Part 4 - Israel
Our Castle in Israel
Susanne and Antoinette in front of their house in Jerusalem
Antoinette continues: “When I was 60 years old, we finally came to Israel. Back then, as in Togo, I could only commit myself a year in advance. For Susanne, on the other hand, it was clear that we would spend the rest of our lives here, even though, from a human perspective, everything spoke against it.
In Jerusalem we found an apartment close to the market, but it was only for sale. During the tour, I immediately realized that this apartment was too magnificent for us. Originally, we only wanted to rent a small apartment… We prayed and finally we bought the upper floor with a spontaneous inheritance from my uncle. Back then, the house was exceptionally cheap - today it is worth ten times as much!
One day a friend from Togo visited us and asked about the owner of the house. We thought the upper floor belonged to Jesus. Astonished, she asked if it would be a good thing that the Lord owned only half the house ... We agreed and bought the entire house with the rest of the inheritance. Now we had our own house, but neither with furniture or with a permanent residence permit! Every four months, we had to have our visa extended at the Home Office. Once they asked us while there, why we really wanted to stay? We explained that the LORD called us to live among His chosen people, so we are here today. From then on, the secretary really started to love us. After we finally wanted to know what was going on, we asked directly whether we could stay forever. The secretary said to the officer in charge that we were good people and that he should sign for us. On this day we received our permanent residence permit! At the same time, we also recognized a great responsibility that the Lord entrusted to us.”
After an Ulpan (language course), Antoinette worked twice a week in a disability facility. She also heard of a movement in France that spread substitute theology. Seven of them decided to regularly send a newsletter from Israel to France. They wrote every other month about politics, the history of Israel and their everyday life in Israel - to show people the reality of the chosen people. This letter reached many people in France for over nine years. However, they still saw prayer as their main task. Every morning was dedicated for it, and they came together again in the evening. Her house was always open.
Antoinette reports: “A lot of people came to visit us and kept us company. When I visit our house in Jerusalem today, and enter our prayer room, I feel very close to the Lord - it is a very special atmosphere. Even back then, we rented out parts of the house cheaply, which made it possible for many to stay in Israel. A couple from France visited us for three months a year, for 17 years. It is still rented to this day, but not quite as cheap as it was back then, so that I can live in the Ebenezer Home. At the moment, however, nobody can come to Israel, because of the whole Corona story… Anyway, it means a lot to me that the house will continue to serve as a place of prayer after my death. The people who rent it from all over the world, know us, and come with the intention to pray in the middle of Jerusalem.”
In 2015 Susanne died of cancer. Antoinette once again emphasizes the great gift that she was able to experience with all the loyal friends in her life. Marianne, Rubi and Susanne, whom God always put at her side at the right time, were particularly close companions. She also reports from Raphael: "We met him and his family in our community. He just came from France with his wife and son to live here in Israel. At that time, Susanne and I were able to help the young family a bit. Today, they are that support for me in everything, and help me. Raphael is like my own son to me."
Antoinette tells how things went on after Susanne’s death: “Soon after Susanne’s death, I became very sick and everyone thought that I too, would soon die. I came to a special facility, but my condition hardly changed. Suddenly, I had the feeling that those responsible, promoted the goal of letting me die, although I obviously still had time here on earth! I didn't feel safe anymore, and after a friend recognized the situation, he got me out of there. Instead, I came to the hospital first and then to a state nursing home. There I shared a room with another woman. Everyone knew that I believed in Yeshua (Jesus). They spoke against Him and despised me for my belief. I did not feel comfortable even under the treatment of the responsible doctor.
During the years that Susanne and I were cycling, we always had the goal in mind to learn to pray, and to recognize the will of the Lord. For example, when we came to a fork in the road, we stopped and asked the LORD: "Left or right?". Then we had the same impression and accordingly continued on our way - without knowing where it would lead us. Sometimes we still didn't know what to do. Then we said, "Lord, we cannot recognize your will, but you know that we strive for it. Please arrange everything so that only your will be done."
The same thing happened to me when a friend happily told me about a place for me in a messianic retirement home in Haifa. My enthusiasm was limited. Haifa? I've never wanted to go to Haifa ... but I was sick and just accepted. Since there is still no state-approved nursing station in the Ebenezer Home, you still have to be self-employed (or not to require nursing care?) in order to be accepted. However, I was still very sick and nobody thought I had a long life to live. But the LORD opened the doors for me; and now I am here and began painting, writing a lot! My second book is just being finished; people like it. However, I have to say that it is not I who write, but the Lord. And now the LORD is using you! The Lord uses each of us!”
After a pause, Antoinette concludes: “So that's my story… I made some wrong decisions. I didn't tell you all about it, because my savior Yeshua has long forgiven me! And if I said two things, it would be 'thank you' and 'please forgive me'.”
After another short silence, she asks: "Ok, do we want to pray now?"