25 May 2013

Hidden Gems in Nazareth

Nazareth has some wonderful surprises that the average tourist to Israel never sees. We were privileged to experience two of them during one of YPMP's ministry trips to Israel. Hidden away down an unsuspecting alley was a gem of a restaurant serving tasty arabic food in a beautiful old villa. The surroundings and the food were amazing. We sat enjoying the rich Middle Eastern flavours and ambiance together with another hidden gem, Rania Sayegh, the Director of HOPE (House of Prayer and Exploits), as she shared her heart about prayer, Israel, and the youth of Nazareth.

After the meal, Rania led us through another maze of alleys and stairways to the place where HOPE meets. An apartment has been converted into an oasis for prayer. The former living room is now a place where believers can gather to pray and intercede. Around the room are sofas and a stack of plastic chairs for extra seating. The walls are adorned with banners and prophetic pictures. The apartment is on the side of a hill and the balcony looks out over the city.

18 May 2013

Peace in the Middle East - it does happen!

Jewish soldier and Palestinian body builder breach the gap!

Last year, hundreds of Arab, Jewish, Palestinian and international young people converged on Hangar 11 at the Port in Tel Aviv and did what Governments and politicians have been trying to get these people groups to do for decades in the Middle East - they became friends!

Hundreds of young people come to worship
The news media does not often report good news, and even less when that good news involves faith in Jesus.  But since June 2007, Israeli and other youth from around the world, have been coming together once a year to attend Elav, a 3 day Youth Conference in Israel.  They worship, they pray, they hear good teaching, they hang out and they build relationships with each other.  This is the upcoming believing generation in Israel, one that is being encouraged to be passionate about their faith, and to be passionate about their friendships.

07 May 2013

50 Days: The Spring Harvest

Do you know the history behind the Feast of Pentecost?

For those of us from a Christian tradition, Pentecost speaks of the New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples gathered in Jerusalem after the resurrection, but did you know that Pentecost began in the Old Testament as a Harvest festival?

Pentecost was one of the three national Feasts that required all the men of Israel to appear before the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem. These appointed times of pilgrimage to the Holy City were known as the Great Festivals. Exodus chapter 23 describes them as the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your fields and the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year. We might know them better as Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

Pentecost gets its name from its connection to the Feast of Passover. On the first day after Passover, the Lord instructed Israel to take a sheaf from the first harvest of spring, which was the winter barley and present it to the priest who would wave the sheaf before the Lord. Fifty days (7 weeks) after the sheaf-wave, they were to present an offering of new grain to the Lord. (Exodus 23:15-16) Pentecost is the Greek word for 50 and its Hebrew name 'Shavuot' means weeks. So 50 days/7 weeks after the Passover barley sheaf presentation at the Temple, the people of Israel were to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost/Shavuot. The sheaf of barley was a promise of the full harvest that was to come seven weeks later.