JL's Journal

May 10, 2017

Then Moses climbed Mt. Nebo…across from Jericho.
There the Lord showed him the whole land — from … Dan
(in the north) … all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean
(in the west), the Negev (the desert in the south) and the whole region from the
Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms (in the east).

Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath
to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said,
‘I will give it to your descendants.’

Deuteronomy 34:1-4a

Dear Friends and Family,

   Last fall, JLPF and FTH planned to join together and go on a Holy Land trip over Easter week this year. J.L. was going to be the teaching leader and Joseph would guide us through prayer-walking and film various locations for future releases. But, when J.L. died, we thought maybe we were supposed to cancel the whole idea.

   I am so glad we didn’t. In the end, 17 of us spent 9 unforgettable days together exploring many parts of Israel. Each person was impacted by some special location or teaching. Our guide was a Messianic Russian Jewish immigrant, Roman Tyutnev, and he was awesome! He had great insights and opened our hearts and minds to many spiritual truths.

Holy Land Group, April, 2017.

On the hillside of Gethsemane, as our guide Roman explained the symbolism
of Jesus suffering and being broken for our iniquities. Later, he showed us
what happens when a ripe olive is crushed. (Isa. 53:5)
This was a deeply moving moment for all of us.

   Sometimes Roman reminded us, “It’s not so much the where, but the what and the Who.” For example, different Christian faiths believe that the crucifixion took place at different locations. As much as we would like for the spot to be exactly correct, it’s not always possible. So, it really was not so much where it took place, but that it DID take place. That thought helped keep things in perspective, and steered us away from any temptation to “worship” the site rather than Jesus, who had sacrificed Himself for us in the general area of where we were standing.

   Our days were full of sightseeing and sometimes we joked, “We ran today where Jesus walked!” That would have been J.L.’s motto for sure. His philosophy was we had come too far to take breaks or rest. We could do that when we got back home. There were places where I missed him the most, places that he especially loved and I loved being there with him. Among those were: the area around the Sea of Galilee, the Western Wall, the Rabbis’ tunnel, the house of Caiaphas, and the Garden Tomb. He would have especially enjoyed seeing the Holy Land through the eyes of two of his grandchildren, Nathan and Abigail.  That part touched me deeply.  

In the Garden of Gethsemane with Joseph, Susannah, Nathan and Abigail, and with
Nathan and Abigail on the Sea of Galilee.

On the left, we are down in the pit under the house of the High Priest, Caiaphas,
where Jesus was kept overnight. Joseph read Psalm 88 which describes
the anguish of being in such a place. At right, prayers at the Western Wall.

Sitting down for a delicious Mediterranean feast in Bethlehem...

... and digging into St. Peter's fish on the Sea of Galilee.

These two signs amused us greatly. The Holy Rock Cafe was in Jerusalem, 
and the Stars and Bucks was in Bethelehem, of all places!

Our team enjoyed meeting JLPF's Arab Partners, Hani & Shifa Billan
of Cana Baptist Church, left. Feed the Hunger had brought all kinds
of sports equipment to help with their large youth summer VBS program.
The Billans shared their burden to reach out to their unsaved community,
 and told of the persecution and opposition that is ever present.
At right, we prayed for Pamela and Shmuel Suran, our long-time
 Messianic Jewish partners in Jerusalem, for their vision of reaching
the non-Christian groups around them.

Our time in Israel over Easter week was truly a blessing. And I couldn’t help but think about J.L.’s and my visit to Ammon, Jordan, 2 years earlier during the same time period. We had gone with the expressed purpose of finding Iraqi Christians who had fled their homeland in fear of their lives. We knew that ISIS had invaded Mosul and painted this  on the doorposts of the Christian houses. This is the Arabic letter “n”, meaning that the inhabitants were followers of the Nazarene, Jesus Christ. They were given 24 hours to convert or die. The ones we found in Ammon that Easter had walked/run to Erbil, where King Abdullah of Jordan flew them by passenger planes into Ammon. How humbling it was to meet some of them, hear their stories and be among people who had left everything to be faithful to their faith.


   This leads to the second focus of this email report: the packing events organized by Feed the Hunger in memory of J.L. for the victims of ISIS aggression. The Lord had stirred in J.L.’s and my heart to help with their plight, and it was Joseph’s idea to take this spring and summer and pack food that will go directly to the refugee camps in Iraq. Thus far, we have had two events at two locations and have three more scheduled for this summer. It means a lot to me that this food will be going for needy refugees who took the same treacherous journey from Mosul to Erbil as the ones we met in Ammon in 2015. They too refused to convert to Islam and chose to follow Jesus instead.

   I have been greatly encouraged to see many of you at the first events, the 7 shifts we had in April at The Lamb’s Chapel in Haw River, and the one shift in early May at Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville. Many family members and friends attended, as well as folks going all the way back to the New Directions’ days. Please click here to see if there will be one near you and sign up to attend. Financial sponsorships are available, so don’t let the price keep you from coming. We need packers!

   In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pictures of our most recent packathons:

Joseph took a "selfie" at Lamb's Chapel,
where 276,480 meals were packed for ISIS victims.

Putting labels on the bags at both events.

Pastor Brian Biggers helps out at Lamb's Chapel, and volunteers are busy
at Lake Norman Baptist.

Caleb Fox loaded the packed boxes onto the sea container.

Joseph stands with the full container, preparing to close the doors.
The truck left Feed The Hunger for Norfolk, Virginia. It is scheduled to 
arrive in Iraq the last of June.

 Certainly the verses found in Matthew 25:34-40 apply here:

“…Come, you who are blessed by my Father;
take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you
since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and
you gave Me something to eat” … Then the righteous
will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry
and feed You?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth,
whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers of Mine, you did for Me.”

   Thank you for your kind and generous hearts, financial support and on-going prayers. Praise will ascend to God and many will be blessed because of the generosity of your time and resources.

Love in Christ,


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