News & Views
At The Crossroads Conference Report from the UK
Following her brief reflections last week about her visit to the Christ Church At the Crossroads Conference over Easter, Jane Moxon shares this fuller report
For three days in March Christ Church in Jerusalem was closed to the public as security guards checked people for their conference badges. From the areas of the Isaiah Highway they gathered; from Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Iraq, The West Bank, Jordan, Cyprus and even an Ethiopian now working in Kenya.
First, The Tour
Before the conference was a four day tour. This was an opportunity for people to see something of Israel and the places where the Jesus walked and where the church began.
Starting at Jaffa, or Joppa as it was called in Bible times, there was tangible excitement as Christ Church Rector, David Pileggi, discussed Jonah, the man sent to Nineveh, modern-day Mosul in Iraq, since some of the people knew it well. Moving on to Peter and the vision which led to the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles, David explained how God loved all nations and intended to use His people Israel to be a light to the Gentiles. We travelled on to Caesarea where Peter had been led from Joppa in order to baptise Cornelius and his family. We were shown the remainder of First century opulence and of a city of sin and idolatry. How like God, David told us, that in the most unlikely places God comes down and that in Caesarea the first Gentiles are grafted in. We moved north and stood on Mount Carmel. As we considered Elijah and the prophets of Baal, we were aware of how serious idolatry is and how it is alive today in every country just as it was in Bible times.
For the next two days we explored Galilee, the Jordan River, and the Judean desert. The boat ride on Galilee and the float in the Dead Sea were special moments for the delegates, but maybe there was an awed silence that fell on the group as they looked across the Lake from the Mount of Beatitudes and the words of Jesus were read and expounded by David.
The third day ended with a view from Mount Scopus of the Temple Mount, a visit to Gethsemane, and a walk from the Kidron Valley up to the City of David.
‘A dream come true’ was a phrase I heard many times from people who told me how they had longed to come to Israel, how they never thought they would be able to come or how. One person had written in their diary of their desire to come to Israel seven years earlier and now God had brought them. They were full of praise. When I asked different people what had been the best thing they had seen on the tour they found it hard to pick out one place. It was all wonderful they said.
Our fourth tour day there was a tour on foot of the Old City, and in the evening the Conference started with dinner at Christ Church.
One person had written in their diary of their desire to come to Israel seven years earlier and now God had brought them
And Then The Conference
A crowded dining-room, many languages and much gesticulation and interpretation meant one thing - no not chaos - but fellowship! This conference is about God’s family coming together, from the Isaiah 19 Highway countries, including those in ministry among them, to love each other not just in words but in action. We are God’s family. Obvious, we may think, but somehow when the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael come together in reconciliation through the Messiah it makes a powerful witness to the world.
The worship over the three days was led by three different groups from across Israel. To see the joy on the delegates’ faces, it’s hard to believe some have risked their lives to attend and then return from a conference held in Israel.
During the conference we heard from Canon Andrew White and other pastors from across the Middle East, and people were greatly encouraged. The middle evening got down to the work of reconciliation, and the deeper work of prayer as Jewish and Arabic women took the roles of Sarah and Hagar. One Jewish woman told me how she and a friend felt they had already repented and now were in the process of living it out. However, they were both powerfully affected by the work of prayer over Sarah and Hagar and felt that they were a part of spiritual forces being broken to pave the way for a greater harvest across the Middle East. I guess it’s like our own personal repentance, yes it is done and yes it is being done and yes it will be done! The last night people were slow to leave the church and final swaps of email addresses and contact details added the finishing touches to a great conference.
For me, the outstanding moments were: The time we stopped on the east side of Lake Galilee. Two coaches full of people from these nations struck up in songs of worship in their own languages. I was able to add voice to the Hebrew songs. The final Egyptian song was a well-known hymn and suddenly everyone was singing in their own tongue, How Great Thou Art!
When we stopped at the River Jordan to ‘touch’ the water - an overhanging tree branch was looped by a swing. Irresistible to the assembled group, quite a few grasped the metal bar and swung out across the river from the side of the bank where we stood. The second of the two women who tried this took off with a flying leap and went straight into the river – an unexpected baptism by total immersion! She hadn’t been able to hold on to the bar. Gallant knights in shining armour rushed to her rescue as the rest dissolved in laughter.
These became to me demonstrations, as the Jewish woman in Jerusalem was to say to me later, that reconciliation / repentance / forgiveness are not words we keep saying but something that having said, we walk out in life together.
I enjoyed all of the tour and the conference but it is as you travel and live life together that links are made which then are held through the busyness of the actual conference – and I now find I have invitations to visit Armenia, Turkey and Egypt!
The three co-founders have seen this conference grow since it began in 2012 and now Christ Church is bursting at the seams. In years to come it may need the Temple Mount to house all those who of the Isaiah 19 Highway who will gather in the City of the Great King to worship their Messiah!
Click here to read Jane’s previous reflection, written during her time in Israel