The following report was published in the upcoming issue of The Evening Light and was written by Kevin Werkheiser.
My arrival in Israel on September 26th was with some apprehension along with much excitement. Even though Israel was under a cease fire in its recent war with Hamas in Gaza, tensions were still high considering the ongoing conflict in the neighboring country of Syria. Even as these things were occurring, the work of The Church of God was still moving on.
On September 13th after a long sea journey from India the 14 ton granite monument arrived in Israel to Gadi Fraiman’s studio to be prepared for engraving. Prior to my arrival Gadi had already completed the engraving of the Hebrew and Arabic sides of the monument. Immediately upon my arrival I was taken directly to the studio to review the stencils for the other two sides of the monument. The next two days were filled with the tedious work of centering the stencils on the monument and sandblasting each letter and figure to the proper depth. As the sun set on the evening of the 28th a crane gently set the 14 ton monument on the semi trailer in preparation for it to be moved to Mt. Hittin the next morning.
The threatening of rain slowly faded as we made the trip from the studio to Mt. Hittin on the morning of the 29th. We were detained for a little over an hour due to some necessary site preparation in order for the semi to be able to park beside the platform which was built as the final resting place for the monument. Even though Gadi was somewhat flustered by the delay we were able to see how God works all things for His good. During the delay a group of 55 tour guides were hiking along what is known as the “Jesus Trail” which goes from Nazareth to Capernaum and happens to pass the site of the monument. It just so happens that on this day and at this time these guides decided they would walk the trail together to discuss information which they could share with their future tour groups. They were extremely excited to see the activity surround the placement of the monument. They asked many questions and I was able to share with them information about the marker and the Church. Several said how happy they were to have been there during that time so they could tell their future tour groups that they were present when this monument was placed on Mt. Hititn. Praise the Lord for this wonderful opportunity. The work was able to resume after God’s intermission was completed. The crane once again slowly lifted the monument and placed on the platform in a beautiful location on the slopes of Mt. Hittin overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
During my visits to Mt. Hittin I have seen several hikers and a school group stop at this site. I have often wondered how many visitors will pass by this location and read the Scriptures on the monument. How many will, for the first time, realize they are standing on the slopes of the mountain where Jesus Christ established His Church? How many will be curious enough to visit the website thechurchofgod.org etched on the monument and find out about the glorious Church of God?
The doors that God was opening didn’t end with the fifty-five tour guides. As I was visiting area hotels to ask if we could place color brochures of the monument in the lobby for their guests I was given the name and contact number of the co-founder of the “Jesus Trail.” After a few calls I was able to set up a meeting with Mr. Inon. During our meeting I discover that he and his wife have over three thousand visitors to his guesthouse annually and nearly triple that number who he is aware of who walk the “Jesus Trail” annually. He has a Face book page and website where people are able to share their experiences on the hike. He has agreed to make our brochures available in his guesthouse. He has also agreed to allow the Church to place an advertisement on the map of the trial. They will also allow space for a picture and description of the monument in the next printing of their guidebook which gives more details concerning points of interest along the trail.
Mr. Inon asked how many years it took the Church to get permission to erect the monument. He was amazed when I told him the entire project took less than two years. He shared with me his own story of how he had attempted to place markers in Israel and that after several years he finally gave up because it looked as if it just couldn’t be done. I talked to another man who had a similar story about wanting to place some markers in the Garden Tomb. He shared with me that after making several request to the director that he was simply told that he would be allowed to place any markers there. Where man had shut the door on others God has opened the door for The Church of God.
Near the end of the trip to Israel I stayed overnight in Jerusalem to visit the Garden Tomb and take pictures of the new markers at Golgotha and the Tomb. During breakfast our guide spotted a man that he said he thought was Uzi Landau who is the Israeli Minister of Tourism. He questioned himself because the man didn’t have any security with him and there was no hotel official accompanying him in the dining area. I told the guide there is one way to find out for sure and I stood up and approached the man at his table. After I excused myself for interrupting the man I asked if he was, in fact, Uzi Landau. He acknowledged that he was and stood to shake my hand. I then introduced myself, letting him know that I was there representing The Church of God and the purpose of my visit to Israel. He was please to find out about the monument and the Church’s interest in pursuing this endeavor. I then invited him to attend the dedication service for the monument on December 3rd. He assured me that he would attend if his schedule allowed. What are the chances of crossing paths with an Israeli government official in the hotel dining room on that morning? But we know that with God all things are possible!
What a wonder accomplishment for The Church of God. He has truly favored us and the work which we have set out to achieve in fulfilling the marking program. As I reflected upon this trip I was reminded of a statement made by Lt. Col Amos Davidowitz who has been assisting the Church with this project. He said, “I am very impressed! What started out as being completely impossible is now almost done with a bigger stone, thanks to Gadi and his uncompromising bargaining powers. When finished this will be the largest monolithic monument in Israel! A miracle in a land built on and around miracles!” I couldn’t have said it better myself. To God be the glory!