Thursday, July 20, 2017

Historic events to celebrate 50 years reunification of Jerusalem

Hundreds of Christian leaders from 56 countries and Israeli leaders celebrate and pray together for the Peace of Jerusalem at the 1st Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast.

“We are writing a new chapter in the fulfilment of of Isaiah’s prophecies. You are a part of this chapter” (Yehuda Glick, Rabbi and Knesset Member)

Exactly 50 years after the reunification of Jerusalem, between 6-8 June, the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast as well as other related side events took place in Jerusalem. I had the honor to be involved in these events as one of the Founders of the Movement of the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast and also on behalf of the ECPM. The events consisted of an opening meeting in the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset), a reception at the residence of the President of Israel, a lunch for Members of (European) Parliament organized by the ECPM in collaboration with the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus (KCAC) and the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF), a concert with (Jewish) Psalms and Christian worship, the Prayer Breakfast and the Closing Dinner. The last day, an excursion was organized to visit a future project in the pioneers’ city of Arad.


Opening in the Knesset
The meeting in the Knesset was opened by Josh Reinstein, Director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus who underlined that it is time that Christians and Jews stand up together to fulfill the Biblical Prophecies. Knesset Member and President of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus (KCAC) Robert Ilatov also recognized the importance of Christians coming from many different nations to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Jerusalem.


Rabbi and Knesset Member Yehuda Glick greeted with a: “Shalom, lovers of God, coming to Jerusalem just to pray for the peace of Jerusalem”. In his speech, he said that he believed that new chapters of the Biblical prophecies are fulfilled here and that we are part of this new chapter. He also encouraged everyone to be a flame in the Menorah to bring God’s Light into our families. The Director of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem explained that 150 years ago, Sir Charles Warren, a General in the British army, started Biblical Archeological diggings in Jerusalem, 100 years ago, General Allenby entered Jerusalem after the British conquered it and 50 years ago, Jerusalem was reunited. He wondered whether people will hopefully say that in 2017, the first Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast took place and started a movement that changed the whole nation. Other speakers were Kenner Meshour (MP from South Africa) and a former Minister from South Korea. The meeting was accompanied by music performances by Brigitta Veksler-Lundvall.

Meeting with President Reuven Rivlin and ECPM lunch with M(E)Ps.

After the opening of the Prayer Breakfast in the Knesset, as one of the Founders of the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast, together with the M(E)Ps who participated to the Breakfast and other Founders, I was invited for a reception with the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin at his residence. During his remarks, Mr Rivlin underlined the fact that Jerusalem is as diverse as a micro-cosmos where Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of no faith have an ability to live side by side. He characteristically said that the "time has come to bring peace to Jerusalem". He added that it is not enough to pray FOR the peace of Jerusalem but to pray for the peace IN Jerusalem where all people have the ability to live next to each other in peace." From the part of the Founders and M(E)Ps, European Parliament Member Lars Adaktusson addressed the meeting.

In the evening there was a concert with psalms and Christian worship songs from different music bands. The evening was conducted by Brigitta Veksler-Lundvall and moderated by Albert Veksler (Coordinator of the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast).

The Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast itself that took place on the 7th of June (exact 50 years after the liberation of Jerusalem) was  very impressive. It was attended by high-level Israeli government ministers, members of Knesset, Members of European Parliament and National Parliamentarians, pastors and NGO representatives. The Breakfast was chaired by Albert Veksler, coordinator of the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast. Key speakers from Israeli side were among others MK Robert Ilatov and Director Josh Reinstein (from the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus), MK Michael Orden (Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office), Yariv Levin (Minister of Tourism) and Sofa Landver (Minister of Immigrant Absorption). 


There were prayers and Scripture readings based on Psalm 122 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem”. The Breakfast was also attended well by ECPM Members:ECPM President MEP Branislav Škripek, former ECPM Presidents Peter Östman and Peter Vosu, ECPM MEP Arne Gericke as well as by ECPM MPs Antero Laukkanen (Finland) and Pavel Unguryan (Ukraine) and Director for European Affairs, Leo van Doesburg. Branislav Škripek, Peter Östman and Pavel Unguryan had the opportunity to read bible verses during the Prayer Breakfast.

The ECPM also had the opportunity to organize together with the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, the Israel Allies Foundation and the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast organizing team, a lunch meeting for Members of the (European) Parliament who participated at the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast. Speakers were Robert Ilatov, President of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, MEP Branislav Škripek, President of ECPM, Josh Reinstein, Director of Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and Leo van Doesburg. The meeting was chaired by Renee Sharon (Knesset Christian Allies Caucus) Moreover, Peter Östman, ECPM’s former president addressed the meeting. 


The lunch was also organized as a celebration on the 50 years from the Reunification of Jerusalem and an excellent opportunity to look for ways how to strengthen the relationship between European and Israeli politicians and Knesset Members. It was encouraging to see how the work of the ECPM in the European Parliament and in the Council of Europe is appreciated by our Israeli partners.


The events were concluded with a Founder’s Closing Dinner which was also chaired by Albert Veksler. This was attended by the Founders, Members of Parliament, and Israeli Knesset Members and the President of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus Robert Ilatov. There, coordinators of different Prayer Breakfasts in Europe gave their testimony as well as practical information on how to organize a Prayer Breakfast in their respective countries. 


Leo van Doesburg had the privilege to read verses from Zephaniah 3: 14-17 on the prophecies on Jerusalem “Sing Daughter Zion, shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, He has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior Who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His Love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing”.

The next day there was an excursion to the Negev Dessert where we visited  Masada and the city of Arad, built by pioneers in the middle of the dessert. The city is in decline and therefore plans were made to build a research and innovation centre there.


Photo: Leo, together with the MEP Branislav Skripek, President ECPM, MK Rober Ilatov, President Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, Josh Reinstein: Director Knesset Christian Allies Caucus/ Israel Allies Foundation

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