A mission group from The Ridge Fellowship in partnership Intimate Life Ministries traveled to Israel in March. Our goal is to support and encourage several schools, missionaries and ministries in the Holy Land as they share the gospel. We seek to literally fulfill Acts 1:8 “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
Special thanks to our Ridge Fellowship family for the items you provided me to give out!
We packed and brought (about 70 pounds of stuff!) for the students in the schools: candy and snacks, Life Books (Gospel of John) for the Jr. High & High School students; Coffee, tea and pop tarts for the missionary families and ministry workers;and some books for The Jerusalem School Bethlehem school library.
The first day we spent time in Bethlehem at the Jerusalem School Bethlehem. It’s a Christian school that’s serving the Arab population in Bethlehem.
Pictured to the left is Ms Grace the school’s principle. She and her family are Arab believers from Bethlehem and trace their ancestry in area back hundreds of years.
Pictured left are some kindergartners enjoying the candy we brought them.
Aaron Alexander, Lewis’s son teaches 5th grade at the school. Aaron is pictured left with his class.
An Arab student reading her Gospel of John that we gave her.
Special thanks to the Gideon’s for providing these Life Books for us to distribute!
Then we went to Bethlehem Bible College. This is an interdenominational school that prepares students to become teachers, pastors, youth directors and more. Lewis did a relational training from Intimate Life Ministries to some of the faculty, students and teachers from there and Jerusalem School Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is the city where Jesus was born. Pictured left is the Church of the Nativity which is built over the cave thought to be the birthplace of Jesus.
Built originally in 327 AD by Emperor Constantine, some believe its the oldest church still in existence.
Other facts I learned about Bethlehem in the present day: The Christian population of Israel is about 2%. So there is a lot of work to be done! Of the 2%, most of Christian’s live in Bethlehem. However a wall was built around Bethlehem with strict military check points in or out. This was due to a some fighting that took place there with the Second Intifada.
Personally I am grieved that the people there, especially the Christians are not free but literally prisoners in their own city.
Then we went up to Jerusalem, left is a city gate built by the Romans and used during the time of Jesus. Notice how it is below the current street level. In the ancient world they would keep rebuilding on top of older structures which are beneath. Archaeologists usually dig down into layers of history.
Below, we are on the Mount of Olives overlooking the old city of Jerusalem at night
Below is the Judean Wilderness or dessert. This is where Jesus fasted for forty days and nights. (Matt 4:1, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2) The structure in the cliff is a Greek Orthodox Monastery.
We did another relational training at the Tantur Institute in Jerusalem. Our hosts were Dr. Doug Magnuson and his wife Patty. They oversee The Middle East Studies Program. Lewis Alexander does most of the training but was kind of enough ask me to assist and share about our church.
Students in this program are required serve once a week in Bethlehem or Jerusalem at a Nursing Home, local school or helping underprivileged families. Doug and Patty have offered to let us (group members from The Ridge) serve with them in touching lives in the Holy Land.
We attended a contemporary church that meets on Saturday nights. American teachers and students mostly attend as well as some Palestinian believers.
I was privileged to give the message at the church that weekend.
Pictured left with Lewis and I are his son Aaron and Samir who is a believer from Jordan that oversees a counseling and relational care ministry there. In the red, Alabama shirt is Jamison Creel. He served as our tour guide and is the superintendent of the Jerusalem School of Bethlehem and the pastor of the local contemporary church that we mentioned above. He is a man of God and has a great ministry in the Holy Land.
Other sites we got to see were: Jericho.
Pictured left is the base of a wall tower dating to the Old Testament time of Joshua. (Joshua 6)
In the New Testament, Jericho is where Jesus encountered Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 1-10) and Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52)
Pictured left is Lewis Alexander.
Some say that Jericho is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. It has ideal growing weather and many springs.
Pictured left is the Jordan River. This is the traditional baptism site that John the Baptist used and where Jesus was baptized (Mark 1:4-11) Even today many people get baptized there.
Across the river is border of the country Jordan. The water is muddy because of recent rainfall in the area.
The purpose of the trip was to continue to foster ministry partnerships. The hope of future trips is to have half of the trip seeing sites like above and the other to serve in the schools, ministries and communities. The ministry leaders there said that as American believers our “presence” speaks volumes and is an encouragement to them. We will return in March 2015 during our school’ system’s scheduled Spring Break. Are you in interested in going?