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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.

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The 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?

 

Island of Peace (11)

“Back to Beit Lehem”    |    The Jordan Journey, part 11    |    June 11, 2018)

Abner was the commander in chief of Saul’s army, which made him David’s sworn enemy. But following an argument with Saul’s heir, Abner defected and joined David’s court. That did not make Joab, David’s seasoned general, a happy man. He did not trust Abner, so he killed him in order to protect David from possible threat.

We would expect David to rejoice, but no… he mourned for Abner. He loudly wailed, fasted a full day and ensured the entire nation knew this was his reaction. King David wanted everyone to know that he was not behind Abner’s assassination, and that he wished God will repay Joab according to his actions (2 Sam. 3:33-39).

Strange! Why was it so important to David that the nation knows Abner’s blood was not on his hands? Abner, of all people? After all, just a few chapters earlier David had no problem killing a messenger who reported Saul’s death to him, right there on the spot (see 1:14-16). So why was it so different when it came to Abner’s death?

David was just about to be crowned as king over the entire nation (up until that point he was king only over a part of it), and perhaps he did not want his kingdom to be established on the blood of Abner. But weather his reason was political or humane, he sets an example of a king who repents publicly, to make an important point and establish peace.

Fast Forward Thousands of Years

The Place: Island of Peace (south of the Sea of Galilee). An artificial small island that was created in 1927, in order to build a power station along the Jordan river. Today it is run by both Israelis and Jordanians. The island is surrounded by two streams that flow from Jordan and Israel, and integrate into the southern part of the river. Such a symbolic picture of co-operation: geographically, politically, prophetically.

The Date: March 13, 1997. A Jordanian soldier picks up his weapon, and guns down a group of religious girls who were touring the island. Seven were killed, others wounded. Their blood flowed into the rift, adding to the hemorrhaging, ancient wound, risking the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel that was still in its diapers.

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A memorial built at the entrance to the island,
with seven little hills, one for each girl

Hussein, king of Jordan at that time, was overseas. He hurried back home, crossed the border and visited each and every one of the mourning families. At each house he went down on his knees, asking forgiveness and offering compensation.

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King Hussein during his visits, accompanied by the Israeli PM

Why? I wondered. He could have sent a royal epistle, laced in gold. Or a high level representative to bring his condolences. Or simply pick up the phone and talk to the mourning parents. Each of these steps would have been highly appreciated by the Israelis. But he did the most humbling thing he could do – he went down on his knees and owned what happened.

Through this act of repentance, king Hussein secured the status quo and planted in the Israeli public opinion a genuine image of a heart that was truly pained and was seeking peace. He also opened doors for the Arab world: the door of repentance, the door of yielding, the door of peace, of sincerity and of crossing over. Today, both Jordan and Israel can choose to keep those doors open, and align with all they represent, or crush it.

Meditating on that powerful story, R’ said: “If the king would not have gone low enough, this murder would have been a bomb hitting the two nations. He chose to move in the spirit of humility.”

All Of Israel Took Note

Listen to how David’s story with Abner ended: “All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. So on that day… all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder” (Vs. 36-37).

The same can be easily said about king Hussein’s actions. All Israel took note of what he did, and we were pleased. We realized that the murder was the idea of just one man, and that the king had no part in it.

What Does That Have To Do With Our Journey?

Three weeks after our visit to Beit Lehem (see post #10), we finally made it to the Island of Peace. Well, some of us at least.

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Not all of us could join this time. Only Hermana, Priscilla
and I were available (our shadows cast on the bridge in the island)

Before the 1948 war, king Abdullah (Hussein’s father) and Golda Meir (one of Israel’s future PMs) met secretly in that island, in an attempt to figure out how to co-operate after the land is divided by the Brits. Both sides (who were basically enemies) knew a war is right around the corner, and both wanted to avoid it. Here are a few great quotes from one of their meetings. I just couldn’t resist including it here, as it serves as one more glimpse into the unique situation between both nations:

King Abdullah: Why do you, Israelis, need to declare your independence now? What is the rush?

Golda: You cannot call two thousand years “rushing”.

Abdullah: We do not want the war, but we will have to fight.

Golda: We will fight too.

Abdullah: This is your duty.

