Jordan/Israel ~ 1987-1988 ~ Part 8

Day #8

At breakfast we witnessed another beautiful sunrise, a red rubber ball rising over new Jerusalem.  This is Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath – no work is done.  Our breakfast was made from food prepared on previous days.  Not even scrambled eggs could be prepared.  Talk about straining gnats.

Israel is made up of hills, valleys, hamlets, and towns.  Mountains abound all around the Jordan Valley.  We descended toward the Dead Sea and traveled the mountain, desert road, which is also rocky, hilly, craggy and lonely – between Jerusalem and Jericho.  We descended over four thousand feet and once again, entered a different climate.  This, as you probably realize by now, was the road used by the Good Samaritan.  Our ears popped.  What a beautiful land of endless variation!  We saw many Bedouin camps and tents, goats, and sheep along the way.  Israel really opens up the past.  We passed through the wilderness of Judea, just north of Neger, and the wilderness of Beersheba.  We passed deep gorges and narrow mountain passes, and canyons (Wadi) on the way toward Jericho.  In the distance we saw Mount Nebo, Jericho, and the Wilderness of Temptation.  We descended rapidly to the Dead Sea which was once a desert, but now, with water available, tomatoes, onions, strawberries, etc. are raised.  We saw a Greek Monastery – the site of Biblical Gilgal.  We also saw the place where Joshua crossed the Jordan River and laid down twelve stones.  The Dead Sea provides Israel with minerals, power and electricity.  We turned south towards En Gedi and Masada.  We passed the mountains at Qumran, where later today, we will see the caves where the Bedouin shepherd boy discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.  Our ears kept popping.  Now we went by the actual caves which hid the scrolls.  What a desolate place is Qumran, home of the Essenes.  The Dead Sea is 20% salt, and right next to a fresh water spring.  The residents of Qumran depended on this fresh water supply.  We saw possible Essene farms and a community near Qumran.

After proceeding south along the Dead Sea for awhile, away from the spring, the land again turned into a desert.  The Dead Sea is shrinking and getting smaller.  The water line is moving back.  What beautiful terrain – the desert, mountains, and the Dead Sea – it has to be seen.  We drove south a long way, passing caves where rebels hid from Greek and Roman authorities.  The Dead Sea was four shades of blue, surrounded by lush, green vegetation, and towering red and brown mountains and cliffs.  Leopards and ibex dwell in these forlorn mountains.  We kept proceeding south toward the oasis of En Gedi.  As we passed through En Gedi, we immediately saw an oasis filled with beautiful palm trees.  En Gedi, of course, is where David hid from Saul in a cave and cut Saul’s garment.  I can see why David stayed here.

We then passed a health resort where a sulfur spring bubbled from the ground.  Finally we approached our first destination of Masada.  What a majestic site in the distance.  The ramp that the Romans built in order to capture Masada could be seen.  The Romans, under Titus, took three years to capture it through siege (70-73 A.D.).  We also saw Mount Sodom south at a distance.  An oasis was at the bottom of Masada.  What a beautiful drive, Jerusalem to Masada.  One may ascend Masada in one of two ways:  1) by cable car or 2) by the “snake path” which takes about forty five minutes.  There is no rain here, and we saw one large cistern on the way up.  It was a large man made quarry, turned into a cistern.  Masada means stronghold, rock, or fortress, and was built by the paranoid Herod.  There are three separate levels to King Herod’s Pleasure Palace, connected by staircases.  The top level of Masada is twenty acres.  Many of the Roman encampments could be seen below.  The Roman encampments were square shaped and very easy to see.  Masada had water, swimming pools, gardens, and just about everything to make it a paradise.  A Roman wall crept all around the base of the mountain in order to keep the people captive.  After three years, over nine hundred zealots committed suicide.  Masada was discovered only one hundred years ago.  When the Romans laid siege to Masada, they probably got their water at En Gedi.  When the Romans attempted to build the earthen ramp, the zealots threw rocks down on them.  We passed a stone quarry that was used by Herod in order to build.  The walls of all the rooms at Masada were once beautiful, painted, and covered with plaster.  There were saunas, hanging gardens, bath houses, pillars, storage rooms with a nine year food supply (the food was near Herod’s quarters).  There were beautiful mosaics.  There was even a hot room, and the floor was supported by small columns – underneath the floor were coals and hot water which created a sauna.  Tile was on some of the walls.  As mentioned, the pleasure palace of Herod had three tiers, and was located in such a way as to catch the breeze at the end of the mountain.  The outline of the Roman encampments could be seen all around the mountain.  The General’s Quarters could be seen inside the encampments at the corner of each.  Water came to Masada all the way from the mountains near Jerusalem and was collected in cisterns.  There were holes in the base of Mount Masada which collected the water runoff from the mountains nearby.  The force of gravity pushed the water up, because even the top of Masada is below sea level!  The top level of Masada features the Northern “pleasure” Palace.  Next, I visited the lowest tier of the pleasure palace, the third level down.  This tier gave Herod shade and breeze.  There was a hidden stairwell which was built into the rock, that Herod used to go up and down.  There were no trees in the area, hence the Romans had to haul a battering ram for a long distance.  Then I saw the middle terrace of the pleasure palace (Northern Palace), and observed the remains of a narrow, circular stairwell built into the rock.

