From Nothing To Something

Lately, I have been talking to God more frequently, and thinking very much-mainly  about my past. I’m in constant awe at where I am today compared to where I was just 10  years ago. In fact, if most people knew what my past has consisted of, they would be shocked. I was twenty three when I decided to end it all. I had lost everything in my life and decided the only thing I had control over anymore was whether I lived or died. Looking back now, I realize how foolish I was to allow myself to get to the point of suicide in my life. I was a drunken mess, to say the least. I took for granted everything God had ever graciously given in my life and was chasing anything in this world to ease the pain. I reached a point where I just didn’t want to live because I felt like I had become a burden to everyone I had ever known. One night I was drunk and got into such a terrible fight with my mom that she ended up storming out of her own house. I was tired of always hearing “I want my son back” and being asked “what happened to you?” Therefore, believing the lie that I was no longer worth anything, I decided to permanently end this torture. I preceded back to my room where I wrote a note apologizing to my family for everything I had put them through and then I did the unthinkable. With tears running down my face and self hatred brewing in my heart, I scarfed down an entire bottle of sleeping pills. Upon my mother’s return home, she found me laying on the garage floor, unconscious, with the note I had written next to me. She called 911 and the paramedics rushed me to the Emergency Room. The doctors did everything in their power to save me  but they were uncertain whether I would live or not. Worry and panic among the doctors and nurses resulted in an advising my parents to start calling family members.  A whole day later, I woke up from a coma. Interestingly enough, there was no damage to my organs and I was perfectly fine. To this day, the biggest regret I’ve ever had in my life is making my parents believe they would have to do what no parent could ever possibly desire-bury their child.

It was not until a few years later, that I actually came to a place where I was exposed to the Gospel and accepted Jesus into my life. Jesus met me though in that hospital room that night and saved my life even though I was still too blind to see it. He still had a plan for my life and refused to give up on me. This story is something I use to be ashamed of but over the years I have learned to understand that my testimony is not for me, but rather, for others in order for God to glorify Himself. I have shared this story on stage, in front of groups in different countries, and back home. I am even sharing it now so that everyone can see that I am nothing special. I say it all the time and truly believe it. I am simply a person that was lost and in the midst of my pain and sin, God met me where I was. It took one encounter with Jesus to forever change my life. After such a radical love encounter, I am now at a point in my life where it doesn’t matter what He says, my answer is yes. I have written a blank check to God saying whatever it takes, whatever you want, I’ll do it.

I was once told by a friend that they didn’t see me as someone on stage sharing the Gospel and the truth is, while it was something I felt God calling me to, I was relieved. I did not desire that for my life at all really. I did not want the responsibility or the attention but God has put me on a platform to share His love with others. To be honest, it is still not something I want. My only desire and the only one that matters is to have His name exalted above everything else and to give Him all the Glory.  I’m comfortable in knowing I’m not perfect because it reinforces that need I have for Jesus daily. In fact one of my favorite verses says “His mercies are new everyday.” No matter what you did yesterday, today’s a new day and you have another chance to do better because just like me when I was laying in a hospital bed clinging to life, God still has a plan for your life.

I am now currently residing in Israel, where the Lord is doing many things in me. I have had the opportunity to walk in His steps and feel His presence more than ever before. However, I have fallen here just like back home. I’ve got things to work on and I always will. One day, I will be forever praising in eternity but in the meanwhile, I am determined to fulfill my calling and purpose here on earth. Since selling out for Christ, I have been all over the world and professed His name to countless people. I have seen signs, wonders, and miracles. Yesterday I even had the privilege to baptize my sister in the Jordan river. It was certainly an experience I will always remember. However, the best thing is having the ability to speak into others lives because I can tell everyone of them the same thing and that’s that Jesus loves you and God has a plan for your life. I believe it because if He didn’t He wouldn’t have sent His son to die for you or me. No matter what you have been through or what you’ve done, God will meet you right where you are at and He is the only one that will bring peace into your life. It’s a crazy life living for Him, and there is nothing greater. It starts with one choice though and that choice is yours to make.

