Thursday, October 30, 1997

The Israeli Invasion

– Or what happens when you storm the gates!
In an effort to relate a few of the many miracles experienced on our Fall 1997 trip to Israel, I am taking the “what I did on my summer vacation approach”. There is no way to tell all of the blessings we witnessed and received without writing a book or something (hey, now there is an new idea!). Our sincerest appreciation, to all who supported our ministry mission efforts and faithfully held us up in prayer while we were gone. We could not have done it without you. In all the thousands of hands we touched you, the supporters of Sunshine After Rain Ministries, touched them as well.

First Day
Our day began performing a few skits for our fellow Pilgrim’s on the Zola Levitt Tour. After the laughs died down, we told them what all this “funny business” was really about. Strengthened by the group’s commitment to pray for our “going forth with the good news,” we set out for the Messianic Kindergarten. One of the most frequently asked questions about our mission efforts, by supporters and those we contacted to visit in Israel, was “how do you get past the language barrier?” Laughter like music is a universal language. The ability to make people smile and forget about the cares of the world, even if only for a moment is truly a gift from the Lord. The children in the kindergarten acted amazed but a bit shy at first. But when we started telling stories and making balloon animals, the international barriers were crossed and smiles broke out across their faces. As we told the stories, their teacher interpreted for us, even putting the accentuation on the funny parts of the story – like “clown subtitles”. After the storytelling and balloon making antics were over – we waved goodbye to the children and prepared to make our way across the city to the Princess Basma Home for Disabled Children. But how to catch a cab?

Convincing a driver to take us into Arab occupied East Jerusalem, in full clown makeup, was no easy task. Fortunately, our contact for the day, Ms. Rival, spoke excellent Hebrew. She convinced the reluctant driver of our good intentions. Arriving at our destination, we were heralded with screams from the children on the playground of the school next door. A stampede toward the fence that separated us occurred as they eagerly held their hands through the partition, wanting merely to be touched. It was thrilling. We went inside the Home where the director escorted us through the facility. The able-bodied children had just been released for their playtime and we were soon mobbed by a three-foot high, hand waving, overly excited crowd.

You would have thought they had seen Elvis or something!! I began to feel claustrophobic, and started to pray for Norma. “Lord, if I am bothered this much, she must be about to scream.” I expected any minute to hear my friend’s panic stricken voice. When I looked toward her, she seemed to be having the time of her life. I asked later if the crowd of children pressing in on all sides had bothered her and she replied “No, not at all. In fact – I took off my other glove so I could touch those precious little ones with both hands!” So much for claustrophobia. As I looked around at the gathering, my own panic rising, the Lord reminded me of Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (KJV) My childhood vision of the Master sitting quietly, with one or two small children changed. They most likely massed around Him as these children were around us. And yet, our Lord did as my friend – He held out both His hands so He could touch them all – the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Second Day
Our scheduled visit to the hospital in Jerusalem was cancelled for the holiday of Erev Yom Kippur (the Eve of the holiest day). Our next stop was in Tel Aviv at the Schneider Children’s Medical Center (SCMC) and the Tel Hashomer Hospital. The SCMC was a gleaming colorful new facility, which belied the fact it housed so many critically ill and dying young. We followed our escort from floor to floor, canvassing each room, passing out our clown coloring pages and crayons. Parents, even the orthodox Jews, smiled as much as the children, shook our hands and thanked us for the visit. Unlike American hospitals, we were allowed into the highly restricted areas of intensive care and the emergency room. We were blessed to see the first child to receive a heart transplant. The Tel Hashomer Hospital was quite different, it could be compared to one of our state funded facilities. The language barrier, we discovered, existed more between the bureaucrats of the system than with the children. Through miscommunication, we arrived unexpected, but since we had “dressed for the occasion” we were invited to stay. Again, we traveled floor to floor, room to room, bringing smiles, laughter, touches and hugs - our greatest reward for the day.

Third Day
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana (John 2:1)
Third days are filled with expectations. In searching for passages that mentioned “the third day” I discovered that Jesus’ first miracle was on the third day of His ministry. On the third day of our mission He performed yet another miracle in me (see following story).