It's About the People
I need to go back one day in my journal, as I skipped over September 26. I should not have skipped it; it represents a big part of the reason why God calls us to Israel. On our last trip here in 2014 we had the great privilege of meeting and coming to love some of the young Jewish families in the Shomron (formerly Samaria), who have settled on these mountains of Ephraim and have bravely put their hearts and their hands to work to build homes, raise livestock, plant olive trees and add more families to their community. We returned to one of these small villages and once more enjoyed a wonderful lunch of Israeli salads with salmon and their delicious fried Haloumi cheese. This little cafe sits atop a steep mountain with a breathtaking overlook of the Jordan Valley below, and we sipped warm cups of coffee while enjoying this view of Israel that the tourists never see. One precious woman in this village has established her skin care shop where she makes her own marvelous face creams and essential oils and Rosemary and I were so blessed to support her with a little shopping and a lot of conversation that hopefully encouraged and lifted her up
There was a little twinge of pain deep in my heart that I did not continue to find a way to stay in Israel since my 2005 experience; but I pray that I've still found a way to follow God's plan for me. There is just such a STRONG connection I have with Israel and on this trip He revealed to me once again - in even stronger terms - that the connection is not about the Land, but about the people. It is the people we are here to pray for, and the people who found their way deep into our hearts! In fact, on the way to Tiberius we had trouble finding a place to stop for lunch on Highway 90, but eventually saw signs for gasoline and a pizza place. The sign read "A BETTER PLACE." What a great name!
We went inside to look at the menu and the owner, whose name was Chaim, greeted us with such cheer. "I have the very best pizza in all of Israel!" he proudly boasted. We told him we'd come all the way from America to try his pizza and you could see the sheer delight on his face. In truth, it was some of the best pizza I've ever had and I'm not sure why - unless it was the delicious cheese and fresh, pure Israeli olive oil! Chaim visited with us between pizzas and deliveries and once again we saw the hard work and courage of these Jews who have settled on the so-called "West Bank," and made their own land their home, no matter how hard it might be, no matter what threats they may face from all the nearby Palestinian towns.
Hugs with Avigail and promises to meet again, and we were on our way across the country to Haifa, on the west coast. On the way we kept our appointment with the prayer portal on top of Mt. Tabor. It's a good thing John is an experienced Colorado driver! A road has been carved out of this extremely steep mountain, with continual hairpin switchbacks. No tourist busses or even cars normally make this ascent - but we did - and we met countless shuttles coming down this tiny narrow road while we were going up, making the drive a tremendous challenge! This is the mountain generally accepted and widely taught to be the place of Yeshua's transfiguration. Once we reached the top and then walked until the Spirit told us, "stop and pray here," we looked down at the incredibly difficult climb it would be on foot and marveled that Yeshua, Peter, James and John could make such a climb! So we opened our bibles to all four gospel accounts looking for one that specifically mentions Mount Tabor in the story of the transfiguration. It's not there! We realized that all four of us and countless others have accepted Mt. Tabor as the location of this incredible, supernatural event, where Moses and Elijah appeared and Yeshua was utterly transformed into the radiant fullness of His kingdom glory. But the gospel accounts do not give a location. So we began to pray over all Israel, with a view that stretched almost across the country from east to west. We prayed over the Jezreel valley below, and we again sang "Baruch haba b'shem Adonai" (Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord) as we have sung in almost all the portals, calling Yeshua to return. Then we were in silence and listened to what the Spirit might have to show us, and here is what we clearly heard: "The location of the transfiguration is not in the Scriptures because it does not matter where it happened. It only matters that it happened. It was a powerful and glorious glimpse of Yeshua's future reign over all Israel - and over all nations from Israel. It was surely a heavenly conversation between Him and Moses and Elijah, concerning these things that are still to come. And just as Elijah shut up the sky and held back the rain while he was on the earth (Luke 4:25), surely he will do it again as one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:6. Similarly, Moses once turned the river into blood (Exodus 7:20) and I felt the Lord was confirming for me that he would certainly be the other witness of Revelation 11:6. Perhaps they even received this assignment in that heavenly conversation!