Shalom,

Blake

An Open Letter To Christians

In my life I haven’t been perfect in fact I’ve been far from it. More often than not I made the wrong choices I always treated others with respect though.  I grew up knowing the difference from right and wrong. I learned early on in life to treat others with respect and to think about how your actions affect others. I’m far from perfect but at the same time I try to be considerate to others and do whatever I can to help everyone I come across. Tonight as I was walking with my friend Moriah, she told me that I was unlike any other Christian she’s ever met. She went on to explain that most Christians she’s met have been highly religious. I couldn’t agree with her more as I too have met several Christians like this. That’s not me and that shouldn’t be any Christian. None of us are perfect we all fall short. If it wasn’t for the church I grew up in I might think we’re more special and perfect. However, I grew up in a spiritual family which consisted of pastors who constantly admitted that they fall short every day. This falling short only increases their dependence on Jesus. Far too many of us don’t have that mindset. I came across a lot of Christians before I ever surrendered my life to Christ and most of them judged me on how I lived and were quick to point out my flaws.

The truth is we’re called to be a light and to demonstrate the same love Jesus had to others but we fail to do so with our own brothers and sisters in Christ. You see our lives are on display for others to see. I’ve met people here that are interested in seeing my church not because of anything I’ve said but because of how I act. I haven’t said one word about Jesus to them but I’ve demonstrated His love to them. I feel like a lot of times as Christians we miss this. I’ve been hurt by other Christians in my life tossed aside by those I considered family. For some Church has become a status symbol. They focus on their works in the church or their status as a leader. Even more tragically I’ve heard people say I’m not in the position I was told I would be coming to this church instead of having a heart postured with just being thankful to serve God. We become so focused on ourselves we lose sight of what a true relationship with Jesus is. I often wonder about those that live the Christian life like it’s a power position in church or about what they can get out of somebody. Is this mindset keeping people from experiencing a true relationship with Jesus? It’s a sad life to live thinking your right only to find out you’ve been treating others a way counteractive to the Gospel or more focused on yourself than Him.

Moriah was right I have witnessed and experienced this behavior too. It saddens me to see children of God blessing and cursing with the same mouth. So often, their words do not align with their actions. Unfortunately, the results of this kind of attitude is detrimental to the people hurt by it. Instead of bringing souls, they are being turned away because several God professing people abuse of one of the most important commandments which is, “love your neighbor as you love yourself”. I’ve had my own family members witness Christians acting this way and because of it they have said that’s why they don’t go to church. They see Christians as hypocritical. If I’m honest I’d have to agree because a lot of Christians, I’ve met are hypocritical they’re so focused on what others can do for them at the time but so quick to toss those same people aside when knowing them doesn’t suit them any longer. We can’t afford to treat people like this. As Christians we’re called to model love and if we can’t even model it to each other how can we model it to others. Remember that we all fall short each and every day and our lives are examples to others. We either turn them on to the Gospel or turning them away by our actions. Just as Jesus said “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) our actions towards others is a representation of our relationship with Jesus.
Shalom,

Blake

I Lived

I think often about the life I live and the road that has led me to where I am in life. I can honestly say I’ve never been one to back away from something in fear. I always stood for the things I believed in. Even before I came to know Christ I had an innate sense that we were made for so much more than to just live and die. There was a bigger purpose to it all. I look at our culture and a time when people have become so entangled with comfort and the American Dream. People are focused on having a good job, a big 401k, and a nice house all leading to an early retirement. We fall into a trap of comfort and think living begins at retirement. This is how I use to think until I started to step out in faith not satisfied with just living for the weekend. I think a lot of people in culture forget that we were created for so much more than our bank accounts and a life of comfort.

I look back on my life and everything I had planned for it since I was younger and the continuous change in it. God has constantly rerouted my life into a dependence on Him and guided me away from the desires of my heart and towards the desires He has for me. Most times when I’ve been called to step out in faith in life I’m not going to lie I’ve been scared. When things didn’t make since though or I didn’t know how I was make it He’s always been there guiding me and providing for me everything I need. His Grace is sufficient to sustain and carry us to where we need to be. The bible says “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 6:19). When it was put on my heart to come to Israel it didn’t make since to me. Again like many times in my life I was being asked to step out in faith and I was scared. I walked away from everything I knew to come and live in a foreign country for a few months. I quit my job and told my family and friends goodbye all trusting in God. I’m not going to lie it’s been hard at times I get lonely and money has been tight but He’s testing me to know that no matter what He’s all I need. That’s the thing in life we walk by faith not by sight. I honestly am grateful though for Him bringing me here and letting me experience everything I have since I’ve been here. The stories I have after five weeks are more than enough for a life time.

