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Watch 2022 online sermons » Derek Prince » Derek Prince - Escape From Jerusalem

Derek Prince - Escape From Jerusalem

Derek Prince - Escape From Jerusalem
TOPICS: Derek Prince's Life Story

During the actual war itself, there was comparative peace in Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews. When the war finished, that’s when tension began and during the years of the war the family had lived, although they were nearly all Jewish, in an Arab village, with security and with good relationships. But when the prospect of the Jewish State loomed on the horizon the Arab attitude changed radically which one can understand. And we felt that we would be safer to move out of a purely Arab village into Jerusalem. So we made many attempts. We took many trips in by bus but somehow we never could find anything that was suitable. Eventually I said to Lydia, Listen, if God wants us to move to Jerusalem, we don’t have to keep going to Jerusalem. God can send somebody to our doorstep in Ramallah, which was rather a foolish thing to say. But within a week, an Arab contractor, an Assyrian from Bethlehem, turned up on our doorstep in Ramallah and said, We’ve just finished building a house in Jerusalem. Would you like to rent it? So we took a trip in.

It was much larger and more high-class than anything we’d ever lived in up to that time, but we felt that God wanted us to move. In those days to get into a rented apartment you had to pay key money, which would be two years rent in advance. But for us that was a very, very large sum of money. But it so happened that I had a life insurance which an uncle of mine had bought for me worth five hundred pounds. So I cashed in my life insurance, put it in, and we just scraped by with enough money to move in. We moved into a house in an area which was then known as Upper Bakkah, on a road which was then the Bethlehem Road, but it’s now been turned into the Hebron Road and the house we occupied is today, number 90 on the Hebron Road. And so we were living there on the 29th of November when the United Nations voted to partition Palestine and make a Jewish State.

And at that time relationships radically changed. Up to that time Arabs and Jews had lived together in comparative peace. But once the possibility of a Jewish State came, they felt like they were enemies. So in every area, well, if it was a purely Jewish area nobody moved. If it was a purely Arab area nobody moved. But if it was a mixed area, the different groups sized one another up silently without any statements made and the ones who thought they were weaker, just moved out without taking a lot of furniture or luggage with them. Well, our area in Upper Bakkah was a mixed area and we said to ourselves, we’re Christians and it doesn’t involve us. But we noticed that within a week or two our Jewish neighbors had all disappeared. They concluded they weren’t equal to the Arabs in the area. And you have to remember that in our home, we were a very mixed nationalities, there was British, there was a half-British and half-Jewish, there was an Arab girl, and the rest of us were all Jews, even though, of course, we were Christians.

And we felt that neither the Arabs wanted us because we were Jews, and the Jews didn’t want us because we were Christian. So we were in “no-man’s land”, more or less, really for us. We received a rude awakening in a very remarkable way, an illustration of the marvelous foresight and provision of the Lord. One afternoon we received a visit in the home from a British Palestinian policeman, an Englishman, who came because he was seeking for spiritual help. So Lydia and I and I think two or three of the girls got together with him and we were praying. I was on my way home and it was beginning to get sort of dark; you know, how it gets dark pretty quickly, and I noticed a truck or lorry as they are called, and then, outside of the house, full of Arab men. And I thought, what in the world are they doing here? And I realized they were talking to our neighbor.

And I climbed the stairs which were on the side of the house to our apartment upstairs, and I crawled out to the veranda which juts out to the front so that I could hear what they were saying. I heard one of the soldiers saying to the Arab, saying to my neighbor, When do the British soldiers stop guarding this section? And he said, After midnight there won’t be anymore. So he said, Okay, that’s when we are coming to raid the home. So Johanne, with her knowledge of the whole culture and situation realized they were intending to attack us, and undoubtedly to either rape or kill the girls. And I mean, I say that objectively. That’s the way the situation was at that time.

So we were in the middle of a prayer meeting with this Palestinian policeman, and Lydia had an utterance in an unknown tongue and I got the interpretation, and I heard myself saying, I have delivered thee from the snare of the fowler. And just as I said those words, Johanne burst into the room looking as though she’d seen a ghost and told us what she’d overheard, and we had to decide, what were we going to do? I went back into the house and Mother looked at me and said, What is the matter with you, Johanne? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost. And I related what I had heard. So the British constable said he would go and phone headquarters. We didn’t have a phone in the house. And he went and came back and he said, Well, the headquarters officer says maybe we can have a patrol in the area at midnight. But the patrol will consisted of one constable, one Arab, one Jew. And the Jew was no match for the Arab, and the Arab wouldn’t fight his own fellow Arab, so it was no protection.

