Today we left the banks of the Sea of Galilee to head to Jerusalem for our final four nights here in Israel. On the way, well more our of the way, we made two stops. The first was in the area of Jenin in Palestine. Crossing back in to the West Bank was a bit of culture shock after being in the beautiful towns of Galilee. We found our way to the Church of the 10 Lepers in Burqin. You’ll remember the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19. We saw two giant water cisterns where these men likely lived, and a beautiful Eastern Orthodox church commemorating the healing. Some of us even had the chance to climb down into one of the cisterns!
After seeing and hearing more about the church we were given the opportunity to meet three muslim women from the town. These women, along with thirty-three others (9 christian and 24 muslim), are a part of a World Vision project that is working to empower the women and strengthen the community. They make soaps and other things out of olive oil, and we even had a chance to see their workshop. It was a beautiful example of the power of building bridges within communities with members of other faiths, and we were all encouraged by this opportunity.
Our next stop was in Caesarea by the Sea, an ancient city, built initially by Herod the Great, enlarged by the Byzantines, flattened by earthquakes, restored (though to a much smaller degree) by the Crusaders, and finally demolished by the Mamluks. It sits on/in the Mediterranean, and was, in it’s prime, an incredible port city, complete with a theatre, hippodrome, palace, and lighthouse. We sat and worshipped in the amphitheater with the Mediterranean as a backdrop.
And now we’re in our hotel in the Old City of Jerusalem. Our last few days will be based here in the Old City, and we’re really looking forward to exploring and seeing all this city has to offer.