Everything I’ve seen since I’ve been here, the people I’ve met, and experiences I’ve had are truly amazing. My Friend Michael came and visited for a week and we saw so many amazing things. We went into Bethlehem and got to see the place Jesus was born at the Church of the Nativity. The gratitude I felt when I sat there at the place He came into this world to live a life I couldn’t is indescribable. I sat in the cell that Jesus was held in when He was handed over to Pilate to await trial and my heart hurt thinking about a punishment poured out on Him that I deserved. I’ve walked in the footsteps of the people I’ve read about in scripture. I’ve stood where they’ve stood and seen the places they seen. I had a moment of celebration as Michael and I baptized each other in the spot where John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan. I’ve stood at the Western Wall in amazement at the place that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. I walked emotionally on the Via Dolorosa retracing the final steps of Jesus. I’ve been welcomed into community and have sat to break bread with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met during Shabbat every week. They’ve treated me like family and for that I’m extremely grateful. I’ve met people that I will consider friends for the rest of my life.

I think of this life I live and I’m continually left amazed and in a state of awe at everything God has allowed me to experience. There’s a song I’ve listened to a lot since I’ve been here by One Republic called “I Lived” and it holds a special place in my heart now. I downloaded in Croatia earlier this year and hadn’t really listened to it until I got here. The chorus goes “I did it all. I owned every second that this world could give. I saw so many places, the things that I did. With every broken bone, I swear I lived.” One day years from now when I look at my life I’ll think back on the places He took me and the things He showed me in life and remember that in my life I did it all and I lived. I lived a life not of the ordinary but a life of extraordinary. I trusted in God and stepped out in faith continually. I stepped away from the comfort of the world and I truly lived in Him.

Shalom Friends,

Blake

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I Stand With Israel

Music has always been a big part of my life. While the music I grew up listening wasn’t always edifying to my soul I’ve gotten wiser when it comes to what I choose to listen to. To be honest it’s something that I’ve debated with friends over the last year. I’ve met people who believe as Christians we shouldn’t listen to secular music. I choose not to believe this but can see certain secular artists that I personally choose not to listen to anymore. I’ve come to the conclusion that it comes down to your own beliefs and what you choose to feed your soul. Before coming to Israel I loaded up my phone with worship music so I would have it to listen to as I get ready in the mornings. I knew coming here that I would want to go out every morning focused on God and what He wants to do in me while I’m here.

Since being here I’ve become strengthened daily in my reading of the Word and my worship. A few months before I left I cut all secular music out of my life. I chose to listen to worship music and nothing else (again this was a personal choice for me not a belief for all Christians to follow). I thought that it would be the same here. However once here I quickly wound up listening to a mix of secular and non-secular music. I’ve come to the understanding that even secular songs can be a form of worship if your heart is right. Whether it be walking the Via Dolorosa listening to Thank You for the Cross by Milestone Worship or walking the streets of Jerusalem listening to I Lived by One Republic as long as the posture of my heart is right both are forms of worship for me.

I look at my life since I’ve been here as a playlist and God is my D.J. because he knows what I need to hear and when I need to hear it. This may be hard for some to understand but it’s the best way I can describe it. One perfect example of this was the other day on my way to Ein Karem walking through the Jerusalem Forest when I came across some ruins. I started exploring them and came across a cave. The adventurer in me wanted to walk up and explore it but a since of fear came over me. I mean I’m in a foreign country by myself standing in a forest and there could be anything inside this cave. Just at that moment the song I was listening to ended and Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin came on. In that moment I knew God was telling me I didn’t give you a spirit of fear. I explored the cave and have to say it wasn’t anything spectacular but that moment with God was extraordinary.

