Tuesday, January 2, 2018

TOUR OF ISRAEL, December 3-12, 2017

My friend, Janice Bell-Lewis, and I toured Israel on December 3-12, 2017, with the Dugit Messianic Outreach Ministries in Tel Aviv. It was their Living Stones Tour, an outstanding tour. We met many wonderful people in our group and also got to visit with friends in Jerusalem - Lars Enarson, John Enarson, Doron Keidar, and Pamela Suran. The downside of the trip was that Janice got sick on the 6th day of the tour, when we were at the Dead Sea. This limited her sightseeing until the 10th day, but she made it fine on the flight home. My sightseeing was limited for a day or two, but what I did see and learn about was very enriching. This was my 9th trip to Israel and Janice's 3rd.

HIGHLIGHTS of the tour were - 1. Being in Jerusalem the very day that President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel! What a blessing. The resulting riots were very limited, and our guides steered us away from potential trouble spots.  2. Going to Sderot, the Israeli town that borders Gaza. It is called the "Bomb Shelter Capital of the World!" When the residents hear a warning siren of an incoming rocket from Gaza, they have 15 seconds to get into a bomb shelter! We were blessed to meet Pastor Michael and Dina Beener and hear him speak in his church/bomb shelter. Then we got to pray on the Gaza border.  3. Witnessing (sometimes in Hebrew) to several Jewish people! This was my favorite activity. God opened up the conversations, and it always flowed with grace-filled words. Sometimes I would be able to give them my personalized tract. These people were very congenial, even though one lady continued to politely refuse to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah. We are watering the seeds we planted with prayer.

Here are some photos of the trip:
Leaving from Petrey, Alabama

Arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv

Avi Mizrachi, head of Dugit, in V.I.P. Prayer Tower

Avi and Chaya's daughter Devorah telling about the
documentary and book she is writing
concerning her Bulgarian ancestors, Jewish believers,
and their protection from deportation to concentration camps

View from the V.I.P (Very Important Prayer) Tower 
in the heart of Tel Aviv

Independence Hall where Israel was declared a nation May 14, 1948

Outside - Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister

Dugit (little boat) - the building just purchased in the heart of Tel Aviv
where Avi Mizrachi was once an evangelist 30 years ago - his ministry 
has come full circle, and they now OWN the building, something unheard
of, that Messianic Jews actually own property for their evangelistic ministry!

Avi showing plans for renovation of the building

Outside the building

Devorah on the bus, telling us "war stories." She was a commander
of scouts in the IDF. Once she was given an assignment in which
she could easily be killed! She described how she KNEW people
were praying for her at that exact moment! She was successful in pulling
back all the scouts under her command and saving their lives!

Sderot, the "bomb shelter capital of the world," on Gaza border

Chaya Mizrachi, telling about ministering to the children
in the bomb shelters

Devorah interpreting for Pastor Michael Beener

Nancy with Pastor Michael Beener. He told us that Sderot is
growing! The people are determined to stay, even though Hamas
continually shoots rockets from Gaza into their town!

Devorah points out the border with Gaza, and we pray.

Next on to Shepherds Field near Bethlehem where the angel announces to
the shepherds that the Messiah is born. 

Inside the grotto are beautiful murals. 

This sign is outside the Friends of Zion Museum, and this is the day
President Trump makes his startling declaration of Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel!

This is a small part of our tour group who elected to go to this museum.

As we approach the Western Wall to pray, it begins to rain!

We take refuge in a cafe - the pastor of our group is Jeff Henderson.

IDF soldiers make us feel very secure, as they prepare for
possible riots after Trump's announcement!

Lars Enarson picked up Janice and me at the hotel in Jerusalem and
took us to his new ministry center, HaDerech (The Way).

They were blessed to be able to rent rooms in this historic building
which was once the residence of Orde Wingate, the famous Gentile
Zionist who formed what later became the Israeli Army!

Lars, his son John, and me - we have been friends since
1997 in Columbus, MS, when Lars brought his family from
Sweden to translate a book for a Columbus pastor. Lars soon
developed a worldwide prayer ministry, The Watchman International.

View of the Old City's Eastern Gate, where Yeshua HaMashiach
will one day make His entrance!

Church of All Nations beside the Garden of Gethsemane (across
from the Old City)

A service was in progress. The mural depicts Jesus praying
at a rock in the garden, and the supposed rock is there!

Our guide Kiera explained that these olive trees in the garden have
branches growing together up from the roots and appear to be
trunks, but they are not. They are the branches, each one growing up from the
root! Her teaching made Romans 11 come alive!

