Category: Full Life

Up to Jerusalem!

This is from Meredith Cotton, a rising senior at JMU:

Hezekiah’s tunnel
Southern steps of the temple
Yad Vashem Holocaust museum
Tunnels under the Western Wall
Garden of Gethsemane

Dunanananananana Batman

Today was our first day in Jerusalem! It was pretty jam packed! We run where Jesus walked  We started the day going to King Hezekiah’s tunnel where we walked through a 1600 meter tunnel filled with water up to our shins/knees at times. (Considering I’m not the biggest fan of dark tunnels, I was not incredibly enthused as we walked through but I kept telling myself to be like Batman and face my fear head on since that’s the only way to conquer it, hence the title ) Then we went to the southern steps of the temple where the Ark of the Covenant was kept! It was incredible to sit on the same steps that led to such a sacred temple. After that, we went to the Yad Vashem Museum which was a Holocaust museum (similar to the one in D.C) except this one caused a little more of a heartstrings tug for a lot of us! As we kept trekking through our packed day, we made our way to the tunnels under the Western wall where we got a tour and explanation of the original architecture from 2,000 years ago (Are you seeing a pattern with the tunnels? Talk about facing fears head on!!). Last but not least, we went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus knelt down and cried out in anguish to his Father as he knew he was about to face the most immense suffering on the cross. That awful injustice that we learned about today at Yad Vashem parallels the awful injustice that Jesus faced. He experienced persecution, racism, betrayal, and so much more. It’s incredibly hard for me to think about the injustice and brokenness that is so evident in our world, but what we learned and reflected on today in the garden showered us with hope. That day in the garden, Jesus felt stripped of his dignity, betrayed, and absolutely crushed, but in that moment of despair, He chose to go through with what he knew God’s will was because he knew YOU were worth it to him. On that cross, he took all the brokenness in this world upon himself so that he could set us free from the chains of this world (injustice, sin, fear, and so much more!) We were able to sit in the place where the road to redemption began and we were won! Praisin’ God for this truth: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”  We love you! Thanks for your continued prayer!

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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:


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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.

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