Seventeen years ago today, September 23, 2001, two weeks after 911, a beautiful child was born in the neighborhood of Ein Karem, Jerusalem, Israel. She was born in the home of a Jewish believer, a doula, whose name was Pam. Pam and her family had made aliyah to Jerusalem believing that God was calling her to deliver babies in Jerusalem in the last days. Ardara Gail Chinnock was her first delivery. Pam’s house in Ein Karem was next door to what is believed to be the birthplace of John the Baptist.
Another woman from the U.S., Marge, had come to Jerusalem at that time because she believed God had called her to come to Jerusalem to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. She was a Gentile, some 80 years old, and her husband had died only months before. She prayed a special prayer of anointing over this beautiful newborn girl.
Ardara Gail Chinnock was born between the Fall Feasts of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to her parents Dane and Tasha Chinnock, who were living in Jerusalem and serving with a Christian ministry there.
I was home in Arizona, having purchased my plane tickets nine months earlier to be in Jerusalem for her birth, July 23, 2001. Then the horror of 911 hit the U.S. and travel to the Middle East, alone, seemed out of the question. My Mother had also purchased tickets when I had, longing to travel to Israel, but the Lord seemed to require that she not go at that time. I was not so led. So two weeks after 911, with my husband’s blessing, I boarded the plane to Tel Aviv. I was one of only three other Gentiles on the plane, the rest were Jewish families traveling to Israel for the Fall Feasts. The three other women were going because they felt God was calling them to travel to Jerusalem to walk the streets and pray for Jerusalem. That flight was a surreal, unforgettable experience.
Arriving in Tel Aviv, I saw my son Dane, anxiously searching the faces for mine in the crowd, and our uniting after a year was filled with great joy. We drove straight to Jerusalem and straight to the home of Pam, and to the quiet and peaceful little room where my daughter-in-law, Tasha, lay with my new granddaughter by her side. Everything about that moment is etched into my memory—peace, joy, awe.
For the next three weeks I was privileged to travel to all of the places familiar to all who have been on a tour to Israel, with the exception that there were no tourists there. All of the traditional holy sites were devoid of tourists, allowing us to visit and linger wherever we wanted without lines or tourists. At the Garden Tomb we stayed inside for a long time, contemplating all that this meant, and I was able to sit just outside and pray for a while. Traveling to the Galilee (of course Ardara went along on all of our journey’s), was quite an adventure, again, wherever we went we had it almost all to ourselves—the Kfar Naum (Capernaum), the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught, the place where it was believed the Sermon on the Mount was preached and so many other memorable places. No tour buses were lined up, no throngs of tourists standing in long lines. At the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Dane and I were alone with the exception of a few Jewish Ethiopian teenagers. We were able to leisurely walk and contemplate while we shed tears.
It was all surreal, being such a short time after the horror of 911 in my own country, and being in the Middle East where a new Intifada had begun with suicide bombers blowing up buses and businesses on the streets of Jerusalem, yet I have never experienced a time of such safety, protection and peace.
I write all of this today in honor of my beloved granddaughter, Ardara, on what would be her 17th birthday. I allow the tears to freely fall today while at the same time, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that six months ago, she saw the face of Jesus and her real life began as He gathered up this precious lamb and enfolded her in His eternal embrace and unfailing love. She is Home. She is really Home and I ache with unimaginable sorrow here, but I know she is safe. Her life will be remembered here, but she only knows perfect peace. I will see her again, more perfectly alive than ever.
I know where she is because she gave her life to Jesus Christ in the middle of the night as a child after having a dream that Jesus was asking her to make sure she was all right. She woke her mom, Tasha, to ask if she was all right and Tasha discerned that it meant she was to lead her to Jesus as her Savior. I will never forget a few days later, here, at one of her sleepovers, as she looked intently into my eyes and told me that Jesus had woken her and she had come to know Him. It was real.
This is her story. Though life became difficult over the next years, this is her real story. I felt it should be told because there is hope. There. Is. Hope. In Christ alone, there is hope.
If you do not know Him, Ardara would tell you right now, face-to-face, that Jesus Christ is real. He is living. She is with Him. And she would shout from the mountaintops to all her friends and family “It is real! He is real!! He is alive! And I am with Him and you can also be alive with Him if you place your faith in Him alone and invite Him into your life.”
I will see you again my beloved baby girl. I miss you awful, my sorrow is nearly inconsolable, but I will see you soon.
I will always love and cherish my memories of you,