Roger and Ellen Elbel

Prayer Letter/Ministry Update


“Jerusalem Wall of Life” Ministry Project

A rather novel and creative ministry has opened up for us – the “Jerusalem Wall of Life”. In the early 1900's, the C&MA in Palestine was given a cemetery on the outskirts of a growing Jewish suburb in Jerusalem known as the German Colony. Today the historic Alliance Church International Cemetery is in the heart of a thriving shopping district serving the local community. For many years, our cemetery was the only place in Israel for non-Jewish people and internationals not affiliated with established religious communities to be buried. Many local and international believers having a great love for Israel and the Jewish people are buried in the cemetery. Scholars and political authorities consider many of these as important to the formation and establishment of the State of Israel.

Because the history of the cemetery dates back to the late 1800's, the cemetery is listed among Israel's places of historic importance. Dr. Michael Oren has called our Alliance cemetery the "most historic property on historic Emek Refaim Street in the German Colony". As a result, many Israeli tour guides bring groups of tourists and local Israeli's into the cemetery. Also, the cemetery is a great curiosity to the local residents. Whenever the doors are open, there is a stream of curious visitors from the neighborhood and elsewhere. We are asked probing questions about “Who is buried here?” and “What do you believe?”

Our desire is to prepare the site to be a welcome spot and a witness to visitors. This presents a number of challenges. Over the years, neighboring construction projects have caused some of our historic stone walls to be destroyed and replaced with unsightly, unfinished cement walls. In spite of this, we have begun seeking ways to enhance the witness of our cemetery. We find many believers, being dead, still speak!

A local Messianic believer, Meir, trained as a tour guide, volunteered to help us. The CMA assigned Meir to serve as its Cemetery Tour Guide. For several years now, Meir has been opening the cemetery one or two days in the week for the frequent visitors. He offers tours providing history and anecdotes about the deceased persons memorialized on the tombstones. Some enter the cemetery wanting to find the burial site of a specific person. Epitaphs on the markers often provoke other queries. One inscription of a Messianic is marked “To Die is Gain!” and this becomes perplexing to many. Meir combines the “living witness” of the dead believers, along with the memorable works they left behind. For those who respond with spiritual interest, Meir adds his own personal testimony. He prays with many vistors carrying their own sorrows and burdens into the cemetery. Meir has actually prayed with two persons to accept their Messiah within this sacred atmosphere.

We have discussed ways we might enhance the historic appeal and Messianic witness of the cemetery. Of course, we want to beautify the grounds, but we also have made a decision to improve the look of the surrounding walls and let them speak for themselves. We began praying for an artist to paint a biblical mural. Last year, a woman touring from the USA visited the cemetery. Meir happened to mention our desire to create a biblical mural. Surprisingly, the woman named Patricia Solveson, was a believing artist from Wisconsin. She later announced to us how the Lord laid it on her heart to donate her talents to the cemetery. As the Lord would provide, she would put together an assisting work team and periodically visit Jerusalem to paint a biblical mural on our "unfinished" cement walls. The mural would begin with Genesis and continue through Revelation and tell the prophetic story of "God's Sacrificial, Salvation Lamb".

The Israel Field has endorsed this as the “Jerusalem Wall of Life" ministry project. The project may actually require a couple of years to complete. The first phase (Phase 1) was properly preparing the wall for receiving the application of paint for a mural. This preparation involved some major work and was completed last fall. Soon after this initial preparation, Patricia painted the first 2 frames of the mural and developed a feeling for the magnitude of the project.

She returned to Jerusalem this spring with a team of volunteers to continue Phase 2 in the mural. Patricia is praying that each segment of the mural will represent the theme of the love of the Messiah, the Lamb of God, as revealed through the biblical stories in the Bible.

Phase 3 in the project will consist of upgrading the looks of the cemetery by repairing broken grave stones, adding appropriate lighting and explanatory signs for the mural, preparing promotional materials, and printing the stories of those buried in the cemetery in preparation for a formal dedication that will open this new "tourist site" to the general public.

The overall purpose of this project is to share the gospel. The stories of those buried in the cemetery who loved and served Israel because they were followers of the Messiah are powerful and stirring. We expect the Lord to use the testimonies and the mural together, along with a living witness from volunteer guides, to direct many Jewish and non-Jewish people toward faith in Jesus as their own personal Messiah.

Prayer Requests/Answers to Prayer

How can you pray?

• Pray for the “Jerusalem Wall of Life” ministry project: the artist, the workers, the developing strategy, and the needed finances of $45,000. Thank the Lord for the progress made on the JWL mural this spring. More progress scheduled for fall 2011.

• A visa for one of our team members has been delayed for over a year and a volunteer refused. Please pray that these will be granted soon. Praise God, Jesura's Permanent Resident ID was finally received.

• Our Hebrew & Arab field teams are in the process of developing new team strategies. Pray for God’s guidance for them. The new "Bible House Museum" & "Mosaic" international ministry openings in the Negev & the West Bank are scheduled for September.

• Praise God for 100 years of C&MA ministry in the Negev (southern Israel). A visionary Negev Centennial will be celebrated in Beersheba from September 22 - 24, 2011.



Updated: August 11, 2011

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