Today is the day: I’ll be flying to Israel for a 6-day trip together with 5 colleagues from different countries. I have an early flight, and even before take-off Jerusalem is calling again. This time it is my Arab friend, with whom we will have dinner tonight. We set the details and I am off for Vienna. There I meet Greg, who is National Director for Italy. There are some good things happening there, so while flying to Tel Aviv we have enough to talk about.
In Tel Aviv we hear about a severe incident in Amsterdam this morning. It turns out that shortly after I left Schiphol, a Turkish Airlines plane has crashed close to the landing strip. An extra reason to be thankful for a safe arrival. When the others arrive, we get the rental car and go to Jerusalem. We are staying at the Christ Church Guesthouse in the Old City. A beautiful compound at the border of the Christian and Armenian Quarter. After a short tour in the Christian Quarter we meet up with our Arab friends for dinner. We talk about their life and work in Gaza, Nazareth and Jerusalem, where they try to share the love of Christ with the Palestinian and Arab people. There are only a couple of thousand followers of Jesus among the 3 million. They often face threats and difficulties, with people on the frontline even being in outright danger. Compared to the real danger of death and persecution, the logistical problems due to the war in Gaza seem only minor. This is the reality that our friends face, and it is very encouraging to see the commitment and faithfulness of our friends.
We also talk about the relationship with Jewish believers. A topic even more sensitive and complicated than I had thought, but it was good to get some understanding of it. To put it simply: the ideals of reconciliation are not understood by many, and pushing this too much would be counterproductive. Apart from that, there are also huge cultural differences that require different approaches. Sad as it may be, this means that there is not much cooperation. On the bright side: our friends have some wonderful stories of what God is doing in different places. And it is my privilege to pray God’s blessing over them in closing our meeting.