Oh daughter of my soul And child of my heart You’ve come to me by grace and mercy has sheltered you Your love enfolds my weaknesses Your laughter erases my pain Your shining hearts melt even the hardest of cynics Oh daughter of my soul And child of my heart Be true to the one who gave you life Don’t depart from the music of your hearts Don’t allow the darkness in Shield grace for she will always keep you Allow wisdom to be your adornment Be at peace with all you encounter And trust in God alone Oh daughter of my soul And child of my heart God has given you to me I give you back into His care And trust in all you are to be I love you…. Daughter of my soul And child of my heart…. Julianna and Stephanie
I wrote this poem many years ago, when the girls were six and nine. We were living in an utter shitheap of a house in the backblocks of Cambridge, next to a woman who had more animals than Noah’s Ark! I was inspired by what my daughters taught me then, and what they still teach me, today. Often, I go on about Sammy, and there are distinct reasons for that, but in my deepest heart, these girls are my crowning jewels. Steph made me a mummy, and now Juju is making me a safta (nana). What I am most proud of, is that these beautiful young women have become my dearest friends. I love them so dearly, and will continue to be their greatest cheerleader.
The tunnels under the Western Wall, are something magical indeed. One needs to be ok in small, tight spaces, and be ok in a dimly lit space. I was sensing and picking up on all sorts of thoughts and feelings, the deeper we went. Having read so much about Jerusalem historically, and of course having read the Gospels in the new testament, it’s quite a buzz knowing you are walking on the actual stones that Yeshua would have walked on, and indeed travelled through the various waterways and archways. It reeks of history, and if you listen carefully, I’m sure you’ll hear the chattering of yesteryear.
Mt Ebal, which I have previously mentioned, is situated in what the modern world has called, the West Bank. In truth, even if this area is under the control of the Palestinians, it is part of the biblical heartland, and now solid evidence has appeared to show this fact. Many of you are aware of the recent discovery thanks to Aaron Lipkin and Scott Stripling, the curse led tablet that is causing a furore within archaeological circles currently. Good. They seem to hate it when biblical archaeology proves out the biblical narrative and text!
Never shall I forget the image of Phil running downhill past us, chasing after a bunch of schoolboys! I dare say it was the Carlton Beer he bought at the Samaritan Village for eight shekels that kicked in 🙂 His face ruddied red, mischievous grin, loose metal flying everywhere, and us ripping with snorts of laughter!! Oh bless him, he’s a good sort! It seemed amazing to me all the ruins that lay below and around the altar, and a shepherd riding his donkey, herding his goats, within the vicinity. All very normal of course. Sitting there declaring, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This place is beyond time, and we are so glad we got to be there and experience it, before it becomes a large visited tourist attraction.
Friends of Zion. This place really got to me, on a deep emotional level. Maybe it was the stories of my great uncle and grandpa that I was familiar with, them having been P.O.W’s in World War II, maybe it was again, that I have read some much about this time period of history – but whatever the reason, my eyes wouldn’t stop leaking and my heart was aching. I find it incredibly hard to fathom that Israel had to fight so hard to become a nation, and to this day, still has to fight so hard to remain a nation.
The itinerary said we’d have free time. We grabbed a taxi, went back to the hotel and freshened up, and then thinking we had plenty of time, found our way back. We actually were a little early, but no, everyone was there! I must say, the people who plan these itineraries cram far too much in one day. I think that’s why so many of us crash when we get home, or get sick upon our return home. Our bodies and minds have been exposed to such great extremes, and rest doesn’t really happen.
The farewell dinner was a supreme disappointment. The people who we were with previously, were supposed to save us a seat. They didn’t. The food was undercooked and most of us at our table couldn’t finish it. I felt ill after dinner, so we prayed, and I took some probiotics as a precaution. However, we got to sit next to Carl Gallups and share a bit of how we came to be on this tour. We mentioned being impacted by the programme he was on with Skywatch TV at the Jim Bakker Show. Carl is a deeply humble man, who seemed genuinely interested in us and our story. That makes a nice change.
