Friday, May 10, 2013
In the early 1900's, a noted Presbyterian minister and author from the U.S. named Henry van Dyke said this after his visit to Jerusalem:
"The mystery of the heart of mankind, the spiritual airs that breathe through it, the desires and aspirations that impel men in their journeyings, the common hopes that bind them together in companies, the fears and hatreds that array them in warring hosts--there is no place in the world today where you can feel all this so deeply, so overwhelmingly, as at the gates of Jerusalem."
Pictured above: The Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Land Virtual Tour | Leen Thobias| p4panoramaThe Holy
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
(by Jill Perry):
Life can be full of great moments. For me, some of my best moments have been in sports. My most vivid memories from my childhood evolve around my experiences in sports. I played soccer, softball, basketball and ran track. By the time I reached high school, I narrowed my focus to volleyball. I remember the moment I found out I made the varsity volleyball team at my high school as a sophomore. I remember what I was wearing, the room I was in, the ride home after tryouts in my brother's car, and the look on my dad's face when I relayed the news. I remember being offered a scholarship to play college athletics. Some of my best athletic performances occurred while playing volleyball at Xavier. I was always so excited at game-time. I couldn't wait to get out on the court!
It was not only the game moments that made sports so enjoyable for me, but also the relationships I made with teammates and coaches. Sports have a wonderful way of uniting young people and teaching them valuable lessons about teamwork, and life!
Although I enjoyed sports tremendously as an athlete, I think I appreciated the opportunities they offered me even more as a coach. Once I graduated from college, I became a high school teacher and coach. I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when my kids won their first state championship. Just seeing the joy in their eyes and excitement for one another gave me a great deal of contentment.
I once heard a speaker talk about "defining moments" and I would have to say that my most significant defining moment was when I realized God loved me. I was 15 at the time. I remember sitting in an assembly at a youth retreat, and the speaker read Jeremiah 29:11,
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, but give you hope and a future."
I had never struggled, prior to that moment, to believe that Jesus Christ died for me and that only He could forgive my sins. I knew I was going to heaven when I died. I believed John 3:16. What I didn't comprehend up until that moment, however, was that God had a--detailed & gracious--plan for my life, not only in Eternity, but here, in my earthly life as well. That realization rocked my life and made me love God more!
One of the greatest moments in a Christian's life, I believe, is when he/she realizes that they can become a part of a bigger plan--God's plan. The fact that He gives us a role in carrying out His plan is almost unimaginable. But when we read Ephesians 1:11-12, we can stand in awe at how God reveals this in His Word, the Bible:
"In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory."
As a chaplain for the women's sports teams at Georgia, I have the privilege to share what Christ has done and is doing in my life. More importantly, I get to share what He can and will do in the lives of young people who seek Him. I carry out God's purpose for my life daily as I walk the sidelines and talk with coaches and athletes at the University of Georgia.
My prayer for YOU is that YOU will use what GOD has given YOU: your gifts, your talents, your time, to serve Him and become a part of His Kingdom work!
Friday, August 24, 2012
|L-R: Abbie, Allyson & Shannon share their stories.|
Each month, the FCA/Team United ministry partners with the members of Briarwood Baptist Church in Watkinsville for a time of fellowship, food, ----and spiritual feeding--- for the Lady Dawgs of UGA. On the 23rd, we had three young women from our ministry share about their experiences in missions: Shannon Young, Allyson Quinn & Abbie Robinson. Their stories were inspiring and genuine as they shared their love for mentoring younger people in their areas of influence and going, literally, across the world to share the Gospel and serve people. Shannon served as an intern at her home church, Hebron Baptist Church, this summer, working in the youth group and participating in a short term mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Shannon has an incredible gift in discipling younger people and she impacted a lot of girls in her willingness to serve.
Abbie went on an AIA (Athletes in Action) tour to Togo (Africa) in June, conducting coaches clinics for track & field. Abbie had the opportunity to serve in several other roles & share her testimony with the people of Togo.
Allyson is a former cheerleader and recent grad of UGA. She is from Chicamauga, GA and participated and co-led a team Bible study for the cheerleaders for four years. Allyson has recently responded to the call to go into full time missions for this next year through Adventures in Missions', "The World Race: 11 Countries in 11 Months." She leaves in early September. Pray for Allyson! God is doing some amazing work in her life right now. You can follow her blog at:
All of these young women are truly living out the Great Commission that Christ gave His disciples in Matthew 28:19: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Special thank you's to all the women of Briarwood who cooked and participated!
AND, Ed and Ramona Lord for opening their beautiful home to us that night!
The upcoming Women's Nights this semester are: September 20th & November 8th. Mark your calendars!
