Editor's Note: We continue the series describing our Israel-India-Arava Mission of February 2020, sharing the love & adventure of this time just before the world changed.
“Then Abraham planted a tamarisk in Beersheva, and invoked there the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.” Genesis 21:33
Our father Abraham was a true missionary.
It is said by the ancients that from the tender age of 3, his heart was inclined toward God and that he recognized early the foolish nature of the idolatry of many gods. His story and his walk with God landed him at a place that came to be called Beersheva, a place forged in the wilderness where Hagar and Ishmael wandered but became a place of oaths and divine connection. Beersheva was the site of his covenant with Abimelech (seven, sheva, ewe lambs to attest to wells Abraham owned) but was also of strategic commercial importance in the nomadic world of the day. Several wells were in the area (nineteenth century archeology said five to seven actually), and as the camel caravans of the Spice Road met the crossings of the North-South trade route from Damascus to Egypt, everyone had to stop for water. Beersheva was a world outreach center to the God-minded Abraham, who not only personally called on the Name, but invoked the blessings of the Name and shared faith in One True God to all who gathered at the wells. The impact of Abraham’s life was felt in his son’s life, Isaac, and in his grandson Jacob, who in times of renewal also found themselves before God again paniym al paniym at none other than Beersheva.
When planning for our Israel-India mission, Beersheva needed to be the beginning. Arava leader and friend Noa Zer had suggested the “Red Sea to Dead Sea” visit in the South of Israel for our India guests, and “under Abraham’s tent,” a fine architectural tribute to a massive tent – was where Daniel Jacob our guide led the welcome ceremony that kicked off our tour. Something felt really good after months of putting all this together… something there gave me a deep breath as we toured the progressing area and the beautiful amphitheater park where school kids enjoyed outdoor learning. Somewhere close by, Av Avraham had met with the Creator in the advent of an amazing plan. To stand in that place and introduce new friends to Israel made this a Well of Promise Fulfilled for us.
During our time in the southern region, where beauty abounds from the badlands to Timna, to the unbelievable sunsets at the hub of four nations…we had a great nightly landing pad…a garden paradise called Oasis Gadish in En Yahav, appropriately near Idan. It was amazing to meet and talk with Zippy Gadish, founder of this paradise, who with her husband had been among the earliest settlers of the Arava. Such VISION. To come to a complete desert, plant trees and design an oasis for another generation to enjoy – now that’s a labor-intensive hope for the future! She still runs the place, and enjoys having guests new to Israel. I highly recommend her Oasis for unforgettable family time!
The spine of the Arava is a chain of communities literally along the Jordanian border, and we visited thriving farming & business enterprises in each of them. By forging such communities and building homes and schools there, the border of Israel is strengthened. The Arkansas community (Arkansas Jewish Federation & its partners) helped to build the Regional Council’s Emergency Response Center in Sapir (also pictured in the photo gallery below), a much needed medical and security service center for the growing population in the vast desert area. Many of our Arkansas friends have met Nadav Eylon who heads Security in the Region. We also got to meet Eli, area police officer, and toured the Vidor Center & the Central Council area with the help of Samantha Levy. Amazing desert heroes all ~ They offered us incredible hospitality, great credit to the hospitality of Abraham.
In a separate report, I will describe our time with Hanni and the world-changers at AICAT (the Arava International Center for Agricultual Training) also located in Sapir. And still to come: Children’s lives are changing at Red Mountain Riding Center. Our India pastors got to see first hand the inspiring place of service where their first offering to Israel went.
Thank you, friends and partners, for your vision to reconnect these roads, these bridges, from the heart of Israel to the nations. The Emergency Response Center lobby has a meaningful quote from the Talmud Sanhedrin Tractate that says, “Whoever saves one soul, it is as if he had saved the entire world.” If only our culture could grasp this, and live from it. We can all share in a great mission, from wells to fields, for all the lives in between.