Tomorrow we leave for Jordan and Israel. We will research sites related to Elijah in Jordan and sites related to David/Solomon in Israel. People ask us if we are worried, even asking “Do you have your bullet proof vests?“ We say, "No, we are not concerned."
First, we trust in the providence of God — he has given us a project and we will do it and trust him in the process. Second, Israel is a safe, modern country contrary to what you see and hear with sensational news media outlets. We have been there many times over the last few years and know of what we speak. Third, just like in the United States there are certain areas you avoid if you know what is best for you. We know those places in the Middle East and avoid them when possible.
In Israel we have good friends to assist us (namely Zvi & Tami Harpaz). In Palestinian areas we also have good friends to assist us. We are warmly welcomed in both places. Lunch in the West Bank with Palestinian friends and dinner in Israel with Jewish friends. This little land the size of New Jersey is delightful, beautiful, friendly, exciting and full of sites and sounds and smells that seldom fail to bring tears of joy and discovery into the eyes of a Christian. There we are walking on Holy Ground and the sacramental sense never fails to give me goosebumps and a sense of prayer.
We have been Catholics 10 years now. To celebrate we planned this video research trip to coincide with Easter. After our discoveries in Jordan we will drive across the border into Israel and drive the 3,000 feet from the Jordan Valley up to the heights of Jerusalem — "up to Jerusalem". At the point where we cross over we are at the lowest point on the face of the earth — 1300 feet below sea level — and HOT.
We will arrive in Jerusalem in time for Holy Thursday. We will celebrate Good Friday at the very place Jesus suffered his Passion (see Mel Gibson's movie if you haven't yet) with all the local Christians, most of whom are Palestinian Catholics. The Easter Vigil will be in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and I may be a reader at the Mass. On that day I will enter the tomb, touch the slab on which Jesus was laid and weep for joy that God had mercy on me a sinner and thank him that ten years ago he brought me into his family.
I will pray for many people while there including those who visit my website and the many wonderful folks who make the Message Board such a vibrant, intelligent and loving place. I will especially pray for Siggy and the moderators who work day and night to make the Board a reality. I am also grateful to my son Jesse and my wonderful staff at my company who take care of the business and allow me to serve the kingdom in such a unique way.
Happy Easter everyone and may God bless and enrich you all in every way!
Steve Ray 4/2/04