So about seven o’clock in the evening we faced this crisis of, what are we going to do? We decided eventually that we had no option but to flee from the house while we could before the soldiers came back. So it was about midnight and we had to get ready. Mommy said, Just put whatever you can on you girls. Take whatever clothes, because we’d lost everything and lose it all. We knew that. So we all put on as many clothes as we could. And I can remember us all marching, every one of us had our Bible under our arms, Derek was at the head of the queue and all the eight girls and Mommy at the back, and walked very quietly, I think at midnight. If they had raided I believe they would have killed every one of us. They would not have discriminated between whether it was a Jew or an Arab or a Christian. We were one family, as far as they were concerned, and they would have just eliminated all of us.

I was afraid, there was no doubt about that, but I also would believe that God was with us. And so we just walked through the dark, deserted, silent streets of Jerusalem not really knowing where we were going. But we ended up, after walking about thirty minutes at a vast, sort of wall of barbed wire, which surrounded a large area in the center of Jerusalem which was called the Security Zone which was the headquarters of the British forces, and was very carefully guarded. And nobody could get into this wall of barbed wire without a permit, and we didn’t have a permit. So there we were at the entrance not knowing what to do, and the British constable said, Well, I can go in because I’m a policeman. I’ll talk to the commanding officer and find out what he’ll say, ask for his permission.

So we stood there for about half an hour not having any idea what the future held, and then the constable came back and said, The commanding officer said it’s all right. You can come in. So we filed in through the hole in the wire fence and really we had no idea where to go, but we knew there was an Assembly of God mission building in the center of the Security Zone, so we headed for that and arrived, I suppose, about 11 P.M. and said, Here we are. Can you help us? Well, we were ten persons. They were very helpful. It was a large building and they pulled out mattresses and did various things and we all slept.

Eleven o’clock next morning the American missionary in charge called for Lydia and me and said, Through the Christian Arabs that we work with I’ve had a message from the Muslims in the area that if you keep those Jewish girls there, they’ll burn the house down. So that news traveled very fast. Now, he said, to me, you and Mrs Prince are welcome to stay but you’ll have to find another place for the girls. So we said, We’re all one family. Where the girls go we go, and where we go they go. So that won’t work. Well, they kept us one more night, and then we were out in the streets again wondering where we should go next, although this time it was daytime.

So we headed for what was a British Pentecostal Mission in an area which was later known as the Mandelbaum Gate. We arrived there. Again they were very kind, they took us in, cared for us; but this was essentially what you called no-man’s area; no-man’s zone. It wasn’t controlled by the Jews; it wasn’t controlled by the Arabs. They used to meet every night and fight it out with rifles and things like that, so it was a dangerous area and every time we walked past a window we had to get down on our hands and knees and crawl, because we could have been shot at through the window. That’s where we spent Christmas 1947.

Early in 1948 we received a message from the American missionaries in the place where we’d spent the first two nights. They had decided to return to America and they needed somebody to watch over the building in their absence, so they asked us if we would like to move back into the building, which, of course, for us was a great provision of God. So we did. We moved back into the building, settled in with a large building with twenty-three rooms and a basement and a sub-basement. And we weren’t used to such accommodations and enjoyed it. But by that time Jewish Jerusalem was surrounded by Arab forces and they’d cut off all food supplies. So the Jews were very short of food and on the verge of starvation.

But again, God’s provision was so marvelous because the American missionaries had stored some canned goods in a big box. I mean a large box with all sorts of things, forgot about it, and left it behind. So we had that provision, which carried us through as long as we were in that building. Then the British occupying forces decided to withdraw on the 14th of May 1948. On the 13th of May, about nine o’clock in the evening, a British officer knocked at our door and said, I just want to tell you we’re moving out, and tomorrow you’ll be under the Jews. Well under the Jews we had no idea what would that entail. But after the fact, the Jewish civilians and the unauthorized military forces were very kind, but they received a nice little note in rather strange English from a young man named Pinhaus which in English is Phineas, and he said, Would you mind if we used your garden as an outpost?

Well, we knew whether we minded or not he would do it, so we said you’re very welcome. So they moved in and they occupied the yard, the garden. So we had Jewish Hagganah soldiers in and out through the house. Some of them became quite interested in our girls, so we had a real good relationship with them. Lydia had been through so many scenes of disorder and murder and destruction, she knew what to expect. So we prayed every day and our prayer was very simple, Lord, paralyze the Arabs. The remarkable thing was these Hagganah soldiers would come in and they’d say to us, You know, we don’t understand what’s happening. We move into a place and we’re outnumbered by the Arabs and yet they do nothing. It’s just as if they’re paralyzed. The remarkable thing was not merely did God answer our prayer, but He gave us information that He’d answered our prayer.

