Cherrydale Baptist Church
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
To love God and people above all else
Pastoral Trip Middle East
Pastoral Trip - Middle East
January 26-30, 2015
Our commitment to contributing to the life and ministry of our missionaries includes a pastoral trip each year to the field of one or more of Cherrydale missionaries. Baruch and Rivka are serving in the Middle East and face challenges that few of us can fathom. Pastor Grudier and his wife are spending several days with them exploring their ministry context and seeking to bring them encouragement through the love and grace of the Lord and the whole Cherrydale family. Please use the following information to fuel your prayers for these workers and their ministry.
Islam, Judaism, and Christianity each count this land we are visiting sacred. In our day 1 entry we focused on Muslims, on day 2 we focused on the Jewish population, and today we want to highlight the Christians. Statistically about 2% of this land are categorized as Christian, with only .4% considered Evangelical. We have learned that the name 'Christian' here is mostly associated with Catholic and Orthodox because of ancient churches and their care of important historical sites. A friend here told us a story of an Arab man who said that he was a Christian, but when asked if he had ever read the New Testament he said, "No." With further dialog our friend found out this man had never even heard that Jesus was crucified, buried and then rose from the dead. Our friend found him a New Testament in Arabic and the man was thrilled...now he could read what it means to truly be a Christian. Pray for the people in this land who wear the label 'Christian' (probably because they are not a Jew or a Muslim) yet who have never really met Jesus the Savior. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of nominal Christians so that they can worship God in spirit and truth.
Today we conclude this trip blog with some photos of several significant Biblical sites that speak of the power of God and His desire to see all human beings come to repentance. In the first photo you see a staircase, dating back to the time of Jesus, that climbs to the place where Jesus faced Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin and was condemned to death and where Peter denied Jesus (Matt. 26:57-75). In the second photo you see us beside a 1st century tomb with the stone rolled away (Mark 16:1-4),and finally Simmon the Tanner's house in Joppa (Acts 9:36-10:23) where Peter stayed before taking the gospel to Cornelius, a Gentile. Please continue to pray for the gospel to impact all the people of this land and for many to come to repentance so that they may be part of the multitude worshiping around the throne (Rev. 7:9-10).
Rivka is right in the midst of a major life transition because all three of her children are in major transition. In December she sent her oldest daughter off to California, in January her son finished his military service, and in two days (February) she sends her youngest daughter off to her 2 years of military service. Whether Rivka was living in Florida or now for the past 13 years in this country in the Middle East, a significant part of her life and service has been raising her children. Managing their home life will be different now and we can pray with her that the Lord will help her to learn how to love her adult children well. She also asks us to especially pray for wisdom for the next steps for Ben who faces some challenges and needs to pursue some schooling or a job.
Rivka describes her role in ministry as a support and backup for Baruch, but he says that her role is vital in multiple areas of both the Hebrew and English speaking aspects of their work. Rivka's administrative skills are utilized for the website and now she is wondering how she can be a part of its expansion. We invite you to check out LoveIsrael.org and especially the blog tab that Rivka writes. She is not only a support to her husband and the ministry, she meets regularly with several women, two are widows, who need spiritual encouragement and care. In this time of transition for Rivka, let's stand with her in prayer that the Lord will lead her to just the women that He has prepared for her to minister to and grow with. Pray also for the development and expansion of the LoveIsrael.org website and ministry which fuels much of the ministry here in country.
In the photo, Kathy and Rivka are standing in the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17) where David fought Goliath. To the left in the picture you can see the dry brook bed where David took his 5 smooth stones as he went to face the giant from Gath. Walking through that place was a great opportunity to reflect on the power of God that is needed in this place so that the gospel can be proclaimed and lived before the people. Pray for a mighty work of God in this generation for the people all around the Valley of Elah.
We have enjoyed the hospitality of Baruch and Rivka and the opportunity to get to know their son and youngest daughter. They live in the 5th largest city in this country and we have seen some of the diversity of ministry in which that they are involved. Yesterday, we went with Baruch to the TV studio where he records his Bible teaching for a Hebrew speaking audience. His Bible lessons are aired once a week and also made available on his website. One of the greatest needs in the small believing community is sound theological teaching directly from the Word of God. Of course the opportunity for these 30 min Bible teachings on TV to reach many Hebrew speakers who have never been introduced to the message of the New Testament is huge. Baruch's media ministry through TV and his website need our constant intercession.
