A mystery solved?

Nearly every time we’ve been in Israel, we’ve visited Bethsaida, located on the north east corner of the Sea of Galilee. Well, at least we thought we were visiting Bethsaida. The traditional site is called et-Tell and is located about 3 kilometers from the shoreline of the Sea. How could it be a fishing village in Jesus’ time since it is quite a ways from the lake? Good question.
Now a second site much closer to the shore of the Sea of Galilee has been chosen for excavation, it is called El-Araj. This season the beginnings of what is believed to be a church has been uncovered there. Could it be the Church of the Apostles supposedly built over the house of Peter, Andrew, and Philip?
R. Steven Notley, PHD and Professor Modechai Aviam have been digging at the site since 2016. Notley has written a long article for Christianity Today about the site and its history. Additionally, there are two YouTube videos about the site from Sergio & Rhonda in Israel.
The CT article is here, and the YouTube videos are here and here.
Israel is always a fascinating place. Walking over the ground, you have no idea what may be just below your feet. It is worth the trip. Come with us in 2020 for a Spiritual Journey into a land that is unveiling its mystery each summer.

Main road in Bethsaida–et Tel


What’s under your feet?

It’s always interesting what lays buried beneath the surface of a city. Not long ago, a buried Pilgrim Road was opened in Jerusalem. It is believed to be the road that led from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount and would have been the path pilgrims took form the City of David to the Temple. Buried even deeper is a channel that carried water and refuse away from the Temple Mount.
Both are highlighted here in a video from i24NEWS.

The end of the road

Today, John, Palesa and I, along with our translator, driver and country director headed back into Ngoma district. We met with about 27 pastors for most of the morning and following lunch, much of the afternoon. After teaching we asked for questions and they challenged us with their enquirers.
The focus of our teaching was on Peace—peace with God, peace with ourselves, and peace with others. We tried to apply the teaching specifically to the lives of pastors. We looked at the Beatitudes and saw how they were designed to help us achieve long-lasting peace.
Tomorrow, here in Rwanda is a national holiday. They celebrate our equivalent of Thanksgiving. The roads tonight on the way back to the hotel were crowded.
We are very grateful for all that has happened in the last ten days and those who we have met. It has been a privilege to serve and we have prayed that there will be a eternal impact because of our time here. Thanks for those who prayed for us while we were here in Africa.

After lunch exercise.

Always kids looking in the window.

John teaching on Peace.

Rough roads

Tuesday we met with staff at headquarters to learn more of the work that is being done. Following lunch, we headed south out of Kigali to visit a recognized Genocide Memorial site, located in a Catholic Church were 10,000 people took refuge after the killing began. Of the group seeking refuge, only 7 survived. Today, the site is the burial ground for 40,000 individuals with more being added as they are found.
Being in the church was very troubling as the benches were covered with the clothes of the victims. The holes in the roof were from grenades that had been thrown into the church were the women and children were seeing refuge.
Today, to see a country that has rebuilt its infrastructure in 25 years is remarkable. The wounds are still there but there has been a massive amount of forgiveness and reconciliation. The world can learn a lesson from the people of Rwanda.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we headed back south to visit an early childhood development center and have lunch with a group of pastors. Today, we head back to the same area and do a time of teaching with a different group of pastors. As the name of this blog post implies, once you get off the main highway, the roads are dusty and rough. We’re very thankful for a good driver.

A recognized genocide memorial site. We talked about naming this image, “Under the sign of the cross.”

Quiet day

Today, Monday was a quiet day here in Rwanda, at least for us. It had been planned that way and we all caught up on our emails.
We decided to go to the Genocide Memorial. It is a very moving place. Almost a quarter of a million people are buried on the grounds of the Memorial. We were there for quite some time soberly considering the cause, consequences of the genocide, and future. Could it happen again? There has been too much death and destruction, yet the heart of man has not be changed. Only a heart transplant will forever eradicate man’s hatred for mankind.

Palesa with some of the ladies in Burundi

A team building exercise—making and flying a paper airplane.

