His family was Coptic Orthodox Christians. His parents met and were married in southern California so he was not actually born in Egypt but he has been there a number of times. He jokes that his home was like a 2,200 square foot Egypt because they spoke Arabic in the home, the smells of Egypt were in the home, and the pictures were of Egypt, etc.. Because they spoke Arabic in the home he speaks an Egyptian dialect of Arabic. He knows a lot about the culture, but his background is mostly that of a Coptic Orthodox Christian.
The Coptic Orthodox church never taught a biblical type of repentance and Salvation. He heard the Gospel for the first time when he was 18 years old. He saw that it was through the Gospel that he could have a true relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He was born again when he was 18 1/2 years old and his life completely changed.
He felt that he should go to Bible college and the Lord called him into the ministry. He now does his best to serve the Lord.
I met this man about a year ago and Charlie said something to me that really got me thinking about Israel in a way that I had never done before. He said that the Devil tries to keep people from visiting Israel because he knows how much it will impact our lives. When you come to see the land and see where the events of the New Testament took place it ads color to your life and the Bible comes alive.
Charlie has a passion for bringing people to Israel and he has been conducting trips like this for a number of years. He feels that coming here opens the Bible in ways that most of us lack. As you know I lived in Europe for 29 years and it would have been relatively easy to come but I kept making excuses.
Israel will always have problems. As we were flying to Israel there was an incident on the Lebanese border. Two Israeli soldiers were killed on the day we were getting ready to fly over here.
We have been to the Golan Heights, the region where this happened. There is no feeling of danger or anything like that. I have felt more fear in many American cities.
This trip has allowed me to see the Bible through a Middle Eastern lens. I have learned so much from coming here.
Charlie came to Israel for the first time in 2006 and he felt that God wanted him to bring people to this land. Because he speaks Arabic he is able to talk to the people there. This helped him understand things from the Bible.
There are three things he likes to bring to the people when he promotes these trips to Israel. The first thing he wants them to know is that the Bible is 100% real. The events recorded in the Scriptures are true events, they are not fictional stories. Archaeology proves the veracity of the accounts of the events of the Bible. Today we went to an archaeological dig where they have found the home of Mary Magdalene. This was found within the last 6 or 7 years.
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2 Peter 1:16
Peter is saying that what we learned from Jesus Christ, and what we are teaching are not cunningly devised fables. They are not like Mickey Mouse cartoons or a Hollywood movie. The events of the Bible are 100% non-fiction.
The second thing he likes to promote when he brings a group to Israel is the people. The Bible teaches that God loves people, especially Jewish people.
The third thing is that this is a land that God loves and He promised to bring Israel back into the land. God promised that the land would be a land of plenty. We have seen this truth come to pass. When Israel became a nation the land was desolate, today it is a land of plenty. Today Israel produces more fruit for Europe than any county in the world. This is particularly amazing when we realize that Israel is the size of New Jersey and that 60% of the land is dessert. It is because God has blessed this land.
We had services yesterday by the Sea of Galilee. One must see this to appreciate it. It is like a catch basin. The hills rise around it and I can see how the winds could whip down across the sea and cause storms like those recorded in the New Testament. You can see for miles around. You can see Capernaum and Gennesaret. where Jesus cast out the demons.
We have been in Israel for about three days and we have visited a number of sites. Visiting the region of Galilee helps us understand why Jesus spent so much of His time here. It is a beautiful and serene region. We also visited Caesarea. This is the place where the Gospel went to the Gentiles for the first time. We also visited Caesarea Philippi where Jesus took His disciples in Matthew 16.
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:13-16
It is also where He introduced the idea of the church to them.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.1 Matthew 16:18
We have visited Capernaum where Jesus first spoke of repentance.
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. Matthew 11:21-24
This is also the place where the man that was brought through the roof was healed. It is where Peter’s mother-in-law was healed. It is the place where the money to pay the tax was found in the mouth of a fish.
Tomorrow we are going to Nazareth where Jesus grew up and where he probably learn Joseph profession of a carpenter. We will be going to the Jordan river where John baptized. We will be going to Jericho, which some say is the hottest, the oldest, and the lowest city on the earth. We will be going to Jerusalem and to the Mt. of Olives. We will be able to look on the place where the temple once stood and where, according to prophecy, will once stand again. While in Jerusalem we will visit many sites mentioned in the Bible, including the tomb where Jesus was burred and from which He rose from the grave.
This week we will be reporting on the things we are seeing so I hope you will be back all this week as we try to make these places come to life. We hope this will help you better understand your Bible. I must say, however, words alone cannot do it justice. Maybe you will be able to join us in a future trip to Israel.
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