When it was time to say goodbye to all the folks, some of the people we had spent the most time with, just buggered off without saying goodbye 🙁 Still, Neil and I went running to the buses, found said individuals, and made them hug us goodbye! You can’t leave like that, after experiencing such life changing moments together 😉
We spent our last evening in Jerusalem, with the effervescent Taylor. Or should I say, we ripped through the hotel trying to find a business card so we could call Charlotte, who left her purse on the bus. Or helping one of the ladies who was worried beyond belief that she didn’t have enough money for tipping (something we don’t do in NZ, it’s foreign to us), so we escorted her up to the ATM machine a few minutes up from the hotel. She hadn’t PIN numbered her credit card (who doesn’t do that?) so she couldn’t withdraw cash. We then crashed in the lounge bar and indulged in some divine Israeli wine, before heading back to our room one last time. The morning saw us saying goodbye and farewelling everyone off on the Jordan part of the tour. Most people thought we were going as well, but alas that will suffice for next time. Our time in Jordan nine years ago we keep in our hearts until we go back and have a good look, minus the food poisoning or the Jordanian guards trying to make a pass at me!
The story of Israel, will never end for Neil and I. We are currently making plans to head back in March 2023, but this time, we will have Sammy with us. That will be an absolute treat! Julianna was supposed to be joining us, but alas, she is growing our first grandbaby instead – we are going to be a Safta & Saba, and we cannot wait!
To Anne, Phil, Bill, Carol & Jerry, Charlie & Deborah, Carl, Taylor, Derek & Sharon and lastly Charlotte & Michael – we are so very thankful our paths crossed with you all. I cannot convey how much you all have come to mean to us, but the Lord himself knows. Also to Billy Dean & Dawn, and also Carol H, it has been wonderful being in touch, after the tour. I hope something of these blogs reminds you to pray for the shalom of Jerusalem, and know there are a couple of Kiwis here in NZ who love and pray for you all, daily.
שלום וברכה לך תמיד
Peace (shalom) and blessings to you always Sandi xx
Neil and I had a deal: if there were camels to ride, we’d do it together. Back in 2013 when we had the option, I was recovering from getting food poisoning at Masada. I was dead keen to get on the camels at Genesis Land until I saw Taylor being bucked from here to kingdom come and back again. Nope! No camel for me thank you very much. How rude! So instead, Neil shared the camel with Paula, and I walked along dodging all the camel poo. Screeches of laughter were heard, birthday songs to a camel, you could feel the excitement in the air.
In hindsight, I do so wish I had gone on the darn thing 😉
We spent the better part of the afternoon being entertained by the Genesis Land crew, who were fabulous. Very entertaining, very knowledgeable, all round great time had by all. The food, the history, the setting, the costumes and that million dollar view – it’s definitely worth going and partaking of it all. I can’t wait to go again next time and share all this with my family.
Next we were off in our bulletproof bus to Shiloh.
I didn’t stand and listen to the narrative – too much to see and photograph! There’d been so much more dug up and uncovered since last year, so I was very keen to get moving and have my own expedition. It was a pity that we didn’t get to go into the Museum this year, they have amazing artifacts and findings in there, but I have included some photos from a previous trip. The movie, I find enjoyable and informative, and to some was deeply moving. Leaving the theatre and going on the gangplank to see the unearthed urns with the large bowls of burnt raisins was rather spectacular! Imagine bringing those back to life, lol 🙂 Shiloh, is steeped in deep Spiritual and archaeological history – a must for those of us who have faith.
Next stop – the recently crowned Capital of Israel, Jerusalem. Such a hoshposh and eclectic array of history, religion, new, old, politics, archaeology and wonder. The smells, the sounds, the amazing views, the old buildings, the ruins, the bulletholes from the reformation of the Land, the paving stones, the tales this city could tell of it’s own life. Jerusalem is not for the faint hearted. It’s stark, it’s beautiful, it’s bustling and it’s dangerous. The different religions all squeezed into such a small area. The narrow roads which double as walkways – hmm, not the best idea there! And yet this is the very place Our Lord is going to land one day. My mind boggles at the thought. Kind of hilarious the Muslims walled up the gate and stuck a graveyard infront of it. That’s supposed to stop the Lion of Judah??
Going down and seeing the uncovered City of David. Wow. I took a video basically of me squealing and sent it to some friends and family right then and there. Some moments you have to catch, otherwise they just fade into the memory bank. But sometimes you need to record the smells, the sights, the colours, the feeling – praise God for senses. My favourite Psalm is Psalm 51. I should imagine that David was somewhere in these uncovered ruins, lamenting of his sin to God. Begging God not to take the Holy Spirit from him. Begging for a clean heart. Yes David and I have much in common….
