Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —
Greetings dear sisters and brothers, from cold Jerusalem. May you be blessed and encouraged, and may The Lord, Yeshua h’Meshiach, Jesus Christ, be lifted up, blessed and glorified.
And yet, with much to share, I think I’ll share this first:
It’s the season of the plastic. That’s right…plastic bags.
Over the years, I have seen many innovative uses for plastic bags that were spawned by need. In Alaska when boots were worn out, or weren’t really warm enough, a plastic bag over a pair of sox (or two), held in place by yet another pair of sox before putting the boot on, did a wonderful job of keeping feet extra warm and dry. (Also in mittens too!)
I’ve seen plastic bags stuffed inside of jackets, sleeping bags, used for sliding down snow banks or waterfalls or smooth rocks. I’ve seen homeless people sleeping under them and perhaps all of us have sat on them at times. My shopping cart is covered by one in the rains and the traditional Israeli backpack wears one well. A dear friend of mine crochets colorful and useful bags out of colored shuk plastic bags.
But here in Jerusalem where religious denominations are often identified by “the hat”- then “the hat” becomes an item of much respect. Plastic bags (and even shower caps) are worn like a badge of honor. The first time I saw it I did a double take. Serious, distinguished looking men, elders, sages, rabbis, wearing black suits, long coats and white shirts and expensive hats. Well, the plastic bag crown seemed just a bit ironic and humorous. But it IS practical, and it does the job and may be unique to Jerusalem. AND, this is the season-because it has been POURING.
Oh we are thankful for the rain. A powerful winter storm was forecast to begin about the same time as the Intercessors for Israel prayer conference. As I’ve shared before, this is the one group that I am personally involved with and do try to attend at least some of the yearly conference which is taking place across town from us this year. So I was thankful when the snow was preceded by much rain that it did not stick in spite of the low temperatures.
The Lord was SO good to me.
How do I explain this. Sometimes He gives us a gift that thrills our hearts as we witness in it the greatness of His majesty and the power of His plans no matter what. Perhaps you know what I mean?
Years ago, when we lived in the tiny remote Alaskan village, He gave me a heart for the Russian believers in Siberia. Our village faced Siberia and so often I reached out to them in prayer, especially when I was crawling across the tundra picking berries. We read books about them and they seemed so brave and inspired me greatly.
When we moved out of the village, we spent 2 years in a small town. We went to the fellowship that my husband had grown up in. But before the actual open door between Russia and the rest of the world opened, a group of Siberian pastors were secretly flown over to learn about Sunday schools.
My MOUTH fell open and my heart near exploded to see their faces, (full of wonder, having never been out of Siberia before) and hear their songs, their prayers and their testimonies. I spent every possible moment with them and felt as if God had given me such a holy gift by seeing their faces.
As you see, I cannot explain this fully. Something like this happens usually once in a lifetime…maybe?
But it happened again and I was almost too dull to realize it.
A dear sister who is also a tour guide, told me that she would be touring a group of Cambodian leaders who had never even dreamed of coming here. Others from Singapore had a burden for them and paid their way to come and see and learn.
At the first meeting of the conference a large Asian group entered and the speaker stopped and introduced this group as “His shepherds from Cambodia.” I looked and REMEMBERED the book that had so deeply impacted me back soon after I was saved called ‘Anointed For Burial’ by Todd and DeeAnn Burke. It was the story of the sovereign move of GOD Almighty through the people of Cambodia JUST as the Khmer Rouge Communists swept through the country burning and killing a million and a half Cambodians in the scourge that became known as the “killing fields.”
This book recorded the mighty revival that took place immediately preceding the destruction and showed me how God went in first and harvested a great harvest, sweeping them into His arms. It became part of my foundational understanding of “true Revival” and God’s mercy in times of judgment.
And suddenly, on that Monday night − HERE THEY WERE! THE FIRST FRUITS AFTER 40 YEARS. My insides began to shake as I looked upon these faces, strong and tender, resolutely serving Him without compromise.