Back on the top terrace was the oldest synagogue in the world at the time of the Second Temple.  Ezekiel, Chapter Thirty Seven, “The Vision of Dry Bones,” was found in the synagogue.  Nearby, there was a chamber for the scrolls, or library.  We observed the Roman ramp of earth closeup from the top of Masada.  There were many towers posted along the outer walls.  We left the “leisure” Northern Palace, and entered the Western “working” Palace.  This was the Administrative Palace.  A woman  and her daughter were the only ones who did not commit suicide in 73 A.D.  They hid themselves in an empty water cistern.

Now we will head for En Gedi.  The Dead Sea has no fish or seaweed.  The sulfur smell is very strong.  En Gedi comes from “En” or spring, and “Gedi” or goats.  We came to Wadi David – the springs and water source for En Gedi.  We observed the ibex wandering on the cliffs, the mountain animal of Israel, from which we get the word “Gedi.”  En Gedi features a beautiful waterfall.  At En Gedi, the water originates at a spring and goes underground.  The water is warm.  On our walk back from the waterfall, we saw a “coonie” which looks like a groundhog.  We also saw about twenty ibex walking along a high ridge.  We saw many other ibex amid the rocks.  They are very coordinated for the mountains, and they change the position of their feet to land square on the rocks.

Now we went to the Dead Sea at En Gedi for a swim.  One can float there with no effort at all.  Salt deposits were left all over our bodies.  Since I shaved the previous night before swimming, my neck stung.  You could smell the sulfur, and clay deposits were left everywhere.  The clay is used for cosmetics, facial treatments, and other vain pursuits of man.  Since the Dead Sea is the lowest place on the face of the earth, and tropical, and unseasonably warm, and has many mineral deposits, one feels that God did something special here – such as rain fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah, and dropping the entire valley below sea level.

Onward to Qumran.  We passed an oasis filled with palm trees along the way.  (By the way, it just came to mind that there were no problems on the trip which had to do with the recent P.L.O., Gaza Strip and Bethlehem developments).  Qumran was settled by the Essenes in the eighth century B.C.  We visited the remains of the community, observing a water channel, a cistern, scrolls stored in a Scriptorium, and a cemetery.  Many scrolls have been located in these mountains nearby.  Observed in the Essenes Community were homes, pottery, stables, flour, a dining hall, a pool and a cistern.  Every remaining artifact gives evidence of a simple life style.  The Essenes left Qumran and went to Masada.

We left Qumran to go back to Jerusalem.  On the way home, our guide mentioned that Bedouins still trade camels for wives.  They love their simple life style.  We passed a military camp.  Now we went back to the road which goes from Jericho to Jerusalem.  We passed another military camp.  Many Bedouin Camps were seen on the way back to Jerusalem.  We passed through today’s Bethany and stopped at Lazarus’ tomb.  It was deep and dark and seemed very real.  We had to duck and crawl in order to enter the crypt area.  It appeared to be a real possibility of genuine authenticity, like the tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.

We again entered Jerusalem.  We visited Jesus’ Garden Tomb, mentioned in the paragraph above.  It too, seemed authentic because of 1) the trough where the stone rolled, 2) and the window where the Bible seems to indicate light came in (John 20: 4-8); when John and Peter saw the linen clothes in the tomb, a source of light would have been needed for them to see the clothes after running into the tomb – the window, of course, would have provided the light.

