Category Archives: 2016 Mission Assignment

Back in America with a New Assignment

I spent the last few days in Israel reflecting on all God had shown me during the short 5 weeks I was able to spend there. I am still finishing my reading of Chris Mitchell’s book, ISIS, Iran and Israel”. I am in awe of God sovereignty and mercy concerning people and nations that are involved in so much turmoil. Truly the warfare between good and evil, heaven and hell, has come to earth. We live in an extremely volatile world. Yet God is busy blessing and redeeming people in the midst of war and chaos. Chris’ book is encouraging and uplifting while it brings stories of hope and salvation for those very people who are suffering the most under the oppression of radical Islam. That same story was confirmed by many people I encountered during my stay in Israel. God is moving mightily in the Middle East and all over the earth today. The enemy is not happy. Evil has increased in many ways, horrible things are happening. Yet God’s grace abounds just as he promises in the Word of God. Dreams and visions of the Jesus are causing many to come running to faith in him.

ab4I did some prayer walking again on the streets ab1of Abu Ghosh the day before I left. What a joy to greet some of the residents with smiles and hellos as we walked through the steep, narrow,   winding paths that function as streets between houses. Flowers, fruits and nut trees grow in every available space in abundance. Olive trees, some still heavy with fruit, are scattered across the steep hillsides in terraces. We were astounded that the rocky ground would yield such abundance as most citrus trees were were laden heavily with fruit that was ready, or just about ready. We continually remarked, “Lord, send more laborers to your harvest!”

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Near the center of the village is the spring that flows from the rocks. ab-springToday is pours out from a spot between the connecting old mosque and a Crusader period  monastery. It has watered the Abu Ghosh valley for thousands of years. Think of that! Such an ancient place, with living water bubbling forth in abundance. A kind young man made a point to speak to us in Hebrew with a warning not to drink from the water. He seemed to think it was poison, yet I was told some locals do get water from there.

Abu Ghosh remains a unique Arab community in Israel. It is a small primarily Muslim community, with a few Jewish and Christian residents and a large contingency of Jewish patrons from Jerusalem who visit the restaurants and shops on Shabbat. The large modern mosque in the valley, primarily financed by the Chechen government, is the second largest mosque in Israel after the Al-Aqsa mosque. It was built in 2014. It remains to be seen what the effect of this very large mosque will have in this small town. There is also a special Israeli-Arab rescue unit, a part of the IDF that is a comprised of volunteers from Abu Gosh. (Be sure to click links for interesting articles and videos describing this historically important town.)

This tiny town has impacted my life and ministry with its unique atmosphere and history. God has burdened my heart for all those along the Isaiah 19 highway that is mentioned in Chapter 19 of the Book of Isaiah in the Bible. God is moving in our day. We must stay tuned to his heartbeat and leading in all our prayers and actions. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in this epicenter of the global conflict in today’s world. Please know that they are praying for you too.

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Isaiah 19 Highway and Syrian Refugees

Micah 4:2 Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 

There is a watch at Sukkat Hallel, near Mount Zion in Jerusalem, view-from-sukkathallelthat focuses on the Isaiah 19 Highway which the Bible speaks of in the book of Isaiah, Chapter 19. The past 2 weeks have been incredibly anointed as many have attended from nations around the world who are here in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. This diverse group has been divinely united in the Spirit to pray for believers and others along this path through the Middle East. There are many houses of prayer that have been established and many more that are springing up! The reported conflict has continued to escalate in Mosul and those refugees closest to that area are asking, not for physical help as much as for prayer. Awake! Awake, oh Church! Cry out for your brothers and sisters! Cry out on behalf of those who are suffering and for those who need to find Jesus as their savior, redeemer, high tower and refuge in this critical hour! Cry out to God for Mercy! Cry out to God for crosses-returningwisdom for believers in how to pray and act toward the lost who desperately need a Savior.

Click links below to read more stories of hope from various resources. God is on the move in the Middle East. If you are not aware and participating from wherever you are, you are missing the focal point of our days. Don’t get so caught up in the US elections that you do not include other vital things on God’s heart in this hour. It is all related in God’s plan. Crisis and chaos may touch every part of the world, including the US in the next few weeks or months. We desperately need to know God’s heart to stay aligned with his direction and purposes–every day. Do not be caught asleep, side-tracked or without oil in your lamps. Stay in tune with Father God, close to his heart. He will keep us.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. 

