03 July 2014

The View From Here: A personal walk through the Holy Land

"Walk With Me", a declaration of moving from being 'Victims' to 'Over Comers'. A prophetic statement through a week of coming alongside victims of terror and their families, and having the privilege of partaking in a small part of their journey. From the moment I heard about it I knew I had to be there. A common theme, it transpired, amongst many of the internationals who also travelled to take part. We all have challenges we've had to face and overcome in our lives. For me it was a personal statement as well as corporate. It was to be my first time in Israel.

Enjoying Jerusalem hospitality
Israelis certainly know how to party! Met at the airport by Karen and Amanda, we drove straight to Jerusalem for a Purim festival banquet, (marking God's deliverance of the Jewish people through Esther). Before I knew it, a glass of champagne in hand, I was dancing Hora-style on a packed dance floor of local families and internationals.

Excellent hospitality became a theme over the week. We were blessed with some delicious meals, provided through Springs of Hope and on one occasion by one of the local women and her friends who opened up her small, sparse apartment (which she shared with her husband and 9 of their 10 children) to over 20 visitors.

I was touched and challenged by the brave individuals and families we met who live with the physical and emotional scars of war everyday. For some their families have literally been torn apart. And yet they carry great dignity, hope and love. As they impart to one another, a growing sense of community is forming. I can see how God is poised to build on these powerful foundations, as they begin to take their vision beyond themselves.

A moment to pray at the Western Wall, Jerusalem
Being in Israel allowed me to experience a new kind of physical, as well as  spiritual connection to Jesus. I could 'place my feet on His feet' - literally on some of the places my Saviour walked, and talked, and gave Himself. Alongside this I was able to gain a geographical sense of the land, both within Jerusalem and other parts of the country.  In the Old City, landmarks are smaller and more compact than I had imagined, but beautiful and seemingly timeless. Praying at the Western Wall I found a particularly powerful experience. As we explored I was also absorbing some of the religious and cultural diversity of the country.

On day 4 we got to take a road trip. Within a 24-hour period I was able to stick my toes in the Sea of Galilee, the River Jordan and the Med! The latter was definitely
the coldest! Our day-trip to Galilee and the River Jordan was a real highlight. The landscape is beautiful and peaceful. I loved visiting the ruins at Capernaum as the remains are in great condition and it's easy to imagine life there 2000 years ago.

Over the course of the 6 days it was fun to connect with various folks from Dugit, and to see some of their ministeries in operation. We also spent an evening with the impressive couple who head up Helping Hand
Coalition, working with Holocaust survivors. They have the ability to think both small and very big. They find practical ways to love and meet some of the needs of the people, whilst at the same time connecting with national and international dignitaries to rally the cause.

On my last day, as I sat in beautiful Jaffa looking across the bay to Tel Aviv I sensed that I had begun a connection with Israel which can only deepen. It is clearly a nation close to God's heart, and integral to His purposes on the earth. Here's to my next trip!

By Catherine Harrison, YPMP Trustee