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Muslims Vs Christian Preacher@Hyde Park , London / Hundreds Hear The Gospel

If you like anointed, Spirit filled preaching, look no further:

When the true Gospel is preached with unction from the Holy Spirit, the results are often a revival and/or a riot.  That was what happened when the Apostle Paul preached.  Bold unapologetic preaching without compromise thrills my soul.

Blessings, Pastor Steve  <><

Revival Is Happening In England  ~  Pray For Revival In America!

Vice President Mike Pence, Franklin Graham, Samaritan’s Purse, Chaplains, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and Countless Volunteers Assist the Victims of Hurricane Harvey

HURRICANE HARVEY UPDATE

VP Mike Pence Rolls Up Sleeves Alongside Franklin Graham to Help Harvey Victims
Thank you for your support and prayers over the past week as Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been ministering at evacuation centers and homes throughout southeast Texas.

The chaplains were joined by Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence on Thursday in Rockport. They met with Franklin Graham, prayed for the people of Texas and lent a helping hand after one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

We thank you again for the prayers and support you have already given as chaplains have shared the love and compassion of Christ in Texas.

PHOTOS: Chaplains Offer Hope to Texas Evacuees and Residents
Since the hurricane swept over the Gulf Coast, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been there to offer emotional and spiritual care to people who are suffering.

These photos will give you a glimpse into the powerful ministry God is orchestrating throughout Texas.

Franklin Graham addressing a group of people outside a damaged church in Rockport, Texas.  “We need Christian men and women willing to come to south Texas to help us. There’s so much need down here,” he said.

Chaplains Deliver Desperately Needed Hope to Southeast Texas
By BGEA   •   August 30, 2017

Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team arrived in Texas not long after Hurricane Harvey hit. Chaplains are now ministering in Victoria, Dallas, Houston and Rockport, Texas, with more sites to be added.

Franklin Graham visited some of the hardest-hit areas of Texas on Thursday. He paused to pray with a Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain who has been ministering to residents

Chaplains are delivering emotional and spiritual care alongside Samaritan’s Purse volunteers in Victoria, which is located between Corpus Christi and Houston. Help send chaplains into disaster zones to offer hope in crisis.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team shares the hope of Christ during times of crisis. “We see this as an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love and care for people, for them to know that God hasn’t forgotten them,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT.

Vice President Mike Pence, along with his wife and second lady Karen Pence, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, visited families impacted by the disaster.

Gov. Abbott also signed a proclamation declaring Sunday (Sept. 3) a day of prayer in Texas. “As we gather today here at this church, it’s important that we remember that the greatest power that exists is the power of God and the way that God can touch and move all of our lives,” he said.

Franklin Graham spent time with Texas residents and the chaplains who have been ministering to them.

Flood rescues after Harvey have been intense and ongoing as floodwaters recede.

An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 homes have been destroyed in the Houston area alone.

Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain David Barlow shares a smile with firefighters in Victoria.  (see photo above) Often, first responders are deeply affected by the work they’re called to do in times of crisis. Continue to pray for these men and women on duty across Texas.

With Samaritan’s Purse volunteers working in the background, chaplains take a moment to pray with a homeowner affected by Harvey in Victoria, Texas.  (see above)

A week after Hurricane Harvey crashed into Texas, more than 1 million residents are displaced.

Police and emergency personnel are working around the clock to rescue flood victims. Large pockets of land are still underwater across the state.

A 9-year-old reads from the Bible (picture above) as a chaplain listens inside a home. Officials say thousands of people are still stranded in their flooded homes and officials are asking residents to be patient as they wait to be rescued.

Chaplains circle up to pray while visiting the home of residents affected by Hurricane Harvey.  (picture above)

Though they’ve been displaced twice from hurricanes, this family remained joyful in the hope of Christ. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” —Psalm 5:11, ESV

Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, has set a record for total rainfall from a single tropical cyclone in the continental United States, according to the National Weather Service. Two weather stations in the Lone Star State have reported total rainfall over 48 inches.

On Wednesday, the tropical storm continued to pound the Gulf Coast with torrential rains, flooding and strong winds. The full force of the storm’s impact has begun shifting to western Louisiana.

Rapid Response Team chaplain Mike Mattingly comforts and prays for Felix Cavazos, a victim of Hurricane Harvey.

Hundreds of chaplains are standing by to deploy in multiple sites across Texas. Will you keep the people of Texas in your prayers?