We had checked into the Beit Yedidia Guesthouse in Haifa, where we would spend the next six nights. Once again, it was about the people. The first person we met was a young man pushing a double baby stroller with two very tiny toddler boys and another two boys alongisde. The daddy looked disheveled and worn out. As we entered into conversation we learned that he and his wife had been in Israel a year, hoping to make aliyah and stay there. He is an American who learned that he is of Jewish descent - but when the Ministry of Interior in Israel learned that they are believers in Yeshua, they blocked any opportunity for them to have citizenship. In fact, we learned on this trip that quite a number of Jews who have become citizens in Israel and lived there for years, are having their citizenship revoked because they are believers. The enemy is in a last-ditch effort to remove every trace of belief in Jesus from the land of Israel! We ask your prayers for these people and a huge change of hearts for those in the Israeli government.
This young family had been granted asylum at Beit Yedidia, and we saw that this guest house truly had a ministry to help those in this type of homeless situation. We were able to give both the young family and the guest house good donations to help. The couple has four boys under the age of five, and we had the great joy of seeing them often in the house while we were there, sometimes sharing groceries and often just playing with the boys to give the parents a break! They are headed back to the U.S. now, where they have jobs in Pennsylvania. Please pray for them as they make the transition and deal with the persecution and disappointments they experienced in the Land.
September 30 - Yom Kippur
The lion roared all night! Whoever thought that our room would be over a zoo in Israel?! The roar feels so prophetic to me. Yom Kippur came and went peacefully in Israel and I was grateful. In Europe the neo-Nazi movement is rising up from the ashes and they marched on this day as an ominous sign of things to come.
But we had the delight and great joy of attending a service here in our guest house. A young Jewish man in love with Messiah Yeshua led us in worship with his guitar and then in two and a half hours of spontaneous, Spirit-led prayer. About 30 people had gathered together and they did not stand for hours and beat their breasts and read ancient, ritualistic prayers; they prayed earnest pleas of their hearts for the God of Israel to lift the veil over the hearts of the Jewish people. They prayed for salvation and for liberty! They prayed 2 Corinthians 3:6-18. Those verses spoke to me as never before. Verse 13 says, "...unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Tanach (Old Testamant) because the veil is taken away in Messiah." I was moved by their passion, touched by their longing for their brothers and sisters - even their own families - to find Yeshua.
An older Jewish woman stopped to visit with Rosemary. She showed her small packet of drawings she had made - truly stunning renderings of landscapes, hillsides, sea cliffs, orchards and still-life pictures of fruit on thick, wooden tables. "I'm in art therapy," she told Rosemary. And once again we were reminded of the pain and trauma that dwells in the souls of so many here. Their rude and impatient behavior has a root and it is pain. We told her that we pray earnestly for the people of Israel. In her shy, small voice she responded, "Please pray that we will be nicer people." We will never forget that prayer request and the broken heart that uttered it.
As we were about to exit the zoo, we met a Jewish woman pushing her toddler in a stroller. She had heard our American accents and asked where we were from. When we told her she struck up a conversation, asking us, "What do you tourists do on Yom Kippur when the hotel doesn't give you any food?" We smiled and replied, "Oh, we keep the fast on Yom Kippur just like you do. In fact, we keep all the feasts of the LORD." She looked stunned. Then I continued, "We even keep the Esther fast at Purim!" This so amazed her that she was speechless and she gestured to us in honor, as if giving us "kudos." What a blessing to have "provoked one to jealousy" (Romans 11:14). She was clearly letting us know that she doesn't keep the fast at Purim, and wondered who we are that we would do this. I have often wondered who we are and why we are doing this myself, but toward the end of this trip the Holy Spirit led us to a passage in Isaiah 56: 3-8. Please look up those verses and read them if you have ever wondered whether God really honors the non-Jews (like us) who are keeping His Sabbaths and His feasts. These verses poured over me as a great clay vessel of blessing and revelation straight from His lips!
The dormant intercessor within me sprang back to life and I fell to my knees, overcome with great joy at being where I belong, among God's people - my people - the true worshipers from all the nations! One young woman took us a short way down the road to walk through the Korean House of Prayer. I had not known that so many prayer-houses had sprung up on top of Mount Carmel, and the depth of the praise that must be reaching the ears of God from up here!
We had a brief visit with friend Carolyn Hyde, and got to bless her and her family with some needed items we had brought from WalMart! And we got to be the very first ones to sow a donation seed into this new prayer house.
A delegation from the Solomon Islands led us in worship after Karen Davis' unspeakably passionate leading. The islanders are coming to Israel by the thousands I am told - and I recall the Tahitians at the Convocation in Jerusalem in 2005, who may have planted the seed and sounded the shofar that awakened so many others of the South Pacific Islands to bring the Gospel full circle back to Jerusalem!
