Israel Update for Media Support - Media Fellowship International
I promised to give you more information about what I experienced and saw on my trip to Israel August 26th through September 5th. At the time of my visit there was a cease-fire in what is called the 50-day war on the Gaza-Israel border.
This trip was born out of prayer and deep concern for the people in the news crews in places of danger. We want to stand beside them and let them know they are being cared for and prayed for. In light of the ISIS brutality we need to pray urgently for them. Another purpose for this Israeli visit was to gather information on the possibilities for a having a Media Support Team presence in the Middle East. We would be there to listen to them and talk to them individually, to pray with them and to befriend them.
I met with Bureau Chief for CBN in the Middle East, Chris Mitchell, who had invited me and MFI to come at this time.
We talked about what Media Fellowship can do to help. How we can offer practical and spiritual support and be true to MFI's calling and purpose. We can pray for them and hand out New Testaments and grief materials. Chris referred me to a number of people.
This was a unique visit with so many opportunities. I felt the Lord was with me through the whole trip and led me to be able to talk personally with many individuals.
While in Tel Aviv, I met with the Executive Director of the Foreign Press Association in Israel. She was interested in why MFI was there and what we would do there. One of her questions was about who we would be willing to minister to - only Jewish journalists, or all media regardless of which side they were on? She represented the "foreign press" who came to Israel so she was concerned for all of them, regardless of which side they represented.
She said the Press Association has only allowed 430 into membership. These are the primary and preferred media to work with the government in Israel and in Gaza covering news from Beirut to Bagdad to Benghazi. They must prove they are mainstream Press. These journalists strive to be scrupulously fair to people and companies of different countries. If anyone misuses their clearance or is unethical in gathering news or is unfair in the telling of the story, they will no longer be cleared for entry.
She told me how difficult it was for them during this last war of 50 days. She was part of the group that worked with the press at Gaza (read Hamas). Media buses with press were sent to Gaza City and some of the foreign press was actually stationed In Gaza City.
Would we be willing to minister to Jewish, international and Palestinian, with no political agenda? I told her yes, I would be open to reaching out to all of the media there. We don't have a 'point of view' politically. Our purpose is to be there for personal support and spiritual encouragement. We would be supportive of an international press in the country.
This led to her referring me to the media office in Palestine and introducing me to the Director of the Media Office there a few days later. (More about that below)
I'll mention some of the doors that were opened to me to show the scope of people I met with. I felt that God was leading me all throughout the time there.
I met with a couple in Jerusalem. He had been a script writer in Hollywood and after working in Israel, they felt called to move there to mentor other script writers from Hollywood. They study with them, take them to key spots in Israel; teach them about the history and significance of the land and events that take place there.
They had me over to their home for lunch and we sat on the rooftop of their condo looking out over Jerusalem. I could see the Dome of the Rock and four Muslim minarets and heard the blasting of the horns at noon. I also noticed some flags on the tops of some buildings and homes.
These flags showed their loyalties - and a number of them were ISIS flags even here in a Jewish land. There are a number of countries there openly supporting the political views of the Muslims.
That evening I went to a nearby restaurant alone and was seated at a decent table outdoors with a good view. When another couple came in I invited them to join me because there weren't any other good tables. The man was ordained and served in religious positions for 30 years. Some years ago he came to Jerusalem to oversee a training program for visitors from his country. I was disappointed in his attitude toward Israel. As a person who is a Christian, his attitude was basically negative toward it although he said he supported Israel.
The lady with him worked with the World Health Organization. She was living in Jerusalem but her work was primarily in Gaza City, spending time there to oversee the medical care they receive. It was very interesting to discuss the situation and opportunities to help people there.
On Monday I went south to the Palestinian city of Ramallah. I spent most of the day in the office of a Palestinian media company. They are funded by a non-profit in Great Britain who provides all their media equipment for radio and television. The group also produces at least two programs a week in Palestine to air in the UK. They are hoping within five years to be self-supporting.
I was received very warmly, in part because of the woman who had introduced us. I often think of how important our relationships are in building a community within the media. I visited with the Director of the Media Action Group and he introduced me to the manager of each department. They came in one by one to talk with me and I spent time with each of them learning about their lives and work there. I gave each of the three directors one of the New Testaments that we published in MFI. They were all very interested.
We talked about our considering extending the MFI Media Support service in Israel. They were open to this idea. It would be non-political but across nationalities.
They wanted me to join them in lunch and had food brought in. The Director called a lady he knew, a film director and producer. She had been to the US a number of times with her work. She lived in a small town of 1200 people that is known as the only Christian town in Palestine. She drove over an hour to get to the office and meet with me and we visited at length. She invited me to come back the next time I visited Israel to meet with the leaders of that small town - her brother is the mayor there.
She is the one whose cousin lived in Gaza City and was killed when an Israeli rocket hit their house. Her 18-year-old nephew lost his legs and was critically injured. He was in ICU in St. Joseph's hospital in Jerusalem. I was privileged to go see him a few days later and pray for him. I also talked with his father and brother with the nurse translating.
Please pray for Tamar and for his extended family. That hospital in Jerusalem is taking care of the critically injured from Gaza City without charging them for their care. This is an unbelievable humanitarian gesture.
Later I met with a Christian freelance journalist and author of about 60 books. She is a contributor to FOX News, Jerusalem Post and Huffington Post. She went to Israel for a visit in 2006 but was compelled to stay. She is very interested in what we were doing.