Journey Up The Mount of Olives

Being in the old city of Jerusalem has been such a blessing to our team.  As we prepare for our time in Tel Aviv, I have tried to write down all the incredible things we saw in Jerusalem.  It’s pretty amazing to walk the streets because the Bible starts to come alive.  Mike and our guide Aaron will say things like, ” that is where Simon of Cyrene took the cross from Jesus and carried it for him” or ” that is the place that Abraham offered up his son Isaac as a sacrifice.”  I know that I will always read my Bible a little differently now!

Small things have really stood out to me as we have passed in and out of the gates to the old city.  We exited the Lion’s Gate yesterday heading toward the Mount of Olives and Aaron pointed out that this particular site is where Stephen was stoned for his faith.  ” At this they covered their ears and , yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.”  Acts 7: 57-58.  Before I could move on with the group, I just stopped and stared at the gate.  The Bible goes on to say that after this occurred, the early church was heavily persecuted and as a result scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.  Christianity then began to spread across the world and as a result, you and I have heard the Gospel!!

We later hiked up the Mount of Olives and facing us was the Eastern Gate.  As you stand on the Mount of Olives, you look across the Kidron Valley to the Eastern wall of the city.  The Eastern Gate is significant for Christians, because we believe that Christ will return on the Mount of Olives and walk through the Eastern Gate.  What a great day that will be!  Mike will often say that if death separates us, he will see me at the Eastern Gate – that will be our meeting place.

After we finished our hike up the Mount of Olives, which is the steepest hill I can imagine, we came to the Garden of Gethsemane.  This was a very peaceful place and the spot where Jesus prayed and wept for Jerusalem.  The view as you look across at the city toward the Temple Mount is absolutely beautiful.  Our team sat in this spot for several minutes just gazing across the valley praying for the same city that our Lord wept over so long ago.

Another interesting site nearby, was the massive grave yard that spreads across the Mount of Olives and Kidron Valley.  This is a prime burial spot because Jewish people believe that at the resurrection, those on the Mount of Olives will go up to heaven first.  The grave lots go for about 1 million dollars – wow!

I will always remember our days in Jerusalem and long for the day when there will be a new Jerusalem!  Until then, we will sing of our sweet Savior and tell about the peace he brings.  We will praise his name in the streets and tell of his saving grace!

The Apostle John in the book of Revelation says, ” I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying ‘ Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  they will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’.  ”  Revelation 21: 2-4

 

Please continue to pray for our team as we begin to share the Gospel in Tel Aviv.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would show us the divine appointments that he has made for us and that we could be bold in our faith.  Pray for energy and hydration because it is HOT!

Much love – Tabitha

 

The Lion's Gate

 

The Eastern Gate

 

Entering The Garden of Gethsemane

 

The Garden of Gethsemane

 

Tomb site on Mount of Olives

 

View from the Mount of Olives

God of the City

” and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”  Acts 1:8

Our first day in Israel was such a moving experience for me and I feel I can say this for all of the team.  The Gospel was sent out from this very place, and we get to be a small piece of the movement to bring it back to Jerusalem!  I am so thankful that we are able to stay in the Old City of Jerusalem – there is so much history of our Savior right here.  In fact, the Austrian Hospice is located on Via Delorosa.  This means ” the road of pain” and it is the very street that Jesus Christ carried his cross to his death.

As we walk the narrow cobblestone streets, I am trying to take in all that is around me.  We walked to the Western Wall yesterday morning and saw the Temple Mount.  This is the place that Jewish people come to pray and it was once known as the Wailing Wall – they also believe that no matter where they are, their prayers come first to the wall and then go up to God.  There is a tradition of writing prayers on a piece of paper and sticking it in the wall.

Next, we saw the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  For a moment, I felt like I was on the set of Indiana Jones!  The church was very dark and parts were underground with lots of twists and turns.  Many Christians believe this is the place of Golgotha – the location of the crucifixion and resurrection.  There are sections owned by the Roman Catholic Church and some by the Greek Orthodox church.  Mike pointed out an old piece of a Roman column that was once part of a Roman temple and mentioned that this gives possible proof that this could be the location because the Romans tried to stamp out Christianity and would have built a temple over a place that Christians gathered to worship.

