In 2013 I was blessed with a divine appointment to go to Israel. The journey to Israel started many years earlier when I attended a Missions Conference where Mel Tari was speaking. Mel Tari, world known evangelist and missionary from Timor, Indonesia, is an eyewitness of some of the greatest miracles to occur in the twentieth century. Mel has witnessed the dead raised, water turned into wine, healing from all kinds of diseases (the blind see, the crippled walk, the deaf hear, the dumb speak, leprosy, cancer, etc.) and millions that have come to know Jesus all over the world in the last four decades.
Mel said something at that conference which struck a chord in me. He said “I feel sorry for you because you are at a missions conference. You have no idea what you are in for now.” He was right; I was ruined for the boring Christian life and hungry to play my part in reaching people who nobody seems to be reaching for Christ. At that very conference, I was invited to go on a ministry trip with the choice between Africa, Australia, and Israel. After much prayer, I went to Australia; however, my hunger to go to Israel and find a way to share the love of Christ with the people of Israel continued to grow. A few years later I had finally landed a great opportunity to go to Israel to minister to the children in Bethlehem during the Christmas season. We purchased plane tickets and my family, and I was all set to go pour out our love on the sweet children suffering in the very town where Jesus was born. At that time there was a 70% unemployment rate in Bethlehem. Even today it is still at 40%, so you can imagine how hard it is to make a living for most of the families who live there and my heart breaks for the kids. I won’t get into the politics of what has happened in Bethlehem, but my heart breaks for those who have been caught up in the evil that has transpired from the various people in charge of the decision making there. Unfortunately, my trip had to be put off due to an unforeseen illness in my family. I was sad but knew one day the Lord would open the door for me to go to Israel when the time was right.
A few years later I was in prayer and asked the Lord again for permission to go to Israel. I had started to write the Israel scenes in my novel and could not get past the fact that my characters were in Israel, but I had never been. I whined to the Lord how unfair it was for me to have to write about a place I had never been able to go and asked for another door to open for me. Within 24 hours of my whine, my friend Eva called me and said: “I’m going to Israel by myself, want to go with me?” It was a divine appointment from there on out. Our trip was an outreach prayer tour but also an educational journey that took me to locations I would have never expected. We ministered in Bethlehem and at an orphanage in another small town, we prayed on the Syrian border among many other unexpected opportunities. We went to all the major sights you would expect, Gethsemane, The Dead Sea, The Western Wall, The Mount of Beatitudes and so much more. The one unexpected stop that brought me to tears was the exact location where my central historical figure, Annas, had lived. His house and every other High Priest who served at The Temple in Jerusalem as well. The place where the first illegal trial of Jesus took place and where Peter denied the Lord three times before dawn on that fateful night. I was so stunned to see the location it brought me to tears. I didn’t even know it was a stop on tour in Israel. So, that helped me with the details about where Annas lived and how the High Priest held Jesus in the cell on the lower floor of his home. I went to the very cell where they held Jesus before he went on to be tried five more times on trumped up illegal trials. It was magnificent. The Lord had put me with the right Tour Guides, Twins Tours, to help me understand the significance of each moment and location. It was so incredible to witness the Holy Land in this significant way.
The other location that enamored me was the tunnels below The Western Wall which have been recently dug out. Many of my characters interact in my book in those very tunnels. Before my visit to Israel, I watched youtube videos to view them. After my visit, I was able to picture and write about Joel and Hannah on their adventure to the Holy of Holies underground which you can learn more about in the novel.
As I write this, it has been a full five years since I took that fantastic trip. I know how important the trip was for me to complete my long journey of finally getting this book published. I have to admit I am ready to go back now. Maybe one day soon I will get another call and have another divine appointment. Until that day, I will cherish my memories and hope to take my readers back to the current day streets of Jerusalem as well as to help them imagine what it was like back in 70 AD.