100 Hour Burn in Northern Iraq

Mosel offensive Erbil Archbishop

CBN: Bartella liberated

CBN: Loving Arabs as Jesus does

 

 

 

Feast of Tabernacles- Joyous Celebrations

I began celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) by helping my friend and hostess in Jerusalem build her Sukkah. Then on Sunday evening celebrated with her and a couple of her dearest friends having a special meal in the Sukkah. That first night, Erev Sukkot, is a special, joyous celebration with your closest friends and family. It is a Shabbat, or day of rest, with no public transportation and shops and businesses close early. I wasGiant Sukka prepared in the area of the western wall privileged to be able to visit the Western Wall to pray for my family prior to the Shabbat starting. There have been a lot of Shabbats with the way the holidays have fallen this year. It makes life difficult preparing for shabbats and celebrations around the closures but no less joyous. This is such a special time of year to be in Jerusalem. I am privileged and blessed to be here.

If you are a Christian or someone who wonders how or why celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles is important for Christians there are many good resources. A good recent article was published by Susan Michael, the ICEJ US Director, it explains that Jesus attended the Feast and used it to show that he was the fulfillment of that biblical feast. Read that article here.

The next day I began my stay in Abu Ghosh. What an amazing contrast to be in a small Arab village. Yet I believe God has brought me here to walk the streets, pray, and bless the town and its people. The town is famed for having the best hummus (my friends in Rochester will chuckle about that). According to Christian tradition, Abu Ghosh is the biblical Kiryat Jearim (Yearim) where the Philistines delivered the ark and it sat until being returned to Jerusalem.

Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to your town.” Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord. So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

I Samuel 6:21 – 7:2

Abu Ghosh Church of the Ark of the CovenantBeginning in the 12th century, Christians began to identify Emmaus with this location. Luke 24:12-31 This is only one possible sight for the elusive location of Emmaus, but there is a Crusader period church in Abu Ghosh built over a stream where they believed Emmaus was located during that period of time.

The town became known as Abu Ghosh in the 16th century when an Arab clan of that name took over the town and began to charge for passage on the highway passing through it on pilgrimage from Jaffa to Jerusalem. They continued to collect tolls until the end of the 19th century.

Today there exists Church of Notre Dame de lArche d’Alliance (Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant) built in 1924, located at the top of a hill with a large statue of Mary and baby Jesus.

Be sure to watch for a future blog to find out more about this unique Arab town just 6.2 miles west of Jerusalem.

 

 

Walking, praying, views around Jerusalem

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It has been a busy week. I am thankful that is finally Shabbat.

Israel celebrated Yom Kippur from sundown Tuesday and all day Wednesday. It was my first experience seeing how the streets in the outskirts of Jerusalem fill with children and adults on their bicycles, and older couples walking hand in hand throughout the warm evening hours. It was as if every family had nothing at all to do but come outside and enjoy their time together. It was beautiful! Indeed they were fasting and avoiding tv and other things that typically fill their lives. The roads were all blocked off and no traffic was allowed anywhere in Jerusalem. It seemed as if the city sighed in relief from the hustle and tension of everyday life for that brief period. No pictures allowed. You will have to come and experience this for yourself.

Throughout the week I attended some prayer gatherings and did a lot of walking–over five miles a day. Much of my walking was in prayer, walking familiar streets. I passed through the Mahane Yehuda a couple times, Yemen Moshe, Ben Yehuda Street, Jaffa Road and many others. I even took a bus to spend a day in Abu Ghosh in prayer. On the eve of Yom Kippur I chanced upon many buses unloading soldiers that were deployed in Jerusalem as extra security. (There had been a terror attack earlier that day.) As I passed through their midst, stepping over their duffle bags and gear, I took the opportunity to pray for each of them as soldiers in the Lord’s Army, stepping into their destiny with the light of God in their hearts. What a privilege it is to follow the path God leads us on!

