Today we continued our journey with a “People” day. We traveled from Bethlehem to Jaffa to meet first with David Lazarus, pastor of Immanuel House; a congregation of Messianic Jewish believers. On the one-hour journey there we were informed and entertained by Tony, our very gifted tour guide. Also on our way to Immanuel House we saw the door of the house of Simon the Tanner (Acts 10:17)and spent a short time enjoying the Mediterranean Sea.
Pastor Lazarus shared his personal story of seeking God as a Jew; yet realizing that he needed the forgiveness which comes with belief in Jesus Christ through his cross. As a Messianic Jewish believer he is able to practice his Jewish heritage and also claim Jesus as his savior. Pastor Lazarus also shared the history of Immanuel House which began under the leadership of two Mennonite Missionary families in the 1950s, the Criders and the Swarzs. After our conversation we enjoyed a delightful picnic
lunch in the courtyard there.
Next, we traveled to Jerusalem and visited the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center for conversation with Rev. Naim Ateek regarding Palestinian Liberation Theology. Palestinian Liberation Theology comes from the context of the Holy Land, the land of the Bible. Jesus Christ was a Palestinian who lived his life under occupation and was killed by his oppressors. Palestinian Liberation Theology is a living theology. Today Palestinians face similar problems as Jesus. Sabeel works to answer the question, ‘As Christians how do we respond to the occupation?’
Our last conversation of the day was with Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church and head of the International Center of Bethlehem. He discussed Contextual Theology with us and spoke about some of the programs of ICB. I will simply share a quote from Dr. Raheb which speaks volumes about his theology, “Hope is what we do.” Theology is the agent of all the projects of ICB.
This is a snapshot of our day. We ask for your prayers as we continue to experience this Holy Place.
With grace, peace, and hope,
Darlene Wilkins (for the group)
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