Music has played an important role since I’ve been here whether it be walking through the streets or approaching a holy site and the perfect song be playing at that moment. Every Thursday night there’s a concert here in the Moshav. While I don’t know what the singers are saying it has made for a time of good conversations and reminders of who I am. The other night sitting there talking with Ella she asked me about my bracelet and what it meant. You see I wear two articles of jewelry all the time a bracelet that I got last year as a gift that says anointed fighter and necklace I got before Honduras that says the same thing. Mike looked at me before Honduras and looking at my necklace he said “you see what that says, anointed fighter that’s you”. It’s a title I’ve clung to. Earlier this year it was prophesied over me that I was like the heroes of old waring for the Kingdom and that my life would be chronicled like those heroes of old.  I didn’t know what that meant at the time but in that instance when Ella asked about my bracelet I heard God say the names Daniel, David, Joshua, and Paul. In that moment God was telling me I’m a fighter chosen by Him to advance the Kingdom and fight back the enemy. In me, He created an over comer.  He’s brought me through so much in my life that my life is a testament to His love and glory.

There are all kinds of battles in this life we face. Some we fight for the Kingdom while others we have to fight for our own spiritual well-being. In my life I’ve faced a lot of battles more than I care to remember. I’ve overcome my demons and faced my past head on giving it to God. I’ve learned since I’ve been here that Israel is a nation of fighters like myself. In the last three weeks I’ve walked the streets of Israel. I’ve met God’s chosen people. I’ve heard their struggles and their concerns. I’ve gotten to know them and what they stand for. It’s not easy growing up learning that throughout history your people have been continuously hated and persecuted against by the rest of the world. I stand as a witness though that the Jewish people are a warm and welcoming people. Last week I stood in front of a Memorial here for John F. Kennedy and could see the history our two nations have. The strong ties we have forged throughout our history. While under the current american leadership relations aren’t what they once were. I believe they will get back there one day. I didn’t fully understand the saying I stand with Israel before I got her probably because I wasn’t as informed as I am now. I can honestly say though after being here though that I STAND WITH ISRAEL.

Shalom Friends,

Blake

Holding onto the Truth

I look at my life and who I use to be compared to who God has made me to be since coming to know Him. There’s roads I’ve missed and honestly when I look back I see the times I fell short and those times have been more often than not. The truth is I fall short every day but if I didn’t I wouldn’t need Jesus. When I look at my past I see the sin in my life and there’s been a lot of it. There’s been times when following Jesus, I thought if I do this one thing it’s okay cause there’s grace but I still wind up hurting from it because I know what I did was wrong.

Since I’ve been in Israel there’s been times where I’ve been tempted to fall but I’ve stood strong. I’ve held on to who He created me to be and stood my ground. I’m not here to proselytize which is hard for me because one of my top spiritual gifts is evangelism. The more I live out my walk I realize my life is not only on display for the world to see but it’s on display for Him to see. I’m continually thinking about what He thinks about me and the choices I make. To be completely truthful I’ve found myself in a couple situations since I’ve been here where it would be easy to slip up but that’s where the people that speak into my life have helped. Even by just sending a text to someone for myself to see the situation I’ve gotten into but to remember the option God would want me to choose. Being the man of good character God would want me to be.

I remember how Pastor Jed defined character to me one time. He said “Character is doing the right thing even when nobody is around, nobody is looking and, nobody would ever know.” The truth of the matter is I haven’t always made the choices I should when it comes to having Godly character but I’m getting better. I know I still have a long way to go and to grow. I probably always will this side of eternity. But I can see the growth in me. I live this life as a beacon to others of what God can do with a messed up sinner only focused on his own happiness and not others. The truth of the matter is if I shared my story with you you’d be surprised at who I once was and all the things God has brought me through. I know He’s not done and I will always be trying to improve in who I am in Him.

I wrote last time about community and God focusing me in on community at the moment. Today I was on Facebook and saw a friend post something saying join her for service online at my old home church. Not thinking twice, I knew I needed to join online. Last year I felt God calling me away from my church I felt like He was wanting alone time with me. I didn’t go about it the right way and many thought I was hurt. Looking back now I can see there was some hurt it wasn’t on their part it was on my part. However, I still believe God was calling me away and can see all He’s done in me over the course of a year. I do wish I had gone about it a different way and had gotten spiritual covering before I left. I apologize to anyone that I may hurt in leaving the way I did.

I’ve had to look deep inside and face some things this last year that I had buried. I thought I’d dealt with them but I hadn’t. I had to walk through the toughest thing I ever have in my walk with God this year. I’m not going to lie it wasn’t easy and there were moments of doubt but my faith in God never wavered and it never will. In the message I tuned into today Pastor Jeff said we hold on to the TRUTH. Well one of the seven I am statements we see in the book John Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). This struck a chord as I’ve been reflecting on things the last few days and how through it all I’ve held onto Jesus when it would’ve been easy to walk away. I know how far He’s brought me though and never want to live a life without him. Pastor Jeff use to say “I would rather live my worst day with Jesus than live my best day without Him.” that’s a saying I’ve clung to in my life.

