OPEN House OPENS Hearts

December 15, 2009
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BFP Headquarters—A Historic Building

We were able to participate in this innovative Israeli program because our international headquarters building has an amazing history. It was built in 1905 by Empress Taitu Butool Menelik of Ethiopia, and much of the historic integrity of the building has been maintained. I am sure, however, when the empress built it, she had no idea what the Lord had in store for the beautiful building. Her intent was to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem; the palace would provide a residence for herself and other Ethiopian visitors.

She never made it to the Holy City, but she spent her personal treasure building the palace and several other buildings, which stand today as a testimony to her strong interest in the nation of Israel. Because of that heritage, and our location right off the Street of the Prophets, a rich historical area, we are in the ideal location to contribute to the success of the Jerusalem event.

Guests Surprised…and Moved

The day of the open house dawned sunny and beautiful, and the moment our gates were opened, visitors began to arrive. First on the agenda was a meeting in our first-century teaching room with either our President and CEO Rebecca Brimmer or myself—a welcome air-conditioned break for hot and tired walkers as the day wore on! Although we have been in the Land for over 30 years, many Israelis have not heard of us, and as we told the story of our commitment to the nation and people of Israel, they were often moved—even to tears.

As one visitor put it: “We visited the project of open houses and were surprised to find such a nice and lovely place. We were really impressed by your great love for our nation. We lift your hands up to continue your hard work, and we know that this work will prosper and succeed.”

Our guests came from all walks of Israeli life and from every part of the country, from Haifa in the North to Eilat in the South. One visitor works as a Jerusalem social worker, who testified that she has assisted many people in very dire circumstances with the help of Bridges for Peace. One couple was eager to tell the story of their arrival here as Russian immigrants, who were participants in our Adoption Program. The love and appreciation they expressed was overwhelming. But to most, the concept of a practical expression of Christian support was new—and startling.

One woman tearfully expressed it this way: “I came with the project open house and was happy to discover that you are here, building bridges from heart to heart in our Land. Thank you for your warm hospitality, and may you be blessed with the same love and generosity that you are showing us.”

Bridges for Peace is truly making a difference. As Israelis hear of our supporters from all over the world who give generously to our projects here in the Land or of our volunteers who come at their own expense from all around the globe to be a part of the work we are doing, they are astonished at such an outpouring of true friendship and support. As they learn of our commitment to fight anti-Semitism and tell Israel’s story to the world, they are strengthened and encouraged.

One couple tearfully grasped my hand and said, “The message that you carry is very encouraging to us, especially now, and spiritual, and we wish God that it will be realized!”

An Atmosphere of Peace

These were two very important days, which we look forward to participating in again next year. At times, the ambiance became almost surreal as traditional folk music from the building across the wall filled the air, families sat on the grass and rested in the shady areas of our garden, and Jews and Christians walked and talked together in a true atmosphere of peace. It was hard to miss the sense that God was smiling.

 

Houses from Within

This event is one of many Open Houses that take place in cities around the world. One weekend a year, Jerusalem opens up private spaces for touring: houses, urban villas, unique synagogues, architecturally significant public buildings, curious construction sites, plazas, and gardens. Many people have contributed in order to allow the public to discover Jerusalem: architects, developers, property owners, institutional administrators, and many others who live and breathe the city, including some who devote their time to trying to improve it. See www.batim-jerusalem.

 

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