And so, the tour was winding down, but not before heading to some more amazing sites. Next time we’ll take a look at the tunnels underground, and show photos of the actual paving stones that Yeshua would have walked on. We’ll head to The Friends of Zion museum, where the Shoa (Holocaust) is shown from a different perspective. And of course we’ll show more from Joshua’s Altar – Mount Ebal, where Joshua proclaimed, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
We found our seats on the back of the bus and off we went. The roads in Nazareth are interesting to say the least: not at all designed for large wide buses, but cheers to the bus driver, he did well, I never did catch his name!!
Neil settled himself in and looked up some articles online, then proceeded to start teaching different ones some Kiwi speech and much to my horror, Kiwi Slang….oh man, I didn’t know if that would go down well on a Christian Tour. I shouldn’t have worried 🙂 From the get-go, some of us were laughing and having a great time. Yishay was doing his best to narrate through his microphone, but I do believe a number of us were far too busy chatting and getting to know one another to hear his narration.
Listening to Americans trying to do Kiwi accents always brings a smile to my face!
El-Ahawat. What the heck was this place? It’s a line in the old testament, that seemingly had some relevance to Sardinian architecture. Someone really should have gotten a machete (I would have!) and chopped some grass down. People were tripping over alot, and it was difficult to figure out where we were and what we’d come to see. Neil picked up a stone and underneath it was a piece of handle from an old jug. That came home with us. Yishay had been talking about finding the hole where one of the gates hung – Michael found the other one! It was interesting hearing and learning the context of this archaeological site, we’re very glad we got to go there.
Meal times in Nazareth were wonderful. Sitting and sharing stories and learning from others like Carol & Jerry, Anne, Val, Phil, Charlotte & Michael were amazing. Neil and I always asked how and why people came on the Skywatch tour, and every answer was different. Being in the presence of these people was amazing. None of us knew the destiny that was being melded together, nor the world wide situation that was going to forge these friendships deeper.
For Neil and I, one of the absolute highlights was the four-wheel driving to Gilgal Refaim. We absolutely loved the crazy roads and bumping along – and keep in mind Neil once had broken his back and is not supposed to be walking – so no complaining thank you! Part of the adventure is being able to go with the flow and expect the unexpected. As an ex farmgirl, I relished having the wind blowing through my hair, being thrown around and reconnecting with a part of myself that had laid dormant – the Adventurous Sandi 😉 I sat opposite Pat in the jeep; she commented that perhaps today wasn’t the day to have plastered her hair with any hairspray…. 😉
Again, to look eye level, Gilgal Rephaim was just a jumbled up bunch of stones with long grass that needed said machete! I didn’t want to go down into the Death Chamber, so Neil did and videoed it. He also took the photo of the Gilberts that they often use for promotional purposes now. Yah him! For me, it was just lovely looking around and seeing all the archaeology that hasn’t been touched. The army had use of the area there within the Golan Heights, and prior to the 1970’s, this place had been in Syrian hands. It seemed that nothing had been properly excavated or dug out there, just a few ramshackle buildings that were erected by the armed forces. There was another mound in the distance that seemed to be relevant, but we didn’t go there. Maybe we should? This turns out to me another type of “serpent mound” that I saw, and that Derek noted whilst looking at Google maps of the area. This will definitely be on the tour itinerary next time, I am assured.
I’m super glad that we’ve been to Banias Springs before, because we only got fifteen minutes this time. I’ve written about this in my book, it was a place that impacted me deeply back in 2013 on our first tour. There is so much to see, but we hardly saw anything this time. I look forward to going back and climbing the rocks up into some of the other sites up there. I’m told that the whole of Mt Hermon has many archaeological sites that only get visited by hikers. I also know that some people don’t like Banias Springs, and that’s fair enough. However, I take the view that Yeshua redeemed everything. Hearing Derek (again) speak on the importance of Peter, the rock and his revelation of who Yeshua is, right there in the very place that it was spoken and revealed, is important. As Carl Gallups says, context is key!
One place that I don’t particularly like, as you have to pay to pee, and it’s so utterly trite and commercial, is Yardenit. I didn’t like being herded into the dining hall and all that business, but I got a chance to spend time outside quietly with Anne. She and I got a chance to share and that for me was Heaven. Thank you Anne for holding my hand and allowing my tears to fall <3 Being present to watch a few people be baptized was lovely, singing while they going in an out of the water. It was actually hilarious when they all stayed in the water and swam around, making the most of cooling temperature while the rest of us sweltered in the heat! Great times 🙂
I witnessed something that didn’t happen on the first tour – people caring for one another. I am an unusual creature in that dry heat makes me come alive. However there were a number of individuals where the intense heat impacted them greatly. I loved watching some of the younger ones walking with some of the slower ones and showing care, that really blessed me. Having Deborah with her nursing background, and Michael with his military background, was invaluable and such a blessing. I didn’t hear people whining, whinging or complaining, and for that I am super grateful – that happened alot last year.
