Is it the End of the World?

As spring approaches, travel plans are made for the coming year. One of the best decisions you can make this year is to visit Israel. I have several times and plan to do so again.

In my small hometown here in the States, I walked out of the post office the other day and was glad to hear birds singing, their songs echoing off the stone walls along the street. It reminded me very much of Jerusalem, Jaffa, and other exotic locales in Israel. There, flowers, bird song, fresh air, and swirling history are among the things that make a visit to Israel truly one-of-a-kind. I say this as an American Christian.

People often ask me about visiting Israel. Is it safe? Isn’t it expensive? Lots of questions and I’m happy to answer all of them. I feel safer in Israel than I do anywhere else, except for perhaps my back deck, which looks out on a forest, deer, and other of God’s creatures. Israel is very good at security, and I know personally you and yours would be safe there.

A trip abroad does have some significant cost, but it’s not doing to destroy your budget, and you might think of it this way: in order to have a real trip-of-a-lifetime, can you do without that new big-screen television this year? Can you wait until next year and continue to watch your two-year-old TV? I can tell you from much personal experience that visiting Israel is not as expensive as you might think. I have stayed in hotels ranging from the affordable (and wonderful!) Christ Church Guesthouse, just inside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City…to the fabled King David Hotel and the equally plush American Colony Hotel. My bank account survived all in fine shape.

Perhaps you have a shot at just one trip in this life to Israel. Perhaps you are considering taking your first (of many) trips there. Whatever situation you are in, I say: GO!

You will never regret it.

The lush northern Galilee (credit: Israel Ministry of Tourism)

The lush northern Galilee (credit: Israel Ministry of Tourism)

As we close out another tumultuous year, half of America is hopeful and half is committed to Alinsky-style political harassment.

Barack Obama stands in the middle of all of it.

For too long, American conservatives hoped against hope that Obama’s nasty attitude toward Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was simply an anomaly, and that he didn’t really dislike Jews or Israel.

Such hope ignored Obama’s radical background, steeped as he is in Marxist thought and, for our purposes here, a decidedly pro Palestinian bent.

The Muslim Quarter, Jerusalem's Old City.

The Muslim Quarter, Jerusalem’s Old City.

Yet his recent order to abstain from voting on UN Security Council Resolution 2334—which condemns Israeli “settlements”—is considered breathtaking, even as he prepares to leave office in three weeks.

The truth is, Obama wishes to significantly weaken Israel, and this is obvious even to the user-friendly media he has relied on for eight years.

Jake Novak of CNBC notes that the eyelash-size country in a sea of mammoth Muslim nations commands a great deal of attention from world powers:

“It’s safe to say that for a tiny nation the size of New Jersey, Israel commands an unjustified amount of the world’s attention. It can even be called an obsession.”

The supreme irony here is that while Obama & Friends (international political leaders, diplomats, religious figures, media hacks) would laugh at the idea, their obsession with the Jewish state is a direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Zechariah 14:1 speaks of a coming time when Israel and Jerusalem will become an obsession for the international community:

“A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.”

We are at a seminal moment in history. Pro Israel forces battle with pro Palestinian forces, and on any given day, each side seems to grow stronger. But for those of you with a mind open enough to consider that Bible prophecy is legitimate, hear the sad words of the prophet Jeremiah (30:13,14):

“There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you. All your allies have forgotten you; they care nothing for you.”

We are not there, yet. Israel still has friends in high places.

But the Day is coming. The Normandy invasion of World War 2 was called “The Day of Days.” However, the true Day of Days—the great Day of the Lord as spoken of in Scripture—is still future.

It is coming. And fast.

In a recent tweet, “progressive Christian” Shane Claiborne is helping his Palestinian friends advance their propaganda in the West. Claiborne encourages viewers to check out a video about how tear gas canisters (used by the Israel Defense Forces, of course, the New Nazis as claimed by the PLO) are being made into Christmas ornaments.

It’s all part of Claiborne’s coordinated effort with other pro Palestinian, Western religious figures to convince the masses that “peacemaking” is what the Palestinians are really all about. Claiborne & Friends are unhappy over the fact that most Americans are pro Israel. In fact, a recent Gallup poll shows that 62 percent favor Israel, while only 15 percent side with the Palestinians. Claiborne and friends like Tony Campolo fervently wish to reverse those numbers.

But as usual, the seemingly affable Claiborne gives us half the story, and usually a distorted one at that. For example, he doesn’t appear to make videos about Christmas ornaments made from bomb belts carried by Palestinian homicide bombers into Israeli areas, where they are used to blow Jews to bits.

Those bloody facts put a kink in the chain Claiborne wishes to wrap Israel in, and is just one more proof that the useful idiots in the West are often willing to be so useful.

