Long ago I committed my walk with God on the basis of walking thru any door that He opens and walking away, without grumbling, from any door that He closes. That is how simple my faith walk is, I keep moving and He keeps navigating.
October Mission Trip
My last trip to Israel was over a month ago. A door was opened for me (and my wife who could not attend) to spend the entire month of October in a Jerusalem apartment with Israel’s Good Will Ambassador, Earl Cox (and his wife who also could not attend).
This was Israel’s high Holy holiday month including observances of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and others. We knew it was the Lord that made it possible to find the apartment during this time of year.
To walk daily to the Old City Jerusalem and spend all day praying, mostly for Israel and whatever else that came to mind such as the US Presidential election. Most of this prayer time was spent at the Western Wall but our (me, Ambassador Earl Cox, and his partner Steve Russell) rule was that our prayers must be done at least within the walls of the old city.
I have been traveling to Israel one to three times a year since 2009. All of them were met with some opposition but this trip was the hardest I ever have experienced. Hopefully, this one had much positive significance in Heaven!
These are some of the battles encountered.
- I was rejected at the Charlotte airport for an invalid passport (Israel requires your passport to be valid at least six months beyond your travel date; mine was unnoticeable to me, only five months beyond).
- Had to drive to Atlanta for a night and day to expedite new passport: extra travel expenses including hotel, car, parking, $100+ for new passport
- Cost of $600 fee for the airline cancelation
- Late arrival in Tel Aviv causing schedule upheavals with other folks
- Weakness, sleepiness, upset stomach, and nausea lasting up to two weeks
- Physical exhaustion on my body (and theirs) was extreme when praying at the Wall
- Food and apartment odors remained nauseating (little desire to eat)
- Painful blood clots developed in my legs (walking long distances daily helped)
- Computer virus, non-restorable, corrupted most of my essential files (the backed up files on my thumb drive would not work to restore them)
Even with the spiritual warfare and the door looking like it was closing, I kept moving forward. I knew that the Holy Spirit was big enough to either shut it tight or keep it open. He kept it open and I booked a new flight and arrived in Tel Aviv worn, battered, and late but nevertheless there!
The miracle sign
The Lord usually gives me a sign, at or near the beginning of every Israel trip, to assure me that He is with me so I am not to fear. I took a Sherut (taxi shuttle) from Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv to the apartment in Jerusalem (approximately one-mile walk from the Western Wall).
It was approximately 9 PM and very dark. I had never been in this neighborhood before and the Sherut driver assured me that the apartment was nearby. There was no one but me on the street and having that slightly nervous “ok Lord, it’s only you and me out here” feeling. I knew the guys were probably already settled in the apartment but neither they nor anybody else knew that I was here. I am on the other side of the world and no one but me and God knows where I’m standing!
So, I see a number 14 (the one I’m looking for) thru a dim light on a building. I start to grab my luggage and then hear a distinct and audible voice calling “Bart”. The hairs on my neck and arms are tingling as I’m answering “Lord”? Looking around and seeing nothing, I grab my bag again and start to walk when I hear it again “Bart”. It’s getting spooky but I look up the street again and see two human-like silhouettes coming toward me. “Bart” it is Mike!
Oh my gosh, a long time friend and his wife, who moved to Israel a month earlier, just happened to be in that neighborhood, on that street, at that spot, at that particular time and happened to notice me! Come on, this is my miracle sign! Thank you, Lord!
All things work together for good
So, having a rough start did not prove to be a shutdown. My intercessor, Lynette Martin, sent me timely encouraging words and the Lord spoke to me and made it clear that I was not to walk by sight or reason but by faith. So I agreed and found myself leaving Earl and Steve on night shift (they were doing night shift because Earl had morning meetings with Israeli dignitaries which would otherwise have taken up valuable prayer time at the Wall).
I had additional things to accomplish besides prayer time. Now, alone, I moved ever closer to the Lord on a continuous basis. With terrorism in the old city now including stabbings done by children as young as ten years old, it gave me some pause as I wandered thru the old streets, especially the Arab quarter.
To get to the Wall from Jaffa Gate (the straightest walk from our apartment to the old city was via Jaffa Gate) one had to go either thru the Arab quarter or the Jewish quarter. I used both many times. I felt more comfortable in the Jewish quarter but it was a longer walk and I knew I was supposed to stop and talk to Arab the shopkeepers in their quarter.
Bottom line, God blessed us greatly and me in particular. I got to share the good news and love of God with several Arabs, one named David, close to my age, who grew up a Bedouin tending sheep and camels but now a shopkeeper in the old city Jerusalem. He insisted on making and having Turkish tea with me in his shop. We also discussed at length God and Jesus with respect to a vision he had. We plan to meet again.
Other Arabs, who seemed to hate Jews, engaged with me in Scripture discussions. It is fairly easy to end arguments with them if you know even some Scriptures, they don’t know much and fuel their hate and discontent by hearsay. I loved on them with His love and we all departed with good cheer.
I frequently visited Christ Church (located a couple of blocks inside Jaffa Gate) where I would sit in their beautiful courtyard to pray and read Scripture. One of their managers, Dan, befriended me and, upon realizing what I was doing, invited me to a private prayer meeting and bestowed an open welcome to me forever. Other folks from different countries would come and talk and prophecy over me. I was blessed.
I had a most loving and humble meeting with a local, Reuven Doron. We prayed and encouraged one another to continue to bless Israel. I was honored to take two Yad Vashem researchers/teachers, Ephraim and Stephanie Kaye, to dinner. I am a graduate of one of their schools at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. We had a wonderful time!
I did some fun things while at the wall such as waving to folks back home in America via the Western Wall cams that are filming from three different vantage points. I prayerfully put everyone and every organization that I respect and could think of into the cracks of the wall. If you know me and I know you, you are probably in there! Remember, this was before the US Presidential election; by a suggestion from good friends coach Mike and Mickey Gottfried, I placed a note that read ‘DONALD TRUMP – 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES’. It worked!!
FYI, From time to time they have to remove the notes in the Wall to allow for space for new ones. They don’t throw the old ones away. They bury them in the Mt of Olives. Isn’t that great!
Near the end of October my project manager, Sara, and I drove down to Sderot at the Gaza border to check on the newest renovations at the Holocaust Survivor Clubhouse. We picked up a friend named Devora, who’s wedding in Israel, my wife and I attended a couple of years ago. We have known her family for years and she wanted to go with us.
The Sderot Holocaust Survivor Renovation Project update
We are very excited about the progress being made at the clubhouse! Thanks to all of you that have contributed money and prayer we are closing in on completing the project. A significant donation sent by John and Peggy Seibert of Mobile, Alabama pushed the last round of contributions over the top allowing us to complete the front outside of the facility.
Also, a very significant contribution came from our local Sderot builder contractor, Israel and his wife. Now, thanks to these wonderful friends, Instead of needing approximately $50K, we will only need another $34,500 to reach the finish line!
IF ANYONE OR GROUP OUT THERE WANTS TO TAKE US OVER THE FINISH LINE WITH $34,500, WE WON’T STOP YOU!
BLESS YOU AND THANK YOU!
The Holocaust survivor members are so excited they gave us a very special, from the heart, welcome and thank you. It may well be that the clubhouse is nicer than their personal homes and they now want to be at the clubhouse more than ever!
Thank you God thru our Lord Yeshua haMashiach! And thank all of you for your most needed and loving support! Mission accomplished for the October Jerusalem trip.
We pray you had a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all of our Jewish friends and that this new year is the best ever for you and yours.
In His love, Bart and IT IS TIME ISRAEL