As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name—for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. 1 Kings 8:41-43Like many believers, I have dreamed of visiting the Holy Land. Quite unexpectedly, the opportunity came up for me to travel with a group that would visit both Israel and Palestine. Not only would I see and experience the sacred places, but the focus of the group would be to interact with the people who lived in the land where Jesus walked. I was excited. As people found out about my trip they asked if I was concerned that the region was in such conflict. I was bombarded with questions: Did it bother me that Iran wanted to blow Israel off the face of the earth? Was I concerned that I would be spending time in the West Bank where terrorist strap bombs to their bodies and blow themselves and everyone else up? Every day I fielded yet another question about my personal security while on the trip. Had the Lord not filled me with peace about going on the trip these inquisitions may have filled me with fear. I knew God had opened a door for me to go to Israel. I was sure He had a Kingdom purpose for sending me to the Middle East. I didn’t have any specifics, but I went expecting Him to do something great in me and through me. On the third night of our trip, each member of the team was assigned a Palestinian family to spend the night with. The purpose of our stay was to get a glimpse of what life was like from someone who actually lived in the West Bank. My roommate, Leslie, and I were anxious and excited about meeting our host family. We soon discovered that we would be staying with a widow that lived in Bethlehem. Her name was Tereza. She arrived to pick us up in a taxi. Our driver quickly loaded our bags into the trunk and before we knew it, we were being whisked through the narrow streets of Bethlehem at high speeds. Within a short time, we arrived at the front door of what we assumed was Tereza’s home. The driver unloaded our luggage, smiled, said something we didn’t understand and drove off. Tereza grabbed a bag and proceeded to lead us into the building. We entered a small apartment where a young man sat studying sheet music. Tereza introduced us as she proceeded to a door that led out of the apartment. We were a bit confused, but it seemed perfectly natural to him that his neighbor would be leading strangers through his living room. Out the door, and up a long set of steep stairs, we struggled with our oversized suitcases. I began to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into. We finally arrived at the top and momentarily admired the view of the ancient city where Christ had been born. As we turned and walked through another door, Tereza led us into a modest one room apartment. Upon entering the room, she motioned for us to place our bags on the tiny cots that were set up on one side of the room. Glancing around, we expressed our admiration for the beautiful architecture of Tereza’s apartment. She burst into tears and explained she had been fearful we would not like her apartment because it was so small. Both of us affirmed how wonderful her home was and thanked her for keeping us for the night. She quickly sat us down at the kitchen table and began to cook dinner for us. Although her resources were limited she placed a wonderful feast in front of us. We devoured pastries, homemade potato fries and hummus on fresh pita breads. I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered how concerned my loved ones had been when they found out I would be staying in the West Bank. Little did they know that on that night, the safest place for me to be was in Palestine with a widow named Tereza. Throughout the night, as we sat and she lovingly served us all that she had, I couldn’t help but think of Elijah and the widow (1 Kings 17). I knew I would never read that portion of Scripture again without thinking of this special night in the West Bank with Tereza. Finishing with the meal preparation, Tereza sat down and we asked her to tell us her story. She began by telling us about her youngest son. Ten years earlier, he had been killed in a horrible car accident. A picture of the car after the accident revealed to me how tragic it had been. The vehicle was unrecognizable. Tereza wept as she recounted the devastating loss of her child. Both Leslie and I reached for her hand and held it while she cried. After a few minutes, she continued her story. Before the wall which separates Israel from the West Bank was built, Tereza and her husband had a restaurant. She proudly showed pictures of her family in front of their business. Then she showed us pictures of the wall under construction. Situated closely behind their building, the wall appeared to be part of their property. After the wall was completed the residents of Jerusalem stopped coming to Bethlehem. Their business suffered greatly and eventually they had to close their doors for good. The stress of losing his livelihood and not knowing how he would support his family caused her husband to suffer a heart attack. He died within days. As she wept tears of sadness, she lovingly ran her finger over the picture of her beloved husband. As I sat holding Tereza’s hand, listening to her cry, I knew why God had sent me to Palestine. Later that night, the three of us sat on my bed. I told Tereza that Isa (Jesus) wanted to take her pain and sadness. Because her English was limited and my Arabic was almost non-existent (except for a few words), I wondered how God was going to overcome our language barrier. Faithfully, I began to pray. I asked Him to change my words into Arabic so that she could understand what I was saying. I asked her to look through the eyes of her heart and see Jesus standing in front of her. I waited. She said, “I see Isa!” I asked her to see her sadness and grief coming out of her and into Isa. I watched and waited. After a few minutes her shoulders began to relax and the deep lines in her face softened. She was releasing the pain in her heart to The One who stood before her. Leslie and I sat and witnessed an amazing transformation happening within her. After a few minutes she opened her eyes and rubbed her chest and said, “Salaam! Salaam! Salaam!” (Peace! Peace! Peace!). Simultaneously, we began to thank Isa for the miracle we had experienced in Tereza’s tiny West Bank apartment. Afterwards, she tucked each of us into our beds and kissed us goodnight and said, “Tonight I will sleep well because you are here.” I lay in my narrow cot long after Leslie and Tereza had fallen asleep. As I listened to the sounds of Bethlehem I marveled at the way God had worked to bring me to this ancient town. Over two thousand years ago he had been come to bring hope and healing to the people of the earth. Now, years later, He had brought me to Bethlehem for the same reason; to bring hope and healing to a sweet Palestinian widow.