 

I look at where I’m at now and all the things He’s doing in me and through me. I’m literally walking in the places where Jesus walked. Earlier this week I got to pray for a man just outside of Jaffa gate. His name is Isaac and he’s been out of work for two months. He asked me to pray for him for work and for his babies for food. He has twin boys that aren’t even a year old. I stood there and prayed for him and he began crying. I reminded him that we have a God of the miraculous that will provide and take care of every need.  When we got done I gave him my last 20 shekels and told him I wish could do more but he said I already done enough.

 

The next day I followed the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus took to the Calvary. It was very humbling and very emotional for me. There were times I was in tears thinking of everything Jesus went through for me. There were moments where I would sit in the chapels at the different stations of the cross for ten to fifteen minutes just thinking about it and thanking Him for His sacrifice. The truth is I know I don’t deserve any of it. No matter how much good I do in this life or how many people I lead to Him it will never be enough to repay everything He did for me. It’s a debt that can never be repaid and He honestly isn’t looking for us to repay it. All we can do is follow Him and live out the calling He has placed on our lives.

There’s a spot at the fifth station with a stone in the wall that Christian tradition says Jesus leaned against. It took me a few minutes but after I found it I walked up and put my hand on it. Instantly I felt something break in me. I was left heartbroken to think that I was touching a stone Jesus leaned on while he was being beaten, humiliated, and ridiculed on his way to pay a debt for me. Again holding back tears I continued my way to the Church of Holy Sepulcher. There’s something about being at the foot of where the cross stood that hits you hard. The rejoicing came at the tomb. I began to pray a prayer of thanks and worship in the tomb. The whole experience is something I will never forget.

I’m quickly learning this trip is nothing like I expected. God is using me but at the same time He’s doing something new in me. I don’t know how to explain it. This journey I’m on though will be something that helps mold me into the calling the ministry He created me for. This life we lead is not our own. I’ve always been told I have a huge calling on my life and I still don’t know what it is. I don’t desire to be famous or well-known but only desire to make Him famous and make His name well-known. I’ve learned in my walk that He doesn’t desire a people who never really have heart change. His desire is for people to put Him over everything. We all have wants and desires in this life but our desires are not always His desires. His desire is for people that will be His hands and feet. So I encourage you to live a life of abandonment. Stay strong in your convictions. Be a light in the darkness and model the character of Jesus to others. Most importantly in this life no matter how hard it gets always hold onto the TRUTH.

Shalom,

Blake

Finding Community

Why Israel? Why now? Why for so long? These are all questions that people kept asking me before I arrived and that some have asked me since I’ve been here. The truth is I didn’t know why. I simply felt God calling me to go and wasn’t sure why. I think it’s hard stepping into the unknown not sure about anything and just trusting in Him. We have moments where God says something and wants our radical obedience but we become to comfortable in life to obey. There are many people called in this life but few that will actually step out of the boat and pursue that calling. Sadly, we let fear and things of the world tell us that living a life of abandonment and dreaming big for the Kingdom isn’t what this life is about.

We’ve become a culture of the entitled. We think the world revolves around us and our opinion is the only one that matters. Technology is a blessing and a curse. We have the ability to spread the Gospel in a ways we never have before and reach more people than ever. However, things like social media has also caused more damage than ever before because for many life has become about how many likes you can get and has made people portray a fake life that looks perfect to others. It’s closed us off to community because life has become so self centered we lose the ability and opportunity to connect with others. We are living in a culture where young people are losing their social skills because everything has become a text. People think it’s weird to actually pick up the phone and have a conversation instead of sending a text nowadays.

My whole life I’ve always been very people oriented. You know the saying he’d give you the shirt off his back well that’s me to a tee. God gave me a heart for people long before I ever knew Him. I’ve always had a longing a desire to connect with people and to be a part of a community. As I get older in this life I’ve learned many valuable lessons about people even people you consider family. Believers are no better than others. They can be completely self centered and hurt you just like non believers. People are people and from time to time in relationship with others you will be hurt. So why am I here halfway around the world? I can honestly say I still don’t know but I’m loving it. Some people thought I was running from things and maybe I was but I believe I’m right where God wants me.