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After installing the above article, it was learned that President Donald Trump declared Sunday, September 3, 2017, to be a National Day of Prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.  How timely, how appropriate and how refreshing.  What a beautiful contrast to the previous administration who ignored the One True God of the universe, through cancelling the National Day of Prayer and annually holding Ramadan in the White House.  May the Lord bless Donald Trump.

Pray For Revival In America!

 

 

The Amazing Apostle Paul Of Tarsus

 

Paul’s Missionary Journey
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. | Aug. 3, 2017
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8)
The apostle Paul was undoubtedly the greatest missionary of all time. It is well to take note of his missionary strategy, for it was designed to reach the greatest number with the highest efficiency. In the first place, although he by no means neglected his Jewish countrymen, his calling was to all peoples of the world.
As much as possible, he tried to “preach the gospel in the regions beyond” where it had never gone before (2 Corinthians 10:16), “not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation” (Romans 15:20).
He especially concentrated on great cities, particularly the major seaports. He had come from the large city of Tarsus himself, and he preached in the great capital, Rome, and in Athens, the world’s cultural center. Philippi was the “chief city” of Macedonia (Acts 16:12), as was Corinth in Achaia and Ephesus in Asia Minor. Antioch, Troas, Thessalonica—all were great seaport cities. Establishing solid churches in such cities would provide centers for carrying the gospel throughout the world.
In considerable measure, his ministry in these cities seemed to reach people of special ability or opportunity to teach and influence others, such as the philosophers at Athens, the proconsul Sergius Paulus at Paphos, the honorable women of Berea, the school of Tyrannus at Ephesus, and others of like significance.
Most important of all were his writings. Paul wrote half the epistles of the New Testament. He traveled at least 15,000 miles and preached to many thousands of people, but his written words have been read by countless millions over 1,900 years. HMM

Share The Gospel

Jeremiah 25:3  King James Version (KJV)
3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.

Jeremiah had the task of telling the people of Judah about forthcoming judgment if they continued in sin.  He was not responsible for their response to his warning.  We have the same burden today, and again, the response is up to the individual listener.  We simply sow, water, cultivate, but God gives the increase.  Thankfully we are not called upon to generate a response.  We’re simply to be found faithful in proclaiming the Word.  Are we?  -W. H. G.

Sowing the precious seed, while the day is fast declining, Sowing the precious seed, in the twilight dim; Sowing the precious seed, neither doubting nor repining, Leaving it all to God, trusting all to Him.   -W. Ogden

[ON MISSION] ~ The Pulse

[ON MISSION] is a quarterly publication of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), representing the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB).  The following data comes from both the spring and summer editions of this seasonal publication:

The Pulse

3 million adolescents in the U.S. ages 12 to 17 are reported to have had a major depressive episode in the past year.

19.5% females experience depression, compared to 5.8% of males.

6.3 million youth ages 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder, representing 25% of the adolescent population in 2015.

30.1% females have an anxiety disorder, while at 20.3%, males are more likely to deal with anxiety over depression.

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After-school Satan club

A school district in Portland, Oregon, approved an after-school “Satan Club” at a local elementary school this past September.  The Satanic Temple advocated for this club in response to a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Child Evangelism Fellowship could have access to school facilities to host their “Good News Club.”  -Source:  The Washington Post, An open letter from the Satanic Temple Los Angeles, August 1, 2016.

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From global to local

In 2015 the United States was home to 46.6 million people who were born in other countries.  More than 2 million of those immigrants were from China, and almost another 2 million from India – the two countries with the most unreached people groups.

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Baptist students provide aid

About 450 students from collegiate ministries spent their 2016 Labor Day weekend serving those affected by the Louisiana flooding.  Students pried up waterlogged wood flooring, tore out drywall and helped salvage homeowner’s precious mementos from the mold.

Source:  Baptist Press, September 6, 2016

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Supernatural healing

A recent Barna poll showed that the majority of American adults (66%) believe people can be physically healed by God, supernaturally.  The study also showed millennials are the more skeptical of this belief than elders, and evangelicals are the most likely to believe in supernatural healing.

Source:  Barna, September 29, 2016

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Dirty Mouths

Work place etiquette has undeniably taken an informal turn since millennials have entered the workforce.  A new survey reported that two-thirds of millennials swear at work and 40% even prefer working in an environment where there is cussing.  Furthermore, a third of those surveyed said the use of profanity strengthens the team.

