It’s our last full day of touring. We head home tomorrow. We’re tired but overwhelmed with all we’ve been seeing and experiencing. I am sure we’ll be processing it for years to come! This morning Bob Hey shared with us from John 9. Here we read about the blind man who was healed. There was a quick progression to his faith. He was healed and then right away told others about Jesus healing him. He was looking for the One who healed him. When he found Jesus, he acknowledged Him for who He is. The healed man was persecuted for his claims about Jesus, yet he stood firm. Would we be able to stand firm in times of persecution?
Today was an emotional day. We started with a stop at the military cemetery for a visit to the grave of Michael Levin. Michael was a lone soldier with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). A lone soldier is one who comes to Israel from another country to serve with the IDF. Michael is from the United States—the Philadelphia, PA area. It was a beautiful morning with birds chirping, sun shining, and a gentle breeze blowing. But, we couldn’t help but feel the weight of the moment as we stood facing graves of soldiers, Michael’s in particular.
Jim shared the story of how Michael came to Israel and joined the IDF. Michael and his family were close friends of staff members of The Friends of Israel, so Michael would speak at the closing dinners for FOI tours to Israel. Sadly, during the war with Lebanon in 2006, Michael lost his life. His funeral was packed with thousands of people and his grave was the most visited in the cemetery. His parents remain close friends with us at The Friends of Israel. https://lonesoldiercenter.com/
The next stop was Yad Vashem, the Jewish Holocaust memorial museum. We walked through the displays describing what led to WWII and the horrible persecution and murder of the Jewish people. We read accounts of what happened and learned about many specific people. There were toys, family photos, shoes, and many other items stolen from the Jewish people. We also walked through the children’s memorial that had a dark room with dots of light, looking like stars, representing the thousands of children who were murdered. As you walked through, names were being read. As we exited, many people were weeping. May we never stop weeping! May we never forget! https://www.yadvashem.org/
For lunch we stopped at the City View Restaurant. We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful day while we had our final lunches of falafel, schnitzel, shawarma, and pizza. The view of Jerusalem was beautiful.
We headed to the Temple Institute in Jerusalem next. Here we reviewed the history of temples beginning with the altar that Noah built up through Herod’s temple. We also saw displays of priests garments and other Holy items that would be used in the temple. https://templeinstitute.org/
We walked through the Jewish Quarter on the way to the City of David. The Jewish Quarter is newer and brighter than the other quarters that we visited. We were able to view ruins of the wall of Jerusalem that match the description in Isaiah. https://www.bibleplaces.com/areag/
We were able to go down into the Canaanite Tunnel where we saw how the water was supplied to the city of David. We also saw ruins that are still being excavated. It is believed that they are of either King David’s palace or King Solomon’s palace.
Our final stop was at the Pool of Siloam. This is where the blind man in John 9, from our devotions this morning, was healed. https://www.bibleplaces.com/poolofsiloam/
A tour tradition is the farewell banquet on the last night. Rebekah Reinstein, wife of Josh Reinstein the director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, was our keynote speaker at our farewell banquet. We were challenged to do several things when we get home: stand with Israel, educate others about Israel and the Jewish people, and pray for Israel. We were reminded that we are ambassadors for Israel.
Jim Showers read from Psalm 122 where we are reminded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
It was our pleasure to thank our guides, Tito and Ronnie. They have shared an enormous amount of information with us, made us laugh, shared their hearts, and shepherded us all around Israel. We also thanked our drivers. The kept us safe on the very busy roads, kept us supplied with water, and were always a welcome sight when they showed up to pick us up from a particular location. All four men have a special place in our hearts.
Finally we said goodbye to each other. The experience of visiting Israel together will give us a special bond.
You can come with us to Israel on our next March tour in 2020! Find out about our tours here https://www.foi.org/what-we-do/up-to-jerusalem-tours/.
As we say goodbye to Israel, we are tired but our hearts and minds are overflowing. Shalom!
Blog author: Debbie Helbig
Administrative Assistant for Ministry Advancement
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
Photos: Brett Helbig