Posts tagged Holy Land
The Last Day

For the team, Jonathan Cornell

Today is our last full day in the Holy Land. Words can't begin to describe what a profound experience this has been...and we're saving the best for last. The Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus pronounced the characteristics of blessedness in the Kingdom of God, Church of the Multiplication where he fed the 5,000 Jews then 4,000 Gentiles, capped off by a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. My deepest thanks to The Outreach Foundation and our wonderful leader Marilyn Borst for the experience of a lifetime.

The stones we've seen are good and worthy of remembering, but they are dead stones. It is the people here, Palestinian and Israeli alike, who witness to the risen Lord that are the living stones. And it is their story of hope and constant faith with which we return, and from which we draw strength for our witness and walk.

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Jericho and the Jordan River

For the team, Marilyn Borst

A hot and exhausting but fulfilling day for our Outreach Foundation team! Headed into the desolate Judean desert, followed by a visit to the archaeological site of ancient Jericho. Took a cable car up to the Monastery of the Temptation. Waded into the Jordan River, where one of our team, Tracy Campbell, reaffirmed her baptism vows with Rev. Toby Mueller. Before ending the day with a swim in the Dead Sea, we stopped at Qumran. Here, a first century Jewish sect, the Essenes, withdrew into the desert overlooking the Dead Sea and spent their time copying ancient text.Some of their library, hidden in the nearby mountain caves, was discovered in 1947 – the so called Dead Sea Scrolls. Significantly, copies of the book of Isaiah found were 1,000 years earlier than the earliest manuscript of that book which had been seen to date – but matched up almost exactly, confirming how the Holy Spirit had guided the transmission of our sacred Scripture across the ages!

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The Palestinian Bible Society

Doug Hollar, one of our Outreach Foundation team and a member of First Presbyterian Church of Valparaiso, Indiana, wrote this excellent summary of our day:

"In contrast to yesterday's noise and crush of people and cars, today started with a very quiet and somewhat eerie bus ride to the Palestinian Bible Society (PBS). Why so quiet? All the Palestinian shops and businesses were closed and hardly anyone was on the streets as part of a strike to support the more than 30-day hunger strike by more than 1,500 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons. They are not asking for release but rather for human rights such as improved family visitation and not being arbitrarily detained without any charges. 

At PBS, we met with Nashat Filmon, the general director, and were both disheartened and encouraged by all that he shared with us. He stated that PBS tries to be a continuation of that light born here in Bethlehem centuries ago and to facilitate the birth of Jesus Christ again in each of God's children. They "sow the seeds" and wait for God to reveal Himself. 

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Instruments of Christ's Peace

For the team, Marilyn Borst

Highlights of this day for our Outreach Foundation team:

The Church of the Visitation which commemorates Mary's visit to Elizabeth; time spent with Outreach partner Bethlehem Bible College (we met with one of the professors there, Daniel Bannoura); a visit to the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem where Angie Saba shared about the ministries through which the church is seeking to bring hope and a future within its Palestinian context (Diyar Consortium) even while our drive in and out of Bethlehem forced us to confront the specter of an unjust Separation Wall...

At the end of the day, we met, as always, for devotions and prayer. So timely, given what we had seen, that Rev. Deena Candler would choose to have us reflect upon Ephesians 2:

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Reconciliation

For the team, Marilyn Borst

We began the day with one of The Outreach Foundation's ministry partners, Musalaha: a non-profit organization that promotes and facilitates reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, based on the life and teaching of Jesus. Musalaha, which means "reconciliation," was founded in 1990 by Dr. Salim Munayer. 

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