Let's pray that the videos, articles and an expanding collection of Bible resources including a new Discipleship Manual will be powerfully used by the Lord to reach hungry souls and bring believers to maturity. Pray also for the expansion of this work according to the Lord's direction and provision.
Baruch also has two weekly Bible study groups that he shares the Word with -- one on Saturday evening, and one on Sunday in a near by city. This face to face interaction includes the building of relationships with many people. Baruch's willingness to serve various groups and to meet current needs as well as pursue the vision for a future of strong believing communities means that he needs discernment and godly wisdom for his time and energy. Ask the Lord to lead every decision and effort according to His great mercy and powerful love.
Pray that the Lord will enable Baruch to network with people who have open hearts for the Lord's work, whether they are TV authorities, publishers, or neighbors.
Standing in an olive garden with trees that are very big and old, like the one behind us in the picture, helps us to consider the centuries, even millenia of history that have transpired in this land we are visiting. The rise and fall of nations and empires has left a significant mark on history and we have met many people here who know their history well, probably because of the impact it has had on them. Today we would like to focus on the Jewish population that makes up nearly 75% of this country. Jewish people from so many different countries of the world are now located back in their homeland and the modern Jewish community has an undeniable cohesion amid its diversity.
How much do we at Cherrydale understand about modern day Judaism? Today we learned that there are 3 basic groups within the Orthodox Jewish population in this country. About 20% of the people practice a strict application of the Torah/law (Haredi Community), 40% of the people practice a less strict application of the Torah (National Religious Movement), and the remaining 40% are secular or non-observant Jews. The most eye opening aspect of Judaism for us is that the foundation of their religion and life is solely tradition or practice, not theology. We kept asking, "Where in the Old Testament is that practice or belief found?" Baruch let us know that this is not the question a typical Jew will ask. The traditions are dictated by centuries of commentary on Jewish life by their sages, without any significant theological concerns in regard to the nature or character of God. They just do the things they are told..."you can do A, B and C but you can not do X, Y, and Z.". This made us realize all the more what a great message we have to share with our Jewish neighbors.
Pray today for all the efforts to share redemption in Jesus the Christ with the Jewish people. Pray that many Jews will seek to know the God of the Old Testament by studying His word and learning to know and trust His character. Ask the Lord to break through the dead traditions which will never bring salvation.
Our first full day in the Middle East brought many new insights into the people, the land, and the religions of this region of the world. We are visiting a major city that has a long standing co-existance of the three major monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Sometimes there is peaceful co-existence, like today when we were walking up a street in the Muslim section of town with a Jewish friend, two Muslim boys about 8 years old saw us and gave us a big smile. But there are also periods of conflict large and small, like when this same friend just a few years ago was walking in a different Muslim neighborhood and the children started throwing rocks at him. In today's entry we have decided to highlight Muslims, who make up slightly more than 20% of the population of this country. We hope that we can convey some of our increased understanding and we urge you to pray with a new sense of purpose.
We had an interesting conversation with a young taxi driver whose name is Islam. He was telling us that he has lived in this city his whole life, but he wants more than driving a taxi. He is in fact
taking a trip to China with the hopes of starting an import/export business. He is young, globally minded, and looking for a prosperous life. We also witnessed a Muslim funeral as we were walking into one of the city gates today. It caught us by surprise, and looked a little like some of the mob type funerals you might see on the news. The large group of about 100 men, holding the casket high, covered in the traditional green cloth with Arabic lettering made it clear that is was a Muslim only ceremony. About two hours later we were on another street and two Muslim men approached us wanting to share their faith hoping to convert us to Islam. We were reminded afresh that it is impossible to accurately stereotype. We believe in and serve a God of truth and grace who is ready to meet the need in the hearts of every Muslim we see or meet.
Please pray for the Muslims in this country that their political aspirations would be replaced with a hunger and a thirst to know the one and only true God. Pray also for the hearts of Christians to be softened toward Muslims and for a willingness to enter their lives so that we can share the hope of Jesus with them.
March 21-April 1, 2013