The Love Revolution

“Seriously? Roses? Don’t you think it would be a waste? They will throw them away a minute later.” This was my brimming-with-faith response to Rania, who just shared with me something she believed God had put on her heart.

She was in the middle of a 40-day fast when God reminded her of a dream she had years ago. It was about a love revolution, where Jews and Arabs hand out roses instead of hatred, war, bullets and guns. Roses as a symbol of love for one another. “What will happen,” she wondered over the phone, “if in each city in Israel people were to do this act of kindness and love?”

Thank God, my bucket of cold water did not go too far. Rania took this reminder from God seriously, and moved fast. She had a logo made, hats and stickers printed, and 300 gorgeous red roses filling up her small car. 

IMG-20181224-WA0006On December 13th, nine women – both Jewish and Arab – carried these roses up the stairs to Jaffa gate in Jerusalem.

Strong Reactions

I was not prepared for the strong reactions. At times I thought: “Come on, this is just a rose. Take it and throw it away, if you don’t want it. Why make such an issue out of it?” The passers by reacted to it so strongly. It was as if each rose opened a door into their hearts, and pulled out something that usually would take a good 30 minutes of talking to get to. Those roses were prayed over, and they carried with them a message from God.

That Thursday ended a bloody week altogether, with some severe terror attacks across the land. So our message – “We are in this together, there is another way!” – had an even deeper significance.

Later we moved to the Salah e-Din neighborhood in the city, which is populated mostly by Arabs. We walked around in pairs – one Jewish woman and one Arab woman, and felt safe, excited, on a mission.

Most roses were received with joy! On Salah e-Din street we even caused a traffic jam as cars pulled aside to take a rose. 

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We handed out 300 roses, and I can share with you at least 250 stories that will make you smile or fill your heart with prayer. Don’t worry, I am not gonna do that. But here are a few of the best.

One of the girls shared: “We handed our last rose to an Arab woman and told her in Arabic about the only Love that can bridge the gap between Jews and Arabs. She was so surprised and asked if I really am Jewish. When I said, ‘Yes’, she asked us to repeat everything we previously shared, only this time in Hebrew. She listened carefully and was touched to tears. Apparently, she has been waiting for years to hear this message from an Israeli Jewess. We departed with a hug, and with much hope.”

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I have been waiting for years to hear this message from an Israeli Jew

Another girl on our team, Sarah, shared later: “One of our first encounters was with two Jewish women who were so excited, they immediately said, ‘Oh, we don’t need a rose, keep it for others, we just want to hug you!’ 

“One man said he didn’t want a rose, but he did want to donate towards our revolution! He kept asking where and how he can give. We explained simply that it’s like the love of God, it comes as a free gift and that he just has to receive it.

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A Muslim lady from the old city was so touched by the rose.
Her eyes filled with tears as we explained what is in our hearts to her  

“One lady lit up at the sight of the roses. ‘You have no idea what this means to me,’ she exclaimed. ‘This must be God speaking! He always speaks to me through roses!’ She is apparently going through the process of conversion to Judaism, and she had a big decision to make, but she was not sure what to do (we wondered if it involved the denial of Yeshua, something they usually ask you to do in that process). I (Sarah) told her, ‘Yes, this is God speaking to you! It’s no coincidence that you came here and received this rose. It’s because He loves you and wants to speak to you.’

“I prayed for her for wisdom and ended with ‘in Yeshua’s name.’ She was so touched, and said that our hearts are in the right place.

“However, the simple step of offering a free rose was instantly opposed by some. One Orthodox couple became angry when they heard our story (we didn’t even make it to the Gospel or to talking about God). They live along the Gaza border, and the wife is a principal of a local high school. She was adamant that it’s impossible to love when there’s so much pain, rockets being fired, children growing up in trauma. So she refused to take the rose. Interestingly, the husband confessed later that if his wife was not with him, he would have taken one.”

“Can I Have One More Please?”

Mohammed (a Muslim) is about 7 years old. Rania was parking her car when he approached her and said: “Auntie, can I please have one rose?”

“Of course!” Rania said. “Take one.”

He then asked for another one, “for my mom.” Rania explained to him why she was handing out roses and that the love of Jesus is the reason behind it. This piqued his interest, so Mohammed wanted to know more about this Jesus and where He lives.

“In heaven,” Rania explained, “and He loves you so much.” Mohammed was intrigued because he thought no one lives in heaven.

“Is he alive?” he asked.

Rania explained how Jesus died and was resurrected, since God never dies. Eman (one of the Arab ladies on our team) asked Mohammed: “What do you need from Jesus today?”

