Eve of Departure
Updated: Jan 9, 2021
Editor's Note: the following piece kicks off a series describing our Israel-India-Arava Mission of February 2020. So much to share, & so much in my heart about it all. We hope you will enjoy the mini-series about the special journey.
We knew this mission would someday arrive. Had it finally? A trek across country and in a flight across the Atlantic, ten days in the Holy Land would begin. Not just a tour, though the sights are endless there, this was a mission - to excavate the Spice Road and reconnect at Abraham’s Well.
When you leave for any trip and especially for a foreign country, your mind is a flurry with activity. My mental checklist kept spooling… did I pack this or that, did I set up all the bill pays, is everything arranged, enough meals in the freezer for John, food in the bin for Daisie? Lying in bed at night, it certainly wasn’t sugarplums dancing in my head.
What did Commission Fields hope to do, to accomplish? The goal was to gather a few core leaders from our groups in South India and put their feet on Israel’s soil. There, they would visit where the growing pastors’ network had sent offerings. They would see Israeli innovation and ingenuity up close and personal. They would see the places of the Book come alive so their future teaching and scripture study would be energized with new understanding. And in the nuts and bolts of the goals were more specifically the connections arranged for our team with AICAT -- the Arava International Center for Agricultural Training – an important piece of the learning- and leading-puzzle for our Southern friends. From the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, core leaders from the South of India would connect with amazing pioneers and innovators in the South of Israel via the US Southerners from Arkansas. Commission Fields, as a partner of the Arkansas Jewish Federation, would help connect the dots. This mission was more a beginning of steps rather than of one thing to “accomplish.”
Months of research, planning, discussions and calls gave me plenty of time to fret – no lie. Opportunities to overcome were abundant. But I paused on this eve of departure, not because the time of labor and delivery had finally come to replace the pregnancy, but probably because of an equal amount of months’ research in another arena of the CF alliance – Second Chance Youth Ranch, had taught me about other kinds of departures. Kids close to home, right in my own county and surrounding counties, kids actually by the thousands, are often plucked from the only home they know, separated from harmful or neglectful, damaging situations, sometimes in the middle of the night – leaving only with a garbage bag to carry out their few possessions. These precious young ones must adapt quickly to new situations, new homes and foster parents, new schools, and begin the process of navigating through the court system as birth parents’ futures hang in the balance. That goes way beyond fretting and stress. Kids leaving a home with nothing more than a garbage bag and a few articles of clothing. No favorite pillow. The uncertainty of their own future and the potential of rejection and displacement again and again… How much grace and light is needed by more and more parents joining the community of fostering and adoption, not in a far-away place – in our own neighborhoods.
More than 70 years before nights like these were departures of still another kind, as Jews fleeing Nazi oppression and the overrunning of Europe went from nation to nation, hiding where able, until some could safely reach Ha’Eretz…that Land of the Book they saw as still theirs in the Promise. What did the eve of those departures feel like? Would the next stop be their last? Would someone betray them, a friend, a neighbor or a Christian misled by anti-Semitic doctrines? Would their family ever be reunited? Would the whole world reject them? In that terrible age, the Jewish population of Europe was decimated. Whole communities were destroyed. Over a million and half children were murdered, cutting short generations of a people…How much grace and light would it take for the few survivors actually reaching Israel to dig in and build new cities, restore old ones, blending the old and the new to define a new State in an Ancient Land of Promise? This Land would itself be The Middle – middle of the world map, middle battleground, but always the ‘middle’ or “apple” of God’s eye (see Zechariah 2:8).
Maybe you can tell my studies, research, and activities have me in some different theatres of operation, but the human problems at their core are similar in a respect. Our commission is to address hurting humanity face to face, bring aid, education, grace, or some kind of melioration to what is devastated without a present helper, without divine interruption in the course of affairs… We find where to meet in the middle.
“Who will rise up for me against evil?...Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon settle in silence. If I say, ‘my foot slips,’ Your mercy, Lord, upholds me. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul…” (Psalm 94:16a, 17-19)
The Lord in His great mercy is willing to help, but He usually needs some flesh and blood to show up with Him. As we go in divine Lech Lecha towards any work in any field of our commission, we will have to lean in hard at times… lean in to trust more and fear less, rest while we press (thank you Paul Troquille), and allow ourselves to be used by divine hands somewhere. It isn't always a "going" in the sense we think, with bags packed and passports in hand (though I heartily recommend it when possible!) Sometimes it's simply the living out of a purpose for something bigger than ourselves...a purpose to carry grace and light into someone's world.
I hope you will stay tuned for more of the stories from our amazing learning adventure in Israel. There, for you partners, we prayed. May you receive all the grace you need, and respond with open hearts to the Spirit’s drawing in your life.
Let the journey begin.