Israel: Do you love the land? Or do you love the people?

          The question echoed in my mind. A friend in my Christian writer’s group went to Israel earlier this year and she relayed this story. While at the airport on her way to the Holy Land, a couple asked her, “Do you love the land? Or do you love the people?” Surprised by the question, my friend replied that she loved the people, of course. Sometimes loving is easier said than done.
          Why do I love Israel? It is different from Kenya and India--it is not third world. (Although approximately 25% of the Israelis currently live below the poverty line.) Despite Israel’s rich Holy Land heritage, to some it seems even more secular than America, spiritually poor. It is hard to imagine a country that exists against all odds, due to faith, miracles, and God’s promises, and yet so many people there do not know the one true living God. Less than 1/10 of 1% of Israeli Jews believe in Y’shua, Jesus.
          I view the Jews with love as the Bible describes them--God’s chosen people (Deut. 7:6). And there is a blessing for those who bless Israel (Gen. 12:3).  The prophet Isaiah urges us to proclaim Good News to the Jews: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7). Paul tells us “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Rom. 1:16).
          For two years  I prayed and waited for the day God would call us to Israel to teach. Here we are, Lord! Send us! I knew it was coming. I just didn’t know when. The time is now. Hallelujah! So off we go! This trip to Israel will be my first, and John’s second. I have high hopes but I try not to have expectations. We are called to serve. We are called to love and bless God’s chosen people.
          “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).