For me, the Dead Sea Region is the place where I came alive – big time 🙂 The place where I would stand on the balcony and marvel that across the Dead Sea, was the Abarim Range – Jordan. Part of the land that originally was given to Abraham. Part of the land that one day will be restored to Israel. I had learnt after having our DNA tested, and developing a Family Tree, that we descend from the Tribe of Benjamin, and here I was smack bang in the middle of it all! Spiritually speaking, this is part of my heritage. No wonder I felt so ALIVE there!!
It was at the Dead Sea that my silent prayers came true – just to dance, and enjoy ourselves – and so we did! My husband has never danced in public with me – well he now has 😉 Spending time with Charlotte, Michael and Taylor, letting our hair down and enjoying Shabbat evening – that was Heaven on Earth to me 🙂 Swimming in the Dead Sea, and experiencing the buoyancy was quite hilarious! Joining others in the big pools back at the resort – fun times.
And then of course, going back to Qumran. I thought at this point I was going to self combust…….oh my Gosh!!
How ridiculous for a sink hole to open in the road in which we were going to drive, and cut off any opportunity to go to Qumran. How about NO! And yet after prayer, miraculously, we were off to this magical and mysterious place.
The place has changed dramatically from when we visited there in 2013. Back then we were given the sanitised version of what this was all about, and taken into the building where alot of artifacts and scrolls are on display. There is so much untold and untouched history here. You can feel it. Meeting Jim Barfield, albeit so short, was incredible. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to walk all around, and it seems to be fenced off where we walked in 2013, but I think that will inevitably change.
This here, is the very reason we came back to the Skywatch tour.
God still hasn’t finished writing that chapter on our scrolls yet.
We were just about to leave the house, so a quick mental check. Steph and Juju were at work, Sammy had been picked up, our bags were packed. I’d managed to organise our flights, the tour, insurance, three children, the welfare of my father, Sammy’s part time job, car storage, extra hotel and currency exchange, food shopping, paid the bills, all in six days!
No problems, time to grab a takeaway coffee and we were off!
We got to the airport and I could sense Neil was a bit tense, so we just stopped and chatted. Everything was done. His work encouraged this trip. He decided to go running back to the carpark where the ute was parked up, just in case he’d not locked it. It had been fine. Once he’d gotten back to our table, we ordered some food, then started to relax. Before we knew it, time was upon us and we lined up for our long flight.
We boarded the familiar Cathay Pacific plane, got ourselves ready, prayed and then that amazing feeling of speeding down the tarmac and liftoff 🙂 (I am the daughter of a Private Pilot, I LOVE planes!) The flight from New Zealand to Hong Kong was eleven hours, and since this would be our third time doing this route, we knew what to expect.
We had a short stopover in Hong Kong, and to be honest it was great doing loads of walking after being cooped up on such a long flight. We were both so excited, and starting to relax. Neil loves the travellators! We were having fun, just the two of us, and realised we hadn’t had an international flight with just us, in over five years. We were like silly honeymooners, and it was fabulous!
We got to Tel Aviv, and even just being in the taxi and looking at the motorway in all it’s madness, felt like home to me. In amongst the previous debacle, there were fun times with Neil trying to navigate a car on the wrong side of the road, sitting on the wrong side of the car. He drove really well and ended up horn tooting, lane swapping, driving up on the footpath and yelling out the window – my own Israeli Hoon – so proud 😉
We got to our hotel that I had booked online on the Tel Aviv beachfront. Think 80’s Miami; complete with short guy, large ego, long black mullet, fluoro clothing, jacuzzi in the room, 80’s video music playing in the lobby…..oh my life! We got our bags stored and headed down to the beach. Having found a restaurant on the sand, there we plopped for hours until it was time to actually check in to our Miami Beach Hotel (it’s actual name). Armed with loads of water, we just bunked down at 3.00pm and apart from briefly waking during the night, slept through till 5am the next morning.
We arose, went to our breakfast across the road, and then stored our bags again as we set off to explore Tel Aviv for a third time. Eurovision was happening and the place was bursting with an extra 30,000 people! The heat was intense, but as you know, I tend to thrive in the heat. Neil, not so much. Along the waterfront they have many water stops, where you can drink fresh cool water and refill your bottles for free, and sit in the shade. There’s a pier that we love to walk along, with an old light house, and so we headed off there again. It’s a place of quietness and a bit of privacy, so we can feel the wind blow and just have ‘us’ time.
All the while, there was such a joy welling up in both of us.
We gathered our bags, called a taxi and headed back to the airport. The blinking taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong terminal and so we had to catch a bus to the right one! But it was all part of the fun. We had time, the bus was free, everything was good. Relax!!
At the airport, we spotted a seat, then grabbed a coffee and pain au chocolat croissant – yummy! And then Neil turned around and saw Avi & Rachel Lipkin. He was too shy to say hello, but they saw us and Avi came straight up to Neil, having recognised him from the first Skywatch TV tour. Next thing, for two hours, we sat with these wonderful people, as Avi would up and wander around looking for ‘the lost sheep of the Skywatch TV Tour.’ Speaking with Rachel was amazing. What richness and depth she has, along with a deep knowledge of the middle eastern conflict that forever rages.
Somewhere along the way came Paula, Phil, Anne and we needed another table! And eventually in came the lovely people from Lipkin Tours. It was wonderful seeing Leora who last year was very heavily pregnant, and seeing photos of her beautiful son. It was lovely to be so warmly welcomed and hugged by her and Rachel from the Agency.
And then, the buses.
I remember when I heard someone say they’d been in Israel nine years before – I needed to talk to that person. Little did I know they would land at our table later 🙂
Behind us sat Anne, and the dynamo who would be known as our Kiwi Pom – Phil. I sat like a little girl bouncing up and down in my seat, just so excited knowing we were off and it was all happening! Hearing all the different American accents, the English accents, a couple of South African accents – yes peoples, the United Nations were abroad haha 🙂
I was quietly praying that we would either get to stay in the Dungeon at the Nazareth Crown, or at least be able to enjoy the same view. Let me explain. The Dungeon was accessible by going into the lift down to the ground floor, then walking along and finding the service elevator, and taking that to the bottom floor which had only been done up earlier the previous year. Then a very long corridor with all the rooms with such magnificent views.
This year we got the view, and it was wonderful. Remembering the first tour and being mesmerized here at Nazareth with the jets flying so low late at night, only to awake the next morning and learning there had been rockets flying just a few kilometres from where we were. Present moment, we also had people above us who were sitting outside smoking and flicking their ash down on my hair! Never mind, let’s not freak out. Let’s just talk REALLY LOUD so they can understand that’s not happening again! It didn’t 😉
So, now it was dinnertime. I wondered if they were going to separate us into buses again – it really is silly, but kind of understandable. Yes, they did!
Next thing we knew, along came Michael & Charlotte, Carol & Jerry, Val and Anne to our back table. The fun had just begun, and we took that fun down the back of Bus One…. 😉
I’ve really grappled with writing this part of the story. Knowing there is a possibility that the people concerned may read this, I am trying to be as tactful as possible…
Things weren’t right. I was not being heard. Even though there had been warnings about the trip to Israel and I was trying to listen to them, when I expressed them, I was pretty much fobbed off and left to it. This would come back to haunt others in the ensuing weeks and months.
I have never spoken publically what I am about to share – so if you can’t deal with raw, honest and vulnerable, I suggest you leave the page now.
I have been attacked twice in my life, with what I would call ‘terror and dread.’ These spirits go far beyond fear, and if not dealt with swiftly, they will stay attached for as long as they can. Once, while driving alone in the car, these hands reached around and tried to strangle me. I called upon the name of Jesus, and he literally saved me from blacking out and crashing the car. The second time, was in the back of the car, in a traffic jam in Tel Aviv – with this couple. The person I was with went all black eyed and snake headed. The words that spewed out of it were from hell itself. Afterwards the person jumped out of the car and ran off.
I sat there paralysed in utter silence.
Welcome to Israel!
The next morning, there were prayers and forgiveness, but the shock and trauma had set in, and things weren’t ok for Neil and I. In fact, as the tour started, I found myself more and more not being heard, and ended up hiding behind Neil – literally hiding. The only thing that got me through, was knowing we had a nice room to retreat to if necessary! Never mind that I was in this land I loved, I guess most of me had checked out, shut down.
It wasn’t until we got to Masada that there was a change for me. I knew because of finding out my natural heritage, that I needed to pray for certain things atop of Masada. After a loud disagreement, Neil and I broke away from the group, and I went to where I’d seen in a vision, a certain area to stand and pray. It was perfect. No one there, just Neil (who was off taking photos), myself and God. I really sensed the Ruach wind of God. A sense of Yeshua being right there with me. It seemed to be of another time, it was just majestic. I was deeply moved, deeply quiet. I will never forget that moment. Spiritually speaking, something had shifted….
