Israel Trip August 2015

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The arrivals hall of the airport in Israel was crowded with people eagerly waiting for some loved one. Small groups were dancing while the larger groups formed circles round them. When the new arrival came, loud whoops of delight resonated in the hall, the newly arrived was hugged by all their friends, the small groups continued to dance and hoisted the loved one onto their shoulders while still dancing. The larger circle around them also danced while balloons were released and the whoops of delight also continued. I was reminded that Israeli culture is much more uninhibited and expressive than the quiet decorum of Heathrow.
But I soon also realised that life in Israel has its tensions with rockets being lobbed over from the Palestinians every day. A Messianic leader shared how their children are beginning to show signs of nervous tension because their classes at school and their play-times at home are regularly interrupted by rocket warnings and they all have to rush into a bomb shelter. And yet life proceeds as usual and as a visitor one never feels anxious about safety at all. And Israel continues to prosper.
I was in Israel for meetings of the Jews for Jesus European Board. This was my last Board meeting as I have felt that after 26 years and now that I am in my 80s it is time to stand down and give way to someone younger. I shall miss the friendship and fellowship of the Board, but know that this has been a right decision. I shall of course hope to continue to have a close relationship with the mission. Hopefully this will go on being a stimulus to me and also keep me reasonably up-to-date on what is going on in the Jewish world.
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This was my first visit to the new Jews for Jesus centre in Tel Aviv. They are being very creative in using professional art exhibitions to draw people into contact with the mission and the good news of the Messiah. They also teach and train a group of young believers who are called to work among young Israelis who are drawn to Eastern Religions and follow the Hippie trail to India, Nepal, Thailand and Peru.
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On the Sunday I was driven up to Jerusalem to preach at Christ Church right in the heart of the old city and just inside the city walls. It is always a delight to admire the old walls again and to be in the bustle of the old city. And it was great to be back at Christ Church again. The church was packed full and David Pileggi, the Vicar, gives the church and its hostel a lovely feel of the presence of the Lord.
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From Monday-Friday there was a conference of the Lausanne Committee for Jewish Evangelization with a crowd of Messianic leaders and a variety of others also working among Jews for the Gospel. It was very good to meet up with many old friends, as well as forming new relationships. Messianic circles are enormously diverse with many impressive thinking men and women of God, as well as others who are doing their own thing in some little work in Israel where they are the sole worker. Issues concerning the priority of Jewish evangelization, return to the land and the fulfilment of prophecy, the observance of kosher laws (kashrut), reconciliation between Jew and Arab, attitudes to Gentile churches and Christian tradition swirl heatedly around such a conference. It can easily become a little in-grown and lose interest in the non-Jewish world, forgetting that there are only about 16 million Jews in the world. But of courser biblically it is true that God has a particular concern for his chosen people Israel and his purposes for the Jewish people are central to the Bible. God’s covenant with the Jews is indeed eternal and irrevocable (Romans 11.29).
What a joy and privilege to be back in the land of Israel!
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