i had been receiving invites to Saturday night shabbat at a couples house. i heard that there was going to be a guest speaker, so 11/11/18 was the night that i ventured out to see what it was all about. i saw a lot of familiar faces, and a lot of new ones. While eating dinner around a long dining table, i began to have conversations with young ladies that had lived in Jerusalem for a few years. What were the chances? i shared that i was heading there in February and our conversations took off. That would have been the pinnacle of the night if nothing else.
Little did i know what i was about to hear and receive in my heart. During the music part of worship i was wondering who the speaker was. i saw a guy across from me that i thought might be him, but i was so wrong. Finally, Steven Khoury (Please visit his site to read more about the ministry in Bethlehem) appeared and started to speak about growing up in a war torn environment, Israel, an encounter he had with Yeshua, about how the ushers in his church are more like first responders and firemen, as the bombs hit their building while they worship, they are putting out the fires. And as they leave the building after service, people are throwing things at them. The persecution is real, prayer is more powerful than we realize, and he had that look in his eye that the main Pastor from the church i was at for 15 years would speak of now and then. The look i wanted so desperately to see, but i knew it would not be easy to find it in the US. The first time i saw that look was when i met a brother while in Ethiopia who had been persecuted, tortured and abandoned for years. Yet, when he stepped into the slums, he knew everyone and the love he gave them was more than evident by their shining faces, words of thankfulness, and so many stories of changed in their lives. What love, what passion, what beauty! Baruch HaShem!
Every time i have met people like this, the word "humbled" does no justice to the honor of having the opportunity to have close encounters and one on one conversations with such people who have suffered much for the gospel. i know they would say not to lift them up, but it breaks my heart because of my own lack, and also increases the hunger inside my own heart to persevere, to dig in, to go deeper, to lay my life down, which is what i would say is what they would probably want more than the recognition. Even better if it stirs into action... somehow. Lord, lead us.
Steven invited us to visit, and that we would be able to spend time with families to hear their stories and see what their lives were like. Now i wanted to visit that church in Bethlehem too... but this was after i had booked everything.
To learn more about Stevens ministry in Israel, please visit: https://www.holylandmissions.org/