One of the neat special blessings of attending the First B’ney Yosef National Congress in Israel was that I heard of many opportunities to serve Israel and even met a few people who are serving in a big and regular way.
During one of our group discussions a long-bearded countryboy was sitting next to me and I instantly liked his forward demeanor and friendly attitude. This guy, Tom Washburn, is a do-er… But, humble, too! Anyway, as we talked I found that he and his family have been in the Land on multiple occasions for various ministries of service and had many tips and much knowledge about how to be a blessing to Israel. On this trip he had Tommy and Hannah, early 20-something, son and daughter along.
Well, a few days ago I received their newsletter email and I really wanted to share it with you guys as a way of further enlarging our vision for Israel, her people, how to serve and how to help those who serve… Here is the complete email and some pictures included:
Shalom My Family,
Hannah, Tommy and I were sitting in the old city of Jerusalem this afternoon, (Thursday) finally enjoying our breakfast at about 3:00PM. We finished eating … looked at each other … and I said “What shall we do? This is the first time in one week that we have been able to take a deep breath and actually make a choice as to where we would go and what we would do.” That sums up what our life has been like this past week. That is why it has taken us so long to get some sort of an update out to you. No time at the beach … no time to go sight seeing … the Father has had other plans … and they have been good!
First Blessing ~~~ I arrived in Israel early Friday morning after a 15-1/2 hour layover in Copenhagen. I had only gotten a couple hours of sleep for the last couple nights. I went to pick up the rental car for which we had prepaid … a total of $132.50 for two weeks. But here is the catch … in Israel the “total” price is usually just the price for the vehicle. You then have to pay extra for the insurance, which can easily be two to three times the price of the rental. When I paid with our debit card, the man said that I had everything I needed, including insurance, and the total was $132.50. That’s right … a rental car in one of the most traveled tour spots in the world … for less than $10 per day. Our dear brother Ziv, an Israeli who lives at the house we are staying in, said “You can’t rent a bicycle in Tel Aviv for that price”. We rejoiced greatly.
Friday evening is the beginning of the Sabbath and we had a lovely supper with the believers here in Yafo/Tel Aviv, and then
reunited with many brothers and sisters at the congregational meeting. I had a serious dose of sleep deprivation and all I can remember from the message was the verse “ …Take heed lest thee fall”, from First Corinthians 10:12. This verse had its spiritual implications as well as the physical ones. I was holding on to the railing in the back of the room, “lest me fall”.
On the Sabbath morning, we traveled to Ariel for a meeting, and then back to Ramat Gan … just outside Tel Aviv … for an evening meeting in the park with a congregation that has taken us under their wings. They have been a huge blessing to our whole family … especially when they have taken care of Tommy when he has been here without us. Annie appreciates them greatly!
Sunday was the day of Shavuot or Pentecost. We spent the day with about 1000 believers at a festival in Jerusalem. We then were blessed to have been invited by the Bar David family to have supper that night. Beautiful family … beautiful time.
Monday brought us back to Ariel for the conference. We began a day with a tour of what the world calls the “West Bank” … but the Bible calls Samaria. I am going to submit that whenever possible, we should use the Biblical terms … not the term that someone has come up with that actually contradicts the Scriptures. I encourage you to get a map and look at the land of Israel.
I also encourage you to save your shekels and come look at the land of Israel. These are the mountains of Israel … the ones you read about in your Bible … the ones that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked upon. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that this is the “West Bank” of Palestine. Do you live near a river? If you fish from the “West Bank”, you are right beside the river … not many miles away!
In the evening, the conference actually began. There were 12 nations (12 tribes?) represented … brothers and sisters from six continents. We were there from early in the morning, until late at night, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, the conference ended about noon. There were many sweet goodbyes, or “L’hee-tra-ot” … basically meaning “See you later”!!
This brings us back to the afternoon in Jerusalem.
We were able to touch base with a beautiful young man who works at Christ Church, David Sinai. We will get with him later next week.
After lunch, as we were wondering which way to go and what to do, the Father already had things in store for us. We decided to take a different route back through the Old City. After a short bit, Tommy tells me that there is a man who is wearing “tzit-tzit” … the tassels like we wear (Numbers 15:38 and Deuteronomy 12:12) … but he did not have on a kippah (the small cap
that religious Jewish men wear). We stopped and talked with him a bit … with many Orthodox Jewish men standing around, trying to discreetly observe what was going on … and not doing a very good job of it! To make a long story/conversation short, his name is Mikael … he is from Belgium … and I invited him to get together with us this weekend for a Sabbath gathering in the park. He was very pleased to meet people who believed like he did … and we were thankful too.
As we were heading out of the Old City, a man asked me where I was able to get my “tassels”. He wanted some that had the blue thread in them. Most of the religious Jewish men will wear them without the blue … white only. There are some that say that the blue thread is a representation of royalty … the King Messiah. Others say that the particular blue had been lost for thousands of years and they just found the perfect shade from a natural source. All of this is from rabbinic teaching … some of it can be good … some of it is “rubbish”. But enough about rabbinic traditions … we are thankful for our times with the people … face to face.
I told him that my daughters made them, and I started looking for an extra set I thought was in my bag. About that time, Tommy walked up and the guy had this look of “Wow … here’s another one!”. He asked Tommy about his blue threaded tassels. When Tommy said that his sisters made them, the guy finally put one and one together! I wish you could have seen what happened next. Tommy said “Here” … and started to take off his tassels and give them to the man. I jokingly said “I was going to send him a brand new set”, but the man was deeply moved. At first he refused, but Tommy would not let him refuse. He thanked us greatly … we got his contact info … and will be sending him a new set soon.
This is what our life in Israel is all about. As one wise man once told me … “We need to build a bridge of trust, that can withstand the weight of truth”. We need to show the people that we love them and care about them … not just tell them. We need to encourage the believers who we come across … and share the Messiah with those who don’t yet know Him. As another wise man once said … and I paraphrase … “Preach the Word, preach the word, preach the word, and if you have to, say only a few words”.
OK … I know … you all want to see pictures. I’ll turn things over to Hannah and Tommy now. In the meantime, please pray for Annie and the children back in Tennessee … reach out to them as you are able. It is not easy to be apart, but we are swamped every day here in the land of Israel. It makes it a bit easier as we stay very busy.
We thank our Heavenly Father for you. We appreciate your prayers. We are aware of the rocket attack that hurt no one, Halleluyah! We are safe … in His will. Shalom to your hearts and home, Tom