It’s Purim and signs like this were all over the city of Jerusalem. This festival that is kept every year as a time of joyous celebration, feasting and remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Jewish people (Esther 9:18-32). What a delight it is to be here in Jerusalem for ‘such a time as this!’ Since the time of Joshua, the festival is celebrated in most cities on the 14 Adar of the Jewish calendar, but walled cities celebrated Purim on 15 Adar. Everywhere we walked, there were people dressed up in different costumes, some in the traditional outfits of Esther or Mordecai and others in any costume they so desired. We met people on the train, on the bus, walking down the street or at the many shops we passed by. Every year they use this time to remember how God saved the Jewish people through the brave Queen Esther when Haman wanted to have all the Jews killed because he had a deep hatred for Mordecai, who was Esther’s uncle. The King did not know Esther was a Jew and went through with Haman’s deceitfulness by signing an edict to annihilate the Jews. But after Esther had called her people to fast and pray, she risked her own life and approached the King to plead with him for them to be saved. In the end, the Jews could fight for themselves, Haman was hung in the gallows he had installed for Mordecai and Mordecai became an important leader for the King. Esther knew she had been made Queen for ‘such a time as this’ in the land and God used her in a mighty way. It was Mordecai who issued a decree for the Jews to celebrate this time every year. You can read this whole story in the Book of Esther in the Old Testament.
While we were taking a walk on the Old City wall, we met this family near the Dung Gate. The were so precious and excited for this holiday, spending the day together outdoors in the sunshine.
At the Christ Church Guesthouse where we were staying just inside the Jaffa Gate, they were having a Purim party which we were invited to attend. One of the traditions on this holiday was to act our the story of Esther. Each time the name Haman was said, the audience booed and when Esther was mentioned everyone cheered. So this year, the celebration was a ‘Pirates of the Carribean’ theme and the play was written with that theme in mind. What a joy it was to watch the story reinacted in this way! If you’d like to watch the drama, visit the FB page for the guesthouse for the 15 minute length video but you must like the page first.
The above photo is of the character Mordecai in black and the narrator behind him.
Here we are, Kimberly, myself and Lynnette, in our Purim party costumes that we managed to put together with the help of a local shop owner in the market who sold us the headbands and waist wraps. How fun to ‘dress up’ for this while here in the Old City and to attend this Purim party here at the guesthouse!
Most of the men at the guesthouse were dressed as pirates. This fellow was a slight bit taller than me
We had visited the Abraham’s well in the Negev Desert and ‘Abraham’ was dressed up everyday there but these two precious children were eager to have a photo taken with him while in their Purim costumes.
We met these these two young girls on the train while we were going to our serving project with Bridges for Peace. Many of the girls wore a princess costume of some sort.
While led we were at the Bridges for Peace Food Bank in Jerusalem, we met some fun folks who loved to dress up for this holiday as well. We were very moved by their gift baskets they had put together for the Holocaust survivors. Purim is also a time of giving gifts to the poor and so many gift bags had been assembled for this occasion here at the Food Bank. I was moved to tears when I saw this sign.
It was truly an honor and a blessing to be in Jerusalem for this time. Another significant event that happened was the visit by the Prime Minister of Israel to the United States to address the congress and President Obama about the ISIS situation! right on the day of Purim. The PM used the story Esther to relate to the situation of their enemies want to destroy them once again and asking of the US and other countries to stand with Israel and protect their people. How significant that this was done on Purim!! Again, to be in Israel for this time was truly God’s timing and not ours. We are living in exciting days and we are called as believers to ‘Stand for Israel’ and to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, who is in all actuality, the Messiah Jesus Christ, who one day will return and bring His Peace to the nations and to end all hatred and war and death for all time.
Shalom my friends, seek the Lord, who can restore all situations and bring peace into your life no matter what horrible circumstances have taken place. He is the Only One who can save.
It was a fascinating couple of days seeing firsthand what Bridges for Peace does here in Israel. We spent some time at their office hearing about their many different projects where they connect with the Jewish people and show the love of Jesus to them through their actions. Their website is www.bridgesforpeace.com/il/
Having an orientation in their beautiful Israel from 2,000 years ago room. One of the common sayings here is “we are called to be lights not loud speakers.” We are living in amazing times and God is doing incredible things in this Jewish nation. Bridges for Peace witnesses that every week.
The BFP Food Bank is very active in Israel. From groceries going out every week, to food drives being done continually, eating centers throughtout the country…the food that goes out of this place on weekly basis is phenomenal. Volunteers come from all over the world and work here for 1 week or 3 or 6 months or a year or more. There were a number of Canadians here this week.
The dots on this map shows where BFP centers are in Israel.
Incredible visual reminder of all the many different volunteers from many different nations who come to BFP and how we are all called to stand with Israel.
Bags of of food that get delivered every week
Celebrating Purim here too
We we had prayed around the food that was being sent out before hopping on the train to go to the Holocaust museum to be reminded of the horror of what happened to the Jewish nation in the past. The visits, gifts, and support that BFP gives to the Holocaust survivors who are in homes moved all of us greatly.
At Yad Vasham, the Holocaust museum
We also spent a couple of days at the WIZO community and family center. Here they have a vocational school for teens in grades 9-12 who have some emotional and learning challenges. What this school offers them through music, drama and movement therapy is astounding. These teens also leave school having gotten some training in cooking or hairdressing. The hands on approach and the incredible teachers who are like family to them changes the lives of these teens.
This mural was painted by some of our group while myself and Kimberly went to help in the preschool and did some precious painting as well.
The mothers in this center made a delicious meal for us showing their thankfulness to us spending our time working on these projects here for them.
After the new mural was complete, we freshened up this mural in the main stairwell that had been painted a few years ago by another group. It was a joy to work with the original artist Simon who has done great mural work throughout the entire school and center. To be able to bless the women and children who are in this place is such an incredible feeling. Their stories of where they’ve come from and why they’re here in this place are heart wrenching. We thank God for bringing us here.
Together with the artist
The two men in our group painted the radiators.
A joy to work together with Daniel and Jeanette from Bridges for Peace to bring some restoration on these walls, build relationships and show the love of Jesus through our actions.
We are all thankful for our time together and love the gift of these t-shirts given to us, reminding us to stand with Israel and build bridges together. God’s covenant with Israel are everlasting.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, Peace be within you. Because of your house of the Lord our God I will seek your good.” Psalm 122:6-9