Source:  The Week, October 21, 2016

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The Latino impact

The United States is now home to 55 million Hispanics – 17% of the nation’s population.  Hispanics are projected to account for 52% of new homeowners by 2030.  They have also contributed to 47% growth in small businesses between 2007 to 2012 – a rate 60 times higher than that of non-Latinos.

Source: TIME, September 26, 2016

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Moving home

According to the Census Bureau, Americans are on the move.  About one in eight Americans move each year, and many end up living close to mom.  The New York Times reported that 50% live within 18 miles of their mom.  Only 5% live over 1,400 miles away.

Source: Facts & Trends, Summer 2016

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Reasons they will come

In a survey by LifeWay Research of 2,000 Americans who do not attend church, several events were identified that may draw non-church attendees to participate in church-sponsored activities.

62%  Meeting about neighborhood safety

51%  Community service event

46%  Sports or exercise program

45%  Neighborhood get-together

35%  Worship service

25%  Recovery group

24%  Seminar on a spiritual topic

Source:  Christianity Today, September 2016

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Getting Social

For over a decade, social media has played a vital role in North American culture.  On average, U.S. adults spend about 10 hours and 39 minutes a day consuming social media.  Percentage of U.S. Internet users who access social networks weekly.

70% Facebook  (36% between the ages of 18-34)

32% Instagram  (46% between the ages of 18-34)

30% Twitter  (40% between the ages of 18-34)

25% Snapchat  (53% between the ages of 18-34)

25% Pinterest  (38% between the ages of 18-34)

Source: TIME, March 13, 2017, AdWeek.com, June 27, 2016

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America’s aging pastors

In partnership with Pepperdine University, Barna recently released a new study on the ages of American pastors.  The study found that the median age of pastors today is 54, while in 1992, the median age was only 44.  The study also found the percentage of pastors who are 65 and older has tripled since 1992, while only one in seven pastors today is under 40.

Source:  Barna.com, March 1, 2017

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Independent living?

Around 40% of recent college grads are receiving help from their parents to pay for rent.  On average, 22- to 24-year-olds receive about $3,000 a year from their parents to make ends meet.

Source:  The New York Times, February 9, 2017

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Losing the war on drugs

For the first time ever, 50,000 people died from overdose in one year in the U.S.  Seventy-three percent of overdose deaths in 2015 were from prescription opioids and heroin, up from 57% in 2010.

Source: The Week, March 10, 2017 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

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A new normal

Cohabitation before marriage is now what the majority agrees is the best indicator for whether a couple is ready to get married.  Sixty-five percent agreed that cohabitation is a good idea, according to a recent survey by Barna.  Seventy-two percent of millennials agreed with the statement, compared to only 36% of elders.

Source: Barna.com, June 24, 2016

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What millennials want in a church

The Fuller Youth Institute has spent the last four years studying over 250 congregations of diverse sizes, ethnicities, denominations and geographic regions and found that one of the most compelling characteristics of a church for millennials is a church’s vision to be the best neighbors to their community.

Source: RelevantMagazine.com, November 16, 2016

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Women in power

Although most American adults would say they are comfortable with a female CEO, evangelicals show the lowest level of acceptance.  A recent Barna study showed the following results when they asked the question:  Are you comfortable with a female CEO?

94%  All adults

90%  Men

97%  Women

77%  Evangelicals

Source:  Barna.com, March 8, 2017

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The cost of parenting

On average, it will cost $233,610 for a middle-income family to raise a child born in 2015 through age 17.  According to a new government report, at 29%, housing is the biggest cost for parents.  Another major expense is childcare, which costs an average of $37,378 per child.

Source:  The Week, January 2017

 

 

 

Romania 2017 ~ Second “Partners In Missions International” (PIMI) Trip

I had the opportunity to attend a mission trip with this prolific group in late January and early February of this year.  Many were reached for the kingdom.  The following article from PIMI president Elijah Morar, lists the accomplishments from a second 2017 mission trip just concluded.  Elijah is the pastor / principal of the cited American Romanian School.  Eastern Europe is a hotbed of evangelism and salvation experiences.  Western Europe is dead and needs our prayers.

