Update from Israel and Jordan


First Focus

Update from Israel and Jordan

Thank you for praying for us and our families while we’ve been in Israel and Jordan. I am grateful to our staff for covering bases for Rhonda and me. We’ve had a great trip, and we are looking forward to seeing you next Sunday. Based on the weather reports, we’ve stayed much warmer over here than those in Tallahassee.

Trips are always full of surprises, but this one has been especially meaningful. We’ve not only shared wonderful Bible studies as we’ve toured these lands, but we’ve also had opportunities to share the gospel when we’ve least expected it.

Approximately 5-10% of the population is Christian. Over 1.5 million Syrian refugees are here. Two-thirds of them have housing; 500,000 live in tents and camps supplied by the U.N.

Our guide in Jordan is an evangelical Christian. One of our guide’s friends has started a church about seven miles from Madaba in a Christian village. When he arrived, he prayed for people to come; but most of the Christians did not trust each other. As the Syrian refugee crisis unfolded, he realized he had an opportunity. He opened his doors to these refugees, who are primarily Muslim, on Thursday nights. They chose this night for their own safety. The pastor ministers to the needy, provides food, hospitality, and shelter, and teaches a Bible study. He uses the book of Job for the study because Muslims recognize him from the Koran. As our guide told me, “My friend prayed for people to come, and the Lord has sent them.”

ostrich egg with crucifixion scene

At a store that sells hand-made mosaics, I had tea with our guide, the bus driver, and the police officer that accompanies our group. The driver and officer are Muslim. The officer saw a hand-painted ostrich egg depicting a crucified Jesus. Many Muslims know about Jesus. He’s mentioned in the Koran, but they don’t understand the crucifixion. The officer grabbed the egg and asked what the picture meant. Our guide shared the story of Jesus, and I had the opportunity to explain to him the Good Friday and Easter celebrations we observe as Christians. The officer mentioned that Muslims had just finished celebrating their own Festival of Sacrifice, commemorating Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son, called “Eid Al-Adha.” I explained the differences between this sacrifice and the one that Jesus’ offered for our sins.

We never know what will become of experiences like these. Certainly Jordanian Christians have many opportunities. Please pray for those we have met like this police officer that God will continue to meet them along the way. He’s
certainly met us in so many fascinating places.

On Wednesday night, February 5, I plan to share some of the sights and stories of our trip in the Sanctuary at 6:00 p.m. I hope you will join us.