Whatever Floats Your Boat!
Today was our last morning on the Sea of Galilee. To cap off our time last night, we had a night of music with our special guest: Jael Kalisher! A gifted composer and performer, Jael’s Friends of Israel roots run deep. She is the daughter of Meno Kalisher, pastor of The Jerusalem Assembly, and the granddaughter of Zvi Kalisher, Holocaust survivor and faithful witness in Jerusalem for many decades—both beloved members of our ministry. She played her own original songs on guitar and sang in Hebrew and English. She shared her inspirational life story as a willing servant of God and how she became a talented worship leader.
This morning we took off for a park in the Jezreel Valley. Now called Harod’s Spring, we know this place as Gideon’s Spring, featuring the same stream where Gideon took his men to drink before battle with the mighty Midianites. Today its stream flows through the entire park surrounded by beautiful scenery, colorful tents, and a playground. Steve Conover presented Gideon’s account from Judges, teaching that at this spring God whittled down Gideon’s army’s numbers from 32,000 to 300, a microscopic army compared to Midian’s 100,000 strong. Steve taught that God showed His greatness by using an imperfect man to do His will to defeat the Midianites, and God is the source of power in impossible circumstances—a powerful lesson made even stronger by our surroundings at the spring.
Our next stop was a wonder for the curious and a playground for the adventurous. The ruins of Bet She’an felt like a page out of a history book from the first century. A magnificently preserved theater and the ruins of a temple and bathhouse made us feel like the Romans that once lived here, as Tito taught us the rise and fall of this Roman city. The theater was once a popular place for people to enjoy a fun story, as the Romans had taken Greek tragedies and turned them into comedies with happy endings. But when these performances became so popular that everyone had seen them, they began to introduce violence and immorality, leading to a decline in values that weakened their culture and ultimately the collapse of the Roman Empire. The Byzantine Empire took over and introduced Christianity, and when their rule ended, the city’s glory was lost, but it still stands as a fascinating park today.
After lunch we drove through Judea and Samaria, more commonly known now as the West Bank, to see how life is in the “disputed territory.” It felt more like a desert than Israel, but the city of Jericho was bustling. Known as the city Joshua and the Israelite army conquered by marching around with miraculous help from the Lord, today Jericho is buzzing with business and traffic. We stopped at Hebron Hand Crafts where the enthusiastic employees drove a hard bargain and chased us down to make some sales—which they did!
We made one more stop before hitting the hotel: Ahava, a cosmetics company that sells skin products from the Dead Sea. It was a nice prelude to our introduction to the sea, and lots of us loaded up on creams and moisturizers.
After we traveled through dry, empty land, the Vert Dead Sea Hotel looked like an oasis in the middle of the desert (aside from the sea, of course). It provided classy amenities: another huge buffet, a pool, and a spa, among others. But the best feature was its easy access to the sea. People who’d been before told me it would be an experience like none other; and as a first-time guest, I can confirm they were right! Once I got into knee-deep water, I laid back to float and found myself lying flat on the surface effortlessly. My wife and I tested the salty sea’s power by trying to push each other below the surface, but we just popped right back up! Natural buoyancy! It’s a weird sensation and leaves you feeling like you’re covered in oil, but I think it’s an experience everyone who gets the chance should try.
Many of us enjoyed checking out the many businesses the nearby streets offered before heading off to bed. Tomorrow will be an exciting day that will eventually take us to the holy city itself: Jerusalem. Thank you, God, for another unforgettable day in your Holy Land, for the exciting opportunities you’ve given us, and the promise of more adventure tomorrow!
Author: Jesse King
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
Photos: Mary Hopp
Human Resources Manager
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry