Editor’s note: The following story was written by Dianna Claiborne, a member of Pierces Chapel Assembly of God church in Jacksonville and is intended to inspire others to pray for peace in the Middle East.

By Dianna Claiborne

Special to the Progress

It has been my life-long desire to visit the land of my faith: Israel.

The attraction? Many things. The history, modern culture, current world events, etc., but most of all I wanted to experience the things I had read and studied about as a Christian in the most treasured book of my life and I believe of all mankind - the Bible. In a strange turn of events, that dream came true for me a few weeks ago.

In mid-November, friend Ruth Laird and I visited and prayed for Israel.

Ruth lives in Jacksonville and I live 12 miles out in the country. My husband Waymon and I pastor Pierces Chapel Assembly of God.

Ruth and I were invited to accompany a group of Prayer Warriors to fly to the Holy Land and pray in strategic areas for the peace and safety of the country of Israel.

This invitation came indirectly to us from the government of Israel. Its government has recently appointed an ambassador specifically to the Christian faith. Wow! What history will record about that one decision will only be known in eternity. Needless to say, there were many who responded to this call – around 500 individuals were in our group.

After receiving this call from Israel, my heart felt as if I were a soldier being asked to participate in the greatest and most strategic mission of all time. It might even mean risking my life. After praying, the desire was more like a compulsion so, I signed up. The funds came in for the trip just in time.

Looking back, the formation of this desire began at my father’s knee. James Daniel, Sr., my dad, lives in Maydelle, has such a love for the Holy Land that he studied and taught about Israel much of the time. I learned that it is more than just another country; it is our country – the heart of our Christian faith.

Let me tell you some of what was discovered from the nine-day trip. I could tell you about the locations we visited like the Garden Tomb, Calvary, the Wailing Wall, the Sea of Galilee and the Mount of Beatitudes. Even though this was important, something else loomed greater in comparison. What was most important was to find the deep abiding concern and love in my heart for the Israeli people.

Right now, since they lost the war with Hezzbolah, the Israeli population is bewildered, wondering “Why did we lose?” They won their right to be a state May 14, 1948. They won the Six Day War in 1967. They won the Yom Kippur War in 1973, but in 2006 they lost the battle. Their enemy was not defeated. The land of Israel knows that Hezzbolah will attack again because the enemy is re-arming at a very fast pace.

It was our blessed privilege to not only pray for Israel but also love the people we visited.

When talking to our tour guide Daniel Rosenbloom, a French Israeli, this bewilderment and fear came up in conversation. My response to him was, “Daniel, I, as an American Christian, would give my life for Israel and your family. In fact, so would most of the people I know.”

He fought back tears and looked at me in wonder and amazement. He said with a cracking voice, “We must talk about this in depth later.” He expressed wanting to understand why Christian America love Israel and her people. The reason I gave him was, “because of Jesus of Nazareth.”

If you find your heart yearning to visit Israel and you follow your heart there, you will be amazed at two things: its peace and security (statistically, cities of Israel are much safer than American cities; and, it’s home. You will not want to leave.

Israel’s population is alert to danger but is not obsessed by it. If something happens, everyone is trained to know what to do. Therefore, they spend their days enjoying life. Preparation brings peace of mind. I believe America needs to learn this lesson.

As we come to the close of the Christmas 2006 season and look toward the New Year of 2007, we find ourselves wondering, caring, and praying more for the Holy Land than ever.

What will she face in the upcoming year? What ever she faces, she will not be alone.

There are millions of American Christians, many in East Texas, that will be loving and praying for her in the upcoming new year, no matter what.


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