Monday, July 2, 2012
Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, we secured our checked bags, loaded a big Volvo bus and traveled to Meggido. This impressive overlook into the Meggido Valley is beautiful! Several exciting stories occurred here in the Old Testament: King Ahab, Solomon's temple-buildings, and the most famous, Elijah and the prophets of Baal worship in 1 Kings 17. From this mountain, you can see into Nazareth and the Galilee. In Nazareth, there is the Church of the Annunciation, which represents when the angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary, fortelling of her pregnancy of the Savior. From Meggido, you can also see Mt. Tabor, which is believed to be the mountain where Christ was transfigured in front of Peter, James & John (Matt. 17). (Below: Our FCA team at Meggido. Bottom picture is of Mt. Tabor)
JUNE 8, 2012 THE GALILEE
Last night was our first official night in Israel. We are at the Restal Hotel in Tiberius at the Sea of Galilee. Last night, I had trouble going--and staying--asleep. Was thinking about the Black Canyon hike and all the fears I had last year of the high cliffs, steep boulders with just a few metal handles drilled into the rock to support you from falling into a deep canyon of rock! I was remembering the anxiety, yet exhiliration, of how great I felt to accomplish that hike/rapelling with my teammates. Today, our team will confidently and joyfully complete this "task" of team building because I PRAYED over it--along with many others. Today and every day, the LORD is going to do some awesome stuff in our lives while we are here in this Land, walking and laughing in the midst of angels and God's Holy Spirit! It's so powerful here! LORD, I ask You to bless us with a powerful hand of Your Presence today as we hike, swim, talk, laugh, jump, sweat, and bond as a team (Psalm 121).
JUNE 9, 2012 8:00 AM TIBERIOUS HOTEL, HOLY SITES ALONG THE GALILEE
Today, we are leaving our hotel and heading to the sites on the Galilee. Looking forward to seeing Capernaum again! It's amazing to me to think that this is the town Jesus chose to spend most of His time in His three year ministry!
My whole body is sore, especially my legs! My body feels like it's been hit by a truck! The past couple of mornings, Lisa and I have been getting up a few minutes early to spend time in the Word and pray together. Today, Lisa read the Beatitudes and we prayed for our teammates.
4:00 pm: Today, we've seen a lot! We're riding through the areas of the Dead Sea, on our way to Bethlehem. We visited the Church of Beatitudes, Tabgha, and Capernaum. We had an awesome lunch at St. Peters Restaurant on the Galilee--best hummus I've ever tasted! We then went to the Jordan River Baptism center. Several of my teammates were baptised. (Picture below is Walt--he is a youth pastor in Beckley, WV--he led our life lesson at Capernaum--it was great! Bottom pic is some of my teammates who were resting at Tabgha)
JUNE 10, 2012 A FCA TEAMMATE SHARES ABOUT A LIFE GOD REWARDS
Three serious things every Christian does: A daily quiet time, journaling (don't forget what God has done for you), & he/she does it early in the morning. Acts 17:1-9; 10-15
JUNE 14, 2012 CAIAPHAS' HOUSE IN JERUSALEM
This morning, I had a truly thrilling experience. Each morning this week, before the afternoon sports clinics, we have been traveling to a different Holy Site in Jerusalem and hearing a "life lesson" about the site & it's history, including a biblical account as to its significance to our faith.
Today we went to Caiaphas' House, where Jesus was held on trial the day before His death. It was my turn to teach the life lesson this morning, so I shared out of John 18 & Isaiah 53.
Last year, in 2011, when we visited this site, I was deeply impacted by the sight of that pit & what Christ must have experienced that night in that dark and depressing place. I knew immediately that there will be nothing in my life--no tragedy, no all-time low--I experience that Christ cannot relate to. He went through that for us! He is the ultimate High Priest, Who can sympathize with any dark time in our lives! Oh, how I love Him for that! (Below: the hole in which the Sanhedrin officials lowered Jesus by a rope into the pit. Bottom picture: David "Hoss" Johnson & Steve Grant--my teammates--read Psalm 88)
JUNE 18, 2012 THE JOURNEY TO NABLUS
We have been in the town of Nablus the past two days conducting sport clinics (soccer & basketball). Whew, they have been some long days! We are exhausted. It is very hot here and we've really been pounding the water. We drink at least 3 liters a day, plus Gatorade. Every one is going fine; we're healthy and eating fantastic food. The people of the West Bank are very hospitable and they make some amazing food. Kathleen makes me laugh when they start serving the Arab dessert called Kanafa. She loves it & gets so excited when they bring it to the table.