Golda: Right. In that case, we will meet here again after the war.

תמונה קשורה

Both flags dwell together over a bridge in the island

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A Closure, At Least For Now…

As the three of us walked through the island, we were touched by the level of co-operation between Israelis and Jordanians. The Israeli manager told us about the endless cups of coffee they drink together, and how they even charge the phone for the Jordanian guard, when his battery runs low.

We prayed over the water, and especially where the stream that comes from Jordan mingles with the one coming from Israel. We poured salt, balm and oil into it, and blessed this artery of life that flows through the rift.

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God Is Turning Our Eyes Into That Region

For long months this post awaited its turn at the end of my series on the Jordan journey. I did not know that the very week I will be writing it, the island will become a hot spot politically. As part of the peace accord between Israel and Jordan, it was agreed that the Island (as well as an Israeli village located south of the Dead Sea) will be under Jordan’s sovereignty, yet leased back to the Israeli farmers in the nearby kibutz, so they could continue to cultivate the land (which was actually purchased by them decades ago). Sounds confusing, I know. Sorry about that. Welcome to the Middle East.

Last month, king Abdullah II, son of king Hussein, announced that Jordan will not renew the lease for these two locations. Which means that by October 2019, these two enclaves will pass back into Jordanian hands. This is not good news, for both sides.

The Rift is Bleeding and Quaking

Since that announcement, a few tragedies took place around the rift area, most of them caused by flooding rains and car accidents, taking the lives of entire families and many young kids.

Not only that. Since July this year, just a few weeks after we returned from the island, the rift began to shake. Dozens of earthquakes have occurred around the Sea of Galilee and along the Jordan Valley, sometimes even twice a day! Here is a link to the website of Israel’s geophysical institute. It records only the last 30 earthquakes to occur in the Jordan Valley, but there have been nearly 100 in the past few months. One thing is clear, the valley is quaking and claiming lives.

This post closes the series of our journey to Jordan, but is far from being the last word that I will write on the subject. So far you have heard mostly my voice, my point of view. But it is only one out of the 6 on our team, thus quite limited. There is so much more. I hope that one day, all six of us will be able to put together our voices, and create a written choir that will bring more depth and riches. As for me, I have been recruited. My present study in the Word focuses on the region and the valley, as I am learning its destiny and how to pray for it.

The picture I saw on May – of the bleeding rift – is constantly in front of my eyes, right by my desk. The seeds that were sown during our journey, as we sprinkled our prayers with salt and balm, are there somewhere, carrying the faith and promises we proclaimed.

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All of us on the team are aware that God had recruited us to something bigger than that journey. God is using these events to turn our eyes and attention to that region, and it will take prayer to align it with His plan.

I am appealing to those of you who feel recruited as well. If you have the heart of Ruth, that means that you have embraced that ancient decision to see Israel restored once more in the House of Bread. It means that your spirit and soul echo with the declaration: “Your God, our God”. So here are some points you can add to your prayers for modern “Naomi” and her Arab neighbors:

  • That the Arab Ruth will rise up, realize her destiny and beautiful calling, that must start with yielding and crossing over. God is waiting for both Ruth and Naomi to return to Him. Both sides have torn His heart by rejecting Him and rejecting each other.
  • Pray that the glue-ing and cleaving (that I spoke of in my previous post) will take place.
  • That the Island of Peace will rise up to its name, and continue to be a spot of mutual co-operation, deep understanding, a flow of water and not a symbol of war, pride etc.
  • That the doors opened to the Arab world through the events that already happened in that island, will remain open; that many will choose to walk through, stand in the rift itself and partake in the healing, not in the wounding and blood shedding.
  • Lord, heal our lands and restore your people. Pour your spirit upon us from on high, until the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will seem like a forest. Until your justice will dwell in the desert and your righteousness will live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. And until your people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest (Isa. 32:15-18). 

 

Beit Lehem and Glue (10)

(“Back to Beit Lehem”    |    The Jordan Journey, part 10    |    May 21-22, 2018)

Before leaving Israel, we collected 12 stones, hoping to find a resting place for them in Jordan. Well, we were still carrying them on our way back. I wanted to put them in the water, in the wound itself. To use them to build a little altar, pour some of the salt and the Balm of Gilead we were carrying with us from day one, and declare some more healing. So driving up and down the valley, down and up through the wound, we tried to find the right spot. In vain. Apparently, most of it is guarded by soldiers, either Jordanians or Israelis. After all, this river is the longest border between the two countries.

