I first worked in Christ Church in the summer of 2008. I worked in the library, helping students, professors and various writers with their projects as well as helped organize the archives. I helped the church, mostly working from upstairs on the audio and visual parts of the service. I also worked at night in the guest house, answering the phone and letting people in and out after hours as needed–and keeping the compound safe as the night guard.I stayed at Christ Church for almost three years. During that time we ministered to people from around the world as well as the many Israelis that would stop by. I fully believe that God changed lives during those three years and I would have loved to continue to work at Christ Church but, as is the case so often when working in a foreign country, eventually I had to move back to America as my visa ran out.
I needed eleven years of God working on me, maturing and teaching me through my brothers and sisters, teachers and students, before I could come back, now as a newly ordained deacon of the ACNA. I have changed a lot in those eleven years. I still have many of the same habits, personality traits and even beliefs but I strive to be walking closer to God. Christ Church has also changed a lot in those eleven years. Now at our English services, we broadcast live, allowing our many friends and family to enjoy worshiping God with us. But we also have a higher priority on working with our neighbours. We have a concert or lecture almost every week where Israelis (and any students or tourists) can have an enjoyable and educational experience. Our mercy fund seeks to help the marginalized and needy of Jerusalem improve their lives.
I pray for the peace of Jerusalem every week; I pray for the nation of Israel; I pray for the surrounding nations. I serve in the Church’s Ministry amongst the Jewish People. But, particularly here in Israel, the Jewish people live among neighbours who are either exclusively Arabic speakers or speak Arabic as their heart language. If God called me to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, I must be willing to work towards the peace of Jerusalem. I know of only one way to truly have peace between neighbours, between brothers– even the children of Abraham.
Ephesians 2:14 states, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” I cannot work with Israelis while I remain ignorant and exclude their neighbors, just as I cannot work with Arabs while I remain ignorant of and exclude Israel when God calls us to be one. I am called to work amongst the Jewish People and so I am working on something called the Virtual Church Initiative. Our New Initiative The Virtual Church Initiative uses the tools at our disposal that allows us to reach out, through the internet, and preach the gospel of peace.
We’ve already organized a team of Arabic speaking believers in Yeshua and begun to broadcast a weekly service live online in Arabic, available to almost everyone in the Middle East. We are launching a live bible study online within the week so that we can truly make disciples and we are opening an open line where anyone can text, or even call us, if they want prayer, discipleship or have questions about our faith. In many parts of the Arab world, seeking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can cause persecution or even martyrdom. While we would like mature Christians who can openly proclaim their faith to all those around them, meeting with other Christians in person as a testimony of peace, hope and faith, I think we can all understand that isn’t what I, or you, would likely be able to do at the very start of our journey with Christ. In fact, knowing how much we all complain about the smallest of persecutions, I think many of us still would not be able to stand in the face of martyrdom.
The ability to call into a bible study or request prayer from a brother or sister from the safety of their own house will hopefully allow a process of discipleship to take place as we all grow in our faith in the one true God and the One who is our peace. If you are already praying for the peace of Jerusalem, know that you must be praying for both the Jewish Israelis and the Arab speaking Israelis. God has also declared that Egypt and Ashur, modern Syria are also part of his plan. We may all be familiar with Genesis 22:18, “And in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” But Isaiah 19:24 also states, “In that day Israel will be the third [worshiping God] with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth.” If you aren’t praying for the peace of Jerusalem, I encourage you to start. And once you are praying for peace, if you don’t feel God calling you to help, pray more. Knowing that you are reconciled to your brothers and sisters, walk. Walk with humility, walk with gentleness. Have patience, bearing your brother and sister up in love. And don’t just keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, but be eager to maintain that unity!