Marhaba Brothers and Sisters,
How can I even begin to put into words all of the things the Lord did this summer? I was one of four leaders on the Teen Missions Israel Hope Secondary School team. We had 15 team members (eight guys, seven gals) ranging from ages 13-19. My team came to Florida for two weeks of training at the Lord’s Boot Camp. While there, they learned valuable skills such as block laying, carpentry, concrete, and puppets. They also learned the meaning of teamwork. In the evenings, they enjoyed our evening rallies, which consisted of a time of praise and worship and then a message and invitation. I was kept busy during Boot Camp by leading music for both the Peanut Camp (ages 7-9) and the Preteen Camp (ages 9-12). I also enjoyed being Miss Piggy – the gal who checks all of the tent sites to make sure they are clean. The winning team got to swim in the pool but the losing team had to clean the bathrooms. I had fun as Miss Piggy!
After Boot Camp, my team flew to Tel Aviv, Israel and bused to Hope Secondary School in Beit Jala. Hope School is a school for underprivileged kids, orphans, and those who require special care. Both Christian and Muslim students attend the school. Our main work project was to build a new security fence around the school’s perimeter to protect the school from thieves. We also painted and prepared the classrooms for the upcoming school year. A small but impacting project was to put up a large wooden cross on the top of the school. The team worked hard and we accomplished more than expected! As they were working, people would stop along the side of the road to ask what we were doing. What an opportunity to be a light in a nation where evangelism is illegal. While the team worked with their shovels and trowels, I worked with my spatula and spoons to feed them. I was blessed to be working in the kitchen with Shawna Myers, the head female leader. I enjoyed serving alongside a fellow TMI staff member. Some of the foods we ate included fresh pita bread (almost daily), falafels, plums, chicken, and I even got to try hearts and livers! I was also able to teach some of the Bible classes for the team and it was a blessing to pour into their lives and watch the Lord work in them as they grew.
Being that we were in the Holy Land, we visited many of the places where Jesus had once walked. First of all, the school overlooked the Valley of Elah which is where David fought Goliath. We also visited places like the old town of Jerusalem, Shepherd’s Field, The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Golgotha, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Garden Tomb, The Mount of Olives (which overlooked the Dome of the Rock), and the Dead Sea. It was the experience of a lifetime!
God touched my heart in an unusual way this summer. This is my seventh team with Teen Missions and I’ve always enjoyed serving and growing and watching my team grow too. But God laid something on my heart this summer that I’ve never quite felt before. My heart cries for the people of this nation. Hope School is actually located in Palestine and I was privileged to gain a deeper understanding of the oppression that our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing there. God also deepened my burden for the people of Palestine. I really bonded with some of the individuals we worked with at Hope School. Solomon Nour, the director of the school, was like a grandfather to our team. I’ve never had someone so involved with us overseas and he was so generous to the team. He blessed us greatly. I also got close to another individual at the school (name is omitted for safety). He is a graduate of the school and he was also a Muslim. The Lord put him on my heart all summer and I prayed for him daily. We had talked many times throughout the summer, but I stayed up the night before we packed up to leave so I could do the team’s laundry and get it up on the lines to dry. While I was doing laundry, I had the opportunity to talk with him. We talked about life, politics, and religion. I was able to share Christ with him and we discussed what he believed. He was searching for the truth. He also told me about the oppression he has faced as a Palestinian. You know, there are many things the US government doesn’t tell us. It breaks my heart. That morning during devotions, I couldn’t focus on the Word because I felt a strong need to pray for him and that God would shake him to the core.
God answered that prayer, but God’s answers are not always easy to endure. Later that afternoon, while we were still packing, we got word that Solomon, our beloved Grandfather, had passed away in his sleep. He had just been with us the night before as we had a time of sharing and he had expressed his gratitude to the team for accomplishing the fence and the cross. It was his dream to see those projects finished. We loved Solomon. It was very hard for us that day, but it was harder for my friend. Solomon was like a father to him. People ask why God lets bad things happen to good people; this is why—my team surrounded him with prayer that afternoon. One by one they went back to work and just Ian (the assistant male leader) and I remained. I’m tearing up as I write this because God blessed me so much in what happened – Ian and I got to pray with my friend to receive Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Praise God, hallelujah! Solomon had lived a good, full life; and God used Solomon’s death to bring about new life for my friend. The team left for the airport late that night. Before leaving, I was encouraging him to stay strong in the Lord and to remember that even though the team was leaving, he was not alone. He responded saying, “I know. God is with me. Jesus is with me too.”
Please pray for my friend. If his family finds out he has accepted Christ, they will reject him. I also ask that you pray for the people of Palestine and for the people in Israel. Pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering and being oppressed; also pray for the Muslims, like my friend, that Christ may be revealed to them. God has blessed me so much this summer through my friendships – I will never be the same. My heart is burdened for these people and I pray for their safety, peace, and salvation daily. Thank you all for your prayers over the summer. The school was blessed by our work, the team grew and overcame obstacles in their lives, and I was forever touched by what the Lord put on my heart. It is now fall and a new term of BMW is starting at Teen Missions. I am very excited for what the Lord is going to do here! Thank you and God bless.
Allie Kozlowski, Phil. 4:6-7