We had a real warm relationship with those young Jewish soldiers. Our girls were very evangelistic. So they would play church in the garden while the soldiers were there. And our Arab daughter, Kirsten, was really quite a preacher. Of course, we were all speaking Arabic at the time, and she would give an impassioned sermon about the blood of Jesus, and then she’d come tell us, Mama, I was just telling that to the soldiers there. So those soldiers got the gospel in way that they probably didn’t expect. But we had a real wonderful relationship with them for a brief period.

Well, when the British announced that they were leaving the country on the 14th of May, by arrangement with a Hebrew Christian organization they agreed to take any Jewish Christians who would have been exposed to persecution if they had been left behind in a Jewish State. And so our four eldest girls were included. We went to this Church of England in Jerusalem, it’s a huge building, and from there they came with English army trucks, and we had the Red Cross, one big truck in front of us, and put us in this huge truck, quite a lot of us we were Christian, and they closed all the covers. There was another Red Cross truck behind us. And I don’t remember much because when I got into the truck I just fainted. I couldn’t believe it what’s happening to us.

And then they took us to Lind Airport. And we went on a plane to Haifa and from Haifa we all went on the Georgia. It’s a British troop ship that was taking the British to England. So we went on the British ship, on the Georgia. That was in 1948, May. But that was hard to leave Mommy and Derek and the girls behind. But we had to go, because we had a hard time also with the Jews. I was taken several times and questioned. They knew I was a christian and did not like that. So I was taken a few times and questioned. So we had a tough time. I was glad to leave really at the end. Meanwhile the four younger girls and Lydia and I were left behind.

And then the real fighting broke out on the 15th of May, and we were in a besieged city. We could never go out of our front door because we would have been shot at from the Old City. We had to go out through a side door. But to get information in a besieged city is tricky. First of all, I had to go to the civil governor. His name was Joseph, a Jewish man from Canada. The British were by no means popular at that time, as you can imagine. I stood in line for three hours and I got to see him. I explained to him that I wanted permission to get out of it. He said, You British, you stand at the head of every line and you think you can go in anywhere. So I realized I wasn’t going to get far with him. Anyhow he said, I can’t help you. You have to go to the military governor.

Well in a besieged city nobody tells you where the military governor has his headquarters, so I spent most of the day wandering around trying to find the military governor. When I got there I said to myself, my mistake was I spoke English. So this time I’m going to speak Hebrew. And that really did in a sense create a different atmosphere. So he said, Well, the last convoy is leaving Jerusalem tomorrow at 5 A.M. If you can get on, you have our permission to go. Well the convoy took off from the King David Hotel in the center of Jerusalem, which was the headquarters of the United Nations. So I had to go there to get permission to get us on the convoy. It was run by a Swedish colonel and it so happened that Lydia and I were representing a Swedish mission in Malmo in Sweden.

So again the Lord gave me wisdom and I said, I’m representative of Evangelism Israel missionary of Malmo, Sweden, and I need your help. When I said Malmo, Sweden, the atmosphere changed. Meanwhile the girls and Lydia had been praying that God would open the door. And as I was praying, I saw this light. I had my eyes shut and saw this light at the end of this passage, and there was a gate right at the end of this passageway. And as I looked at it, the two figures in white came and opened the door or these gates. And I remember getting up off my knees and being very excited and saying Mommy Mommy I am going to England, And she said Why? I said Well God has really shown me.

I am going to go now and tell about this vision that God had shown me. And the situation hadn't changed at all but I had real peace in my heart that God had answered my prayer. And so we concluded that God had opened the way for us to get out. And we were intensely busy for the rest of the night. Knowing we had to be by 5 A.M at the King David Hotel. We didn’t have any money; nobody had any food, so we just announced in the street that we were going to sell food. Well, the place was like an anthill all night. People came in and they didn’t mind what they paid because money was valueless. So by selling that food, we ended up with enough money to pay our fares, which we didn’t know we were going to have to do from Haifa to London by plane.

Another example of the extraordinary way that God paid full provision for everything in advance. So next morning we were at the King David Hotel by 5 A.M. and again this marvelous provision, this Swedish colonel put us on a special little truck for us so we were the last vehicle on the last convoy out of Jerusalem. And we were taken to Haifa where we were taken in by people who ministered to the Jews. And eventually we were able to take a flight, the first airplane flight I’d ever taken in my life, from Haifa to London.
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