Blessings, Pastor Steve

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Dear Friends,

Allow me to share with you just a short note about our last mission project. I will follow this with our PIMI letter, but this is just a short note to let you know the victory in Christ that we had in Romania in the past week.
Monday we visited the village of Batar.
We have seen in the clinic 103 people (recorded on forms) and we were able to lead to Christ at least 7 people that we are following up with in discipleship!
Tuesday we had our 4th of July Party at the American Romanian School and kindergarten. Absolutely awesome day, that gave me the opportunity to share (on Thursday) the Saving Gospel of Christ with the Mayor, Vice Mayor and their staff! (this is not Facebook material – please understand)
Wednesday we were in Dragesti where we have seen 51 people (recorded on forms) and we were able to lead to Christ at least 7 people.
Thursday we went to Pocola and we have seen 16 people and we lead to Christ 2 people…
Friday and the first part of the day Saturday we were in Susturogiu where we have seen 84 people combined and lead to Christ 7 people.
Sunday in Beius in Church we had 1 saved and in Cihei we had 1 saved that evening.
254 people seen in the clinic and 25 saved during the week! GLORY TO GOD!
One last thing: – only in eternity will we know the full impact of this mission project.
Please continue to pray for us!
thank you and God bless you!

Elijah Morar

Jordan/Israel ~ 1987-1988 ~ Part 7

Day #7

The rabiis, or Orthodox Jews, wear their hair very short with a long, long strand near the ear.  It would be interesting to find out why.  They are probably trying to fulfill a law of theirs.  On the way to our first stop, Pastor Grimes told us that it hardly ever rains at the Dead Sea.

Our first stop entailed a visit to an Israeli shrine in commemoration of the Jewish Holocaust.  The question remains, was the Holocaust God’s push of the Jews into the Holy Land?  First of all, we saw the Israeli military cemetery.  We saw many stones representing the war in 1948, when 650,000 Jews had a six month war with the Arabs and lost 6,000 people.  The Israeli national movement is called the Zionist Movement, named after Mount Zion, or Jerusalem.  Other stones were from soldiers who died in 1967.  (the Six Day War).  Next, we proceeded to the Memorial to the Holocaust.  One and one half million children were killed.  Seventy two hundred (7,200) Jewish people escaped from Denmark to Sweden.  We saw pictures of gas chambers in Poland.  Death and Concentration Camps were all over Europe.  The hair and gold teeth were extracted from the Jews and used in the war effort.  The Holocaust is one reason the Jews go to Mount Masada and vow they will never surrender, but fight to the death,  This entire Memorial is a good reminder of the wretchedness of the heart of man.

Next, we looked at the Dead Sea Scrolls.  We saw part of the book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Aramaic.  It was discovered Qumran in 1947, and it dates to about 100 B.C.  It was made by the famous Essenes.  Then we saw the Temple Scroll.  The Temple Scroll is God teaching the Torah in the first person.  We saw the Manuel of Discipline – the regulations of the Essenes.  We saw the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness.  The biggest blessing, however, was to see a scroll of Isaiah dated 100 B.C., and filled with the prophecies of Jesus Christ!  (examples:  Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, chapter 53, etc.)  We saw the Nahum Commentary which identified the Essenes.  We saw the scrolls of forty one of the Psalms, including the apocryphal One Hundred and Fifty First Psalm.  We saw the jars which held the Dead Sea Scrolls.  We looked at the old marriage contract, a divorce bill, business letters (selling dates and fruits), and a social letter.  The Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-135 was the last revolt of the Jews against the Romans.  This was mentioned in a social letter.  Over seven hundred scrolls and parchments have been found around Qumran.

Now we proceeded to Hezekiah’s Tunnel.  We entered the Hinnom Valley, filled with olive trees.  Then we came to the Kidron Valley.  Hezekiah’s Tunnel is almost one half a mile long, and is a tremendous engineering feat.  There were many residences right outside the tunnel, where donkeys worked right at the tunnel site, and children rode the donkeys.  The tunnel consisted of two parts:  1) The original Canaanite Shaft and 2) Hezekiah’s Tunnel into David’s city.  We saw the entrance to Hezekiah’s Tunnel – dated 750 B.C.  Then we saw where David found the shaft, near the tunnel, which he used to enter Jerusalem around 1000 B.C.  We walked up Mount Ophel – David’s city was a steep hill which was surrounded by valleys, the Kidron and Tyropoeon Valleys.  The shaft and the tunnel diverted water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam at the south end of David’s city.  When David took Jerusalem, Joab went up the Canaanite Shaft in order to open the gate for David and his men.  Because of what he did, Joab received one of David’s daughters in marriage.