It was disappointing to come back home with the stones in tow, but it also made it clear that our journey is not over yet.

Tian Jie coined for us the term “Ripple Effect”. She felt that this journey is the first fruit, and that it will multiply; that what we birthed through prayer had stirred the waters, so wave after wave of this truth will go forward!

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She said: “Recalling every detail of the journey, I recognized an important principle. It is not that we are always good at following Him, but He is a good Father who is good at leading. As soon as we recognized His leading, we all followed and things happened! The Chinese song which echoed from the valley opened the cervix in time for the birthing [and since than had seen dozens of earthquakes, that are still happening a couple of times every week]. The Lord allowed me to travail for the widow’s broken heart, and for the pain of the Arabs. Sarah and Ishmael clung to each other as a Mother’s heart was birthed. In the spirit, it healed an ancient wound. And all of that was done without man’s hands!”

“Israel, you are a mother nation,” she declared. “The nations are waiting for you to show the kind of compassion that comes from the Father’s heart! Please, come on! We pray that the heart of compassion will increase until Israel, the mother nation, will come into full maturity! At this 70th anniversary, at this turning point, you need to change your perspective when you look at the nations. Look at them through the Father’s perspective. You have enlarged the capacity of your heart to embrace them all! Not only Ishmael will come to your breast, but all the nations will come home too!

“The nations are waiting for you to start blessing them. Once you align to the Father’s plan and heart, every nation will align with the Father and with one another.”

House of Bread

Equipped with our Balm of Gilead, bread, wine, salt and our 12 stones, we headed the next morning to Beit Lehem – Naomi’s destiny and resting place. This is where she was restored, where her exile ended, where she met again the redeemer.

This Israelite town was very small at the time of the Judges. It had since changed its geopolitical face and today is a sprawling Arab enclave with Christian and Muslim residents. No Jews.

We knew from the get go that our journey had to end in Bethlehem, in the “House of Bread”. But we also knew it would be illegal for me to enter it. I find that interesting, since back in the days of Ruth and Naomi, Ruth (the gentile) had no right to live in Beit Lehem, had she not joined the Israelite widow. Today, I – a Jew – am not allowed to enter it. It is illegal for Israelis to cross over the city limits.

But because of what I have been carrying in my heart and spirit, and due to an invitation I received a week earlier from a senior elder in Beit Lehem, I knew that I am safe. That the spiritual gates are open for me. That I can walk through the city and declare a change of status for her and for my people. That I will be welcomed there and that some form of relationship need to be established again between the two ancient “widows”.

Jesura could not join us in Jordan, but had planned the whole day for us in Beit Lehem. She found a beautiful park at a side entrance to the city, where we could sit and pray.

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Solomon’s pools at the back entrance to Beit Lehem

Three Arab leaders from Jerusalem joined us, eager to hear about our whereabouts, as for many years they have been carrying the burden of deep and true reconciliation between the two peoples.

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Trying to sort the important details
out of what we experienced in these short-long four days

We thanked God that both sides are finally able to converse openly about the wound, and prayed that we will be able to touch it with love, with tears and with His blood.

I prayed that as we march down the streets of Beit Lehem during the next few hours, we will carry with us the spirit of that young virgin, Mary, who did not ask too many questions, but simply said, “let it be to me according to your word”, and than  gave life to The Bread of Life.

Something impossible in the natural realm had happened through our journey, as an old wrinkled widow with a dry womb had turned into a mama. We prayed for that womb to be kept open, so that Israel will align with the identity that comes from the womb of Mary. We proclaimed that Beit Lehem will once again become a house of fresh and new bread. That Naomi will cease to be the bitter Mara, and resume her position as a nursing pleasant figure, a caregiver, an instructor of truth (Ruth 4:16).

One of the Arab leaders repented that the Star of David is ridiculed and mocked in the very streets of Bethlehm, the city in which that Star was born. “God, turn this city once again into a womb, into a city that travails in order to birth Obed, the one who serves God,” she prayed. “We welcome King David back. This is your home.”