As we travelled through this glorious land, we discovered wonderful treasures and moments of joy, but the deep overwhelming feeling of dread and terror remained.
I was shocked by some of the tour group. Mutterings in the back of the bus about our tour guide, mocking him and saying nasty things – I’d come all this way for that?
I was utterly disgusted by one of the ‘leaders’ actions. We’d been sent the notes beforehand on how we were to behave, and told not to disagree with the guides infront of others etc. Well, this leader had outright arguments with our guide, so Neil and I turned off our whispers and walked away. I had a sense this person was rather arrogant, well that darn well proved it!
The final nail in the Israeli coffin, was this American couple we seemed to get on well with. They were wanting to share dinners, swap emails etc which seemed fine, all to then turn around and cut off all contact with us once they’d gotten the contact details of the couple we took over. So much for befriending ‘like minded’ people!
I was ruined. Just completely lacerated in my soul. And I was done. I may have loved Israel, but I never wanted to return again. And I would never tour with American people again 🙂 Que laughter here!
When we returned to New Zealand, our middle daughter and her partner were leaving the next week to relocate to Australia. The farewell dinner we held was the last time we ever saw our friends. They literally live one mile away, and they just ditched us. We were used for our money, our time, our friendship and then hurled away.
I sank into a depression. A lot of things transpired, and I just wasn’t coping. I reached out to the Gilberts, who were by the way, outstanding in their support and prayers!
My book was then internationally published, and I couldn’t even deal with having a book launch or celebration. Something that had bought so much joy to me as I wrote it, and here I was not even really wanting to acknowledge what God had done through me! My eldest daughter took it upon herself to put up posters all around our wee village, and to approach the local libraries. She also ‘reminded’ those who had received my book for free, to get online and do a review – she’s amazing like that!
I’m not at all ashamed to say I reached out and got professional help. Someone who went incredibly deep with me. Someone who went into the spirit realm and routed out these liar demons that were having a field day with me. Someone whom I have so much love and respect for. This woman made me work SO DAMN HARD! And I’m so glad she did, because it made a difference. I found prayers online that went into hard areas that other Christians or Ministries won’t touch, and I WENT THERE. And so did Neil. He too got help. And we got help with God. We got healed of our ‘stuff’ and we started to move through the minefield that had been lacerated open in Tel Aviv.
Come January 2 this year, everything changed. I woke up and felt like my Inner Warrior Princess had risen up again. It didn’t stay that way for long, but I learnt so many valuable lessons. But, I couldn’t write. Even doing my study was hard, because it involves writing! But one thing I repented of and really got serious about, was Israel. God had placed his hand on my life concerning this, his chosen land, and no demon in hell was going to keep me from my destiny!
FINALLY, in due course, we were able to view the video of the Tour that the Gilberts sent through. And then the next week we looked at the up and coming tour. We blessed it and thought it sounded great, but nothing else transpired.
Tom Horn. Zev Porat. Carl Gallups. The Jim Bakker Show.
An internal ‘explosion’……
Oh boy, here we go again……..!
Content and photos copyrighted by Sandi Wilson 2019
It’s been five and a half years since my first ever trip to Israel. I have wanted to write about my journey for the longest time, but up until recently, anything I wrote just seemed to fall completely short of what I really wanted to convey.
Let me take you back on a little bit of my journey.
There are a couple who are authors, Brock & Bodie Thoene. They have a series that I read back in 2003, called The Zion Chronicles. Within the pages of these fantastic Historical Faction (my play on words) was a sentence that caught me completely by surprise, ‘Have we made Jesus a Gentile?’
I had NO idea what that meant at all! In fact, I had been taught that Jesus negated the need for there to be a physical Israel now, and we the Church were the new Israel. The Jews were stubborn and had been blinded, and they were after all responsible for Our Saviour’s death. Isn’t it amazing the rubbish one will believe?!
I prayed. Because I knew that God was on my case. Then I found out something utterly astounding – Jesus was and IS Jewish! And then I found out something utterly shocking: Jesus WASN’T a Christian. What the heck? He’s not? Well then, what the heck am I? And there in was the biggest question of all I guess – I didn’t know.