Mohammed explained with a sad face: “We need everything because we have nothing in our home. I don’t even have money to take the bus back to my mom.” 

Everyone’s heart melted and tears started rolling. Rania gave him some money for the bus, and they both laid hands on him and began praying. When they finished, Mohammed said that he has pain in his feet. Rania began to lead him in a prayer of healing, and asked him to repeat after her. Finally she declared over him: “You can walk now.”

Mohammed began to walk and tap his feet on the ground, and then looked at Rania with eyes full of shock. No more pain! You can imagine his excitement!

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Rania with Mohammed, who is holding on to his dear two roses

“Tell your mom what happened today,” Rania said. “Tell her that you met a woman who gave you two roses, and that Jesus Christ can provide every single need in your home. You can pray to Him and he will answer your prayers, just as He did this moment because He loves you.”

She also gave him some homework for that night: “Ask Jesus to come and visit you in the night and show Himself to you.” 


Food For Thought

In November 2003 the world watched with amazement: thousands of soldiers were ordered to aim their guns towards protests, who were marching through the streets of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. They were protesting against a corrupt regime and the invalidation of their human rights.

Everyone expected things to escalate, but no shot was made and the police exercised no force. How come?

The protesters were armed with… yes, roses. The guns lost their power in sight of these roses. And most important: the corrupt regime was replaced. Turns out roses can have real power to change things from the core.

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Georgian women facing heavy armed soldiers with roses. 
Pictures taken from https://theroserevolution.weebly.com/faqs.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace, Dentures and Soccer Balls

 

It was a sunny morning in 1954. Theresa, an elderly nun that served as a nurse at the French Hospital in Jerusalem, decided to open her room window to let the sun in. That window was almost always shut, as directly underneath it, stretching across to the walls of the Old City, lay what was known back then as “No Man’s Land” – a neglected, thorny and wire-fenced area.

How Was It Created in The Heart Of Jerusalem?

During the 1948 War of Independence, Israel and Jordan signed a cease-fire agreement for the area of Jerusalem. Moshe Dayan, the commander of the Israeli forces, and Abdullah A-Tal, his Jordanian counterpart, met in a deserted house in Jerusalem. They took a dusty old map, and hastily marked out their respective positions: Israel’s in green and those of Jordan in red. Thus, two border lines were created, facing each other. They were certain the fighting will soon resume and that this was nothing but a temporary and short-term solution.

שה דיין ,עבדאללה א-תל ועוזריהם בעת חתימתם על הסכם הפסקת האש בירושלים, 30.11.1948, מתוך 'ויקישיתוף' (התצלום עובד לקובץ על-ידי תמר הירדני)

Moshe Dayan and Abdullah A-Tal drawing the map on the floor

Neither imagined that this map will mark the borders between Israel and Jordan for the next 19 years. But this border, which was later named “the Municipal Line”, cut Jerusalem in two: the Old City and its surrounding in the Jordanian hands, while West Jerusalem in Israel’s.

מפה ירושלים המחולקת והקו העירוני, 1958

Jerusalem’s City Line

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Here you can see both colors, and the dead areas in between 

When they all sought to mark the boundaries with wired fences, it turned out that the thick line marked on the map, covered in reality many homes and even entire streets. But the generals have decided, and their decision could not be changed. Both sides debated: who will own these houses, streets and empty spaces (some of which reached more than 100 meters in width)?

And So the No-Man’s Land Was Created

“No-Man’s Land”, it was finally decided. Everything within the lines will belong to no one, and no one will be allowed to enter it. This was one of those decisions that can easily be made within the walls of an office but in reality are pretty problematic. For, in order to bring it to pass, many people had to evacuate their homes, streets had to be closed for passage, the area had to be filled with wired fences and land mines and large signs were placed, written in Hebrew, English and Arabic, saying: “Stop! Border ahead!”

A Tickle in The Throat

The St. Louis French hospital in Jerusalem was located on the Israeli side, but its eastern walls, the ones closer to the Old City, bordered the No-Man’s Land. That sunny morning in 1954, Theresa opened the window, breathed in the crisp air, and suddenly felt a tickle in her throat. She leaned forward and coughed a bit. Before she could realize what was happening, she discovered her dentures fell out of her mouth straight into… yes, No-Man’s Land.

תוצאת תמונה עבור בית החולים סנט לואי ירושלים

St. Louis hospital

“Oh, no!!!” the nun cried as she looked longingly into the thorns and wired fences, “my teeth!” She sat on the floor and broke into heart wrenching sobs. “What am I going to do? No one can enter into No-Man’s Land. Who will get my teeth back for me?”

