We arrived in Tel Aviv May 8 and planned to spend the first two weeks helping lead a tour with Josh Brewer and the rest of his team who arrived May 11. We definitely needed some time alone to recalibrate to the atmosphere in Israel and begin our re-entry process. Coming to tour Israel for a week or two is quite different from coming to stay long term. Some of that preparation can be done before you arrive but most of it happens once you get here.
Israel has a unique and difficult atmosphere, especially Jerusalem. A friend of ours recently reminded us of Isaiah 39:1 which says Jerusalem is the Lord’s furnace.
Our first two weeks lined up with the pomp and circumstance surrounding the epic 70th anniversary of the birth of the State of Israel and the historic move of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Concurrently, southern Israel was experiencing a considerable and intense increase in border violence from Hamas and Islamic Jihad who commenced the biggest barrage of rocket fire and kite bombs from within the Gaza Strip in 5 years. None of that violence manifested in the areas we visited.
Our team was privileged to participate in a televised ceremony honoring the remaining survivors of the Holocaust who live in Israel. We were asked to go into the audience and give white roses to each survivor. It’s difficult to explain the weight of that moment but we’re thankful to have been able to participate in gestures of reconciliation with people who suffered so much horror in Christian Europe.
We left our team on the 19 of May and came up to Jerusalem. Our arrival has been challenging in terms of finding the right accommodations and getting back into our groove. One day, as we were walking along the outskirts of the Old City, we had the honor of meeting several elderly men in their IDF uniforms. A friend pointed out they were wearing Paratrooper uniforms and it turned out they were some of the surviving paratroopers who captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and uttered the famous words, “The Temple Mount is in our hands”.
These kinds of “chance” encounters are typical for us and are the most exciting part of our ministry here. We love walking the streets and encountering the people in the flow of their lives in the markets, restaurants, buses or just out for a stroll.
Something is happening here and it’s palpable. There is no doubt that we are reaping where others have sowed and judging by how easy it is to engage in meaningful conversations, the ground here has gotten much softer. We think this is obviously connected to the decades of intercession but also to the spiritual and practical significance of having the greatest and most powerful country in the world stand with Israel and validate their capital city.
I think your average Israeli has never felt more supported and many seem to know that none of this would be happening if it hadn’t been for the Evangelical Christians who have surrounded President Trump. Although no-one knows how long this window of grace and blessing will be open or what the long-term consequences will be, for us, as boots on the ground here, we can tell you it is huge.
We are subletting a townhouse in East Talpiot near Arab East Jerusalem. This neighborhood was developed in 1973 on the ground captured during the 6 day war and is therefore considered a settlement by the Arabs and the UN. The apartment is owned by a friend of ours and we’re sharing it with an American Messianic Jew who moved here in 2014. She is in the fight of her life against cancer and we know The Lord has us here to support her and comfort her as we re-establish our connections and get back into our groove.
We persuaded our good friend, Ray O’Canto, to film two segments of his Dining Out TV show here in September. He asked us to produce two episodes and to be his “fixers” or production assistants by scouting locations, by making all the logistical arrangements including permits, finding an additional cinematographer, and by lining up the restauranteurs and wineries. We’ll explain later how this might eventually provide an opportunity to obtain media credentials, but, needless to say, it has been fun to get to meet the chefs and restaurant owners of some of the best restaurants in Israel in preparation for filming in September.
As I said, the spiritual warfare here is no joke. It’s asymmetrical, meaning the warfare comes at you from every conceivable and awkward angle. You really have to pay attention to your attitudes and be vigilant regarding your thought life which takes practice and discipline. There’s no short-cut. Taking every thought captive takes on new meaning here… learning to identify what thoughts are yours and what thoughts entering your mind are really suggestions with origins in the unseen realm.
If you’ve read our blog posts, “Why Does Israel Still Matter”, you know where we stand. Israel belongs to God because He chose them and He chose them for His own reasons… not because there was something about them that He found attractive. Gods on-going dealings with this people informs the world about what God is like. Nothing they do can change the fact that they belong to Him and He belongs to them.
We feel that anti-semitism is a ruling spirit in the earth and its tactics are both overt and covert. From the BDS movement and other blatant anti-zionist activities to the Ultra-orthodox Jews and anti-zionist Christians who think the current State of Israel is something man did, not God, and is evil or even demonic pointing to the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv are examples of the breadth and scope of anti-semitism.
The anti-semitic spirit and the religious spirits work together to try and hijack your feelings and thoughts in very subtle ways, primarily through judgment. For instance, the Palestinians have some legitimate arguments and just because you support Israel doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye to injustice. As a result, a lot of people get sucked into picking up an offense on behalf of the Arabs. Or, they draw your attention to the obvious sin and unrighteousness here as an argument to support their claim that God did not re-establish this place.
To make matters worse, there’s also an arrogance and air of superiority here that I’ve never encountered before. Not simply “We’re God’s chosen people and you’re not” but “Gentiles exist to serve us”. As a result, you need to guard against your own pride rearing up, or jealousy, or any number of other reactions, none of which are Holy. We remind ourselves that we are Kingdom agents with a message of reconciliation.
The truth is God is the judge of Israel’s performance under their covenant. God is the only one who will judge whether the Jews are fulfilling their covenant obligations or not, and God will be the one who determines their punishment, discipline, or if they will be vomited out of the land again as many anti-zionists and Palestinian Christians are quick to call for.
Rejection is another powerful spirit here and it’s sneaky. Rejection spirits attract rejection and project rejection and it’s easy to begin to feel the rejection that people who live here deal with towards each other and/or finding yourself feeling rejected.
There’s so much division here, especially within the Church. For instance, the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher have been kept by the same Muslim family for centuries because the Catholics, Orthodox, and Coptic Christians fight over every square inch of that place, which to me, is one argument for the authenticity of the location.
We find ourselves drawn to direct but low key activities that typically play out through one on one encounters on the streets so, please pray that we have the eyes to see what The Father is doing so we can do that.
Finally, Becky needs prayer for her thyroid. She’s taken thyroid medication for 24 years without any significant problems until we arrived in May. She’s really developed some expertise in this area over the years and is tweaking her medication and, as stress is a factor, her stress supplements as well. In the meantime her face is puffy and her eyelids are swollen, so please pray for her. We’ve asked a friend who is coming to Israel later this month to bring some more of her OTC supplements as she’ll run out by August if the boost in her dosage works.
We really need your support. Having people praying for you is no joke. It’s intense here. For those who are supporting us financially and/or promised to, thank you. We could not be doing this without you.
Shalom & Grace,
Jimmy & Becky
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