Song of Solomon 2:11-12 “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land”.
During the winter we finished a new pathway to Skull Hill, and re-landscaped the surrounding gardens. With visitor numbers continuing to surge (over 100,000 so far this year), it was important to create a one-way pathway around the garden to help the flow of people. New lighting in the Olive Grove and surrounding gardens means we can now conduct tours for visitors late into the evening.
In March we had our busiest month yet with over 48,300 people visiting the garden. Longer opening hours (8am to 8pm) and the installation of new lighting throughout the garden means we are able to conduct tours for as many as 2,500 people a day.
April started more quietly, but by the end of the month we anticipate over 36,000 people will have visited, and May looks like it will be very busy again. We praise the Lord for the many opportunities we have to present the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. At the same time we are asking the Lord to give us wisdom to know how best to serve the ever-increasing numbers of Christians visiting the Holy Land, many of whom consider their visit to the Garden Tomb to be the highlight of their tour.
R T Kendall was the speaker at our Easter services. Over 300 people attended the Good Friday service, and afterwards the garden remained open so that visitors could enjoy a ‘Quiet Day’ in the garden. On Easter Sunday over 2,300 people attended the Easter Sunrise service. At 9:30 we had a second service attended by approx. 1,000 people. This was followed by a Scandinavian Service at 11:30am.
On Saturday 8th April, Christians from Bethlehem and the West Bank joined with Messianic Believers in celebrating the resurrection of the Messiah. Arab Christians and Messianic believers celebrate the resurrection.
Hebrew Messiah: On Thursday 26th April we are hosting a performance of “Handel’s Messiah” in Hebrew. We anticipate over 250 people will attend the concert, which will be professionally recorded, and made available for sale later. (More info to follow!)
Join us in praying for
- The Volunteer Team: On-site now are Catarina Sherman, Omer + Debora Thomassetti, Peter + Yvonne Attwood, Jürgen + Dawn Kleinloh, Pang Fong and Sok Ching, Coby Stoorvogal, Carlen Toma, Stuart + Pru Bell, and Paul + Jenn Weaver. Later in the month Mark Aldridge, and Dwain + Cindy Camp will be joining the team. Cesar and Joao are with us on a long-term basis, along with Abbie and Laura who have just joined the local volunteer guiding team.
- The Local Staff: due to increasing numbers of visitors we have taken on additional Reception and Shop staff. We want to recruit people who are excited about the ministry of the Garden Tomb, and have the skills and experience we need. Please pray particularly for the Management Team: Kieran [Dept. Director], Phillip [Operations Manager], Chin-Won [Business Manager], Nellie + Matilda [Shop Managers]; and the Director, Stephen Bridge.
- The “Hebrew Messiah” event on 26th April
- Transformed lives: that people will encounter the Risen Christ in the Garden, and at the Empty Tomb.
- Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem! Pray for Righteousness and Peace to come to the surrounding nations, particularly Syria.
Matt 28: 5-6 “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay”.
Blessings from Jerusalem!
Stephen and Sue Bridge