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Prayer center opens relational door in Israelcomment (0)

August 6, 2009

From the Jerusalem Prayer Center in Israel, Southern Baptist volunteers Dale and Anita Thorne have a bird’s-eye view of the city.

“When I look out the door ... I can see the Arab side of Jerusalem, and when I look out the opposite door, I see the Jewish side,” Anita Thorne said. “I feel the Lord has strategically placed the (prayer) center ‘on the line’ between the two.”

The center is located in a 120-year-old house near the site of the Mandelbaum Gate — the traditional dividing line between Arab and Jewish parts of the city. The Thornes hope the center will draw Christians to pray for all peoples of the city — Christian, Jewish and Muslim — and all peoples of the world, as stated in Isaiah 56:7.

“We encourage people who come to the center to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and that means peace for all the people of the city,” Dale Thorne said. “Just as our physical location speaks of peace and reconciliation, so does all that goes on in the building.”

The Thornes, a retired couple from Oklahoma, organize tours of the building for locals as well as Christian groups visiting Jerusalem for missions trips and Holy Land sightseeing.

“On the landing leading up to the prayer room, one can view a Jewish community, an Arab-Muslim boys’ school and an Anglican ArabChristian church and school,” Anita Thorne said. “From this vantage point, we have not only prayed for God’s blessing on these people but for an open door for developing relationships.”

When visitors arrive, they are given a short overview presentation in the chapel, followed by a guided tour of the building with stops along the way to pray at various points of interest, including exhibits that depict Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. The tour concludes at an interactive prayer area called the Upper Room with prayer banners in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Some sections in the room emphasize the praise, confession and intercession aspects of prayer. Other displays encourage visitors to contribute drawings and their own prayer requests.

The center’s prayer chapel includes a mural painted by Jerusalem artist Pam Suran illustrating Matthew 9:37–38. Visitors also can pray in a garden featuring a prayer wall with ceramic maps of the continents.

About 150 people from the local community and from abroad attended a dedication ceremony in May. The presence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish believers and nonbelievers was a tangible reminder of the purpose of the center, the Thornes said.

The house was once part of the American Colony of Jerusalem, founded by Horatio Spafford, who wrote the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.”

Lake Pointe Church, Rockwall, Texas, assisted with the design of center’s displays and set up the interactive prayer room. First Baptist Church, Oviedo, Fla.; SonRise Community Church, Mariemont, Ohio; and First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., along with Lake Pointe, support the center through donations, volunteer trips and prayer. (BP)

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