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The Sea of Galilee Mission of the Free Church of Scotland
Chapter III. The Revival of the Original Proposal in 1883

IN the early part of 1883, while I was paying a lengthened visit to the East with a party of friends, I was requested by the Jewish Committee of the Free Church to keep in mind the long-cherished desire of the church to do something for Israel in their own land, and to have an eye to any opening that might seem to present itself for carrying that wish into effect. During the six weeks of our stay in the country, this was never lost sight of. Our inquiries at Jerusalem convinced us that the field there was fully occupied. Indeed, it almost seemed as if Christian agencies of many kinds were standing in each other's way. We found Bethlehem a Christian village. At Hebron, in the south, Moslem bigotry was so intense that for the time being the door there seemed closed; though since then things have assumed a more hopeful aspect, and now, through the Mildmay Pennefather Memorial Mission, under Dr. Alexander Paterson of Edinburgh as medical missionary, and the. Mildmay deaconesses, an entrance has been fairly gained. As we went north we learned that at Nazareth there were no Jews. We were told that there had been one, but he had left. There the Church of England had taken a firm hold; and Dr. Vartan, the esteemed representative of the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society, was carrying on his important work. The only places where Jews were to be found in any large numbers were the two sacred cities of Tiberias, beside the Sea of Galilee, and Safed, the traditional "city set on a hill," the former being said to contain 5,000 Jews, and the latter about 15,000. There was no Protestant mission of any kind in Tiberias. Two Latin monks visited us at our tents on the shore of the lake, seeking help for their work. These, and those of the Greek Church, were the only representatives of Christianity among the Jews and Moslems. I find the following entry in my journal: "They [the monks] have a school at Tiberias, which young Jews and Moliaminedans take advantage of, to the number of forty or so."

We were unable to visit Safed; but when at a later period we reached Damascus, where the Irish Presbyterian

Church has had a mission for many years, we met with friends who knew the northern part of Palestine well, and gave us particular information in regard to Safed—the large number of Jews there, their spiritual needs, and the fact that no Christian work was then being done among them. We were assured that the field was open, and were urged to enter in and occupy a it. It seemed as if this were the place where our Palestine Mission to Israel should be located; and on our return to Scotland we reported to the committee -the information we had received, and the recommendation that had been given to us as regarded beginning mission operations at Safed.

Dr. Wells will take up the story at this point, and tell of his being sent by the Jewish Committee to Palestine along with Dr. Torrance, the then missionary-elect, to survey the field afresh and make all requisite inquiries before any practical step should be taken. That inquiry resulted in departing from the proposal to begin work at Safed, and resolving to make Tiberias the centre of operations. The entrance that has been got there, as will be seen from what follows, has been most encouraging, and after the lapse of centuries there is again on the shores of the Sea of Galilee the bright shining of a pure gospel light. It has been found necessary to occupy Safed as a second mission station. And now it is for our people to bear this interesting mission on their hearts, and in the exercise of faith and patience and expectation to wait for the fulfilment of the desires and hopes of our church for the salvation of Israel in their ancient land.

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