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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 towards 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?

 

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 Towards 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.

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…

There Ends a Year

A Short Break  

Three blessings are prayed in synagogues during Rosh HaShana. One of them says: “There ends a year and its maledictions and a new one begins with its blessings.” 

With the approaching holidays and some intense ministry time coming up, I am taking a short break of the Back to “Beit Lehem” series. There are about three more posts I will most likely write before I finish sharing with you that special journey. But until I find the time to do so, I would love to have your prayer support for the upcoming programs.

A Prayer Conference With Arab Women

Tomorrow (September 5) I will join the team of an Arab ministry up north, for a 4 days’ conference. The goal: prayer and healing of brokenness for the women who will attend. Throughout the years, Arab women attended some of Ot OoMofet’s seminars and programs, but this will be my first time to join hands and hearts with the way they do ministry, and learn from them. I look forward to learn more about their spiritual culture, to feel their hearts and spirits, and mostly – to hear God through them and on their behalf.

Teaching The Tabernacle in Armenia

I will be back home for less than a day to unpack and re-pack, and get on a flight to Armenia. “Young Life” is an international ministry, that reaches out to uncommitted, disinterested teenagers and young adults around the world, ​and expose them to the Good News.

They are offering a retreat-training week to their teams across the former Soviet Union, and asked me to teach the Tabernacle. For nearly four days (September 12-16), we will together identify God’s knocks on various doors of their lives, and acquire great tools that can turn any struggle into success, especially in ministry.

I will be back home just in time to prepare for the fast of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Our local congregation already started fasting, and I will join them with a full fast when I come back, as we pray for our city, nation and region.

The week after I will load the pieces of Tabernacle, and set them up on a stage in Jerusalem. Many Gentiles arrive each year from all over the world, in order to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in various conferences. I was asked to teach a session during one of these conferences.

Sometime around the Feast of Tabernacles I also plan to have a party for our Holocaust Survivors, in hope to continue sharing the love of Yeshua with these precious, precious hearts.

Summing Up a Year 

The Jewish calendar ends on this coming Sunday and a new year begins. For the sake of convenience I run our ministry year in accordance with it, even though this is not the Biblical calendar. So as of next week, one year of ministry will end, and the next one will begin while I will be in mid air, on my way to Armenia.

This past year (5778 on the Jewish calendar) was a surprising one, mostly because of the journey to Jordan and the shift it brought in my understanding of God’s Kingdom and my heart. I wait eagerly to see how that will develop.

However, all of these would not take place without those among you who have been supporting Ot OoMofet one way or another. Knowing that there are people who pray for me in accordance with God’s will is such a back bone. I can dedicate the time needed for all these projects because some of you have opened not only your hearts, but your pockets as well. I see it as a partnership. I cannot do what you do, and you cannot do what I do. But we cannot do what we are able to do without one another. Bottom line of these confusing last few sentences is: you have an important part in all these stories that I share with you, and in so many others that I cannot share here for obvious reasons.

I bless you, my brothers and sisters who have a heart for Israel, and who love to see her being restored out of her widowhood and into a mother-nation, and eventually into His Bride. O, I cannot wait for that day.

I bless you with an enlargement of your tents and spheres of influence, and with the ability to hear God’s voice stronger and clearer than any other voice. But not only that, I bless you with a passion to always say “yes” to Him.

Plans For The Coming Year? 

Still in the oven. It looks like it will include moving out of the place where I live now to… well, I still don’t know where. My (only) son left Israel last week for a few years in the Netherlands, to further his academic education in Economics and Philosophy. Not having him around impacts my routine significantly, but also makes it easier to narrow down my space and to travel again. I am so ready for that.

Lior, my 29 years old son, now a student in Roterdam, Holland

We are planning another Tabernacle Seminar for English speakers (end of January – beginning of February). I will send more details later, to those who are interested to register.

How Can You Pray?

  • I always welcome a fresh touch of God’s Hand upon my heart. I would love this year to start with one of these caressings.
  • I could use some clarity of mind concerning moving, and mostly: where to? With the kind of ministry I do, I can live anywhere in Israel. So on one hand, all options are open. I obviously want to follow the cloud where it leads.
  • The salvation of our Holocaust Survivors, and of the entire nation of Israel. Lord, bless them and protect them, make your Faces shine upon them with favor and be gracious to them. Lift up your Faces upon them (so they can see, Yeshua, who you really are) and give them peace (Num. 6:24-26).
  • A tender heart towards God and towards those I minister to, as I go through the various programs. It is so easy to submerge in ministry and in the familiar. Even though God is the main focus, I must confess that I do not always rely on Him. I would cherish prayers on that point: that I will fully let Him lead me and wait on Him when needed, and not follow my own understanding.

 

Where Were You That Morning, Sarah? (8)

(“Back to Beit Lehem”    |    The Jordan Journey, part 8    |    May 20, 2018, morning)

How can I express the depth and density of what God had taken us into that morning? We decided to extend our stay in Jordan for one more day, as we all felt the purpose of our coming had not yet been completed.