It’s no accident that progressives in religious circles idolize Barack Obama. His stand-down—while a half-million men, women, and children are butchered in Syria—stands in contrast to his rage at Israel over building homes, businesses, and apartments in their ancestral land.

A Palestinian bomb belt, packed with washers, intended to kill Jews.

A Palestinian bomb belt, packed with washers, intended to kill Jews.

It’s fascinating to note that “progressive Christians” can defame Israel, even while visiting Israel(!), and no one harms them. They have freedom of religion and freedom of speech courtesy the only democracy in the Middle East.

But let them smoke weed and sing Kumbaya and make Christmas ornaments in Aleppo, or Gaza, or Ramallah, or Yemen, and see how far they get.

In a complex and increasingly unsure world, stories of genuine human compassion and innovation for the common good are balm for the soul. We hear too many stories of self-absorbed types who take but give nothing in return. A narcissistic world was even foretold by the Apostle Paul.

And yet…

If living life teaches us nothing else, it is that everything cycles and good ultimately triumphs over evil. That includes the ravages of a world in which physical ailments harass people regardless of ethnic, geographical, and class factors. I recently have come across a story that inspires like no other I’ve heard. It is a story that helps us press-on with hope.

This story is particularly glorious, because it involves helping children who have done nothing to deserve the physical setbacks they have been beset with.

The birth of a child is a sublime moment for any family. A premium is put on the health of the child and so the mother makes every effort to ensure that outcome.

Unfortunately, clubfoot occurs in one-to-two of every thousand children. Fortunately, Ignacio Ponseti would not rest until he had developed an innovative, non-surgical method for correcting clubfoot. Ponseti, who died at 95, utilized a device that, given time and proper procedure, came to achieve a 95-percent success rate. The device itself was created by John Mitchell, and launched in 2003 by MD Orthopaedics.

Dr. Ponseti, left, and John Mitchell.

Dr. Ponseti, left, and John Mitchell.

It is an astonishing fact that clubfoot—the turning of feet inward—affects over 100,000 children annually. The condition can alter a person’s future in myriad ways.

Enter MD Orthopaedics, John Mitchell, and Ignacio Ponseti. In 2003, MD Orthopaedics “married” Ponseti’s famed non-surgical procedure with Mitchell’s life-changing device.

In short, the Ponseti Method (or Technique) begins soon after birth, when it’s easier to manipulate the feet. Ponseti’s series of four-to-five casts provide a step-by-step timeline for correcting clubfoot. It is at this point that Mitchell’s AFO (ankle/foot orthosis) brace is attached to the patient’s foot; over a period of four years, the casts and AFO braces maintain the manipulation process, also ensuring the initial condition does not return.

The overall procedure and the devices developed by Ponseti (originally a Spaniard who fled the Spanish Civil War) and Mitchell (an Iowa-based designer) have revolutionized orthopedics, and more importantly, drastically improved the lives of tens of thousands of people.

For more than a dozen years now, the Ponseti Method at the University of Iowa has partnered with MD Orthopaedics.

When Ignacio Ponseti passed away in 2009, he died knowing that his procedure for correcting clubfoot rested in good hands.

Dr. Robert Cady is a leading member of this wonderful community that has brought remarkable relief to many.

“The Ponseti Revolution began to occur about 20 years ago, and the standard of care for clubfeet, in probably from 1970 to about 1990 was in most places a surgical treatment,” he recalls. “The thing that really ended the surgical treatment was that the kids that had surgery…their feet really looked pretty good. The parents loved them, and they looked good and functioned very well…when they were little kids.

“But as they got older, and became adolescents and teenagers, that scar tissue from the surgery would begin to restrict their motion, and their feet would become stiff. And when they tried to participate, in high-level activities like sports, their feet would start to hurt. They’d get up in the morning and they were stiff and they’d limp a little bit. So around that time, people were beginning to become less excited about surgery. With Dr. Ponseti’s technique, they were beginning to publish their long-term results. The Ponseti Technique is now the standard around the world.”

When asked why John Mitchell’s “Ponseti Brace” is the best AFO on the market, Cady said:

“Well, I think for me the two big things are comfort, because instead of a shoe it’s a soft silicone with felt, and the child is much more comfortable. But then the other thing is the fact that the AFO is detachable. You have the same advantage that the Horton click-bar had, it’s just that if the child wakes up and he’s uncomfortable, Mo or Dad can come in and un-click the AFO, leave it on, the child goes back to sleep and they can come back and just click it back on. It’s really simple.”

This innovation, produced by MD Orthopaedics, in conjunction with the Ponseti Method, is as wonderful a solution as other techniques that profoundly improve children’s lives around the world, including the treatment of cleft palate and other maladies. To date, an astonishing 231,991 children have been served by these clubfoot breakthroughs.

We salute the folks at MD Orthopaedics, for their commitment to the simple human choice of bringing relief to the best and most innocent among us: our children.