Category: Finer Things

A precious people and a precious work…

This is from Jonathan Bowman, his second post of the trip.

Marhaba! (hello in Arabic)

We are busy traveling across Palestine at the moment, and rest has been at a premium. Our dear friend Yousef, the director of Young Life in Palestine, welcomed us into Zababdeh, a small village of only a few thousand people. We met his team of leaders, a delightful group of young adults.

In the early evening they held a party with a few hundred people (kids and families) under Young Life’s name. We belted out favorite songs, took HUNDREDS of pictures, and battled each other in many friendly contests, like arm wrestling. A few hours later our group broke into duos and trios with different families from the village for the night. Talk about hospitality!

These families shattered what we knew, teaching us a new definition of generosity, of selfless living. If you so much as mentioned a desire for something, it was yours. If you told a little boy you liked his hat, he graciously gave it to you without pause. For two of the girls, the family slept on the floor and insisting that the girls sleep in the only bedroom. I was personally invited to stay in one young man’s home after talking to him in the streets for only a few minutes. These invitations are common, and they are genuine.

I must mention the food. The hummus here puts anything in America to shame. What an incredible range of tastes. Crisp, green cucumbers, juicy ripe red watermelons, and well spiced lamb. I ate way too many pitas on this day.

These followers of Christ warmed our hearts. We are forever changed by their reciprocation of Christ’s love. The father of the family Scott and I stayed with told us to consider his house our second home. We are rejoicing in the incalculable love of Jesus. Would you rejoice with us?

Here is a short video of a portion of our time with Yousef’s kids and friends:


Nazareth Baptist School, Nazareth Village, and Cana.

010 carpenter workshop

010 carpenter workshop

This is from Zack Miller, a recent graduate of James Madison University:

Today we visited the Nazareth Baptist School, Nazareth Village, and Cana. We also had the opportunity to spend time with the people, specifically kids, who live in this precious land.

A presentation from Naeem, a highly educated man involved at the school, was moving as he said he could have taken an easy route by leaving the country and finding a job but chose to stay to encourage and lead the minority of a minority of a minority of a group of kids to learn and discover the gospel. How often do we choose to take the easiest route possible? I know I do. Then we went into the courtyard of the school for “recess” and hung out with the kids of the school. I’ve always thought the people there weren’t too fond of Americans, as shown by the countless negative media stories I’ve seen in the states. However, nothing could have been further from the truth. They accepted us with open arms. In the song “Hosanna” by Hillsong United they sing about a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith. While the population of believers is small both here and at home, I am so encouraged that our generation has that capability. To shed the easy road and take a stand for what we truly believe is the best thing in the world…which is following the teachings of Jesus.

My other favorite part of the day was visiting Nazareth Village, a 1/20th replica of Jesus’ village. Our tour guide Daniel, a Messianic Jew, shared his testimony and reminded us that while it is amazing to visit the holy land and see the “dead” stone remains here, it is the “living” stones (people) that are truly important. We can live the words and teachings of Jesus, love and compassion over everything, no matter where we are in the world.


In His Footsteps

Sea of Galilee
From the boat on the Sea of Galilee
From the boat on the Sea of Galilee

From the boat on the Sea of Galilee

From Jonathan Bowman, rising junior at JMU: Today marks the second day of our journey to the Holy Land. The flight from Toronto lasted 12 hours. Not much sleep, but hey, we made it. Straight from the airport we hopped onto the bus and adventured to Caesarea—ruins that exhibited the deteriorated magnificence of the Roman Empire. The Romans imprisoned the Apostle Paul in Caesarea where he began and ended many of his missionary journeys and wrote multiple epistles. We explored the hippodrome (where the Romans entertained with chariot races) and dipped our feet into the Mediterranean Sea. After some relaxation and reflection at the hotel we returned to our rooms for a generally restful sleep.
Bet’She’an. Primacy of Peter. Capernaum. Jesus thought, walked, and taught in these places, each centered around a body of water characterized by splendor. A place of miracles and healing. The Sea of Galilee. At Bet’She’an, Pete used the ruined city to remind us that these things of Earth will crash and crumble and collapse away. Are we going to store up treasures in this life or in the next?
We sailed over the Sea of Galilee on a wooden boat today. Mountains like fortresses surrounded us and a light haze masked the opposite shores. The wind whipped our hair against our faces. I treasured every moment. Our feet slipped across the round black volcanic rocks on the shores of the Sea of Galilee as we listened to the history of Peter and some of his mistakes. I was refreshed to hear the forgiveness Jesus pours out on a man who aggressively denies knowing Christ not once, but three times.
Most captivating was the synagogue of Capernaum. I sat on the floor where Jesus stirred His revolution. I tried to imagine what it must have been like to sit and listen to this man upset everything you have ever known to be true. Mercy, grace, love, strength, trust, forgiveness, courage. What radical terms!
We open our hearts and minds to what God has to say for us in the coming days.


We have arrived…

What an incredible place! We celebrated because we are part of the "ends of the earth" that people dreamed about getting to when they used Caesarea as a missionary launching pad.

— Pete Hardesty

Hello there! We arrived safe and sound about 9 hours ago and hit the ground running eating lunch and then going directly to Caesarea Maritima and touring the site for about 2 hours. What an incredible place! We celebrated because we are part of the “ends of the earth” that people dreamed about getting to when they used Caesarea as a missionary launching pad.

We will be posting pics as time allows. I will have several of our students “guest post” and report on their experiences. So you will get to hear from Zack Miller, Meredith Cotton, and Jonathan Bowman.

Please pray for one of our students, John, a rising senior at JMU as he got a severe intestinal bug and was in the ER late thurs. night and then left with us on Friday. What a trooper! But he is still sick. Please pray that he would rally and be at full strength tomorrow.

Thanks so much. I am writing you from a hotel in the city of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. This is going to be fun. Shalom!