Day 2 Israel 2012
Today was a great day spent with Israeli/Palestinian Baptists. Baptists first came to Israel in the 1920's after a businessman from Israel went to Texas in search of work. While there he dedicated his life to Christ and was baptized at FBC Dallas by George W. Truett! He then encourage SBC to come to Israel and they planted a few churches. During the 1990's the American missionaries left, leaving the 8 Baptist churches to start fresh on their own. Today there are 16 Baptist churches in Israel and a very popular school for students k-highschool. Their ministry in Israel is to be the evenagelical witness in Israel and to help foreign workers gain visa's and housing. There are only about 3,000 Baptist in Israel, a very small minority among Christians. Baptists are not recognized as an official Christian group. They have petioned to be recognized by the Knesset in conjuction with other evangelical denominations so that their weddings and other rights become recognized.
We also spent the day on and around the Sea of Galilee or as they call it here, Tiberas Sea. It was an amazing experience. IT started with us traveling down to Tiberias. The city was originally built upon a grave site and was considered a horrible place to live by the Jews. When the Temple fell in the 70's the Sanhedrian moved there and it was the location of where much of the Talmud was constructed. Today it is a very busy and very tightly packed town that is mostly of Arabic Muslims and conservative Jews who don't interact with each other very much. While there we took a boat ride on the Sea and got to experience first hand the ficklness of the weather. It was cold and rainy when we arrived and was warm and sunny by the time we left.
From there we traveled to the Mount of the Beatitudes. Today there is a beautiful Catholic Church there where you can view the area Jesus probably sat to deliver the sermon on the mount. It was a very moving experience where we read from the Sermon in Matthew and sang a few songs. The church is very small but symbolic. The grounds however are a beautiful garden scene.
Next we traveled down to the area along the sea where it is believed that Jesus appeared to Peter and the other disciples in John 21. Again we read the passage and prayed. It was very cool to hear the passage while looking out to the sea and almost see the boat, Peter jumping in the water fully clothed, the little fire with fish, and Jesus asking, "Do you love me?" It was my favorite moment of the day.
We ended the day by traveling to the city of Capernaum. This is the location where Jesus lived during his ministry. He used it as a home base of sorts. It is also the home town of Peter. At this site they believe they found his home. IF nothing else there is an amazing synogue that has two layers. The lowest foundation is the one where Jesus would have preached and spoken when he visited the town.
Today has been an amazing day of "walking the places where Jesus walked." TOmorrow we will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. We will meet with a member of the Knesset and travel through the Jezreel Valley and visit Yad Vasham (holocaust museum).