meaningful change it brings into my life.

In the meantime, I continue with the usual ministry: teaching, ministering in small groups, planning another Tabernacle Seminar to English speaking tourists, working with holocaust survivors, etc.

This Monday I will join the youth ministry of Streams in the Desert, who work among broken families in the southern region of Israel. About 50 teenagers (most of them from Messianic homes, although not all are born again. Majority come from broken homes) will attend a 4 days’ camp, where I will be teaching the team and kids to forgive.

The title this year is “Secret Weapon”. The program includes a lot of fun, but also two short slots for teaching each day. I am not just going to teach it, but hopefully equip them with this Secret Weapon. We want them to see how God uses suffering to mold us, and that their battles are a language that carries a spiritual message from the Throne Room. We pray that they will be doers, not just hearers. That they will choose to repent and forgive, versus remain victims of someone else’s choices.

Before the kids arrive on Wednesday I will have two days with the team, and in between all the many preparations each one of them has to do, I will train the (almost 40!!!) team members to use this great weapon, so they can testify later to the kids about the breakthroughs they saw once they chose to forgive.

We have a great prayer support throughout this program. There will be at least 10 intercessors with us, praying over every child and team member, every detail and need. This is my 3rd year with this youth camp, and I have seen the clear difference the prayer team creates. I am excited to see God’s hand again moving before our own eyes.

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Some pictures from previous camps of Streams in the Desert.
More about their ministry and the coming camp:
 https://www.facebook.com/pg/afikimbanegev/photos/?ref=page_internal

Crossing Over – A Hebrew

(“Back to Beit Lehem”, The Jordan Journey, Part 1)

We were about to break bread together, when God impressed me with this picture, that shows a piece of His heart.

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“A wound inside His heart?” I wondered. Yes, apparently. I saw inside His heart the map of Israel and Jordan, with a deep wound in the middle. The Jordan valley, the Rift.

This happened at the end of a Jewish-Arab conference I attended. After listening to stories and testimonies for two full days, I realized how most of us deepen the wound. Not because we fight with one another. The conference was full of mutual respect and sincerity. But many times we think we sow healing, while in reality we scratch the wound, tearing more layers apart.

And it is not only Arabs and Jews who cause it. Most Christians who are involved with this region or live in Israel tend to take sides, thus making the wound bleed even more, not realizing this Rift is right in the heart of God.

I also saw that the wound will be healed with tears shed from the north, filling the water reservoirs along the rift, and eventually turning the Sea of Salt into a sweet resource.

Ruth and Naomi journey together

When I saw that picture, I was already planning to travel along this wounded rift a few days later. The idea to take that journey was birthed in a surprising encounter with a Jordanian “Ruth”, who popped into my life as if straight out of my book’s pages (see “His Faces” – new book now available), or rather, out of the Bible.

My plan was to cross the border with her into Jordan. I wanted to symbolically go into “exile” as a Naomi, in order to “collect” myself, my people, and cross back into Beth Lehem – into the house of bread.

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My first meeting with my two Arab Ruths – Priscilla and Rania, in Jerusalem 

We first met a few weeks earlier, at the beginning season of the harvest of barley, right before Passover. So Pentecost sounded like the best timing for our journey. After all, the book of Ruth takes place between these two season (see Ruth 1: 22), so delighted about the perfect timing, we decided to relive the story of Ruth and Naomi.

I also had a personal agenda. I connected this journey to my personal healing process in the Tabernacle [see I Will Tabernacle Inside You], and was looking forward to touch my alienation from myself from a fresh angle. I figured that this journey is not only prophetic, but also a personal return from my emotional exile. No more standing on Mt. Nebo, looking at what is happening as if it takes place outside myself, and sharing it only after I process it.

I had no idea I was going to leave a part of my heart there and return home with deep insights concerning the wound, or that I will be carrying it inside my heart. I did not know it was going to affect my routine, my understanding, my passions. To the point I could not even write much about it until now. I couldn’t find the right words to describe this precious experience. No, this was not an experience; It was a journey, a passing over the wound back and forth.

A Hebrew 

In Hebrew, “crossing over” means exactly that – to be a Hebrew.  The words cross, pass and a true Hebrew are derived from the same root: ABR.

Abraham was a Hebrew because he crossed over from a culture of idol worshipers into monotheism, from Ur of the Chaldeans into a promised land. The children of Israel are called Hebrews (see for example Gen 43:32; Ex. 2:6, 13; and others). Back than we were not Jews yet. Jews are the descendants of the kingdom of Judah, and that comes into the picture much later. The first time an actual reference is made to the Hebrews as Jews (YEHUDIM) is in 2 Kings.

So I was ready to practice my Hebrewism, to cross over the rift, the wound, and see how God will lead us and use us.

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Ruth and Naomi – Priscilla and myself in a wheat field in Jordan

Be on the lookout for my next post, in which I will start sharing about the richness of that journey.