Tomorrow, we head to the coast to Netanya for a relaxing day on the beach. We are looking forward to it. Tomorrow night most of our team is leaving Israel. 10 of us are staying and heading to Jordan.
The pic attached is from a conversation with a young Muslim girl about Jacob's well, Jesus and the Samaratan woman in John 5. All these events took place in Nablus!
It is 10:35 am in Netanya Israel. About 19 of our team members left last night for a 11:00 flight back to the States. It was an unexpected emotional moment for me to see all of them get on the bus, realizing that more than likely we will never all be in the same place together again till Eternity. This team was special and worked so hard together. Mike had me lead the evening team meetings/devotions each night throughout the trip. Yesterday, we had a sweet time of just letting everyone reflect on their experience and edify any of the team members who had made an impact. It was so wonderful! As I write this, most all the them will be landing on American soil in Newark, NJ, and heading to their home towns.
As large as our team was (29), we still had that feel of "family" by the second half of this trip.
Ten of us remain here at the Blue Bay Hotel & Spa off the Mediterranean coast. We've had a restful recovery from two long weeks of going non stop, from camp to camp, traveling from Bethlehem to Jericho; Jericho to Nablus...then from Nablus on to here.
The food is phenomenal...Israelis really know how to dine well! The view from my back deck is beautiful ( see attached pic). Today, we rest by the pool, shower, then head back to Bethlehem by 4:00 pm by a seventeen passenger van.
We have plans in Bethlehem to visit some local families and dine with them, which always is a great way to continue to build relationships. Looking forward to those conversations and sharing about what Christ is doing in and through our lives.
On Thursday, we'll head to Jordan for two days. Excited to see Petra and Wadi Rum... Mike has been telling us about how beautiful it is.
Last night we ate at the Khoury's home in Bethlehem. They live right next to Shepherds Field, the place where the shepherds saw the star at Jesus's birth.
We will leave for Jordan this morning for three days.
(The bananas are awesome here btw! I'm loving my occasional dose of potassium)
As we ride, I listen to my iPhone music and reflect on the trip so far. While the children of Palestine cross my mind with their smiling faces and Arabic phrases, I think about how much Jesus loved children. Today we stopped at a shop which makes these beautiful mosaic pictures. One of them was of Jesus with children. Jesus loves the kids of Palestine; and they love their friends from FCA in the States!
The last night of the camp we conducted a worship and awards ceremony for the kids and parents. One of my teammates on the trip was Steve Grant. Steve is in his forties; played linebacker for West Virginia then on to the NFL with Tampa Bay and the Colts. He gave an unbelievable presentation of the Gospel to the many Muslim Palestinians there!
We had a couple of other former NFL guys on this trip: David "Hoss" Johnson (Alabama-Bryant's last team) and Scott Holstein (LSU grad now pastor); each helped conduct football clinics in Tel Aviv. David "Hoss" was especially someone I connected with in our bus rides and site seeing excursions. Hoss lost his wife about ten years ago to an unexpected illness and he was left to raise his teenage son and daughter on his own. It has amazed me how this man has raised them on his own. Hoss is probably the funniest man I've ever met!! I already miss him, but we're talking about having a Israel team reunion and have him do his famous pig roasts down at the beach on Gulf shores.
This year I was reunited with several dear friends from last summer, one of which was Lisa Friesen of JMU in Virginia. I cannot put into words how much I value and cherish my friendship with this young woman. Her parents are in full time ministry up in Boston; and when they came to Athens last year to speak at UGA, I immediately felt a strong love and respect for this couple who have dedicated their lives to helping marriages stay on tact and healthy--God's way. There are some friendships that you can't let the challenge of distance weaken your relationship...you have to work hard to maintain the ones that are vital..my friendship with Lisa is one of those!
Okay, now I'd like to talk about Kathleen, our Georgia Bulldog who is with me. "Leenie" is an extraordinary young woman who has passionately served the kids and teenagers in both the volleyball and basketball camps. Each day of camp, she'd coach the kids in basketball camp from 1-4:00 pm, then work the volleyball clinics with me and the older girls from 4-6:30 pm. On the second day of camp, she shared her testimony with the Muslim girls (HS & college-age), via an Arabic translator. I cannot tell you how proud I was of her! All the things that Leenie has learned and experienced while at UGA came out in a beautiful story of how God has orchestrated each trial and triumph over the past four years to display HIS goodness and grace! I am positive that those young women received a message of how good the Gospel is and how it transforms a person's life! I praise Jehovah Jireh for providing the opportunity to experience this trip with a Bulldog!!
