John is the new International Director
for Ratio Christi International
Intelligent Faith Conference
in Cedar Rapids, IA
by John Mark Stewart
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Israel 2011 Teaching Trip Report
Walking in the footprints of Jesus cannot be adequately described to those who have not had the privilege of visiting the Holy Land. When you add to that the blessing of teaching the saints in Israel, you might imagine how blessed Laurie and I were to have taken our first teaching trip to Israel.
Last fall we were expecting to return to India in late January or early February, but the schedules did not come together. In late December I made the decision to clear time to teach in Israel, even before we had any firm invitations to come. It had been on our hearts since we spoke with author Joel Rosenberg in India two years ago to come to the Holy Land to teach. We waited for open doors, and as soon as we took the step of faith and clear time on our schedule, two invitations came in--one from a Messianic congregation south of Tel Aviv, and another from a congregation in the Golan Heights in northern Israel.
We were blessed to meet and become friends with our hosts, and teach in their Messianic congregations. One congregation was primarily Sabras (Israeli born) the other primarily Russian born. Regardless of the cultural backgrounds and language differences, we were one in Christ, whom the Israeli believers refer to as "Mashiach" (Hebrew for "Messiah" meaning "anointed one") rather than "Christ" (English for the Greek word "Christos," meaning "anointed one").
We also had the chance to visit with some old friends from the days I taught at Melodyland School of Theology in Anaheim, California, Peter and Rita Tsukahira, who co-pastor one of the largest Messianic congregations in northern Israel. It was great to see how the Lord has blessed their ministry, but it is also sobering to hear the challenges that believers face in Israel, both from the rampant secularism, but especially from Orthodox Jews who consider Messianic believers to be subversive (or worse).
We made several visits to Jerusalem, especially the Old City, and prayed more than once at the Western Wall ("Wailing Wall"), praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). During one of our visits we got a tour of the Calvary Chapel Bible School Jerusalem, where 20 students spend about 10 weeks studying the life of Christ.
As time permits, we hope to arrange a tour of the Holy Land for February or March 2012. Many Rolling Stone Ministries partners have expressed an interest, and we will keep you updated on the development of the tour. If the tour comes together, I can promise you that walking in Jesus' footsteps is a life-changing experience.
Thank you for your prayers for our Israel mission. Although I came down with a bad cold and sore throat about half-way through our time in Israel, I was able to teach as scheduled. Compared to the hardships believers around the world face every day, we try to consider our health issues "momentary, light affliction" (2 Corinthians 4:17). As the Spirit of the Lord continues to move in Israel (Ezekiel 37), we look forward to doing whatever the Lord calls us to do in the Holy Land.
Click Here to view photos of the trip.