In the short time I’ve been here I’ve been welcomed into a community. I feel completely at home here. I walk the streets of Jerusalem in complete peace. I feel a connection with God unlike I ever have. I guess that’s natural though when you look at where I am. He’s brought people into my life here that I already feel blessed to call friend. The Moshav is amazing and there is a deep since of community here. Last Thursday Sarah, Hemda, and I went to a concert they had here at the Moshav. We met up with Alexandra and Avi. The night was amazing so many people coming together for a night of fun and community. One thing I should mention is that in Israel Sunday is the beginning of the work week so Thursday would be like Friday back home.

The next day I was invited to Avi’s for dinner for the Shabbat. The dinner was great the food was delicious and the company was a breath of fresh air. I got to meet and converse with Avi’s children Moriah, Ella, and Raziel. It was literally one of the best nights I’ve had since I’ve been here. I truly felt welcome and like I was part of the community. The following day Moriah and I went and met up with her friend Lea and then went to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv I must say is quite different from Jerusalem. While I’ve never been to New York I imagine it’s quite like that. With the exception of the Shabbat I’ve been told Tel Aviv is a 24/7 city. The reason I compare it to New York is because New York is the city that never sleeps. While in Tel Aviv we ate and went to sit on the beach. The day was great I had a really wonderful time conversing and getting to know Moriah and Lea. I must say it can be rather hard being in a foreign country on your own not knowing anyone. That’s why I’m thankful that I’m starting to meet people and make friends. I’m starting to find community here in Israel.

Sunday I was able to go to a church in Jerusalem called King of Kings Community Jerusalem. I was able to worship in a room of people who like me were visitors to Israel. The service was nice and it was in English. It would be like a typical service back home except with an extended amount of worship. The entire service was two hours long. The pastor was just finishing up a series on fasting and prayer. Its funny community seems to be a theme in my life right now. Whether it be community here in the Moshav or a church called community in Jerusalem it’s a theme God has me centered on. I believe there are certain times in our lives where God puts  a common theme in our life to focus on. I’m thankful for this opportunity He has given me to come to Israel and the mending He’s doing in my heart and soul right now.

Shalom Friends,

Blake

 

When In Doubt Get On A Bus

I had a nickname given to me a few years ago and that name is wanderer. Its a name as I travel I’ve come to embrace in this life. I love taking the road less traveled and experiencing the things others might miss staying in the group. However that’s not to say I’m reckless I always keep in eyesight of groups I’m in. I’m finding Israel freeing here I’m free to wander and be the person God created me to be. If I want to walk down a road I just do it. If I want to go talk to someone I talk to them. I explore and wander because like J.R.R. Tolkien said “Not all who are wander are lost” that is until you are lost.

Yesterday was an adventure which is what I’m starting to realize my daily life has become. I got up with a couple of things to do one being find the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. So I started looking at the bus schedule from the Moshav into town. I also looked up the routes to see what stop would take me closest to where I needed to be. I can be very strategic and plan ahead when I must but sometimes the best plans have wrenches thrown in them.

I got on bus 180 to take me into Jerusalem the way I had it figured I would ride it in and get off on the third stop to get closest to the area in Jerusalem where I would have WiFi. The owners of the restaurants in town are all very friendly. I’ve found not to many tourists actually have conversations with them other than ordering their food or asking directions. The great thing in talking with them is you get to know them and have the ability to make friends with people you’ll see everyday or in my case at least for the next three months. I’ve also learned from just simply talking with them and being genuinely interested in their life story they’re more than happy to help you and even will allow you to get on their WiFi. This is very helpful in a foreign country where you have no cell service I’m slowly getting to where I have random spots through out the city where I can hop on WiFi to pull up directions. That is when my maps can find the address I’m trying to get to.

Bus 180 actually took me to the first stop and the driver told me it was the closest to Jerusalem it went. He let me off at the very edge of Jerusalem and there I was left to find my way into town and my area of Jerusalem where I’d be able to use WiFi. Using my Earthmate app which pairs with my satellite tracker I can pull up a map showing where I’ve been in the past which is coming in handy. Using the app I was able to make my way to where I had been on Saturday to pull up directions to the U.S. Consulate except my map couldn’t find it to get directions. So all I could do was pull up the website and screenshot the map it had on the website. I used my Earthmate map to try and find the roads that matched up and set off wandering around Jerusalem.