We noticed that Muslims paint their doors in relation to their “status” in faith.  A red door, for instance, means they went to Mecca.  There is no end to the customs and oddities in this land.

From our location in Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the ancient walls of the city of David could be seen.  We observed the Pool of Siloam, which was the water receiving area for David’s Jerusalem.  Swimmers were seen who entered the Pool of Siloam, having gone through Hezekiah’s Tunnel.  Nearby, are the traditional sites of the tombs of both Jehosephat and Zedekiah.  They are not one hundred per cent positive about the authenticity of these tombs.  There is more certainty however, about the tomb of Absalom.

Today is Friday, the Muslim Holy Day, and the soldiers were equipped with sticks and riot gear.

Next, we saw Zedekiah’s Cave or Solomon’s Quarries, a mountain where rock and stone was cut out for the temple.  It was a hollowed out mountain, a huge and vast cave opening into an amphitheater.  It kept going down deeper and deeper.  Ton upon ton of rocks were removed.  The traditional site of Golgotha or Calvary was seen across the street from Zedekiah’s Cave.  This was a Muslim area and we could not go there.  We noticed military halftracks and troops in the area.

On the way to Bethlehem, we passed another of Herod’s fortresses in the distance.  It was the Herodium, a man made mountain where Herod flashed signals from, way out in the desert.  (Because of his paranoia over assasination attempts, King Herod slept in a different place every night).  His tomb could be in this fortress which is noted for its flat top, looking like a volcanic mountain from a distance.  We passed Rachel’s tomb in Bethlehem off the main street.

For lunch, we went into St. George’s Arab Restaurant in Bethlehem.  An Arab waiter attempted to take away my salad while I was eating it.  Pastor Grimes was seated next to me and quickly took the waiter to task, straightening out his decorum.  We had lamb shiskabob, and it was good.  Speaking of Arab and custom, I would like to mention that the Arab toilet we saw near Petra, was in a large room, and on the floor.  I was totally mesmerized when I first saw it.  One would perform their bodily functions before a crowd.  Unbelievable.

We walked over to the Church of the Nativity after lunch.  This is the traditional birth place of Jesus Christ.  The church is built on a cave.  The only entrance, the front door, was short so camels could not walk in.  The cave was charcoal black, due to many people bringing in torches and candles.  The 1)Greek Orthodox, 2)Armenian, 3)and Roman Catholic all control this church, each with their own section.  A Greek Orthodox Priest, dressed in black, rang bells filled with smoky incense all over the church – making it “holy.”  Many of us gagged and coughed because of the smoke.  The church goes back to the 5th Century and is rugged looking, like a fortress.  The church has the original Byzantine 5th Century floor, Muslim columns, and Crusader decorations on the walls.  Another cave or manger was on the other side.  After leaving the Greek Orthodox Church, we entered the Catholic section.  This was a very ritualistic church.

Now we proceeded toward the shepherd’s fields.  There was a natural cave in these fields, and there were many shepherd’s fields to be seen in the area.  These fields were similar to, and may have actually been, the fields that Ruth worked in and Boaz owned.  Beth-lehem means “house of bread.”  There are wheat fields and shepherd’s fields all around the town, hence the name.  From Bethlehem, we had a breath-taking view of the mountains of Moab, across the desert and the Dead Sea.  Moab, we know, was where Ruth came from, and the country originated between Lot and one of his daughters.

We then saw a beautiful panoramic view of Jerusalem from the south.  We could observe David’s city at Mount Ophel up the middle, the Mount of Olives was seen on the right, and Mount Zion was on the left.  The valleys are as follows:  the Kidron Valley bears off to the right, the Tyropoeon Valley goes to the left, and the Hinnom Valley can be found in the middle.  We could oberve the ever present Dome of the Rock in the middle also, above the Hinnom Valley.

Next, we went through the Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem – also called Gehenna because it was a trash dump where “the fire never went out.”  The word Gehenna, of course, refers to burning.  The never ending burning of hell.

We went to a store in Jerusalem belonging to a gentleman named Was-Was.  Along the way we smelled the aroma of many good Arabic foods.  Haggling is common place in Jerusalem, as you can bargain with people.  For a reasonable price, I bought two brass candlesticks for my wife, and an olive wood donkey to add to our collection of over twenty donkeys at home.