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Today was by far the most draining day, however, the most low-key or relaxed day we’ve had. I will truly remember this day for the rest of my life and count the things we got to see and the people that we got to meet as a true privilege.
This morning, Dre and I walked to Aroma in Mamilla Mall. It was a brisk, 10 minute walk there in the Jerusalem sun. We felt like locals and like it was our town…so comforting and a true joy. We got our aroma coffees and chocolate croissants, trekked back up the hill to our hotel and went to a discussion. This morning, Dr. Tal Becker, a senior member of the Israeli peace negotiation team of Foreign Affaires. It was truly an honor to be a part of the conversation with him and hear from such a wise and well-noted man. We had a discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation and got an inside scoop on the issue. It was an amazing way to start the day-so humbling and sobering to put ourselves in the shoes of an Israeli Jew and the Palestinian. The problem is so deep-rooted and it was amazing to understand even more.
After our talk we drove through Jerusalem to the Garden Tomb. It was great to be back here for a third time and a truly memorable communion service. I was so thankful for the slow-paced and thoughtful service we were able to have. I was struck by the idea of remembering Jesus by taking the bread and the cup. Remembering means that at one point He was dismembered; so remembering is to bring Him back and join Him with us. It was also amazing to think that celebrating communion is something that has been done since the time of Christ-the disciples did it and we join in with the saints.
From here, we drove about an hour and a half southwest from jerusalm to Sderot and Kefar Azza.Kefar Azza is a Gaza village on the border of Gaza. Kefar Azza has received over 2,500 rocket attacksfrom Gazaat this kibbutz. Chel, a woman who was born and raised here and raises her children here, gave us a tour around the kibbutz and shared with us. I was struck, sobered and humbled at the things she shared with us. We began our tour by her explaining that there is no such thing as post-trauma for them…they are in constant trauma. She showed us a colorfully painted bomb shelter. I saw drawings of people on it and one big BOOM painted on the side as well. I was so struck at how eerie their reality is. We went inside and the feeling of how much pain and fear had been inside those walls was overwhelming. It was chilling. Tears welled up in my eyes as we walked through the village and I imagined all the terror that had overwhelmed this kibbutz. She shared with us that the sound of a woman saying “RED ALERT” in Hebrew is a nightmare to them…they hear it all the time. This alert tells them that they have 10-15 seconds to find cover. She said the young children, when they heart that sound, put their arms up so someone will come help them. The houses she led us through were armed with bullet proof windows and structures to help them not be as affected by the blows of the rockets.
She told us that all of the children will have heard over 600 red alerts in the last few years. They cannot sleep. They cannot function. It is terror. This is the life they live. I was sick to my stomach. We looked out over the Gaza strip, past chain link fences. She shared with us that they have built tunnels to come into their kibbutz and get into the land. She said she fears that the tunnel will lead into her home. They have built over 30 tunnels. The terror is monstrous.
From here, we visited a Sderot police station where we saw rockets. These rockets had been fired. They were mangled and laden with hatred. As I touched them with my own hands and tears filled my eyes, I was reminded that the last people that touched these were terrorists. How terrifying…
After this, we drove back to Jerusalem with a beautiful sunset following us. I’ve missed the Jerusalem sunsets so much. Luke, Josh and I played a lip-reading game in the bus with noise-cancelling headphones and reflected on the day. We had a talk with Haim Moriyah who has major Misille Defense experience. Truly fascinating hearing from him and understanding what is going all around the Middle East.
Because it’s Thursday we weren’t able to go to the Old City. But after dinner, we went to Mamilla Mall. Josh, Jared, Josiah and Andrew followed Dre and I around as our body guards. Dre bought a beautiful ring. We stopped in the market, came back to the hotel and played some games in the lobby.
I am truly drained after this day but count all of these things that I’ve experienced as an honor, privilege, and unforgettable experience. My heart mouns with the Jewish people, with this nation, and with the earth. My heart mourns that the Jewish people, a people persecuted time and time again, are constantly terrorized. My heart breaks.
- Please continue to pray for leading in my future ministry to Israel.
- Please continue to pray for safety and health.
- Pray for the people of Israel.