The Garden Tomb, one of the two sites purported to be
the burial place of our Lord. This one fits the biblical description
better than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City.

It was an extremely cold day.

I report to you, "HE IS NOT HERE. HE IS RISEN!"

While Kiera took our group on a tour of Yad VaShem (the Holocaust
Museum), Janice and I took refuge from the cold in the cafe there
and had a wonderful visit with Pamela Suran, whom we had known
since 2003, when she took us on a private guided tour of Jerusalem!
Since then she and Shmuel have spoken in both our churches, and
they lodged with Janice and Jack in Elba. They have a ministry called
Jerusalem Vision and have raised up many strong ministers. Pamela
is also an excellent artist.

Kevin & Penny Spencer from Colorado - we introduced them to Pamela. They
were very interested in her ministry to Christian Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

On Mount Scopus overlooking Jerusalem with our guide Kiera

Our whole tour group. The lady in the wheelchair is Rhoda Goldsby,
92 years old. She was baptized in the freezing water of the Jordan River!

Ruins of the Essene community at Qumran on the Dead Sea

See the hole (center left) where in November 1947, a Bedouin boy found a jar
with the Dead Sea Scrolls (preserved by the Essenes)! Wow! Just to think
that happened at the same time the United Nations was voting on the Partition
Plan to give the Jews a state in Palestine! (Of course, the Arabs could have had
a state then without firing a shot, but they refused it! They preferred to go to war
the next day after Ben Gurion declared Israel a nation on May 14, 1958!)

The gorgeous Dead Sea is dying! Drying up a tiny bit each year.

En Gedi on the Dead Sea where David hid in caves 
when Saul was chasing him.

The Sea of Galilee viewed from our place of lodging at the Ein Gev
Holiday Resort.

We had a two-bedroom cabin with kitchenette - nice.

Janice had been sick but began healing at this beautiful place
on the Sea of Galilee.

Looking back down as we drove up the Golan Heights

View from the top - snow-capped Mt. Hermon, the highest
point in Israel.

An Israeli soldier and American pastor told us about their ministry to Syrians
INSIDE Syria! Undercover and dangerous. They bring medical help and
plant churches. Our tour pastor, Jeff Henderson (right) is on their board.

Looking across the border into Syria

Leaving the Golan Heights - of all things, Nimrod's castle! (Gen. 11)

Banias (Caesarea Philippi) where Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do men
say that I am?" Peter said, "You are the Son of the Living God," and Jesus said,
"Upon this rock (his identity) I will build My church, and the gates of hell
will not prevail against it!" Well, look at the "gates of hell" on the mountain here!!!

We got to look into the "gates of hell," the grotto of the god Pan!

Here is what the temples to Pan once looked like, and now
there are only ruins.

The sun was going down on the Galilean hills on the other side
of the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias) as we returned to Ein Gev.

This is our last day in Israel. Leaving Ein Gev to go to Tel Aviv.

We stopped at Mt. Carmel where Elijah had the contest with the
prophets of Baal. They lost, and he slew them!

At Mt. Carmel, we had a panoramic view of the Valley of Megiddo.
It was bitter cold with a strong wind blowing.

Where Armageddon will take place. A picture doesn't capture the
vastness of this plain, the Valley of Megiddo. God will gather the
nations to battle here, and Yeshua will conquer them all!

Back at the Gilgal Hotel in Tel Aviv where we started from.
Avi Mizrachi is explaining the Chanukkah service.

Chaya and Devorah led us in some Hanukkah songs.

Avi lights the first candle of Hanukkah. Then we have a marvelous meal.
We will soon be boarding the plane for home. 

Passing through the lobby, I admired the mural of Ruth gleaning in the fields.
That is who I am in my role as a Mizpah for Israel - the Gentile bride of my
Kinsman Redeemer. Ruth identified herself with her Jewish mother-in-law 
Naomi and vowed, "Whither thou goest I will go; wherever thou lodgest 
I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God ..." 
(Ruth 1:16).
Yes, may all Christians identify with their "parents" in the faith and realize
that we are wild branches (Gentiles) grafted into the Jewish olive tree!
We have Jewish roots. Like Ruth supported Naomi, we should love and support the
Jewish people and the Jewish state of Israel! The main reason we should
do this is because we have a Jewish Savior and Lord, Yeshua!



  1. It has been lovely to read all your adventure in this diary form with photographs, bringing back memories of Israel for us, and inspiring future visits. Thank you for sharing so well. Shalom.

    1. Todah, Theresa. I appreciate your comments. The report with photos on yours and Pete's trip to Israel was inspiring also. Shalom.