These dentures were made by a special order from a specialist outside of Israel. Theresa waited for them for long months, during which she had to eat porridge and nothing but. “And the money”, she wailed, “where will I get such a high sum for a new set of teeth?”

All shaken and stirred, she ran out of her room, and shared the events of the day with the head of the nearby Notre-Dame monastery. “You have to help me!” she begged. The man’s heart broke at the sight of the elderly lady weeping and sobbing. And yet… No-Man’s Land is no man’s land.

“It’s not exactly possible, Theresa”, he tried to gently explain, “you know how hot this border is. The Jordanian snipers are repeatedly shooting Israeli passersby. Every few days, complaints are received in the UN offices of breaches of the cease fire agreement. The No-Man’s Land is a forbidden territory, and as much as I hate it, I fear you will never see your teeth again”.

“But it just can’t be!” she exclaimed, “the teeth are right under my window!” She cried and cried, until he decided to try and convince the proper authorities to act to retrieve her dentures.

That day he addressed one of the Israeli commanders, Uzi Narkis, seeking help for the poor nun. Uzi’s heart went out for the old woman, and he immediately contacted the UN cease fire committee and explained the situation and the complexity of it. “It is inconceivable”, he exclaimed, “that due to borders issues between us and the Jordanians, that poor woman should suffer so”. The committee members were convinced and contacted the Jordanians that very same day. The Jordanians agreed, on one condition: the search team will number only 3 people – a Jordanian representative, an Israeli and the head of the UN committee.

As the sun shone the following day, all the patients at St. Louis French Hospital held their breath as several nuns and three officers cut the wire fences and marched under Theresa’s window. For a long hour they looked through the bushes, calculating the trajectory of the teeth as they fell out the window. The thorns and briers scratched them, their pants were torn from the wired fences, the sun shone mercilessly above their heads, but they were determined to justify the international endeavor.

And then… one of them located Theresa’s teeth behind a small rock, whole and intact. He lifted them up high with excitement. Cheers were heard from all of Notre Dame monastery and the St. Louis hospital.

An Extremely Exciting Historical Event

The event was so exciting and unique, that Life magazine sent a photographer to capture it. You can see the joyous nun holding her dentures in her hand, while standing next to her is the head of the UN committee, holding a white flag.

Photography by David Rubinger for Life magazine

The image spread worldwide, until some observant reader noticed that Theresa was holding her dentures in her hand, while a full set of teeth is clearly evidenced in her mouth. Ahah!

Well, a few years ago the photographer revealed that Theresa refused to have her pictures taken. “She only wanted to get her teeth back and for everyone to leave her alone”, he explained. “But I was sent to photograph a nun with dentures. So I ended up asking another nun to model the day’s event for the camera. I asked her not to smile, but she was so thrilled to be part of it all, and couldn’t help herself…”

Soccer Balls

There were other events during those difficult years of division that had happy endings. One of them is about kids playing soccer in the schoolyard at the Frères school, located close to the Municipal Line, on the Jordanian side.

84_bigThe Frères School, towering above the wall

They often kicked their soccer balls into the No-Man’s Land. In December of 1965 Israel was asked to return some of these balls to the school as a Christmas gift. Israel immediately agreed. UN officials looked on, as an Israeli officer marched through the minefields of the No-Man’s Land, while Jordanian soldiers called “go left” or “go right” to keep him from stepping on a mine.

Two days after Christmas, 28 balls were handed over to the school at a jubilant celebration.

Hannukkah

Last night was the first night of Hannukkah. One of the main motifs we love to point out during this feast is that of the darkness that is cast out before Light. A famous Hannukkah kids’ song states: we are here to chase out darkness, holding light and fire in our hands, though we are each but a small light, still together mighty we stand.

The stories shared in this post are a true testimony to just how a small, tiny light, can indeed become a mighty one. So in light of everything I shared in our Journey to Jordan series, and in light of these heartwarming stories, let us pray that the status quo, life in reality, will not be determined by military commanders, but by little lights coming to chase away any darkness. A little bit of humanity can bring together sworn enemies and blur lines marked hastily upon battle worn maps.

We can each shine such lights by proclaiming over this region the name of the Light of the world, who came to shine His light within the darkness.

As For Me Personally

A new year is about to begin, and as it approaches I ask God: Where do you want me to take these new insights you have given me, the new contacts and relationships woven around and within me, the motherhood that is taking the place of the widowhood? Where do you want me to bring Yeshua’s name and light to? Will you stand in prayer with me?