A lot has happened since I’ve arrived in Israel a few weeks ago. It’s true what is said about this place: it’s the land of encounters. There’s so much that I could write a short book about it, but to catch up to current day I’ll sum up the stories in two parts. The first being just the flight travel to Israel, and the other actually being in the country.
Wow, this is really happening.
That’s what ran through my head as I sat down in my seat for the long redeye flight ahead of me which I had booked less than a month in advanced and paid no more than a month’s worth of coffee for (thanks travel benefits credit card). And what a blessing it was to see that the row of seats next to me were completely empty. After watching a documentary that a good friend recommended to me called Poverty, Inc (highly recommend if you work or want to work in the non-profit or NGO space), I laid down and slept. I was woken up prematurely by the quick morning sun and the smell of breakfast.
At the airport between my connecting flights, there was a room called the “Multi-Faith Room”, where people of different faiths could go and pray, worship, or read as they wish. When I went to this room, about as big as a medium sized shed, I found that only one faith commendeered the room: Islam. Sweet, I love Muslims and their devotion to prayer even in modern day! So I went in, sat down in a spot without rugs, and read my Bible. It was around one of the five times Muslims stop and pray throughout the day, so the room was filling up with people pretty quickly. As I read the Scriptures and prayed to the God of Abraham, one man who just finished prayer touched my shoulder and said “You must take your shoes off here.” I smiled and responded “The rules posted on the door specifically say it’s not required to remove shoes, thank you friend.” He left the room before I was able to add “blessed is the ground, lint, sand, dirt and feet of those who bring news of good tidings.”
After I finished praying, I went to the terminal and finished watching the testimony of a famous guy from Louisiana who was a successful oil business man prior to hearing the Lord speak to him on a private plane calling him to repent. He thought it was the captain of the plane preaching the Gospel to him, so he went up to the cockpit looking to pick a fight since he didn’t want to hear any of it. He heard the voice again, was told he’d walk in the same authority as Paul the apostle, repented, and after the plane landed it ended up in flames on the runway with no one hurt. That man has ministered for over 20 years to the people of Mexico in areas overrun by drug cartels, and he travels the world ministering to people as well. There’s a lot to write about him, including encounters with sicarios and bosses of the cartels at gun point, but feel free to watch that testimony here.
On the redeye flight to Israel, I sat next to a Jewish couple returning home from a short vacation. What was supposed to be a flight of sleeping turned into hours of talking about Jesus and the Torah. While his wife slept, along with all the other passengers, my new friend and I discussed the promises given by God to Moses, the Prophets and Israel, and the fulfillment of those promises in Yeshua Ha-Mashiach. I also shared with him some testimonies from my days of praying for the sick and prophesying over strangers, and this is what really intrigued him. “Wow…tell me more!” he would say after I finished one testimony after another. Likewise, I would ask him to tell me more about the culture and customs of the Jewish people and his family at present time.
Despite rhetoric from Jewish people that “the Christians tried to kill us in Germany”, and from Christians that “the Jewish people hate Jesus and His followers”, my friend and I bonded over our discussions and called each other “brother.” So much so that my friend and his wife invited me to their home to join them and their children for a Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner celebration, which Israeli’s celebrate every Friday evening, in the future. I was honored by this and absolutely accepted the offer. After picking up our bags, exchanging numbers, and giving thanks to the Lord for our encounter, we parted ways.
Within a few minutes, I went from that warm friendly encounter to standing outside, in the early morning cold, by myself, pondering which city I should go to first and how to get there without handing over my little savings. Out of lack of clarity, I picked the most obvious choice: Jerusalem. I had no transportation or hostel (like a hotel, but more communal and cheaper) booked, so I figured my way around to find a Sherut (a mix between a taxi and a small bus) and within an hour I was dropped off at a hostel in Jerusalem.
After I reserved a dorm room and locked away both my medium sized and smaller daily backpack, which are to sustain me for the next year or so, I sat down in the lobby and watched the people and buses outside going about their business as the morning sunshine alerted the start of the day. Then looking down at the Israeli money in my hand that I had ordered prior to my trip, I didn’t know if should go out to get breakfast or just sit there and take in the fact that I was halfway across the world a little more than 24 hours ago. I decided to do both at the same time and asked the girl at the front desk for recommendations on a place to eat. As I walked out the door with a map of the Holy City in my hand, I thought to myself:
Wow, this is really happening.
Teaser to Part Two: It includes visiting the Old City of Jerusalem, the West Bank, making new friends with fellow travelers, meeting leaders of organizations, being threatened by angry dogs, and other interesting experiences.