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While in Jordan, around a table loaded with a double-portioned dinner, my Ruths presented me a bejeweled Star of Beit Lehem, as if saying: “welcome!”

Rania asked God to reveal the Angel of the Lord once more to the locals, exactly where He was born in the flesh.

Solomon’s Pools

When we first entered the park we saw this:

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A little artificial island, surrounded by two mini streams,
that integrate and flow towards a bigger source of water, called Solomon’s pools

How touched we were when we found out that the streams that embrace this little island eventually pour into the Dead Sea, and mingle with the water coming from the Jordan river. That meant that we were still sowing healing into the rift.

We pulled out our 12 stones, and in front of the Moslem guards and gardeners, who were watching us carefully, we started building an altar of peace.

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We stepped into the water and started praying and declaring

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Cleaving vs. Gluing

When Orpah kisses her mother-in-law for their last goodbye (going back to her comfort zone and out of God’s story), Ruth chooses to cleave unto Naomi. That word – cleaves – means “glued herself.” It’s the same Hebrew word used in Gen. 2:24 to describe the relationship between a man and his wife. Once this “gluing” takes place, the two become one flesh. From that moment on, any separation will involve tearing of the flesh, shedding of blood, and much pain.

“Return the glue, Lord,” we begged. “Ruth produced glue when she cleaved to Naomi. The one (Ruth) had the glue and the other (Naomi) the legal inheritance. We therefore spread your glue.” We blessed that glue – that unity of Jew and gentile, especially in this torn city.

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Finally, we put those stones to rest, with salt and wine and Balm that have been poured on them, mingled with faith that it will birth a binding power, the glue of a Family!

We than joined some of Beit Lehem leaders for lunch, visited their church, prayed with them, and did our best to carry with us what God had birthed in us. It is not simple to minister or live in Beit Lehem. We got a closer glimpse of the wound as we listened to the stories and challenges, and were filled with compassion mingled with much hope for a brighter day, when The Star of the Son of Jesse will shine again over that city.

Sleeping Beauty (9)

(“Back to Beit Lehem”    |    The Jordan Journey, part 9    |    May 20, 2018, late afternoon; May 21, morning)

One more place on our list, and then we were heading home. Tishbie, Elijah’s hometown. “Mar Elias” – as the Jordanians call it.

Yes, I am back to the Jordan series. I left you hanging a few weeks ago with all my open questions to Sarah (see Where Were You That Morning, Sarah? (8)), and now I am ready to finish this series.

We hopped in our van and hit the road. Every few miles we saw these colorful fruit shacks on the side of the road, and decided to stop at one of them.

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Delicious produce presented on the road side in an artistic manner

Empty crates piled on the side. As we walked closer we saw this heart clenching picture:

asdfasf10 months’ old baby, Mohammed,
sat in one of the crates and sucked on a bottle of milk

The mama in all of us wanted to just envelope him, create a more comfortable spot for him, understand why he is sitting in a box designed for vegetables. His father approached us with a big smile, and told us the sad story. His wife died at childbirth, and he was raising little Mohammed by himself. Yes, there are aunts and grandmoms in the picture, but Mohammed would not let anyone near him. Only his abba. His dad is the only one who can feed him, bathe him, put him to sleep.

Our hearts were stirred even more. What a great picture just before we get to the home village of the prophet, who will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest God would come and strike the earth with a curse (Mal. 4:6)!

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Mohammed in his abba’s arms

When we finally arrived at Mar Elias, the sun was setting. We looked silently at the beautiful valley bellow us. By now we had so many imageries to use in our prayers.

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Down bellow in the valley, between the pine branches,
you can see the small village of Tishbie, hometown of the prophet Elijah

“Father, bring that Spirit of prophecy again over this place, so that young men and women would start aligning with you, and speak to the ‘woman’ beyond the mountain, who has not heard the voice of a prophet in centuries,” we prayed.

“Restore the hearts of kids who grew up in believing families and have gone astray. Breathe forgiveness into these relationships. Restore the broken fathers. Create a bond so strong, that they would desire the presence of their fathers just like this little Mohammed.”

