by Pastor Tim Burt
Renee and I returned home from a trip to Israel last night. We helped Pastors Mac and Lynne Hammond and Dr. Billye Brim host a tour of around 30 Pastors to Israel. Earlier this year, Pastors Mac and Lynne had felt impressed by God to finance a trip taking a group of Pastors that had never been to Israel before. I helped put the trip together and Renee and I were honored to be a part of this generous gesture by Pastors Mac and Lynne.
It was our desire that this be more than just a Christian tour trip experiencing the sites of the Bible and the places where Jesus fulfilled His earthly ministry. We wanted it to be an opportunity for them to learn, understand, and experience the great miracle of Israel as a nation, and how it is so tied to our own Christian roots and to bible prophecy. We also wanted them to see what the Israeli people’s life is like as they live surrounded by those who desire to destroy them. In their nation’s 64 years history, they have never experienced a day without being threatened in some way from their enemies.
At one point in our tour, we arrived in Jerusalem absolutely excited about seeing the glorious sites while learning about the rich and long history of the best known city in the world. It was early evening when we arrived. The Jewish people had begun celebrating Shabbat. We took our group down to the Wailing Wall and plaza area which was filled with Jews who had come to pray. There were also tourists from around the world, who, like us, were taking it all in. The experience in itself was capable of creating a magnificent sensory overload.
We had been there about 30 minutes when the sound of attack rockets launched from Gaza were exploding in the air. Seconds later sirens were shrilling and police and officials were yelling instructions to the masses hurrying them into protected areas. Clearly some were used to this scenario from their frequency while we witnessed others screaming, crying, & deeply disturbed by this event. It seemed that most were directed to covered places of safety next to the Wailing Wall including bathrooms, tunnels and a library. We were packed together like sardines while we waited for some kind of sign that the danger was over. What had previously been an experience we had only heard about, was now one we were living through. It was an experience that many Israeli’s respond to on a daily basis. It seemed incomprehensible that anyone would have to live with this kind of threat daily.
During this rocket threat, Renee and I had become separated from each other. She was swept off to a different place that I was. She was packed in with many who were crying and terrified. No one around her was speaking English. She couldn’t see anyone she knew and she didn’t know where I was. Renee is not easily scared but this experience happened so quickly that it frightened her on many levels. When we were united, she said that she was so thankful everyone was safe and that praying for the peace of Jerusalem had taken on a whole new meaning for her.
My experience was quite different from Renee’s. I was swept off to a different place of shelter and we also were packed like sardines as we waited for the threat to subside. I was talking with one of the Pastors on our tour that was with me when a Jewish Rabbi that was standing next to us overheard our conversation. He saw that I had a tour group lanyard on with my name on it. He looked at my name tag and saw that I was a Pastor. He said, "I love Pastors and work with them." He was a Rabbi from Rochester New York and assisted Christians United for Israel (CUFI) as a lesion with the Jewish community in his hometown. He had had been to every CUFI Washington Summit conference that we hold annually in Washington DC each year. I told him I was the CUFI State Director for Minnesota and had also been at every conference. When I told him that, he become so excited he gave me a huge bear hug and kissed me on both cheeks. All the Jews around us were perplexed as to why this Rabbi was so excited to talk this American tourist in this bomb shelter. I asked him if he knew a friend of mine who is a regional director for CUFI and he said, “Yes, we are great friends.” For me to be packed into this place in terrifying circumstances and yet see God divinely connect me to this man whom I knew I would now see every year in Washington DC, was mind-blowing. God’s presence was there in the shelter and He had confirmed that with signs and wonders! I am still in awe over it!
We had a fabulous tour that the Pastors loved. We had prayed and believed God would protect us while we were there. While we were there, Israel became engaged in a military campaign in Gaza. Israel has been attacked with over 12,000 rockets from the Gaza strip in the past 13 years. They’ve had close to 1,000 rockets showered on them from Gaza just this year. One of our two tour leaders said that his family had to go to the bomb shelter 14 times in one 24 hour time period that day before. Our other tour guide said that his wife had to gather her young twins and hurry to the bomb shelter each time the sirens went off. For our tour group of Pastors to experience this just once was more than enough.
Israel is surrounded by enemies that hate her and want to destroy her the way Hitler wanted to. You may have never understood why God wants us to pray for the peace of Israel, but Renee and I and the Pastors we brought on the trip surely understand it now.
Please pray for the peace of Israel and for God’s divine protection to be upon the apple of His eye.
· For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. –Isaiah 62:1
· Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they that love thee shall prosper. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will say now, peace be within thee. For the sake of the House of the Lord our God I will seek thy good. –Psalm 122
· “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.” –Isaiah 62:6-7In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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