Day two on the shores of lake Tanganyika

Today, Friday, we had three sessions the first being a time of fun. I taught a group of 10 to make a paper airplane. They now are charged with going to their group of 10 and teach them. This is a team building exercise that we will finish tomorrow.

John Dischinger started the day with a summary of yesterday’s teaching. He than talked about what it means to have peace with yourself. Using Judas as an example of someone who didn’t have personal peace John helped us consider how we gain personal peace and what makes it possible.

This afternoon, after lunch, Palesa Bakker gave a powerful talk about what peace with others looks like. She used her personal experiences to describe the process. A Q&A session followed that had many practical questions to be answered.

Palesa teaching with Eva translating

Africa again!

John with our translator starting our day.

Fun and games.

And, not soon enough. Once you have met the African Christians, heard their singing, and enjoyed their laughter you want to keep coming back.
Three of us from Walnut Hill are in Burundi leading a group of aid workers from a neighboring country on a retreat. We were planning on 25 but an additional 50 show up this afternoon. We are excited to be able to minister to their needs and leave them with words, ideas, and hope for the future.
This morning John Dischinger started us off with an introduction and then we played a game together. One of our objectives is to allow the staff to relax and unwind from months of pressure.
As the days go by and bandwidth allows I’ll be posting about our time here and adding a few pictures. We sense God’s presence and desire to be able to minister and encourage as He leads.

A Pilgrimage

A trip to Israel could be called many things, one would be a “pilgrimage.” Today in Jerusalem a new Pilgrimage Road was inaugurated and will be opening to the public.
Laying south of the Temple Mount, the Pool of Siloam marks the beginning of a road that leads from the pool to just outside the Temple Mount. It would have been the likely way for a pilgrim to go from the pool to the stairs leading across Robinson’s Arch into the Temple Mount proper.
For a story about the discovery of the Pilgrimage Road see today’s The Times of Israel story. Another story can be found here.

Why I Like Being a Baker Books Blogger

My mother embarrassed me when she sent my grade school report cards to my wife and me. I wasn’t a very good student and had problems reading. It wasn’t until half way through my junior year of High School that an interest in books was awakened in me. I’m forever grateful for my English teacher, who somehow sparked the reading bug.

Now the phrase, “so many books, so little time” comes to mind. Being a Baker Books Blogger has caused me to discipline my time and prioritize my reading.

With the advent of e-books, I’ve been able to maximize my time in the gym and the car by listening to books. I’ve even found myself buying a paper copy of several of the books I’ve listened to, just so I can underline and annotate in the book. Baker allows me to select whether I get the book in e-book form or in a printed copy. The choice is nice to have.

Access to new and newly re-released books is another benefit. Today there are so many books released by a large number of publishers, not taking into account self-published books. Blogging for Baker gives me access to one of the great publishers and their newest releases.

So, there are four reasons why I like blogging for Baker. Interested? Try it out here.


A review of: The Path of the Peacemaker
by P. Brian Noble

The subtitle gives the premise of the book away, “Your Biblical Guide to Healthy Relationships, Conflict Resolution, and a Life of Peace.”

Noble, through the use of stories and his own life experience, sets forth the principles that he feels are both Biblical and have worked in his life to resolve conflict and help him develop healthy relationships.

Interwoven in the stories are usually bullet-point lists that succinctly lay out the process that is to be used. In a nutshell, Noble says the process involves tension, story, ascend, reflect and connect.

All of us have experienced tension in some area of our lives and are in need of relief. Being able to tell our story and to hear the story of the individual or individuals we are in tension with grants us perspective. We then ascend to God in prayer, seeking His perspective. Having heard another person’s story gives us their perspective. We have our own perspective. When we mix those two with God’s perspective, we can reflect on how we can find a common path forward toward a connection.

I found the stories helpful, but being of a different generation, I more closely identify with Joe Friday from the TV series Dragnet, “Just the facts Mam.” I found myself skimming the story once I saw the “drift,” and going on to the resolution and the outline of the process.

Overall, the book is well worth the time to read, as it provides a path forward to relieving tension in many areas of life.

Baker was kind enough to provide me a copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.