An hour later as I thought I was getting close I stopped in a gas station to get a Dr. Pepper and ask for directions. The gentleman working said to go up and take a left at the stoplight and there it was (but it wasn’t). One thing I’ve quickly learned is when asking for directions is you get a lot of people that say they don’t speak English. So it’s good to go up to the bellhops in front of the fancy hotels because they all speak English and are very knowledgeable when it comes to giving directions. I was told by a bellhop that the Consulate was about 30 minutes away but a block away I could hop on a bus he wasn’t sure it was either 98 or 7a to get to the Consulate. I first hopped on 98 but it didn’t take me there luckily there was a Expat from the U.S. that was able to help me so I quickly hopped off and got on 7a which took me right to the Consulate. Two and a half hours after starting out I made it. The way back was a lot like the adventure there but once I got back to my area of Jerusalem things got even more interesting.

I’ve been in foreign countries so I’m use to the craziness of the drivers but Israel is more tame than other places so the following came as a surprise. I was walking down a road that was blocked off to cars. When I heard something behind me I looked back and saw a motorcycle coming and saw the elderly lady a few feet in front of me starting to cross the road. I quickly ran up and blocked her from crossing as she was literally two steps away from getting run over. The motorcycle honked and she began yelling at him as I continued on my way. I made my way to a new restaurant and got to try Shawarma which was amazing.

Afterwards I was able to meet up with Daniel from Bridges For Peace ministries and his family. I got to talk with him about their ministry and he really had me thinking about things I had never considered. Israel has more Christians visit it than any place in the world. While you would assume they’re just here to see the Holy Land but that’s not always the case. A lot of the visiting Christians come to sight see but also try to convert the Jewish people here. The Jewish people grow up being preached at by visiting Christians, doing more harm than good. When he said this I envisioned the man on the corner yelling “Repent or burn in the fiery pits of hell” back home as people walk by. A method I think we can all agree doesn’t work. Daniel said the people here need to see actual Christians just living out the Christian life as ab example. I know what it’s like to have a burning desire to see others come to Christ and to evangelize to others but it’s important to remember when visiting Israel that we’re guests in this country and it’s easy to do more harm than good when preaching at people. Bridges for Peace actually works with local churches and runs some food pantries giving the Jewish community food and meeting needs in a way that give many their first positive experience with Christians ever. Their desire is to bridge the gap between the Jewish community and the Christian church.

After saying goodbye to Daniel and his family I had to make my way back and find the bus stop I had got let off at this morning. The Earthmate app on my phone really burns through my battery so when I started I only had 1% left on my battery. I began praying and trusting God that the phone would last and I could make my way back to the bus. Thirty minutes later I found the bus station and my phone died right as I got there. This shows how good and faithful God is. He allowed me to use my map to get where I needed to be to get home before the battery died. I mean using the app while my phone was at 1% for 30 minutes without my phone dying yeah He was looking out. I made it back and finished the night up talking in the garden for a couple hours with Hemda and Alexandra. I find it funny that in the 5 days I’ve been here the trip hasn’t been about seeing this or seeing that it. It has become about understanding the culture and making connections with people I encounter along the way. This is what the Christian life is about though, not the information you know but the transformation in your life to love others and be a model of the love of Christ to them. This is what I’m quickly learning my reason for being in Israel is it’s not to convert others but to simply love others and model the Christian life to them. Like Daniel said people try to convert them all the time not many really demonstrate the Christian life and the love of Jesus to them.

Things I learned Yesterday.

  1. Don’t be afraid to hop on a bus even if you’re not sure it’s the one you need.
  2. If visiting Israel don’t preach at the people you meet chances are they’ve had more people preach at them then you could imagine.
  3. Be respectful and friendly to others you encounter and get to know their stories.
  4. Be a light and example of Christ to others through your actions it’s far better than anything you could ever say.
  5. Don’t be afraid to wander.
  6. Always watch out for motorcycles even on the roads that are blocked off.
  7. Trust in God to take care of you even when your batteries at 1% and you have no idea where your going because God’s got you covered.

Shalom my friends,

Blake