Our primary purpose here is to learn and to grow. We are being encouraged in this process by a mentoring relationship with two people. Dr. Don Stanley is a gentle and lovely man whose job here is large and multifaceted. He oversees us pastorally and has given us some material to read and work on.
Our primary teacher is Dr. David Pileggi. He and his wife Carol have been in Israel for thirty-five years and their three children were born here. He has served as the Rector of Christ Church for the last six years. We first met David on a study tour which he led in 2006. He has a commanding presence and passionate love for this land and culture. He earned his PhD from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and teaches on the Jewish roots of Christianity. He speaks fluent Hebrew. When he is teaching he closes his eyes and knowledge pours forth. He once commented that he closes his eyes because his notes are on the back of his eyelids!
David and Carol have opened their home and their hospitality to us. We have met with David several times a week in both planned and ad hoc meetings. He guides us on what to see then we bring our questions to him. This has led to many fascinating conversations. One of our favourite memories was a walking tour with David and Carol in the city. We visited some places historic for Christ Church as well as an ultra-orthodox Jewish neighbourhood. It was so sensitive there that we stopped on the border but did not enter it. We finished in the Jewish souk (an open market) with a delicious dinner at a Kurdish restaurant.
David’s role as the Rector of Christ Church is extremely challenging and complex. He has said, “the world is my parish” and that is true as the world passes through this place. But the message being shared here is eternally important. It is that Jesus is the Messiah for all the world; for the Jew, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist and the New Ager. Today when many people in the Western church have lost confidence in their faith, in the Middle Eastern world people are turning to faith in Jesus Christ in the most amazing and miraculous ways. We need to pray for David and the work that is being done in this center of faith in Jerusalem. We need to pray for our own churches, that the Holy Spirit will re-ignite in us the fire of the message of salvation through our Lord and Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God.
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