We just stopped at a gas station to stretch our legs. The restroom was very interesting...there were individual stalls, but when you went in there were no toilets, just a hole in the floor with a rim around it that was similar to a toilet seat, but two places for your feet. Mike and I took our chances and went anyway (we're drinking water like it's our job). Later, as we were walking in the very windy air back to our bus, our tour guide (a very nice Jordanian named Enad) explained that the Muslims have several rules: no alcohol, no dogs (they believe the barking they do is evil), and no contact with a toilet seat. Why the toilet seat thing? Because they think you will contract demons from coming in contact with a toilet. Hmm, the bathroom I just went in could have very well been possessed with demons cause it smelled awful!
Oh, and Enad, our guide is a cool guy. I asked him what his name means. He said with a smile, "stubborn." His face glowed as he spoke about Moses at the stop at Mt Nebo ( where Moses looked out into the Promised Land). That Mt Nebo story is in the last chapter of Deuteronomy, btw.
Oh, & we have a policeman riding with us as well. He is very skinny. Enad says it's required to have a policeman ride along for Americans, not just for safety , 'but to move through faster in heavy traffic'. Not worried at all, in fact, I feel very safe. Don't have his name yet, but he's very polite and friendly.
Last night we ate in a huge tent; a traditional Bedouin meal. They served the most amazing hot British tea and we sat out looking up at the stars before bed.
The sleeping tents were interesting. I slept so hard though..we had an amazing day!
This afternoon, we went to Petra. If you've ever seen the movie, "Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade", you would remember this amazing site! So much history surrounds this city carved out of the red rock that I still don't quite understand much about it. Enad said that many people have made up so many stories about the history that it's difficult to know what's true and what isn't. Either way, it was amazing. Several evangelists and biblical scholars believe that the Jews will escape there in end times when the Antichrist comes to Jerusalem.
We are heading to the Dead Sea for the remainder of the day to go swimming and eat dinner. Will sleep well tonight!
The Jordanian adventure continues.
Since June 6, we have stayed in 6 different lodgings! Whew! Feel like I'm in the army every time Mike says, "okay guys, pack your bags for ____ days, we're going to _________today!"
The last hotel was the Warwick Intl Hotel. We stayed 2 full days, laid by the Jordanian side of Dead Sea and the pool area; had a couple of spa treatments:); watched movies with Arabic subtitles; and ate like kings and queens. The Jordanians know how to vacation!!
Over the past two days, much has gone through my mind....the Palestinian way of life, the people we've met while here, the conversations I've had with people. This morning I got to share with my massage therapist who is from Indonesia. We talked about the differences between Christianity and Budhism.
An hour later & just got through Border crossing back into Israel: what a blessing it is to be an American. We just bypassed a large crowd of Arabs waiting in an enormous line waiting to go through and we went around it because they saw that we were a group of Americans!
We will conduct a two hour basketball camp for the children of Jericho tonight from 6-8pm, then head to Bethlehem.
(Pic below is Manger Street, Bethlehem at night)
Monday, April 2, 2012
(Rt.) Miss Megan on "Dixie": This was taken by team member, Lauren Shammon. I was at this meet that warm Saturday afternoon in October with my friend Louise. It was a great day and a great win against Kansas State & TCU!
Below is distance runner, Ashley & javelin thrower, Allison (below, ctr)...two of our women involved with Team United on campus. (Photos courtesy of UGAAA)
How 'bout them Swim Dawgs!! (UGAAA photos)
(Lft) our staff poses for pic outside of Rankin. Below, Will of men's tennis. I love this shot!! Stole it off his Facebook! :)
Lft...new head coach of Georgia volleyball, Coach Lizzy. Rt...Kelley, our wonderful head women's golf coach.
Above: Jacqueline (UGA Equestrian) shares her story with the Promise Keepers of Lake Oconee, GA.
Beverly teaches at March's Women's Night (held at Cynthia's home in Watkinsville) What a feast we enjoyed that night!
FCA Winter Retreat in Shocco Springs, AL
Above: Breakfast with the Yeager girls
Paul & Virginia Friesen of Home Improvement Ministries (HIMweb.org) share on relationships at January's Team United monthly meeting.
Below...my Wednesday mornings are spent with one of the best Bible teachers in Georgia, Mrs. Carolyn Rogers. To the right: Alli teaches at an Equestrian Bible study on Thursday nights.
Below: The UGA women's golf team poses for a pic after a second place finish at the Liz Murphey Golf Classic. Wow those girls are good!!
(Rt.) Women's Night, Oct/November 2011 @ the Kinnard's & the Standard's homes
Below (lft) Me and Alli at the Equestrian tent (Oct. 2011). On the Right...with Mrs. Katie V at her wedding in September.
Below: Danielle (Dance Dawg) & Shannon (Cheerleading squad) participate in an ice breaker activity at Leadership.