In the morning over breakfast of cheese, toast, fruit and coffee, Rosemary and I met two women from New Zealand, who were at the new prayer center yesterday. Kindred spirits were electrified as we encountered one another! I love it when this happens! We knew each other instantly and our hearts were bursting to share what Yah is doing. We spoke through tears of joy about the great move we sense is coming as the tribes throughout the world hear the call of the shofar to repent and return to Israel. Laws will have to be changed here. Hard hearts of Judah will have to soften toward their Ephraimite family.
We were stunned. A few years ago I don't believe this could have happened - Muslim men offering us their coffee on this ledge, overlooking the azure blue Mediterranean Sea! John and Vernon drank coffee and thanked them and there was a new feeling we'd not ever known before; the men were not just "Muslims," but people with wide smiles and generous hearts! It's all about the people. We shared a wonderful meal of fresh fish at the Abu Christo Restaurant on the edge of the sea. Then we drove up to the Lebanese border, at K'far Rosh ha Nikra. There was an IDF soldier at the gate there and we asked if we could go through the gate. At first he replied, "No, no admittance here." Then I told him we had come to pray for the IDF soldiers and for protection of all Israel from this northern border. His tone and his face changed into a smile, and he motioned for us to go through the gate and park.
Windy, squiggly roads led us up to the top of Mount Carmel. We drove to Muhraqa, the monastery at the top of the mountain. What memories came flooding back to me as I watched the tribes of the nations from this year's Convocation come streaming in, forming prayer circles and bombarding the heavens with their passionate African, Asian and European prayers. We found a small open spot in the beautiful rock-walled gardens and began our own intercessions in this, the final portal. God's presence was powerfully there in that place - and an Asian woman just behind us went into deep travail with heavy sobbing. I wondered where she was from and what had brought such pain and intense weeping into her life.
We interceded for America this time, in the wake of the horrible Las Vegas massacre. We blew the shofars and read aloud from 1 Kings 18 - loosing and destroying the evil of the Ba'als and the idolotries that have overtaken America. As Elijah did on this mountain thousands of years ago, we shouted, "Yehovah He is God! Yehovah He is God!"
Driving the short distance back to Kehilat ha Carmel, the wonderful worship center where people from all the nations worship Yeshua, we found a table and chairs beneath a shade tree where we could share our small picnic lunch. Then we went again into the anointed sanctuary for an afternoon prayer watch. I wish with all my heart that I could participate in that kind of totally Ruach-led worship all the time! A spirit of joy broke out and we ran, jumped, skipped and danced before the LORD! I got to worship Him with colorful flags and give Him honor due His Name. It was glorious and I realized the magnitude of the thirst my parched spirit has been in for the past few years.
We packed up and left Haifa by about 10:00 am, once again going up to Jerusalem. On the way we stopped in Hod ha Sharon to deliver a gift of goodies to a friend's grandson who is in boarding school there. My suitcase had been packed full with things that Israelis had asked for or needed, and it was such a joy to make these deliveries!
My spirit leapt once again as we made the ascent up to the Old City. We checked into the Jerusalem Inn by 3:00 pm and already all the shops and restaurants were closing their doors. It was Erev Sukkot - the first evening, the beginning of the High Sabbath. We decided to walk to the Old City anyway, even if the shops and restaurants were closed - but to our surprise, they were still open there!
God once again granted me the desires of my heart and saved us a table and four chairs at the tiny cafe in the Jaffa Gate, where we could eat pasta and sandwiches and watch the unending stream of Orthodox Jews and their families coming down to the Western Wall to pray. It is just an amazing thing to watch - even though my heart breaks that they do not have the joy of knowing Yeshua, the Bridegroom, who will one day fulfill this feast at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
October 5 - Last Day in Israel
Today my heart is grieved. Do I really have to leave here again and return to the "Exile?" We walked down Jaffa Street, silent and abandoned to observe the High Sabbath. The Old City too was strangely quiet and we found a small table and 4 chairs near an empty sukka where we ate the apples, crackers and hummus we had brought along. There were sukkas (tents) everywhere that had been erected for the Feast of Tabernacles, but they were all empty. I didn't realize they do not occupy them until the High Sabbath is over.
If you're still reading, I thank you for sharing this whole trip with us through my little blog - and all of us send abundant thanks from the depths of our hearts to those who donated to help make this trip possible, and helped us to spread financial blessings all over Israel. Those who bless Israel will surely be greatly blessed, as the Scripture tells us! (Genesis 12:3)
Shalom with love in our soon-coming King,
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Kelly Ferrari Mills