Friday, December 28, 2012

In Israel, in Samaria

Challenges Getting Here
I left Dallas on Dec 26, 2012 to co-lead a tour to Israel until Jan 6, 2013. Because of snow in Dallas and bad weather in Philadelphia our plane took off 4 hours late and we only had a 4 hour layover in Philadelphia on our way to Tel Aviv. International flights are never delayed and yet 15 of our tour members from Houston and 11 members from Dallas were able to run through the airport, go through special security and board the plane after we had been told the doors were closed! We took off an hour later than scheduled but we were all on board! We believe it was the hand of God to allow us all to experience this special time in the LAND (all of our suitcases didn't make the transfer!) We just got them delivered to our second hotel, 24 hours late, but not one complaint that I've heard. We are just feeling blessed to be here.

Unique Tour to Israel
This tour has some second-timers to Israel on it so my co-leader Dr. Paul Shockley and I tried hard to develop a tour that would have some new experiences in it for these people and yet cover the major sites for those who had never been to Israel before.

One of our changes was to spend our first night in the middle of Samaria!
The picture above shows the sunrise this morning from our hotel in Ariel, in the middle of Samaria. In moments like this I find it hard to believe that I am here, walking in the land of Abraham, Isaac, Jaocb . . . and Jesus! We spent time in Shiloh (where the tabernacle existed for 300 years, Elon Moreh (where God first promised Abrah the land and where Abram first built an alter to the Lord), Caesarea (think Peter, Philip, Paul), Mt. Carmel (Elijah and the prophets of Baal), and wonderful sites as we drove along the the LAND.

Last night I had the chance of a lifetime to listen to Menachem Gilboa tell his story. 

Menachem from Ariel told me the story of how 10 years ago he was able to wrestle a suicide bomber to the ground at a gas station outside his hotel. He later received a metal and citation of recognition form the IDF Command Central Region of the State of Israel. To realize the courage of this man to put his own life at risk to save 100 Jewish soldiers outside their buses, again reminded me of how great a love a person can have for others. After the terrorist was shot dead and Menachem was able to get up and start to walk away, a soldier shot the dead body again and the bomb exploded. Three soldiers were killed, many were wounded and Menachem experienced serious injuries. I felt the 5 mm ball bearings still lodged throughout his body. To hear his story, to speak to his wife Tova and to realize that 6 months prior to this explosion she had been injured in an explosion inside the hotel lobby, and to hear of their faith in God has been a very moving experience for me.
Preach/Teaching on Mt. Carmel
I love to preach/teach anywhere, but when I'm standing on top of Mt. Carmel talking about a God who Answers, I can get excited! The sun was setting over the Mediterraean Sea, the mountains of Jordan could be seen in the distance, the valley of Jezreel was behind me, no other group was on the roof of the Carmelite monastary, our group wanted to listen, and I had my Bible in my hand. Doesn't get too much better for a preacher!
Hotel on the Med
Tonight we are staying at the Palm Beach Hotel on the Mediterranean Sea. Tomorrow we start with Acco and then . . .  and we'll end up at Kibbutz En Gev on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee. I can hardly wait for tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you're having fun :-). I was on the same flight last year (day after Christmas) and bad weather in Philly kept us on the ground in Dallas 2 hours. That caused me to miss the connection in Philly (though I ran from one end of that very long airport to the other). I was blessed with 24 hours there, losing a day with the group in Israel. Next time I'll have to travel with you!