I didn’t go and enrol in Torah school, I didn’t study Judaism, I didn’t DO anything except for keep on reading everything I could find by the Thoenes. Most of their work was about the Second World War, the Reformation of Israel and fictional stories within. But there were teachings within the storylines that grabbed me. Stories of Nephilim – Neph-a-what? Stories about layers and meanings within the Hebrew letters. Stories about strong, brave and courageous people who only wanted to live, and refused to give up and die. Stories that highlighted Isaiah 53 and it’s amazing meanings hidden in plain sight. Within the pages of their stories, I found something I wasn’t bargaining on; I found life with the Jewish Jesus.
Slowly but surely God lead me on a journey, that to be honest, is still slow and steady, but as each revelation sinks in, it then becomes a part of me deep within. When I met my now husband, he devoured every book on Israel, history, archaeology and everything else that had to do with the Holy Land. He wasn’t yet a believer, when we made the decision alongside a friend of ours, to go on a Holy Land Tour. I would read to him certain scriptures as we moved through different sites, to put into context all we were seeing. Unlike other pre-Christians, he was being shown everything until he finally had to make his own decision to get off the fence! How so very loving and kind of our God to do that 🙂
Next thing you know, it’s October 2013 and we were off with a hiss and a roar. Having never been around Jewish people, not really knowing anything remotely Kosher, we got a wild education before we hit Israel, thanks to El Al Airlines! I was sitting on the edge of the seat (close to the toilets) and I was being hit on every surface. As soon as we were in the air, everyone got up and walked around, chatting to everyone – very loudly, the Orthodox Jews were wrapping phylacteries around their head and wrists, praying loudly, nodding back and forth. Large Middle Eastern men were locating things in the overhead locker and I had big tummies in my face, bums in my face, legs and arms hit by the passing traffic, the trolleys hitting my legs, and alot of loud gesticulating people who seemed to be partying down by the toilets! I watched men being asked to move so the Flight Attendants could get through; they wouldn’t. I was being yelled at by said Flight Attendants in Hebrew until I said ‘English?’ I wasn’t entirely sure I had made the right decision at this point…..
I have never travelled El Al Airlines again 🙁
We landed at night and were taken to our hotel. I awoke at 4am, and watched the sunrise over Tel Aviv. I watched as kids were walked to school, all singing and seemingly happy. This was Israel. Wow.
And then we met our Tour Guide and headed off to Caesarea. Just the three of us in a little bus, this was awesome! We had the morning with the Guide then drove over to another part of Caesarea to pick up the rest of the tour group – oh my life.
There standing in Velour Tracksuits, were a bunch of African American Queens, complete with walking sticks, a walker, wigs, cornrows, false nails and attitudes to match! God had a sense of humour and he was letting me know….
To be honest, it was fine, apart from one individual who constantly held up the bus due to her shopping habit and lack of time management – the tour itself was great. One of the greatest highlights for me was being at Capernaum and Nazareth. I had encounters there that were completely unexpected, which I detail in my novel Mirabelle. Suffice to say, God has this beautiful way of surprising and arresting us IF we remain open to Holy Spirit and His guidance.
I didn’t particularly feel the need or notion to all of a sudden up sticks and move over there, but one place that fascinated me for reasons I couldn’t understand, was Masada. It wouldn’t be until our next trip and a whole lot of revelation in between, that I would come to know some very key things about this amazing and powerful place.
Through having our DNA done and then building a family tree through My Heritage, my daughter connected our lineage through to the Tribe of Benjamin. Going through the family tree, we also discovered that we are directly connected to certain Roman Emperors (I wish this wasn’t the case) and we had relatives that were born in Qumran around the time of the Siege of Masada. I cannot say that I can prove it all with facts, figures and certificates, but this resounded in my heart so loudly, I knew we’d finally found an answer to my weird fascination with Masada. Little did I know that God had an assignment for me the next time that I would go there….
It would be quite a while before we got to go back to this magical land. In between visits, Neil and I got married (Yahoo!), Neil accepted Jesus into his life (Yay!) our eldest daughter moved to London, our second eldest daughter graduated Make Up Artistry School, our son became a Wilson, my Father needed to be admitted to a Dementia Ward, my mother and her new partner became Travelling Gypsies, and my first manuscript got accepted by a Publisher!
And then there was Skywatch TV. Prophecy Watchers. L.A Marzulli. Timothy Alberino. Steve Quayle. Jim Bakker. Nehpilim. Giants. Extra Biblical books. Ancient Aliens. Documentaries galore. I wasn’t ok with any of this. As a Believer for over 20 years, I’d wanted to focus on the love of God. Bill Johnson. John & Carol Arnott. John Eldredge. Worship. Scripture. Soaking. Prayer. Confession of God’s Word. And more worship!
