The story of how Migdal Arbel came to be is below.
This is what God had been preparing me for in 1986 when I first obeyed Him to learn “Hebrew in the Land” at the Ulpan Akiva in Israel. He said, “I could teach you the language in an instant, but there are things you need to obtain from being in The Land.”
A Place in the Land
By Billye Brim
Prayer Mountain in the Ozarks, also known as Billye Brim Ministries, has purchased a hotel in Migdal, Galilee, the traditional home of Mary Magdalene. The primary requisite for real estate of “location, location, location” is abundantly met at the beautiful site in the city of Migdal (“tower” or “lighthouse” in Hebrew), just under the Arbel Cliffs and overlooking the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee).
My lifelong love for the Jews began perhaps at my birth when a Jewish nurse would not give up for dead the infant laid aside by the doctor to attend my mother. She worked with me and literally breathed into me the breath of life.
Many signposts marked the years between that event and the following.
In April 1986 my husband of 30 years “moved to Heaven,” as I like to say it. In praying about what I should do, I was strongly impressed of the Lord to study Hebrew in the Land. I telephoned friends in Washington D.C., who had lived in Israel for several years, about how to obey such a leading. They pointed me to Ulpan Akiva in Netanya.
That summer, I became a student of much more than language under the strong guiding hand of the unique school’s founder, Shulamith Katznelson. She had founded Ulpan Akiva with inspirational ideals just after the rebirth of the nation of Israel. Shulamith and her family were actively involved in this divinely prophesied rebirth. Her uncle was an early president. Her mother was a member of the Knesset. And her brother, Shmuel Tamir, was Minister of Justice when I came to the school. Shulamith Katznelson was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her life’s work, Ulpan Akiva, during my close association with her.
Under her leadership Jews, Arabs, and even Christians, shared their lives as they studied Hebrew and more at Ulpan Akiva. For instance in learning experiences called “Hebrew with the Feet,” students danced traditional Jewish dances, or walked the hills and valleys of Israel, singing Hebrew songs. In addition to regular language teachers, students learned from Rabbis, visiting professors, members of government, and various experts on the special Land who addressed both its divine promises and its human problems.
After one classroom session on the seasonal early and latter rains by a lecturer from Neot Kiddumim—a place which has all the plant life of the Bible—I exclaimed to Shulamith, “I wish my Christian friends in America could hear what I’ve just heard. It would bless and enlighten them so.” “Well, why don’t you bring them?” Shulamith asked. She knew I had led tours to Israel. And after much discussion we reached an agreement. Shulamith agreed to open marvelous doors to us. And I agreed to respect those open doors and that the Christians would come with no hidden agendas, only to learn, to bless and to be blessed.
From one to four trips a year ensued. Each began at the Ulpan with outstanding teachers giving us a taste of Hebrew. We danced. We sang. We shared Shabbat and learned about whatever holy days might come during our stay. We visited the Samaritans. We stayed overnight in Druze homes on the High Golan. At the Knesset, Shulamith arranged a special room where we sat and Knesset members from the far left to the far right presented their views. We grew to love the people and the places of Judea and Samaria—what the world calls the West Bank.
After Shulamith’s death, I didn’t know how we could continue our special seminar tours until I was asked by a radio network in America to help with the interview of a young man who participated in the hunger strike for the Golan. When I heard him speak, I liked Ranaan Levy immediately. This idealistic young man evidently served Israel and Israel’s God. His father, Colonel Yehuda Levy, former president and publisher of The Jerusalem Post, had implanted within Rani uniqueness of character and call essential to the purposes of God in this hour.
Yehuda Levy, an ardent worker in Jewish Christian relationship, had established a travel agency with the purpose of bringing Christians to Israel on special tours. Ranaan (Rani) was managing this business when I met him. We have been working together for many years now.
Yehuda Levy and his lovely wife, Nitza, first received the vision for what has developed into our purchasing what we call Migdal Arbel in the Galilee. In September 1999 Ranaan presented it to me. And we are together in making it happen.
My first thoughts were that in this place Christian tourists could “study,” if you will, in increments as short as one week. Memories of how we studied at Ulpan Akiva flooded me. Christians could learn about Jewish holy days and study our biblical roots. And they could meet the people of Israel as well as seeing the Land of Israel. (It is quite possible for tourists to come to the Land, get on tourist busses and travel to tourist sites, go back to the hotel and have dinner with other tourists—never really getting to meet the people of Israel.) From here student travelers could see modern day Israel. Perhaps they could learn a smattering of Hebrew—enough to say Shalom.
And of course, the very site of Jesus’ Galilean ministry where He established discipleship is the perfect place to study it. We can coordinate with friends at Ariel and throughout the Land for in-depth study tours. Then too, we believe we are to provide a place for seasoned pray-ers (they could rotate their prayer assignments) to stay in prayer for Israel.
We desire to show unconditional love and support for the Jewish people. And to see the development of trust between Jews and Christians.
We have a little over 2 acres—cleaned and ready to build the $24 million dollar project. With a newly organized team of business professionals, we are dedicated to seeing this glorious vision of Jews and Christians working together come to pass.