New Year, New Beginnings

By Dr Garth Gilmour

It’s been busy here in Jerusalem as we’ve returned from summer breaks and the conference season. For me these included trips in July to England for the CMJ UK conference, and to the north of Scotland for CMJ Israel’s very successful attendance at the Refuel Scotland conference at Gordon Castle in the Highlands and Islands, and finally in August to Toronto to the LCJE conference to meet with the great and the good of Jewish evangelism around the world. Some staff went on much needed holidays, others took time off. Polina from Shoresh married her Dan! And this was the down-time, the not-so-busy season of the year… And just as soon as everyone is back, Pedro Santos has gone to Ireland and the UK for a deputation, the Anglican International School has started another school year, new Beit Bracha directors Jonathan and Alison Hatton have arrived while Kent and Shawna Splawn are preparing to leave, Aaron Eime has gone off to north America to speak at different churches, Shoresh tours have started to come one after the other... and it’s busy once again.



Dan and Polina       

Polina and Dan


And now it’s a different kind of holiday season. Not that this time of year allows us to take time off; no, this holiday season starts with the Feast of Trumpets, now often called New Year (though it falls in the middle of the Jewish calendar year), and continues through to the end of Succot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, ending with the feast day of Simchat Torah, Rejoicing in the Torah.


This month-long festival period includes Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a day of self-denial and repentance, and then the week-long festival of Tabernacles, when households across the country build shelters on their balconies, in the front yards of their apartment blocks, anywhere really where there is a bit of space. This, the third big festival of the calendar year after Passover and Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost), is a reminder of the fragility of life, the temporary nature of our existence, and the need for dependence on God just as it was for the Israelites during their 40-year sojourn in the desert all those centuries ago.

A sukkah perched on a balcony in Jerusalem


Sukkoth is also the festival of the nations (Zechariah 14:16), a festival of rejoicing (Leviticus 23:40) and, most significantly, it is traditionally and rabbinically associated with the coming of Messiah and the advent of the Messianic age; indeed, the haftorah reading for the first day of Sukkoth is that same chapter in Zechariah, chapter 14, that speaks of the coming of the Lord to stand on the Mount of Olives (v.4), when he will be King over all the earth (v.9). It’s an exciting time to be here. The city has a holiday vibe, it is full of tourists, pilgrims and other visitors, and for our guesthouse staff and volunteers especially, it is a very busy and challenging period.




CMJ has been privileged to be party to the joyful celebrations of the Feast here in Jerusalem for 185 years. It wasn’t always easy to enter into a festival spirit, especially in those early years when the local Jewish community was small, poor, oppressed and short on resources. And of course, there have been many times since when the Jewish people here and around the world have mourned as those of their number were persecuted, and murdered, just for being Jews.

And so it has been this year, too many times, and even this month. For on Yom Kippur itself, just last week, Germans praying in their synagogue in Halle during the holiest day of the year were attacked and murdered by a gunman simply because they were Jews.

How is this still possible, today, in 2019?

Surely we, as Christians who profess to love Israel and the Jewish people, can and must do more, speak out more, and be seen to be standing up more against this wickedness. If, for the Jewish people and for us, our happiest times must be tempered with the memory of our greatest sadnesses, as we are reminded at Jewish weddings with the breaking of the glass to remember the destruction of the Temple, then it is right that we remember right now during this week of joy that antisemitism is rife, and we have a calling, a sacred responsibility to be seen to oppose it however, whenever and wherever we can.

And so it is that I have to draw this short entry to a close. This will be the last of my blog entries.

The Feast of Trumpets that signalled the beginning of this season is also called New Year. Traditionally, we eat apples dipped in honey to symbolise our desire for the year that follows to be sweet. It is a time for new beginnings. And there will be new beginnings for Vibeke and me as well.

During the summer I resigned as executive director of CMJ Israel, and we will be leaving at the end of October. It has been an immense privilege to serve this ministry. We have achieved so much over the last three years, but there is much more still to do, and it will be for others to carry the flame forward. It just remains for me to say thank you to all who have written to us, encouraged us, visited us, prayed for us. We look forward to what God still will do in this land, through this ministry, and with the wonderful people he has raised up to serve his purposes here.




Dear Garth and Vibeka, may the Lord bless you for all your work for Him in His Land. May He guide you into new green pastures for this next season in your life. Ps 23. Please keep in touch and if you need a short seaside break I have a guest room which the Lord has called me to use for His purposes, giving R+R and a haven to His workers on the field here or abroad. Love Ruth Ruth 2v12

Thank you Ruth for your kind words and gracious offer. We look forward to seeing you as and when our paths cross again.