“God,” Hermana asked, “You promised that you would send the Spirit of Elijah and he will take hearts of stone out and turn them into flesh. We welcome the prophetic voice. We need the dreams, visions, words and oracles of God. Raise up the Deborahs – the prophetesses, the judges, generals and mothers.”

It was dark when we headed back to the hotel. Our last day in Jordan. The next morning we would pack and cross the border, zigzagging (“Hebrewing”) through the rift once more.

Crossing Over as a Mama

Things felt so different for me on the way back to Israel. This time I did not carry so much the burden of the widow Israel. Armed with the new language God had given us through this short yet rich journey, I felt more like a mother. And then it hit me.

She (Jordan) needs a change of clothes to replace her present gown. I called our driver to stop and let me out. He pulled over by an old garbage bin. I grabbed a plastic bag and started collecting the trash I found around us. I felt such an urge to take care of its soil like a mama, that would dress Jordan with new garments. I wanted to clean her pores, to let her soil breathe.

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My companions watched me from the van, not sure what to do about this strange urge of mine. Than Hermana and Tian Jie joined me.

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Tian Jie later wrote: “[at first] I did not understand why Orna wanted to get off! Than I realized she was picking up rubbish from the ground. At that moment I saw a true Mother’s heart, with love and compassion manifested towards the land of Jordan. It was like a mother visiting her daughter’s house and assisting with the cleaning. She does not expect to be treated as a guest! As I picked up rubbish with Orna, I felt such strong compassion from the Father.”

Jordan had captured my heart, and reminded me of Sleeping Beauty, who is not even aware of how much the Prince of Peace wants to kiss and awaken her. I started cleaning that spot because I wanted to awaken something in this beautiful piece of land, to symbolically touch her and call her to wake up. To remind her of her destiny; although she may have been napping for decades, she is so worthy, and she carries a huge place in God’s magnificent plan.

I realized that I do not look at Jordan anymore like she was a land of the enemy. I look at her with the eyes of a mother with a broken heart. So borrowing the words Isaiah used to wake up Zion (52:1), I beg Jordan: “Awake, awake! Put on your strength, Jordan, put on your beautiful garmentsShake yourself from the dust, arise and loose yourself from the bonds around your neck. You have a major part to play these days, you have hope, and a future and a plan.” 

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Just before leaving the gorgeous mountains of Gilead, we stopped
once more on a mountain top, to overlook into the rift

What a sight! What a sigh! Briskilla and I held on to each other, flooded with emotions.

He had Set Eternity In Their Hearts

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Sukkot party with our local group of Holocaust survivors was touching. We served lunch, sang a few songs, and than took them one floor down, to Bezel-El studio, where they used recycled materials and dried flowers to create a picture, while listening to a short explanation about perishable matters versus eternity.

Think about the Israelites in the desert, taking apart their personal booths each time the cloud moved, and watching the Levites as they took apart the Tabernacle. And when the cloud rested, they would set it all up again. Their perishable booths (we are so used to see tents in most pictures that portray Moses’ Tabernacle, but a more accurate depiction is actually of booths, not tents) set up again, and a glorious cloud resting on the Tent of Meeting. What an opportunity to think about things that decay and require ongoing maintenance, versus eternity and God’s glory.

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Back to our precious group. When everyone arrived downstairs, a beautiful working area was prepared for them, with colorful materials. Eagerly they each found a spot, and started working.

With great worship music in the background and just the right environment, we read some verses to them.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalms 91:1-2).

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

At this point we explained that God is eternal, and that He had put something of that image inside us. Upon hearing that, one of the men stopped working and looked up. You could tell it touched a deep and tender spot in his heart.

“But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, the Messiah Yeshua, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

This powerful truth from 2 Timothy 1:10 was paraphrased to them gently, and than they were asked if anyone is interested in that eternity and immortality.

One lady and her caregiver responded immediately. And when that verse was explained again, most of them, if not all of them, joined the “Amen” with a loud voice.

It was touching to see them use the dried flowers, choose their materials – being engrossed in their work.

Later, around coffee and some delicious deserts, we set up their works for display.

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Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with their art, before they all hugged and kissed goodbye.

