This is Part Six in a series of articles showing God’s call on a family, their decision to move to Israel and what happened when they did.
In Part Five, “Pathway To The House Of God“, Scott Presson writes how God used a true saint to help chart a course for their future in Israel.
If a city could be alive, Haifa was it. It was vibrant, busy and beautiful. The streets were crowded with merchants and shoppers, the beaches were packed and the port was bustling. For a boy from Virginia with limited exposure to the world at large, it was exciting. Haifa was also a prime destination for people coming from Europe and all points west. They arrived by ship and many of them showed up at our door.
The previous year, my parents had uprooted our family and moved to Israel. They felt that Adonai had commissioned us to be a blessing to the people of the Land and that he had led us here. They had taken charge of Bet El or Bethel, a Youth Hostel that was a crossroads for people that were traveling in that part of the world.
Each day we saw new faces. It turned out that Bethel was quite well-known among travelers and there always seemed to be someone at our door. Some people stayed for only hours while others stayed for days. Occasionally, a family or a larger group would show up.
Our family discovered that running a Youth Hostel was hard work. We were busy all of the time. Even with a dedicated staff of people including Jan and Ruth, a young couple from South Africa, Margaret, an American expat and Heidi, a German Believer, the routine was demanding. My parents had enrolled my brother and me in Ulpan, Hebrew Language School, but until classes started, we were expected to help out around Bethel. Each morning we gathered linens for the laundry, washed them and hung them out to dry. We cleaned bathrooms. We swept and scrubbed floors. Then there were big and small maintenance issues like replacing light bulbs, painting, repairing plumbing problems and fixing the roof.
I met young people from different parts of the world, some of them not much older than I was. Many of them were following the harvests by working in the vineyards in France or gathering oranges in Greece, then picking bananas and tomatoes in Crete before collecting grapes, figs and olives in Israel. Some were seeking enlightenment. Haifa is the world headquarters for the Baha’i Faith, a Persian monotheistic religion and the Baha’i Temple was located just up the street from our house. While others were headed to Jerusalem for spiritual truth. Still others were lonely and needy and looking for comfort and stability. Then there were those that identified with biblical personalities like prophets or Yeshua.
My father had a strict curfew policy. Bethel was locked up tight by midnight. Even if you had paid for a bed and your stuff was in the room, if you were not back by midnight, you did not get into the facility.
Late one night everyone was asleep. The day had been very hot and all of the windows were open. There was a sharp knock at the door. I instantly awoke. I waited for my father to respond. He slept light so I was pretty sure that he was awake but he did not say a word. Whoever was there knocked again. This time, louder and longer. They sounded as if they were mumbling. Probably a drunk, I thought.
Suddenly a loud voice declared “I am Yeshua, let me in.”
I immediately recognized the voice. It was a fellow that had checked in the night before. My brother snickered. I buried my face in my pillow to keep from laughing out loud.
He repeated it again, this time more demanding “Let me in now.”
Not a word from my father but I thought that I heard he and my mother talking in whispers.
“Do you hear me? I am Jesus, let me in!”
Then my father’s voice loud and sharp, “It is pass the curfew time. If you are Yeshua, then walk through the wall because I am not letting you in!”
Then footsteps walking away. My brother and I burst out laughing. The next morning I saw the man sitting in the garden talking with my father.
Israel is a magnet for the lost, the lonely and for people seeking the truth. Whether it was backpackers looking for adventure, others caught up in deceit or the lost, the lonely and the seekers searching for comfort and peace, my parents were quick to realize that Bet El was a place where people could find and experience the love of Adonai. There was a large book case by the door where people checked in. We kept it full of Bibles in many different languages and each day we gave Bibles away. They served as a way to communicate when language was a barrier; which was most of the time. When we could not get a point across, we would point to the Bibles and guests would see one in their language. It helped us to know their nationality and it gave them a clue as to what we were all about.
At one time or another most of us have cried out to God for help. The Bible says that Adonai “will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea” (Psalms 102:17). God also promises that if you seek him you will find him “if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). The Bibles that we gave away at Bethel served as a way to open up a conversation about Adonai and pointed the way to truth and to peace. They also affirmed that when we approach God with a humble and contrite heart, he will always respond with favor and will grant us mercy and grace just when we need it.
Next: Today, Tomorrow And Every Day After: Reality and life collide. In 1973, God told our family to move to Israel. This is our story.