But alas God had other plans indeedipoos!
We were learning all these weird and wonderful things and both Neil and I were seeing unusual things occur. Suffice to say, Ephesians 6 got very real very quickly! But then a couple came into our lives who were new Believers, just like Neil, and what we were studying they had just been experiencing before their Salvation a few months before.
Fast forward a few years and Skywatch TV announced along with Aaron Lipkin that they were going to Israel. Well, those of you who know me and have chatted with me know that explosions within my stomach are God’s way of saying HELLO and this happened during the broadcast. That was on a Friday that I watched that, but I didn’t say anything to Neil until the Sunday – which was very unlike me. I wanted God to speak to him, and God sure did!
We prayed as we walked our beloved beach, and Neil asked for a sign, something that I don’t do. Incredibly, we got one within ten minutes, we cried and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving, and so long as children and schedules could fit in easily, we were off to Israel again……
Unfortunately, because I was feeling guilty that we were going and our friends weren’t, I felt we should ask them to join us on the trip. Immediately red flags were raised, but I went into overdrive coming up with crazy ways to get funds for this – oh that I would listen to the Holy Spirit and not ‘good ideas!’
Part Two coming soon…..
Photos and content copyrighted by Sandi Wilson 2019
A HUGE congratulations to Dr Sharmaine Anna Dobson, for the release of her new book, “A Whisper in the Storm!”
What a time we have had getting this book from it’s original inception, to it’s actual release. We have faced many a blockage, and yet here we are.
Many people have contributed their stories towards this book. Stories of abuse, gang life, marriage woes, satanic rituals, loneliness, abandonment – these people are heroes – that is the key thing Dr Dobson wants others to know.
The knowledge that walking in our midst, are people who have overcome insurmountable odds, and found redemption at their lowest point. They could be you or me – they ARE you and me.
So please, go to our store and pick up a copy today. If you are in NZ, please take advantage of the FREE postage offer, for a limited time.
If you’re overseas, please visit amazon.com, bookdepository, kindle, kobo.com etc.
It’s so wonderful to be editing again. I had forgotten how much I love the process of it all. When you’re given free rein to just go with your gut and people aren’t breathing down your neck all the time, it really is an exciting positive experience.
To that end, I’m very happy to share that “A Whisper in the Storm” is on the homeward straight now, and we’re getting very close to sending it off to the printer.
Again, my talented brother has done the cover, and I’m grateful for an author who let him have total artistic control – she adores the cover, as do I!
The stories within the pages of this book, are gut-wrenching and yet filled with joy and redemption. They highlight the human condition, but shout the goodness of God, from beginning to end.
I’m so fortunate to be part of this project, and I can’t wait for you all to read what has been weaved through the lives of these remarkable heroes.
To pre-order, please visit The Store on this site. The book will also be available through Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, Book Depository etc very soon.
I shared last week that I had a bit of a surprise that I couldn’t talk about yet. Well now I can! On Monday of this week, I was interviewed about the book ‘My Way’ and it will be airing next week on Radio New Zealand, and also will be available via a link after the show. I will post that when it is available.
This was entirely out of the blue! I had posted an ad on a large group called Chooice, on Facebook, for the book, and within hours had a radio producer contact me for an interview. My first thought was that it was a have, but she turned out to be legitimate and the rest is history!
THEN….I got asked by some people I know (I can’t say who yet sorry) who aren’t here in NZ, for an interview about the same book! I nearly fell on the floor – dreams coming true people!
THEN….later on that day, I was contacted by Alzheimer’s Association here in NZ, and they liked my book so much, they are putting up a chapter on their blog next week. Can we please invent something other than an exclamation mark….!
So, as you can see, I am extremely excited, completely overwhelmed, and very thankful that this little ‘happy accident’ has grown wings and is beginning to fly. Unbelievable – but God.
Just to finish off a mind-blowing week, I FINALLY got to see my Dad, in the flesh, for the first time in three and a half months. He was so sweet, so cute, and kept telling me I needed to leave, then kept talking about the trees we were looking at – funny man!
For those who are interested in delving deeper, go and have a look at becoming a ‘Dementia Friend’ through the Alzheimer’s website. This is something I am deeply passionate about, advocating for those who desperately need it. alzheimers.org.nz/explore/dementia-friendly-nz/become-a-dementia-friend/
In the meantime, for those of you who are in NZ, go and visit The Store to pick up a copy of the book, or grab some fun festive masks for the silly season 🙂