Day 5: Mount of Olives, Mevasseret Zion, Dead Sea ScrollsThursday, November 8, 2012 By: Sandy Thorn Clark
THURSDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS: The bustling Old City of Jerusalem, enclosed by a 40-foot-high wall at least 400 years old (though some portions date back more than 2,000 years), was the focal point of Thursday’s Journey Home Tour.
After gathering on the Mount of Olives with a camel named Kojak for the official tour photograph, most of the group walked down the Mount of Olives and witnessed the site commonly called Gethsemane where Jesus came on the night before His arrest and trial. The walk was especially meaningful for Bennett Ayebeafo of Columbus, Ohio, who courageously mastered his way down the steep, slippery slope with a prosthetic leg, capturing the hearts, respect, and applause of his fellow travelers.
The group visited the Pool of Bethesda, thought to have restorative powers – the site where it’s said Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath simply by saying “Take up thy bed and Walk” – and then gathered in the acoustically-perfect Church of St. Anne to sing “The Lord’s Prayer,” “Hallelujah” and “How Great Thou Art.”
Next, they walked the crowded Via Dolorosa (also known as the Stations of the Cross), symbolically marking the route taken by Christ as He carried His cross to Golgotha, where He was crucified. And then they visited the renowned Church of the Holy Sepulcher – an intriguing complex of shrines, tombs, relics, and six Christian denomination churches – marking the location where 4th Century Empress Helena said Christ was crucified, laid in His tomb, and resurrected.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Pastor Jerry Clark, tour director, read from Ezekiel 11:22-23 which reminds us that the “glory of the Lord” left Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. He said many believe that only when the Lord returns – and establishes His kingdom in Jerusalem for all eternity – will the “glory of the Lord” be re-established in Jerusalem.
“Does the ‘glory of the Lord’ reside in you?” was his question for his touring audience.
“If not, you can make corrections. As we discussed Wednesday at Beit Shean, you can fall on your own sword, killing the negative desires, thoughts, and actions while allowing God to fill your life with His spirit and presence. For many, including me, that is a daily, sometimes minute-by-minute process,” Pastor Clark said.
OBSERVE ETHIOPIAN ABSORPTION CENTER: JHT participants visited and toured Mevasseret Zion Ethiopian Absorption Center in Jerusalem, where earlier this year 100 new olim (immigrants) from Ethiopia arrived to begin their klitah, or resettlement, into Israeli community.
Stuart Shrader, director of missions for the Jewish Agency for Israel, which receives substantial funds for its work from The Fellowship, thanked donors to The Fellowship’s On Wings of Eagles program for their role in helping to provide the Ethiopian immigrants with a “soft landing” in Israel on their journey to becoming successful and productive Israeli citizens.
The visitors from the United States and Canada observed children in their regular afternoon activities at the center, which helps Ethiopians adjust to a new lifestyle, culture and language in Israel.
JR Dupell of Tampa, a member of The Fellowship’s board of directors, was given the honor of slicing a loaf of bread and delivering a blessing, as part of an Ethiopian custom called a buna ceremony.
FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE: The tour will visit the Israel Museum, permanent home to the Shrine of the Book which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, before participating in communion and a renewal of wedding vows at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, believed by many to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.