My first encounter with Caspari Center was ten years ago, when I spent part of my summer vacation volunteering there. I wouldn’t necessary call it “a match made in
heaven,” but the Caspari vision resonated strongly in me. I had experienced different aspects of Israel: spending time on a kibbutz, touring the country, and participating in archaeological excavations. I wanted to prioritize my support especially to the body of Christ in Israel, and Caspari seemed to be an excellent channel for that.
As a teacher by training, I strongly believe in the importance of education, so Caspari Center’s ministry was something I could easily agree with and support. My practical and administrative skills and experience have been helpful in keeping the office running and coordinating our volunteers. Looking back I can proudly say that the staff, partners, and supporters of the ministry have fruitfully served the body of Messiah in Israel and abroad. I’m very grateful for the professional experience and enrichment I’ve gained during these years. It’s been amazing to be part of a ministry where people from different nations and walks of life join together to bring back to God’s chosen people the spiritual blessings they have received.
After my first six weeks of volunteering I was asked to write about my experiences in Israel for the Caspari Center newsletter. That article was titled, “So, you came back alive!” referring to the most common response I received after returning to Finland from the “dangerous war zone,” as many consider Israel. I chose the same title here as a summary and insight for the time I spent in Israel. I’m still alive after all these years, and in many ways I feel even more alive than before! During these years in Israel, God shook my world in many ways. I lost my father, had my heart broken, and was forced to face the reality of my incompleteness as a person. I also had wonderful moments and met wonderful people in Israel, but I underwent the most meaningful and profound experiences in the midst of the darkest moments and deepest sorrows. During those moments, God revealed his face and grace to me in a new and very personal way. While he was tearing apart my fears and assumptions, he lovingly taught me to comprehend and to trust that “the one who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
In addition, the Bible has become more alive to me and I read it differently now. I haven’t changed my theological standpoint or core values, but now it’s impossible to take the Word in any way other than more or less literally, especially when it speaks about Israel and her future. I grew up in church circles where I was taught to trust the Bible and take it seriously. This includes the fact that God’s chosen people are still the chosen ones, and that the promises to Israel and the Jewish people are not
symbolic but historical. I am not at all eager to invest time in eschatological predictions, but am full of joyful curiosity to see what the future holds for Israel and how God will fulfill his promises of salvation for his people. Taking part in any ministry working among Jewish people gives us a box seat to closely follow God’s faithfulness to his people and to all the nations—not just to observe or monitor but to be partakers in his plan. What a privilege and grace!
After working as a project coordinator at Caspari Center for several years, Hanna is continuing her service in Finnish Lutheran Oversees Mission, one of Caspari Center’s partner organizations.