By Larry and Jean Emery
This morning we again had an early start heading for Jaffa, a city on the Mediterranean coast where we met with Pastor David Lazarus of Immanuel House about Messianic Jewish believers. We met on the rooftop of the building looking out over the Sea. It was quite a lovely setting. It was interesting to hear that in 1866, thinking that God was going to restore the land back to the Jewish people, Christians came from Main by boat with all of their belongings including their house in kit form. He became a follower of Jesus 35 years ago which was a very radical thing. Two Mennonite families came as missionaries teaching and baptizing him. He then started this church with a small group of people who believed as he did. It was very hard for the new believers as they were shunned by their families and friends; losing their jobs and their homes. They have now grown in number to include 150 congregations. Some of the wood houses still stand today. David said that he is now seeing thousands of people come to see what they believe. They also receive much media attention. David is seeing a lot of interest by the young people to talk with Palestinian groups. He says that he has one wish that the Western World would try to understand the Messianic believers.
After lunch we boarded the buses again to travel back to Jerusalem to visit the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. This is where Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. This was a very moving place. Several scriptures were read as our guide explained the crucifixion story and the events leading up to it. He also showed us points of interest including the Kidron Valley and the Potter’s Field. We were amazed at how close all of these places were. He then took us to the “pit” below the church where Jesus was imprisoned. It was a very small stone walled room with no way out but through the ceiling. Psalm 88 was read and then all the lights were put out leaving us totally in the dark. This was a very moving experience. We then had free time to reflect on what we had heard (an actual rooster crowing), seen, and experienced.
On our return back to the guesthouse some of us got off the bus to experience walking through the checkpoint that leads into Bethlehem. This gave us a feel for what the local Palestinians go through on a daily basis.
This day certainly invoked strong feelings in all of us in many ways.