We enjoyed reading your blog the first since joining CMj. Please keep me in touch. May our God and Father bless Israel in these trouble times.

Thank you both for your kind words. And indeed we join with your prayers for God's mercy, grace and protection upon Israel.

Garth: May the Lord bless you and Vibeka and keep you in His loving care as you go forward. We know you will carry His land in your hearts wherever He leads.

Thank you Theresa, and for your encouragement and support for us and for CMJ Israel during these last few years.

Thanks brother for serving our most High Adonai faithfully. Keep on spreading His Holy word to all nations the Ruach Hakodesh has spoken to me to invite you to bring His Holy word to Kenya next year to feed the thirsty souls which I am shepherding over here in Kenya. Kindly welcome in the wonderful Name of our Lord Yeshua, the King of all kings. Blessings with love!!! Shalom!!! Simion

Thank you Simion for the invitation. Perhaps we will get to Kenya, and meet up. Thank you for your support and prayers for CMJ Israel, and for the people of this nation.

Blessings to you both! Our group of friends loved attending your church and my husband and I hope to return again soon. Where is Aaron speaking in North America? We travel a lot and would love to attend, if nearby.

Dear Shirley, so pleased you enjoyed visiting us. If you would like to know more about Aaron's itinerary, please contact CMJ USA via their website here: They will be able to fill you in.

Dear Garth and Vibeke. Just wanted to say what a beautiful couple you are and good and faithful servants. Thank you Garth for putting yourself out to show Akko to us from BB and imparting your immense knowledge, Vibeke, I will miss your lovely hugs :-(. Hope to see you someday, CMJ UK Conference maybe? Big hug, may the Lord continue to bless you richly. Love Shoshanah (Crookes) xxxx

Thank you for your years of service in Israel, both with CMJ and as an archaeologist. The Lord has something new for you now, so please keep in touch. Every blessing. Roy

Thanks Roy. We look forward to meeting up again with you in Wales as and when we are able. Best, Garth

Oh Garth, How time flies. Its already time for you to move on? I have been a lodger in Christ Church guest house since 2009 and in the last couple of years I have observed the way you do things, move quietly along and through the guest house. You have been a blessing to CMJ and definitely your time there has been blessed especially through your writings. I visit Israel every year and the guest house has always been my second home. Thank you immensely. May the Lord enrich you more and bless everything you lay your hands to do. Go on in the Grace of our Lord Jesus. Shalom Revd. Dr. Rebecca Adeosun.

Dear Rev. Dr Adeosun, thank you for your very kind words. The Christ Church compound is indeed a special place, and I hope you have many more years of quiet, fruitful times at the guest house there. I'm so pleased you have been able to enjoy being there till now. All best wishes, Garth

Hi Garth, we were shocked to hear this news - but you do need to move if that's what the Lord is saying! It was a privilege working with you Joy, Levya and Alex at Refuel in Scotland (especially seeing you dance the Ceilidh!) but, hearing you speak on God's covenant with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob was so very powerful! We don't recall ever hearing a preacher calling people to repentance about an anti semitic attitude before - but you did and the result was amazing. May you both go forward in the Lord's leading and be powerful for Him! We have just received your Refuel talk on a stick and will put it on to the CMJ UK website for a wider audience to hear. Shalom and blessings - Paul and Janey Hames

Dear Paul and Janey
Thank you for your encouragement! We have been enriched and blessed by our time here, and now it is time to move on and for someone else to take CMJ Israel further. We look forward to working with you again as and when the opportunities arise.

Dear Garth and Vibeke, We join with so many others in expressing our appreciation for all you have given to CMJ during the time you have been in Jerusalem and your contribution internationally as you have traveled on behalf of the Society. We look forward to hearing your Scottish talk remembering too the incredibly moving session on Isaac at the conference. Wherever the Lord leads you from here your lives will be the richer for all the experiences gained through living in Jerusalem! With our love and prayers, Ray and Jill

Dear Ray and Jill, thank you for your kind words. It has been a joy and a privilege to work with CMJ Israel, and we are grateful for having been given the chance to make a contribution here. We are indeed much the richer in so many ways for having been able to serve in Jerusalem, and we look forward to what awaits us in the future.

I like to join the Volunteer in ISRAEL because I am very interested to join

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