And as I write this, I realize that there was yet a THIRD time that I have seen such a group from God’s garden. Also back in the mid 70s, when we lived in California, we stopped at a service one Sunday. It was a small group of Lao people from the mountains of Laos and Tibet, who had come to know HIM and had escaped that raging war. They had just arrived as immigrants. They sang for us…WOW!!! OH the many unsung HEROES in our midst who have faithfully walked His path through fires. They INSPIRE me!
But not everybody.
I always made it a point to share SOMETHING that The Lord had done during services when I first came to know Him. One day, to my surprise and shame, a sister said, “Your testimonies greatly discourage me!”
I was SHOCKED. “Why?” I asked her.
It was her reply that shamed me. She said, “He never does those things for me. I pray and pray and you have these WONDERFUL testimonies, but not me!”
The scripture came to mind from Ephesians 4:29 −
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
I realized that what comes out of my mouth that does NOT IMPART GRACE TO THE HEARERS is NOT edification, but is selfish. It could even become a corrupt communication. WOW!
That’s why it meant so much to me when our Pastor in Naknek said that he would rather have a small group of steadfast, faithful sheep then a room FULL of sheep who were moved by the wind of emotion.
Yes, it is inspiring to some of us to hear of His great faithfulness to those who have been through fire. But it is NOT more of an expression of His Amazing Grace then the face of our Pastor or the struggling brother or sister next to us or of the friend who stands as the only believer in her family or as the parent praying in the closet alone for the wayward child or unfaithful spouse or the sisters and brothers who press on, steadfast, steadily trusting His promises and encouraging us weaker ones. Each walking step after step with no lightning and thunder, but faithfully trusting. THESE are the ones who have most encouraged me in my walk and who inspire me to keep walking. Grace and mercy along the way. Heroes − each one! Thank you all! Thank you pastors and leaders. Thank you sisters and brothers. Wow! What a BODY He has.
Oh my. I’m on my soapbox again. Sorry!
I must prelude this by saying that it is POSSIBLE that this was a “vain imagination”, but I am fairly certain that I sat beside, and possibly defused, a young terrorist on my way to the conference Tuesday morning. As you know we are in the midst of “the stabbing intifada”.
This week, two precious young women were killed, and others injured. It is so sad that it is young teenagers mainly doing these stabbings, often the being killed themselves. They are so impressionable and vulnerable to the shocking incitement that is taking place in their midst.
On Tuesday morning in the freezing rain, I ran for the train and missed it. Another wasn’t to come along for about 10 minutes and I was alone at the station. In a few moments, I was joined by a teenaged Arab man. He looked very nervous and shifty. His eyes were dark and brooding and he looked all around and came next to me with his hands nervously fidgeting in his pockets.
He sat down in the tachanat (waiting shelter). I moved a bit, but then I said to him, “Pretty cold. I don’t think those seats are dry.”
He looked surprised. “They said snow,” he answered.
“Do you like snow?” I asked.
“No!” he answered emphatically.
I looked him in his eyes.
“I do the cleaning in the store,” he said, pointing to the shopping area where my husband’s business is located. (Many of these young attackers have been working legally in Israel.)
“Oh! I have worked at cleaning too. My husband works there.”
He nodded as if he somehow knew who my husband was and he began to relax. I kept my eyes on him, praying and asking the Lord to give me the position of a “Mother” in this moment. Shortly, someone else approached. I saw confusion, disappointment and then resignation cross his face and suddenly the moment passed.
Perhaps he had had the courage to stab me, but the opportunity was gone. He took his hands out of his pockets and looked down. Suddenly he looked like a young boy who had just been through an awful struggle. The train came and he sat down and then moved and motioned me to sit beside him, which I did. We spoke just a bit. When we parted I said, “Naim me’od…vay col toov.” (It was nice to meet you and I wish you ALL THE BEST.)
I continued to pray for him and a joy welled up in me. I prayed that this young man’s life would be used for the glory of God. I don’t know if my imagination was running away with me, but I don’t think so. At least I can say perhaps not. Even if it did, I am thankful for being awakened to pray for him…perhaps no one else does.
May you be blessed and encouraged and may we all press in until we have PRESSED into Him. Thank you for remembering this people and praying what is on His heart. Thank you for praying for our family. God bless you.
your sis J