FORT WORTH — Nearly 250 people affiliated with two local Christian organizations — the ministry of televangelist Larry Huch, founder of the Bedford power church New Beginnings, and Eagle Mountain International Church — are said to have enjoyed extraordinary visits to Israel in recent months.
Despite the recent rise of violence in Israel, members of both groups reported feeling safe and secure while there.
As many as 200 people joined the Larry Huch Ministries “Four Blood Moons Tour” helmed by Huch and his wife, Tiz.
The trip took place in Israel during Sukkot, Sept. 24 through Oct. 2.
The underlying message for the tour was from Larry Huch’s recent book 4 Blood Moons: Your Future Begins Now.
Huch’s book “combines the promises and prophecy in God’s Word, the predictions of NASA, and patterns in history to reveal what lies ahead,” his website shows.
The Huch ministry is well known for its preaching from a Jewish perspective and its work to bridge the gap between Christians and Jews.
In November 2012, the Bnai Zion Foundation honored Larry and Tiz Huch with their annual American-Israel Friendship award — representing a deep appreciation for the charitable contributions of the Huch ministry.
The Huches were not available to comment on their Israel trip last week. Pastor Nancy Cole of Larry Huch Ministries, tour director on the Israel trip, fielded questions from the TJP.
“We go to Israel every other year but this trip was special,” Cole explained. “It was a shorter trip than normal … and we normally have no more than 120 people.”
In Israel, the Huch group visited the Western Wall and the Jordan River, climbed Masada and journeyed to the Sea of Galilee.
Cole said the trip was a scheduling challenge.
“We had to drive extra buses in Israel,” she said. “ … We stayed the entire time in Jerusalem and took day trips from there because of the violence. But we always felt safe.”
Cole said one trip passenger in particular, a young woman, told her she was in awe of being able to witness the different geographical locations listed in the Bible with her own eyes.
Meanwhile, about 40 members of Eagle Mountain International Church took their trip to Israel during the summer.
The Eagle Mountain International Church travelers linked up with two other Christian ministries to form a group of about 145 that explored Israel together for two weeks in June.
The other ministries were those of Billye Brim Ministries of Oklahoma and Missouri and Lynn Hammond, a senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center from a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The goal of Eagle Mountain International Church members on the trip was to promote understanding and raise support for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people, officials said.
These travelers from the Fort Worth area said they had a lot of fun. One notable experience took place on a particular road between Jerusalem and Hebron.
It was in a bulletproof bus, a mode of transportation that had been strongly suggested by Israeli tour officials.
But the bulletproofing wasn’t to stop gunfire — it was to stop people from throwing rocks.
“We didn’t ask for the bulletproof bus, but when you’re driving on this road and there are notorious rock throwers, you don’t want to be responsible for destroying a bus tour with somebody else’s rock,” explained Julie Sironi, the church’s Israel consultant.
Mary Kurth said she thought it was an interesting choice of transportation.
“Going around in a bulletproof bus?” she said. “It really blew my mind.”
Sitting in for Eagle Mountain International Church Senior Pastor Terri Pearsons, Sironi recalled key details about the trip:
The group traveled to the Syrian border and at the time could hear fighting between al-Qaeda and Syrian rebels.
They visited the Western Galilee Hospital, where they saw someone receiving a life-changing prosthesis.
Some of what the Eagle Mountain International Church travelers saw was off-putting.
Mary Kurth, who is event manager for the church, said she never really saw Israel as a place of persecution before this trip.
“I am someone already up on current events but being there I was able to see the daily persecution and daily danger of (Israelis) living there,” she said. “… I wasn’t prepared for the hostility of their neighbors. Just, you know, the idea of ‘Do not enter this area or you will be shot.’ These kinds of things really bolstered my support for Israel.”
Mary Kurth’s husband, Matthew, is a producer on staff, videographer and photographer for the church. His work on film and video will be worked into a special montage to play at a special event in November.
As kind of a wrap-up for the June trip, Eagle Mountain International Church is hosting a Nov. 19 event, “A Night To Honor Israel,” to which the public is invited. It starts at 7 p.m. AIPAC President-Elect Lillian Pinkus will be keynote speaker.
Donations will be solicited for three Israel organizations: Western Galilee Hospital, Israel La’ad, and the city of Sderot (to pay for an elderly day center). To inquire about the event, call 817-252-2900.
As far as these charity efforts are concerned, Israel’s La’ad offers after-school assistance to many at-risk youth, many of them Ethiopian. La’ad also provides Shabbat meals for the elderly in Israel.
The day center charity project is currently in the works in Sderot because of the large population of elderly and impoverished people there.
“We really want to help them,” Seroni said.
Transportation to event
A special bus is being organized to transport a delegation of members of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas to this event, explained Jordan Weber with the organization’s Jewish Community Relations Council.
There is still room on the bus, but calling ahead to reserve a seat would be greatly appreciated, he said. Those who wish to ride the bus are asked to arrive no later than 4:30 p.m., officials said.
A light dinner will be served at 4:15 p.m. on the bus. The bus is set to depart for the event at 5 p.m. and return around 10:30 p.m. There will be a $10 fee, which includes dinner and transportation.
To inquire call 214-615-5229 or register online at http://dallas.fedweb.jewishfederations.org/page/content/NTHI/.