Chinese Song and Travail 

It started early that morning, with a deep and painful travail that Tian Jie was going through. The day before she heard for the first time of the pain the Arab people carry concerning the re-establishment of Israel. In the middle of the night God started showing her both sides and she started weeping. Her agony was so deep, that at a certain point she locked herself in the bathroom in order to not wake up her room mates. Around that same time, Rania dreamed about Tian Jie, who could not connect with her own son. There was some conflict between them, and Tian Jie could not find the way into his heart.

As our day progressed, these two events became our backdrop in prayer. I write this post with the outcome in mind, rather than describing what was spoken and prayed – line by line or in chronological order.

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Tian Jie, enjoying the wheat fields a few days earlier
(as not many pictures were taken on that intense morning)

During breakfast, while allowing the expansive valleys and curved hills outside the porch to enlarge our hearts, Tian Jie all of a sudden hushed us. She ran to one corner and tried to listen carefully.

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The gorgeous curves and hills of Gilead

“It’s a Chinese song,” she whispered and pointed to a spot in the horizon, “a very famous one.” Yes, there was obviously something in Chinese down there in the valley. We were lodging in a country side, with no building around us for miles. Where did the song come from? Who speaks Chinese in rural Jordan?

The song is about two lovers who conceived out of wedlock. The lad’s mother, a wealthy lady, did not want that simple girl to partake in the family’s rich inheritance. So she kidnapped the baby and made her son marry someone else. The biological mother looked for her baby for years. Eventually her longing turned into insanity. When the baby boy grew up, he studied medicine. One day, in one of the hospitals he worked at, he recognized his biological mom. She did not. He tried to break into her delusion but did not succeed – until he started singing a song they had sung together when he was about 4 years old: “a Mama is the best thing in the world, a child who has his mom is so treasured, sheltered in his mother’s arms, what an abundance of joy.”

It worked. The mother gradually snapped out of the land of illusion, where she had lived for decades, into reality. The voice of her own son, crying for her bosom, had brought about her healing.

Which Child Is Looking For His Mama?

Surprisingly, the song matched Rania’s dream. It was easy to see the strands of a tapestry that were being woven before our eyes. In light of the identity shift that had taken place the night before at the Jabok river, we knew that God was talking about a lost child, who was crying for his mama, and about a mother who had lost her right mind. A mother who was bereaved and grief-stricken for decades, and who will be healed when she hears the voice of her lost child and realizes how much he needed her.

We left the breakfast table, huddled into one of the cabins and started praying. Gradually God’s thoughts unfolded before us, until we hit a major root – maybe even the root – that the wound consists of.

Putting all these insights together, we realized that the spiritual and mental aspect of the Jordan rift-wound was birthed through rejection and partiality. Ishmael was rejected by Sarah, by Abraham and even by God (Gen. 21:12; Mal. 1:2-3). Good heavens, how devastating must that be! Add to that the rejection of Esau’s right as the first born, Rebekah’s preferring of Jacob and Isaac favoring Esau.

Back To The Chinese Boy

The story of the Chinese child opened a well within me. It connected in my spirit with Ishmael’s abandonment to to the merciless desert (Gen. 21:14-16). Tears started flooding, as for the first time I thought of young Ishmael, rejected by the adults he must have looked up to. It pierced my heart.

Expulsion of Ishmael and His Mother - Gustave Doré - Wikimedia Commons

“The expulsion of Ishmael and his mother” by Gustave Dore

Yes, I know that Ishmael had become a threat to the promise, and was probably bullying Isaac (Gen. 21:9-10), but at that moment I was just a mama. “Why send him to the desert alone?” I agonized. “Why didn’t Sarah and Abraham send a servant with them, some camels, a donkey, and more food? Why did they send them to their death?”

“There Was No Room For Us At The Table”

Priscilla grew up in a Jordanian family, and from a young age was taught to love and bless Israel. Connecting that morning with the pain that the Arabs carry towards the Jewish nation was not easy for her, but it hit her powerfully, as she realized how much anger and enmity the Arab nations carry in their core identity.

“There is no place for us in the house,” Priscilla echoed the mindset of her own people. She shared with raw and deep pain how they never felt wanted: “Only now, that you need us, you remember to invite us?”

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In that moment, it was as if the magnet of God’s heart had drawn us together with a force field we could no longer resist. We embraced, and clung to each other for dear life. We all continued to pray – but more than talking to God through that prayer, we were searching for the source of water that could quench an ancient thirst.

A Mangled Trunk

I saw Israel as a tree trunk that had cut out some of its branches, unaware that it was wounding itself. “As a mother,” I prayed, “I want to open the scar so that each branch can find its place again. It should not be a mangled tree, but a nurtured and nourished one.”

