Due to the continued increase in people visiting the Garden Tomb this year we have extended our opening hours from 8:00am until 6:00pm, all year round. Through the busy autumn season we extended these hours to 8pm when necessary, and were able to offer tours to as many as 3,000 people a day. By the end of the year over 400,000 people will have heard the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection communicated through the tours and meetings, the leaflets and testimonies; and through the various Community Outreach Events. There is no evidence of any slow-down in tourism, and it is possible that as many as 450,000 people will visit the garden in 2019.
As we look back over the year we see so much to be thankful for. It has been a year when we have enjoyed the Favour of the Lord, and have seen many blessings and answers to prayer. We have a quite remarkable team of permanent local staff, supported by a great team of volunteers.
There have of course been many challenges, but they are the challenges that come in times of growth and blessing.
Here are some of the highlights, in words and pictures that sum up this remarkable year.
The Garden Tomb Team: we have an ever growing team of permanent Local Staff, and short-term overseas Volunteers. Between them they cover a significant number of languages. As well as the local languages – including Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and English – we are able to offer tours in French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian and Indonesian. In addition we often have volunteers able to conduct tours in Mandarin.
The number of visitors coming from South America, China and South East Asia continues to increase, which means we are always looking to recruit volunteers able to speak English, plus Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin and Indonesian.
In order to accommodate more volunteers on site we have built two new apartments this year. We now have volunteer accommodation for as many as 18 people.
A New Identity in Israel: In order to comply with financial regulations and other rules regarding the activities of charitable organisations in Israel, we have registered as an Amuta (Israeli Charity), supported by a business covering the activities of the shop. The process has been unavoidable, time consuming and expensive! The result is we have a much clearer standing in the Land, with all the benefits and obligations this brings. We have recruited a Chief Finance Officer (CFO) to oversee the complex financial and legal obligations involved in operating as an Amuta. Rula Sader is the new CFO, and she joined the Garden Tomb Management Team in November. Please pray for her and for the finance team she leads.
Expectations: there is a growing sense of anticipation and faith that the Lord wants to increase the impact of the garden’s ministry as we focus on proclaiming the Death and Resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. The whole team meets every morning for extended times of prayer, bible reading and worship, before we open the garden for the day. These daily times together, attended by as many as 25 people, help us to focus on the King and His Kingdom.
We have seen many encouraging signs of salvation, with people regularly coming to faith. Others testify to times of refreshing and restoration; and we have seen some physical healings. Our focus remains on our Risen Lord and Saviour, and our constant prayer is that He will be glorified in all we do.
Prayer Partners: Please join us by committing to regularly pray for the ministry of the Garden Tomb. You can see regular news and prayer updates on the Garden Tomb website www.gardentomb.com in the link at the top of the Home Page called “PRAY”. You do not need to sign up for a specific time or date, but by clicking on “Sign up to be a Prayer Partner” you will receive regular prayer updates and occasional newsletters.
Visit our Website now www.gardentomb.com for more information about the following:
- Who we are: Click on OUR STORY on the Home Page for a brief summary of who we are and what we do. On this page you will also have access to our Photo Gallery, and can even download a Garden Tomb Leaflet in one of 31 languages.
- Prayer: Sign up as a Prayer Partner and receive regular Prayer Updates and News Reports.
- Volunteer: Have you considered Volunteering as a Garden Tomb Guide? Are you confident in speaking to others and do you have an active Christian faith? If you are able to speak English fluently, and particularly if you are fluent in an additional language (i.e. Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, German, Mandarin/Cantonese or Indonesian/Malay; and would like to know more about volunteer guiding, please go to our website and click on JOIN US for information on how to become a Garden Tomb Volunteer Guide.
- Visit: Come and visit the Garden Tomb– on your own or with a group. You can find details on how to Book a Visit on our website.
- Donate: If you want to donate to the Garden Tomb ministry you can do so via a link on our website by clicking the Donate button.
As we look towards 2019 it is with a sense of praise for past blessings, and expectation for what lies ahead. Numbers are likely to increase through the year, and indications are that we could see 440,000 visitors or more over the next 12 months. From March we will be opening the garden and shop 12 hours a day, from 8am to 8pm. We need to recruit more staff, and volunteer guides (particularly multi-lingual guides) to meet the challenge and grasp the opportunities.
We are starting the process of opening a Garden Tomb Online Shop. More news to follow in the months ahead!
Improvements to the garden and meeting areas will continue through the year.
We have at least 12 evening events planned for the summer. These concerts are organised and funded in partnership with an agency linked to the Municipality. The aim is to encourage local people, from East and West Jerusalem, to visit the garden. We will be posting more details of these and other events on our website.
Thank you for your fellowship and support in the ministry of the Garden Tomb!
We pray that the Lord will bless you this Christmas Season, and throughout the coming year.
Greetings from Jerusalem,