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Did they fully understand what we shared? Maybe. Maybe not. We are so thankful for every seed of Truth sown into them, and for every “Amen” their shuttered hearts echoed, and also for any glimpse they get into the riches that eternity in His bosom has to offer them!

A Rainbow, a Bridge and a Genocide

Armenia! The gorgeous mountains. The sweetness and earth-like taste of its fruit and vegetables. Armenia does not have many natural resources, but it can pride in its soil and water. Clean and rich, which is why its harvest is soooo tasty.

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Most fruit are dried in a natural process,
with no preservatives or chemicals. They are huge and so sweeeet

I have a feeling it affects the people who grow up on that same soil. They are sweet and well connected to the soil, the ground. The Armenians I met have a noticeable depth and their hunger for God is tangible. A few months ago God graciously breathed new hope into them, as a result of what they call “The Velvet Revolution.” I will let Wikipedia fill you in on the interesting details [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Armenian_Velvet_Revolution; or http://euromaidanpress.com/2018/05/10/armenias-velvet-revolution-told-by-armenians/]. Bottom line: the entire nation marched to the streets for a whole month, and brought a radical change with zero casualties! That in itself tells a lot about their make up as a nation.

I was invited there to hold a Tabernacle Seminar for 70 leaders of “Young Life clubs,” who minister to teenagers throughout the former Soviet Union. These young adults are so sincere and tender. I was impressed with the way they embrace truth wholeheartedly. I loved giving them what God had given me, and seeing many of them apply it right there and than.

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My general impression was that their knowledge of God’s plan for Israel and the nations is in its diapers. But quite a few of them mentioned that now, having met a Hebrew lady who believes in Yeshua, they want to hear and learn more about us. They keep corresponding with me, asking to learn about our traditions and culture.

The Armenian Genocide

While praying in one of the churches in Armenia, I saw in my spirit’s eyes a huge rainbow stretching from Mt. Ararat (Armenia) all the way to Israel. On its green arc a ram was walking from Armenia towards Israel. A figure (not sure if it was one person or a few) was following it. On the blue arc I saw a few figures leaping joyfully from Israel towards Armenia.

Ararat in the winter, as seen from
the balcony of Abovyan City Church, pastored by Vazgen Zohrabyan

It looked like a bridge that needs to be built between these two nations. Armenia has gone through a cruel genocide (1915-1918), initiated by the Ottoman Turks. Three years ago they needed Israel to vote for recognition of that genocide, but sadly, we did not stand with them for various reasons. This opened a wound that requires repentance and forgiveness. It felt to me like the Armenians are ready to extend it. They hurt, but somehow it did not evolve into bitterness. They are stretching out open arms, so I pray that our politicians will wisely choose Armenia as an ally, and even establish diplomatic relations with them. I pray too that God will reveal to the Armenian church His heart for Israel, and His end time plan for them as well. They need it! We need it!

Israeli Arabs

This weekend I met in Nazareth with a group of Arab young adults. Once worship started, it took them just seconds to deeply engage and enjoy God. I was moved!

I came there to teach about the Biblical feasts. I chose to do that through the angle of God’s hidden Faces. It is important to understand that God had set in His calendar many opportunities for us to meet Him. As if He pulled out His calendar, and marked regular dates for us to deepen our intimacy with Him, go on a date and enjoy each other – once a week, once a month, and at least seven more times during a regular year. They are even called “meetings, dates.” The Hebrew word translated into “Feasts” is “Moed,” meaning – a meeting. But through the years we distorted the calendar, forgot the original purpose of each one and turned it mostly into a gastronomic celebration.

Those Arab young adults are surrounded by Jewish culture, but they don’t necessarily understand it. Rania, their leader, meets with them weekly and teaches them about the importance of blessing Israel and praying for her. For some of them, hearing about the Hidden Angel of God’s Faces helped them understand a huge enigma.

One guy commented that he never realized how much he misses by not reading the Bible in Hebrew (a language he knows). “I would really like to start doing it,” he said. I also saw in some of them a sense of relief, realizing the Jewish nation is still under a punishment, which might explain some of our ignorance and hostility towards them. Others loved hearing that they have such a crucial part in the story. That we need them! That God needs them!

After meeting them, and with the deep feelings stirred within me in Armenia, I can clearly say: The Middle Eastern Ruth is waking up. And she is being prepared to take her part in the story, her redeemed and righteous place.