“For so long we have not been allowed there,” Priscilla wept. “Now you are asking us to come in. Earlier, there was enmity. I could feel it so strong. But now… there is a mother tone in you. One that has been fine tuned by the Lord. The sound of your heart cry went deep into a place in my spirit and soul that has never been comforted before. But today it has been. You are a mom, Orna.”

“I’m so sorry that it was not offered earlier, Priscilla,” I responded, and tried to explain: “Our bosom was a place of jealousy, enmity, insanity. It was either you or us. Father, create a bosom of safety and unity. Welcome, Jordan. Welcome, children of Ishmael and Esau, welcome to the table. Not as wood choppers or water cleaners, but as lost children.”

It was a sobering moment to realize that the descendants of Ishmael and Esau, even of Lot, wanted to be welcomed and desired. Not because we needed them, but because we missed them! Not just for the sake of our own sanity, but because they have a part in the Kingdom.

“Forgive us, Father, for all the children we had sent to the desert,” I begged. “We did not give Hagar enough water and bread, and she had to watch her son die. Forgive us for not wanting to bless them, Lord, and for driving them into madness.”

Israel needs the milk and the balsam of the nations in order to be restored. The nations need the sap, the vitamins and minerals that are restored in the soil of this specific land. These essentials can only get to the nations through the trunk. And the trunk cannot produce it on its own or outside the Land of promise. Only here it can absorb and drink all the needed ingredients, and then feed the nations who attach themselves to it. When a nation opposes the connection of the Jews to their Land, it cuts itself off from the very life it needs. Without the land we are a rootless trunk, an insane creature. In the land our sanity is restored, our roots go deep and the branches who choose to join us are well fed.

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“Israel, open your arms”

“I open what is blocked, wounded and hollow,” I declared, “in that ancient, dry wrinkled up tree. Open up your bosom! Open your arms and reach out to those who you have perceived as your enemies. Old tree, look up and set your face to the Son. Drink from the soil of promise, and get all the light, water and minerals you need. Arabs, Jordanians, the Far East and the Far West – come and together let’s create something glorious. Otherwise we are but a pathetic trunk and you are rootless branches.”

I Have So Many Questions to Sarah

“Where were you that morning, Sarah, when Abraham sent away your maid with her son? Did you stay in bed? Did you cover with the blanket your head? Did you go to the kitchen and made fresh bread?

“What did you see in Abraham’s eyes when you looked at him for the first time, after he sent Hagar and Ishmael away? Did you talk about it at all? Did he ever listen to you again? Did he ever forgive you? Did he have any hearing left?

“What changed in you? Did your heart stay exactly the same, or did something turn rigid? After all, you wanted Ishmael as a son for yourself (Gen. 16:2). Until Isaac was born, you raised Ishmael up to inherit from you. Can a woman send her son to die in the desert and totally forget him? You were the one who pushed Hagar into Abraham’s bosom. And you were most likely there when she gave birth.

“Bring me into your heart, Sarah”, I keep asking as I run all kinds of imaginary conversations with her. “Help me understand you, forgive you, forgive through you.”

“If not for Ishmael’s sake, then what about Isaac?” I beg the Sarah that lives inside my heart. “I have a strong feeling that your precious baby adored his older brother,” I try to reason with her. “What did you tell Isaac when he woke up in the morning and found that his playmate was gone for good? Or maybe he was wide awake when the dramatic abandonment took place? Did he hear the screaming and heart-breaking cries of Ishmael? Did that scar your baby Sarah, the next time Isaac tried to find comfort in your bosom and saw a new harshness in your loving eyes?”

What About Abraham?

When I think about that awful day, I cannot find an echo to the patriarch’s soul and heart. I guess I’m not supposed to. I should probably leave that for men with the heart of an Abraham. As this mother’s heart towards the nations is being birthed in me, I am connecting not only with my personal identity as a daughter and a mom; I am trying to connect with older voices – those of bareness (Gen. 16:2), laughter and surprise (18:12) and fear. Of a mind-blowing promise and the responsibility to see it fulfilled.

I’m wondering what will happen to Sarah – to the Jewish nation, when we start listening to the voice of Ishmael, calling us back. Longing for a wholehearted embrace.

What will happen to Ishmael when he realizes he has a place around the table? That Mama Sarah regrets having sent him into the desert? That her heart was wounded too on that morning, even though she was the one who had cast them out?

And what would that do to God’s heart? To the wounded rift that had torn His chest?

And you… our precious Ruths, who have been following these posts so faithfully, how would that affect your prayers on behalf of our insane region? Please take another look at the picture of the wounded rift. Now check your hearts – on which bank do you feel most comfortable? Are you able to step off that bank, walk into the bleeding wound, and start watering it with your tears? Are you able to mingle them with some healing Balm – with scriptural promises that speak of healing for this pain-filled land and our surroundings?

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Most Christians tend to stand on one bank of the rift or the other.
During this journey we chose to stay inside it, inside the wound,
and to the best of our ability align with God’s heart for both sides.
After all, this rift is right inside His heart