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Biblical understanding about Israel
It is not easy for Malaysians to travel to Israel. They require a special visa which is meant for Israel but does not mention Israel by name. But a group of 24 Malaysians responded to Wilson Ng’s (C4I South East Asia Representative) and took the opportunity to visit Israel, to explore more deeply the Jewish roots of their faith and to tour the Land of the Bible. The group was accompanied by Rev. Willem Glashouwer (President C4I International) and his wife Marianne.
Shirley Yeap, one of the participants shares: “We were very blessed to be here at this time and believe this was God’s timing for us: the Malaysian government has lifted its quota on pilgrims to Israel recently. This was an answer to many intercessions (within and outside Malaysia) for open doors. While we were in Jerusalem, a senior Jewish lady was so elated to see us Malaysians. She clutched me in delight and mentioned that many others have been praying for Malaysians to come to Israel. One of her friends who works in the state visa department told her that currently, Malaysians and Indonesians ranked the tops in visa processing. We are so thankful to God for His faithfulness.”
During their tour the group visited Caesarea Philippi, the Mount of Beatitudes, Sea of Galilee, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Betlehem, Qumran, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea. In Jerusalem the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, Via Dolorosa, Garden Tomb, and Yad Vashem were visited. Also included in the program were visits to some of the projects of Christians for Israel, such as an absorption center for Ethiopian Jews to study aliyah (immigration to Israel), and the Soup Kitchen of Hineni Jerusalem.
Shirley shares one of her personal highlights of the tour: “We visited Nevah Efrat Retreat Center which is a Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation. We participated in a text study on the Tenach (Old Testament) with Jewish scholar David Nekrutmen. This was a highlight for most of us: an excellent center to clarify on the theological and faith area of agreement and disagreement of the scriptures. It was a very enriching session.”
The group spent a day in Samaria, the Biblical heartland: “Sondra Baras, the bubbly director of Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC) briefed and showed us around Karnei Shomron, a community in Samaria. From the views and facts explained by Sondra, we now have a better understanding on why this land was a much-contented land by other forces. It was arranged that we could plant fruit trees in the compound and all of us received a certificate from the mayor of the kibbutz for this 'green' project.”
During their time in Israel the group from Malaysia had the honour of visiting Pastor Naim Khoury. “Pastor Khoury is a Palestinian pastor whose life has been touched and transformed by God,” explains Shirley. “The love of God melts his heart and he is faithful to his Master’s call in staying back to serve here, despite the death threats and abounding opportunities for him to migrate. We were also excited to hear of his testimonies on God’s protection, leading and guidance in the outreach works. God is sovereign indeed.”
Many of the group are planning to come again and are eager to promote this study tour to their friends and loved ones back home.