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Mahane Yehuda (Shuk)

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View of the windmill in Yemen Moshe

 

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US Consulate, Jerusalem (Judean desert hills in the distance)

 

 

 

 

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Stairs and more stairs in Yemen Moshe

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Prayer and Miracles in the Middle East

On Shabbat, I visited Narkis Street Congregation  to re-new connections with many there. Many of you know our dear friend Christine Sakakibara. It was so good to see her, tchuck-and-liz-kopphough the meeting was much too brief to catch up on all that has been happening in her life and ministry. Big hugs for Chuck and Liz Kopp, Claire Pfann, the Alley’s, Gemma, and so many others from various countries, some old friends and several new. We heard a testimony from an Arab man, who is a bold witness for Jesus in the Jerusalem area, of Jesus appearing to him when he was going through a scary ordeal and needing by-pass surgery. Then of the Lord’s faithfulness to give him a successful operation and full recovery. God is Good!

The day was capped with an amazing message from my friend Chris Mitchell, CBN Middle East News Bureau Chief, who brought the congregation gripping videos of testimonies of what is happening to our Christian brothers and sisters in Kurdistan. This area of the Middle East is currently the top of news stories around the world as the coalition of nations prepares to confront ISIS. These are the people who have suffered so much from the brutal, inhumane acts of this terrible political Islamic affront. We were encouraged to pray for these people living on the front-lines of this conflict, whose families have been murdered or displaced from their homelands.  They are expecting God to hear their prayers, and yours, on their behalf. They look forward to the day when they can begin their lives anew. In the midst of suffering, many Christians and non-Christians are having dreams and visions of Jesus. He is there in their midst. Our prayers should be with them also.

Below is a portion of what Chris shared with us.  What you won’t see here is his interview with Fabian, (Head of a Mesopotamian House of Prayer) a Kurd who is a Muslim Background Believer with a powerful testimony and strong encouraging message. You can listen to the message at http://www.narkis.org/listen  Your perspective will be changed!

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Chris Mitchell has 3 books out on his work/travels/ ministry with CBN:

Dateline Jerusalem” [2013]; “Destination Jerusalem” [2015] and  “Isis, Iran and Israel”[2016]

 

Meeting a king to eating falafal…

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Who can visit Ben Yehuda at lunch-time without eating? My first falafal this trip! Yumm!!!

Divine appointments. If you expect them they happen, especially when you have hundreds of friends and family praying for you!

I met our friend Pastor Steve Umaru Bugwegwe at the Jerusalem All Nations Prayer Convocation on Thursday.  In 2005-6, we visited Pastor Umaru in Lugazi, Uganda and have remained good friends since. He is traveling with John Chrisostom Wayabira, King of OBWA IKUMBAANIA BWA BUGWERE (Bugwere Royal Kingdom),  a northern Ugandan tribal Provence. He was elected per the Ugandan law in 2015. Their website states that their mission is to “bring to20161006_124620gether over 100 clans, businesses, governments, non-state actors, and individuals to improve people’s health and wellness, increase opportunity for Bugwere to thrive, ensure sustainable food security within the realm, create economic opportunity and growth through income boost, help communities address the effects of climate change and maintain high standards of household hygiene and sanitation”. bugwerekingdom.ug He was a Bishop prior to taking this position and is the first Christian tribal leader. God is moving in Uganda!

On Shabbat, I was invited to attend a Shabbat meal with a friend and her friends who have been associated with ICEJ (International Christian Embassy Jerusalem) for many years. What a privilege to share stories of how these people have given the best part of their lives serving the people of Israel, particularly those in need and most recently holocaust survivors with awe inspiring stories depicting the worst of human indecencies being healed with the Love of Jesus. I felt privileged to hear some of the gripping inside stories that continue to motivate these kinds of people to continually live their lives in sacrifice for the gospel in comforting the Jewish people.

 

 

Safe Arrival

All went well with connecting flights and transportation to and from the airports. I am thankful for the prayers as this is not flightalways the case when traveling to Israel. The flight was mostly smooth and I was able to sleep for at least half the flight. I expect to avoid jet lag as long as I get some sun, drink a lot and get my internal clock adjusted and take it easy until then.

Off to get the phone card straightened out, get some shekels, a bus pass and visit the All Nations Prayer Convocation Jerusalem where many of our dear friends from Africa and around the globe attend each year. Excited to see how the Lord will orchestrate the first day. I am already taking in and loving the familiar, glorious sunshine and the smells and sounds of Jerusalem. I am blessed to be here. I pray that you will be blessed to enjoy this journey with me.

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Happy Birthday to my mom back in Derby, NY today. Love you mom!