........and How I Brought a Little Prosperity to the Middle East
I found the life there so idyllic that I soon settled into a cushy job which included my own tractor. Once set up, I decided stay for a lot longer than I originally expected.
Over time, I befriend the two brothers who ran the fishing boat on the lake. I never saw them catch many fish but they were always taking their friends and especially, the young female volunteers on boatrides. Eventually, I was invited for a ride with them. If I recall correctly, it required a little horsetrading on my end.....
Once on the boat in the lazy haze of the Galilee, we got to talking about the real life on the kibbutz. They gave me a litany of complaints. Problems were everywhere. Most of the farm divisions - the chickens, the cows, the bananas, the grapefruit and so on were barely profitable. The one area that made the kibbutz money, was its slightly rundown lakeside guest house.
But even that wasn’t making enough because friends and family of the kibbutz were always trying to come for free or at deep discounts and the Israelis generally, treated it as a local vacation spot that happened to be on a lake.
I thought about it a bit and said “you know, you are not seeing this place properly. To Israelis it’s just a cheap getaway but to Christians, this is hallowed ground facing the Galilee where Jesus performed miracles with fishes and bread, walking on water while frequenting the nearby towns of Tiberias and Capernaum.
"Why don’t you go after the Christian pilgrim market," I said. "They will pay full price for everything. Quibbling would be a kind of sacrilege. They celebrate Sundays while you only come for Shabat. You’ll be here for Passover but they’ll come flooding in for Easter and Christmas and so on….”
As we pulled up to the kibbutz I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked nothing like the slightly ramshackle place I left behind. Our rustic bungalows had been replaced by mediterannean-style townhouses and the entire kibbutz resembled a gated California community. Then, we drove over to the Guest House, and what once looked like a tired old Econolodge was a now a gleaming edifice. As we drove to the front we saw a sign and nearby, a large wooden boat with the inscription: The Jesus Boat.
On the one hand, regardless of my advice, none of this would have happened without this boat miraculously appearing. On the other hand, was this a case of someone actualy listening? As in, “from my lips to God’s ear?” Or maybe, the Son’s ear....
And this thing changes everything.