Today, we’re bringing you the second installment of our Israel 2020 series, written by Church President Brother Joel Gehly. Look for this series every Friday and Saturday for the next month!
We were in northern Israel, perhaps less than 5 or 6 miles from the Lebanon border, and stopped at an area identified as Caesarea Philippi. This place is in the northern hill area of Israel and it has a water spring at the base of a cliff that is one of the three identified springs that begin the Jordan river. It was here at Caesarea Philippi that part of the Church mission statement resonated within me and I saw the work clearly.
The Mission Statement of the Church includes the wording, “to draw Israel to Christ” and “through an effort” focused on the Native Americans of North and South America. The meaning of the words is important to consider. As we visited Caesarea Philippi, we were reminded of the interaction between Jesus and His disciples. The question was asked (Matthew 16), “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Peter replies to the question, and Jesus affirms that they (the disciples) had received of the Father both knowledge and faith. The disciples were “drawn” to Christ in faith, and they had witnessed the power of the Son of God.
During our tour of Israel, we were with a group of ten indigenous people (Navajo and Cree). The knowledge of Jesus Christ with this specific group is very strong, and their faith in Jesus Christ is growing day by day. This group specifically invited The Church of Jesus Christ to join them on the trip to Israel. We believe the Father is drawing them closer and closer to Christ and building their understanding of who they are as part of the children of Israel. I believe we experienced that “to draw Israel to Christ,” the Lord sometimes must also draw Israel to us.
While at Caesarea Philippi, one of our evangelists gave beautiful words of encouragement and exhortation to our tour group. The power of the Spirit of God was very strong in confirmation of the message. It “drew” the indigenous people to a recognition of the power of God among us, and there were many who exclaimed and glorified God in that place. I also believe it was one of the key moments in our trip that “drew” us together as part of the entire group.
The Lord is doing a great work today in drawing many indigenous people to a knowledge of The Church of Jesus Christ in the Americas. The Church continues to reach out — and now comes the other phrase — “through an effort.” We saw great evidence in Israel of the Lord doing His part in drawing Israel to us, but we also are required to do our part. Effort, yes even great effort by brothers and sisters, is necessary for the Church to draw Israel to Jesus Christ. We make the Lord’s work in drawing Israel to us much, much harder if we are not among the nation of Joseph. We must work to be among the children of Israel and strive to draw them to faith in Jesus Christ through the power of the Spirit of God.
Toward the end of our time in Israel, there was an opportunity to share our Church belief in the restoration of all the nations of Israel. It was a message that the indigenous people on our tour group have been yearning to understand for many years. As a Church group, we also sang to our entire tour the Song of Zion No. 100, “Won’t It Be Something To See Israel Smile?” At the end of the song, we presented wooden plaques that were engraved with the song — they had been made and brought to Israel for this purpose — to the President of the Navajo nation, Mr. Jonathan Nez, and also the Cree Grand Chief, Mr. David Harper. It was a very touching moment, and we saw tears in the eyes of many.
Afterward, Mr. Harper approached me and shared with me that he had “seen” a mantle of “authority” upon us. He was also very touched with the gift we presented him for his nation. Mr. Nez has also become friends with us as a Church, and we have been invited to visit his office and discuss ways to work together with the Navajo nation.
So today, Lesson 2 is the Lord and the Church drawing Israel to Christ. I know the Lord is working and doing His part. The Church must continue and work to expand our efforts with the children of Israel. It is our time.
View of Caesarea Philippi
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.