A Daunting, but Successful, Trip

It was quite challenging getting to Nazareth, Israel, this time, but full of opportunity and promise ahead.


David P Smith

5/24/2021 3 min read

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

In July, it was exciting as the date of our second trip to Nazareth, Israel, was approaching.  I had spent over a year getting a medical license to be able to practice medicine and work on the staff of the Nazareth Hospital there.  However, have you ever been in your basket with your balloon ready to take off, then the balloon starts deflating right when you are about to embark upon your eagerly anticipated journey?   Two days before leaving, the entire computer system crashed at the clinic here.  Prior to that, I had to accept going by myself due to problems with airline tickets.  The entire trip was at risk of being derailed.  It was quite difficult to leave my wife and daughter at the airport, but when you know you are meant to do something, you have to keep forging ahead.  Then, the late-arriving flight in Tel Aviv did not contain my luggage and the driver to Nazareth could not be found resulting in a costly taxi ride.  When I arrived at the hospital at 4:30 a.m. with little sleep, my rudimentary Hebrew finally resulted in enough communication for the hospital campus apartment to be located where I learned that there was no A/C for the entire time in the heat of July.  Then, my laptop crashed and I had to use a hospital computer for writing then.  Times like that will make you question things, but I knew my level of obedience was being tested.  “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12, NKJV).  Despite all of that going on, I had a peace on the inside of knowing I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

Camp Ichay

Most of the trip involved working at the Nazareth Hospital and I met many of the committed physicians there who work under much more austere conditions than we do here.  I gave a presentation to the medical students and residents at the hospital, made rounds with the staff there, worked a great deal on a collaborative research study that we are developing to start at the hospital next year and which has an evangelistic component to it, delivered a presentation at the hospital chapel service, and even taught some English while learning more Hebrew.  I attended an Arabic speaking church in Nazareth and although I could not understand the words of the singing, a packed, warm room with 200 people in it exuded a palpable, supernatural joy that could be understood in any language.  The translated sermon was understood and was just what I need to hear that day after walking for an hour to get there.​

The most exciting part was visiting Camp Ichay, a tent camp and medical clinic for refugees on the Israel-Syria border, where I heard twelve bombs explode within a three hour time period and felt one of them shake the ground.  The IDF escorted us in and out with minefields and extreme security measures surrounding the place.  The stories of the people who came to the camp were heart-wrenching.   The Syrian Army was taking back southern Syria right at that time and even in Nazareth I daily was awakened with fighter jets heard racing back and forth.  Camp Ichay was closed only one month after I left because of the decline in the situation, but the camp had helped thousands of Syrians with many Israelis providing donated food and clothing in abundance.

We are now focusing on trying to help raise funds for the Nazareth Hospital to acquire a mobile clinic to take into the West Bank area where people live in tents with dirt floors and there is very limited medical care available to them.  Nazareth is only 25-30 miles from this area and many people could be helped in this region if there were a better way to help treat them than trying to examine them while they are laying down on rugs in the dirt with limited equipment and resources.  The residents there have to buy bottled water and are malnourished, but the children still smiled and were thankful.

After all of those experiences and many more on this trip, the problems that I had certainly paled in comparison.  We are truly much more blessed in the USA than many here realize.  I got to see God help a good number of people while there, but I was helped even more.  Life is truly short and we should make the most of what time we have.  Sometimes we have to make some major changes as God does not call us to do only what pleases us, or is most comfortable, or easy.