Israel is the kind of place where millions of people come and go each year to see where Jesus walked or understand the historical context of the Bible or other considerable Holy Books. Once our team stepped off the plane, we were already beginning to get into high gear of ministry.
Shortly after, we met a family with nine children who were allowing us to stay in their home. As crazy and cute as their nine kids were, we drove to their home only to discover through a friend of theirs that their home was locked and we couldn’t stay there. But because this friend came and personally notified us, they hooked us up in east Bethlehem (Beit Jala), where we stayed for two weeks unplanned but was welcomed with open arms and heart. Not only did we spend time getting to know people there but also we worshipped, prayed and heard their personal testimonies of how difficult it is to be ‘underground’ due to be blacklisted by the government.
One of the things that was shared, it is difficult to talk about Jesus, but easier to talk about the Kingdom of God. We had ideas of how we can share about the Kingdom of God and how. Not only that, but pay attention to who we share it with (cockroaches and moths are the ones attracted to the Light, cockroaches are not). We were also talk in some retrospect, we as Christ followers could be considered Muslims because the word Muslim means one who submits to God.
Ministry in Bethlehem
During the two weeks we were there, we spent time doing ministry with Jemima where people with disabilities reside and receive care their families cannot provide. Our team did skits, signing songs, playing games with the kids and prayed with the staff. Many of the children really enjoyed hanging out with us. The staff who received prayer were simply hungry to pray for their families and for some for their health or job searching. Afterwards, two of the staff received intense messages from us and was thankful.
We also went to the House of Hope, a church where students with mostly mental disabilities live attend school. We hung out with the kids and had a great time having a dance party on the balcony. Meanwhile, we met a young deaf woman who worked there as a substitute teacher but was greatly honored by the director. We met a family a beautiful family but heartbreaking story, though really struggled in terms of relationship, war and education. We encourage her and her sisters to continue to pursue deaf education in Bethlehem.
According to some of the deaf people, Bethlehem’s general education system is run by the government and unfortunately, the government does not support education for the deaf. Any student who attends school, their parents must pay or find a private sponsor. Sometimes the school offers sponsorship but only for a portion. In Palestine, about three percent of the population is deaf or hard of hearing. Which explains why it was easy to meet a deaf person almost wherever we went.
We also found a school just about a mile or so away from our home. We just pushed a button and said, “We’re from America.” And the gates opened. The school is run by Italian nuns. We met one sister who allowed us to meet some students and do fun skits. As they saw us signing, they couldn’t believe it because they thought they were the only deaf people in the world. They really thought they were alone. Then we talked with to the nun (Ronia) privately, as she was the only one who knows English fluently. She mentioned the school’s philosophy for the deaf is to teach to speak and they will go far in life. Signing is not permitted. However, she did wish the school allowed signing. Especially after meeting one of the workers from the House of Hope and seeing they could sign and have a college education from Jordan. She did encourage to mention to people internships are accepted, especially deaf who would be interested in an after school program to teach sign language to the children.
Ministry in Haifa:
We stayed at a hostel for a few days to catch up on some rest before heading to Tiberius for a week. We visited the Dead Sea and got to float in water. Wanted to walk on it but I think it would fail. I did bust my leg but it healed quickly because of the mud and oil in the water. Oil is heavier than water, so no wonder we could float instead of sink. However, Haifa was not all fun, we also met a man name Adam. I would like to call him a lost soul. He’s into Reiki but we believe he’s still seeking. We prayed right before we left for him and received it. Only God can work through his heart.
Ministry in Tiberius:
Our team was invited to stay at a guesthouse in Tiberius but was put on a structured schedule for the week. However, either way, we were met with plenty of divine appointments through the week and was kept super busy. The first day we went to the mountain where the Battle of Hattin took place. We we teamed up with the YWAM, Kona team and lead worship together. Praying over different areas of Tiberius. We helped someone with the food distribution ministry which boxes were packed for about 350 Israelite residents who were living in poverty. Our team also went to Jordan Valley and spent some time at the First Pioneer Kibbutz. We met a man name Hagi who was born and raised at the Kibbutz and explained how he met his wife in the Israelite military (which is required for anyone at the age of 18 for two years). He mentioned he lost his son four years before. Then after meeting him, I prayed to meet his wife. Not too long after we found a building opened and walked in, it seems his wife was already expecting three beautiful American girls to walk in. We chatted for an hour and simply encouraged her to keep going and stay strong. We prayed for her as we left. However, not without realizing how important developing a relationship is in terms of ministry. A couple days later, we spent the morning back in Jordan Valley putting tracts on windshield of vehicles. Though I admit I was scare more of cars chirping or blaring at me than people themselves, we realized just how easy it was. On the last two days, we celebrated Hanukkah together as a team by feasting and praying together. We also evangelized at the promenade downtown. Where many people had fun playing, deride including the older generation, parents and even young children. We also did a skit about the history of Hanukkah. On our last day, we went to visit a Messianic church, where we did some worship songs and just mingled with some of the congregation. It was a blessing just to get to know them (and see a young girl accept Christ).
Ministry in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is one of those places where it was difficult to describe. Because we saw so much hurt in Palestine, we were able to put things in perspective. We did a scavenger hunt our first day. With several locations to our avail, we met countless people. However, not without going to the Dome of Rock and praying and worshipping. Last, we went to the Garden Tomb, where the entire time of seeing all the sites, I would become sensitive because of idolatry. However, the Garden Tomb simply was a representation of Jesus’ resurrection without making it complicated or even underground.
Last Friday night, we joined a Rabbi’s home for Shabbat dinner. In his small home where eight of the 14 children lived, we all fit into a tiny space. We started with an opening course and then ate soup, then meat and then dessert. However, not without signing of God’s blessings from Psalms and going through a teaching about Joseph and his brother. About love and forgiveness. Any questions or additional teachings were open to anything and one of us got up and shared a testimony about what it means to give something up in order to have peace and forgiveness. The next day, four of the missionaries we met at the hostel went. They began to speak about Yeshua, a few people were annoyed and tried to start arguing. Then one of them got up and started apolegized about his ancestors (he’s from Germany, if you’re wondering). People began mocking them, calling them Nazis. They got up and left. The exact same man, who walked us home the night before, followed and persecuted them. My heart breaks for them as they share, but they were in intense intercession after arriving back to the Hostel. Asking to forgive those who persecuted them and blessing the people they met. We believe our team helped paved the way into the transition of these amazing people to open their hearts and prepare them. We don’t know what we’re doing, but we praise God in advance for working through each and every individual.
This is just some of the many testimonies and encounters we’ve had. However, this is just a piece of what God did in Israel and the West Bank. I pray everyday, God will show me more. I pray everyday of all the different people we’ve met and know the seeds are sown. The workers are few, and I pray that God used us for His good.
*Note: names and specific locations are refrained from this blog to protect people.