Our highlight of the day was definitely visiting the Garden Tomb.  This is another possible site of the crucifixion and resurrection and honestly, the Spirit was all over this beautiful garden!  Scripture tells us that Jesus was buried outside the City, and this location was the spot once known for executions.  There is a huge face of a skull in the rock which some believe it the true Golgotha, or place of the skull.  The garden was once a beautiful vineyard and as we walked and listened to our guide talk about Jesus, my heart was smiling.  Seeing the tomb was an experience hard to describe.  There was a very different feeling here than at the other site.  I had a chance to go inside alone and look at the burial plot.  As I stood there speechless, I noticed the sign on the door that said ” He is not here, He is risen”.  Amen!  I was overwhelmed with tears and for a moment even lost my breath.  I don’t know if this is the spot or not, but my heart was so moved for my Savior that I like to believe it was!

Our last stop of the day was The Mount of Olives where we enjoyed fresh fruit and beautiful scenery.  As sunset approached, we looked out over the city of Jerusalem and our team prayed together.  One of the songs we will be singing this week is God of the City.  If you come to Green Hills Church, then you will recognize this song.  I can not tell you how moved I have been over the lyrics and how much hope it gives me as I look out on a beautiful city that doesn’t recognize its Lord.  3% of Israel is Christian.  This is why we are here – to proclaim the good news and tell of our wonderful Jesus!

 

Take a moment and listen to this beautiful song.  I hope it blesses you today!

Christ is All,

Tabitha

Some Pictures of Jerusalem

Our first day in Israel

Hi friends!! After nearly two days of travel, we are in Israel. We journeyed from Nashville to Chicago to Poland, and after a 8 hour layover in Warsaw (where we got to see the city and eat cool food) we made the last trek to the Holy Land. Everything has been smooth and I can literally feel the Lord’s hand over top of us, underneath us, and cupped around our sides–this is His trip, His city, His people, and we are honored to be His servants.

Until Thursday, we are in Old City Jerusalem. Our hotel, or “Austrian Hospice” is delightful! Complete old architecture, big windows, breeze from those windows for AC, really tiny showers, a wide spread rooftop accessible to us to hang out on over looking the city, olives and tuna included on the breakfast buffet, and very loud roosters to wake us in the morning. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we wouldn’t change a thing.

We are learning and experiencing so much!! The area we are staying in is a mix of Jewish and Muslim people, maybe with a few Christians here and there (Israel is only 3% Christian in its entirety). However, this is unique to this part of the city because most of it is segregated and problems arise when one group enters the other’s territory. Jerusalem is a divided city–but no matter what the state now, we know one day every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess. Please pray with us for this land!!!

Today we went first to the Western Wall, AKA the Wailing Wall.  The Jewish people believe all of their prayers arrive at the wall before they make it to the ears of God. Directly behind the wall stands the Temple Mount which now supports the dome of the rock. It is here that Solomon’s Temple once stood but is now under Muslim control. This is the major point of contention between Israel and Palestine. We then ventured to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is presumed by many Christians to be the place of Jesus’ death and resurrection. While the decor was grand, there was a solomn feel in the air. After that we experienced what became, to many of us, the most moving part of the day: The Garden Tomb. This is different location that gives biblically based reason to believe was the place our Savior died and rose again. It was so peaceful and quiet and you could feel His presence walking with us through the glory of the garden. Seeing a real tomb that is probably the very one our Lord conquered is something unforgettable. It was intense and heavy but grace overcame us and filled us with gratefulness and joy. The truth that really matters is what happened, not where it happened but there was certainly significance in what we saw today. We had a near-perfect evening on the Mount of Olives with our guide, Aaron. We ate fresh fruit from the local market, prayed together, worshipped together, and started preparing for the rest of the week..preparation for telling people about the One who shines light into the dark places and makes new creations out of …well, all of us. We will keep you updated! Thank you for reading and praying for the mission of this trip!

Love,

Calla