A few years ago, I was on a post-doctoral trip to the Holy Land. I found Israel to be a wonderful place filled with good people. For instance, I’d just deplaned and was thirsty. There were some vending machines nearby, so I headed over only to discover that they needed Israeli shekel coins. I had already obtained paper currency, but no coinage. As I was standing there puzzling over what I should do, a stranger walked over and asked what I wanted to drink. He bought me the beverage I indicated but wouldn’t take any money from me. As I said thank you, he said, “You’re welcome, thank you for visiting Israel.” And he was on his way. During my time there, many people thanked me for visiting their country. I wondered in my mind if that gentleman or others would receive such a hospitable welcome in the United States. Somehow, I doubted that he would.

We were there in June and it was so hot I would have believed it if someone told me that the earth had moved closer to the sun. We were constantly guzzling down bottled water trying to stay ahead of dehydration. We visited all manner of historical, Biblical, and interesting sites and we were always greeted by the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered. After a few days there I noticed that I was getting weaker and weaker even though I consumed tremendous amounts of water. Fortunately, one of my classmates knew what was plaguing me. Water was not replenishing my electrolytes, so my system was struggling to operate properly. God supplied for me because that classmate had also wisely brought powdered Gatorade with him for just this reason. 16 ounces of hastily made Gatorade later I was feeling much better. I knew I needed to get more so that I could last the whole trip.

I searched the internet till I found a drugstore that carried what I needed. My host at the place we were lodging arranged for a cab for me. It was several miles to the drugstore, and I had to pay a pretty shekel to get there. However, the cab driver was very kind and friendly and gave me a 24-hour number to call if I needed him to take me anywhere. He was concerned that some of the non-Israeli cab drivers would overcharge me or take me far from where I wanted to go and charge me to bring me back. Apparently, that happens too often.

After being there for a few more days I was sick of water and Gatorade and desperately wanted that most amazing of beverages that in some countries can be hard to find – coffee. I wanted coffee so badly that I walked uphill (or so it seemed) for about a mile in the heat to get a cup. It was a little café with outdoor seating. As I sat sipping that sumptuous, savory, and satisfying cup of Joe, a car pulled into the alley near the café. Four men got out and as they were rearranging their attire, I noticed that a few of them had holstered pistols beneath their jackets. I felt this interesting, but since there were armed soldiers all over the place I was not terribly concerned. The men ordered their beverages and sat at a table near mine. We engaged in a conversation and again these were very kind, hospitable and sincere men. As it turned out, one of the men was the top assistant to the president of Israel. And there we were, me a mere tourist hobnobbing with people connected to the national government. I was treated with the courtesy one would accord someone of high standing. I still have that gentleman’s business card.

I could tell many more stories, like the friendship I struck up with our tour bus driver, and various friendly soldiers who’d pose for pictures if you asked them but considering the present crisis in the Middle East with Hamas attacking Israel, I wanted to showcase the kindness and hospitality I found everywhere when I was there. And I want to remind believers that Scripture says: Psalm 122:6-7 (New Living Translation) “Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper. O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
and prosperity in your palaces.”

That said, I also believe it important to pray for peace for the people of Gaza too. While we’re at it, we probably should be praying for all other peoples and nations too!

Shalom and God bless you!

Contact Pastor Lamb at imlayumc@yahoo.com.