How Can you Pray?

  • Armenia was the first nation to become Christian (301 BC). They have a rich heritage, and it is so obvious that there is a purpose hovering above them. Pray for that rainbow-bridge to be built between past and future, connecting two nations that seem to have a lot in common. Pray that the bridge will be built spiritually, between the Body here and there, but also on other levels: diplomatically, politically, etc. I pray that Israel will go as far as opening a consulate, even an embassy, in Yereven, their capital.
  • Pray for more teachers from Israel to travel to Armenia, and teach them about their place in God’s plan.
  • And pray for Armenia to become a “Sheep Nation” (Matt. 25:31-46).
  • For the young generation among Israeli Arabs. They are hungry for solid teaching, that is based on the Biblical narrative and not on various distortions. Let us pray that God will raise up from among them teachers who can study their Bible in Hebrew, and bring it to their own people.

Our Thorns, His Glory

I sometimes take it for granted – the fact that God wants to dwell in me. But when I stop to think about it, I am in awe. How can that be?

Even more moving is the fact that He wants to build a glorious structure inside us, if we only invite Him. Sukkot – the Feast of Booths (wrongly called “the Feast of Tabernacles”) serves as a great reminder. Though we are temporary in this world, wondering in the desert of life etc., He always provides a covering. And in the midst of our funny, childish, at times pathetic attempts to build something beautiful that can last about a week (or until rain showers on us), He shows up in His glory.

I had to post these! Some extremely decorative decoration of Sukkahs (booths)

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“Tabernacling”, Not “Dwelling”, “Live Among You” or “Abide”

I love finding parallels between Moses’ Tabernacle and the way God dwells in us. In Hebrew, “to dwell” means “to tabernacle” (Ps. 84:1; Zec. 2:10-11 and many more references). The root is one and the same.

What did the Israelites build the Tabernacle from? They used the only building material that were available around – acacia wood. Acacia wood is not like the cedar trees that were used later to build the temple (1 Kings 5:10). Cedar trees are a carpenter’s dream material. They are tall, straight, easy to work with. But they have to be imported. Acacia, on the other hand, is every carpenter’s nightmare. It is thin, twisted and thorny. But that was what the desert had to offer.

How very typical of God: to take the thorns and the twisted, crumpled areas of our lives, and use them to build a vessel that contains His glory. We usually are ashamed of these thorny parts. We would rather everyone saw our cedar trees. But God is determined to use the thorns and thistles. For where we are weak, that is exactly where His strength is revealed.

How can one turn thorns and thistles into a vessel full of glory? It’s a fascinating and marvelous process, that requires a yearning desire to see His glory conquer every defiled part or area of our lives.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to our next Tabernacle Seminar, that will take place on January 2019. Read here Tabernacle Seminar – Brochure for more info.

Tomorrow

As the nations come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast, quite a few conferences are being held around the country. One of them is by the founder of the Christian Embassy – Jan Willem Van Der Hoeven. They invited me to build the pieces of the Tabernacle and teach their guests about the inward process that needs to take place in each one of us. I will be doing it tomorrow evening, at Mt. Zion hotel. This is a very short notice, I know, but if you happen to be in the land and you have a free evening, you are most welcome to join us. Email me for more info.

One more thing I want to recruit prayer for is a Sukkot party we are giving our holocaust survivors. Also tomorrow, around noon. We’ll serve a delicious lunch in our congregation, and than take them two floors down, where they will go through some form of creative therapy, connecting to this season of High Holidays. You can read more about this ministry at http://kehilat-hamaayan.org.il/the-woodhouse-1-1-1-1-1-1-1/

Will you please pray for these precious souls? First of all, that they will arrive tomorrow. Almost half of them are not sure they can make it. Remember also K’, the lady who owns this studio, for wisdom and anointing, and the ability to touch a deep place in their hearts through this creative experience.

Thank you also for lifting me up. I owe you an update about Armenia and a couple of more posts to finish the “Back to BehLehem” series. Working on it!

I am also seeking God for His will concerning the upcoming year. There are so many things I can do, I can have my hands full. The question is what does He want me to focus on this time.

Hag Sameach…