Today Mally and I and the family we are staying with (4 children and the two parents and a friend that's staying with them) crammed into a van along with our luggage and food and traveled 3 hours north to a youth hostel. This is actually very close to the Lebanon border--you can actually see the border because it's a very sensitive border. It's right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. I took a photo of Mally standing on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea with the Lebanon border in the background. (I can't send pictures to the blog at this point...)
On the way up here, we passed some interesting places and we're going to come back and visit some of them next week when we have a couple days of sight seeing before we return home.
We passed the Valley of Megiddo which is spoken of in the Bible in regard to the battle of Armageddon. It's quite a spectacular valley. We also passed Mount Carmel and we could see on the mountain a Catholic shrine. We won't be able to visit it this trip but supposedly that was where Elijah and the prophets of Baal were gathered when he had 400 prophets killed. They say that that is the only place on the mountain where there's enough room for 400 people like that to gather because there's a flat part on the top of the mountain. No one knows for sure of course, but it's interesting.
Then we arrived at the youth hostel. The temperature and humidity are just high. It's in the high 90's and it's hot hot hot and humid. We had 140 young people and 25 youth leaders crammed into the dining room because there wasn't enough room in the lecture hall for them. (Remember that I said in an earlier report that they had to turn 40 people away because they couldn't fit in here.) What they did was turn the dining room into a lecture room and it has windows all the way down one side. It has air conditioners but with 160 people in there and with the windows down one side, not a cloud in the sky and the sun was beating down on the windows, it was so hot--it was a lot worse than a sauna!
I gave the first lecture to the kids and the next two lectures are tomorrow morning but the sun will be on the other side, so hopefully it won't be near as hot. The kids seem to be listening real intently and asked some good questions at the end. I had a 16 year old girl come up and tell me in her Hebrew accent (speaking fairly good English) that she came here with lots of questions but I had answered them. A number of them had questions about cloning and abortion-apparently they are big topics over here. One of the things I realized is that they're no different to kids anywhere else in the world. They're taught evolution as fact in the schools and taught all the same sorts of things. I also found out they do teach the Bible in schools over here, but the Bible teachers are what we would call extremely liberal. They teach that the Bible is a collection of myths, fables, etc. There's an incredible anti-Christian bias in the schools--this is truly a pagan country.
My heart goes out to the young people as they have very little understanding of the Bible as the absolute authority of the Word of God and they don't really know how to make moral judgments, but yet they want to learn and know
I must admit that living with an Israeli family and learning more about the whole situation with Palestine, Arabs, and so on it just makes you realize how much we don't understand the culture over here at all. We really have no idea/understanding of what's going on. An important point to remember is that you really have to understand the culture and live in the culture before one can really make comments about things.
One very important thing that I would like to share with you is that there were a number of Christian Arab young people at this meeting. Usually Arabs and Jews don't mix (even Christian Arabs and Jews don't mix) so this apparently it is an unheard thing that there were quite a number of Christian Arab young people that came to this particular conference.
One of the things that our host said to me was that the ministry of Answers in Genesis and what we are dealing with in regard to creation, evolution, Genesis and the authority of Scripture and so on, crosses boundaries that most other ministries can't cross. He said he's never been able to get Christian Arab young people to come to meetings like this, and that this ministry is able to do it. I'm able to get into places that normally they're not able to get into and attract people that normally would not come to these sorts of meetings. So really, it's quite an honor and privilege to be able to be here. They are saying that these meetings are historic. These are really historic meetings in a sense of the size and the Christian Arabs that are coming.
There was a youth leader here tonight that spoke to me and said that the church is very small in Israel but he has noticed in the last couple of years that the Church is really starting to expand and explode over here and the time is right. I'm going to be speaking to a number of the strategic church leaders of the Evangelical Church particularly the last Friday before I leave. One of the things our host has said is that he's hoping that this will help them really have an understanding for the right foundation. The church is very young--it's only in its second generation here in Israel. Before that there was really nothing much at all. What a time to give it the right foundation from the authority of Scripture in regard to Genesis.
Again, what a privilege it is to be able to be here to be a part of this. That's what's happening over here. Thanks for your prayers.