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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 18, 2017

FCOC pastors tour with U.S. politicians on their ninth trip to Israel

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News | Oct 06, 2017
Photo by: Submitted photo Pastor Monte and Peggy Knudsen, of FCOC, traveled to Israel with The Family Leader this past September. The Family Leader is a political organization out of Des Moines that works for family values by inspiring Christ-like leadership in government. On their trip, Monte and Peggy had the opportunity to speak with both Israeli and U.S. political leaders.

Peggy Knudsen’s favorite place in all of Israel is the Sea of Galilee. It is a place that has been untouched by the modern world. No buildings are able to be built on top of a historical site there.

“The reason it means so much to me is because you can’t build a big church on the Sea of Galilee,” Peggy said, after she and her husband Monte Knudsen, pastor at Faith Community Outreach Church (FCOC) returned from their ninth trip to the Middle East.

“You go out on a boat in the middle of it and we have a church service,” Peggy said. “When you think about what happened 2,000 years ago on that sea, when you read about it and you think the same water, the same wind, the same waves still know (Jesus’) name. It’s a very precious time for me.”

Although Monte and Peggy have taken many recreational trips to Israel, this trip was a little different. This time they went with a group from The Family Leader, a political organization out of Des Moines that works for family values by inspiring Christ-like leadership in the home, church and government through legislation and lobbying.

“We didn’t just go to tour, which was different this time,” Peggy said. “We had a lot of meetings, which were very important and good for our group to hear.”

Monte has had a relationship with The Family Leader for a long time, working with politicians through prayer and “speaking into their lives,” he said. The purpose of the trip this past September was to show a few politicians and supporters of The Family Leader the importance of the U.S.’s continual support of Israel.

“What we get here from the news (in the U.S.) is causing fear in people’s lives,” Monte said. “We’re not understanding from the news standpoint what’s really going on over there.”

Monte and Peggy had the opportunity to go to Knesset, a legislative branch of the Israeli government which passes all laws and supervises the work of the government. There, they were able to meet with members of parliament to talk about what political leaders in the U.S. can do to have a working relationship with Israeli leaders.

Monte and Peggy met with a pastor who has been working to bring Jewish and Palestinian Arabs together for years, and leaders like Joel Rosenberg, who is a communications strategist in the U.S. and has written several books on Israel.

In Bethlehem, the Knudsen’s attended a Christian church and listened to “stories of incredible persecution,” Monte said.

“The church of Bethlehem had been bombed 14 times,” Monte said. “Many people say they’re Christian because they’re American, but they’re not really a Christ follower … It was neat to worship with persecuted believers where some have lost their lives, who have been martyred for following Christ.”

Monte shared that the pastor of this church had written a book, “The Backyard of Jesus,” in which he details his story of “great persecution.”

“It was not a fond memory of life. He thought that was normal,” Monte said, explaining that the pastor had been shot several times for his beliefs, and in an area of such great persecution, thought it was the way Christians are persecuted around the world.

“It was an eye opener,” Peggy said. “We don’t know what it means to live like that day to day.”

Monte added, “We share Christ with people and they might think we’re fanatic, and we might not be invited to certain social circles, but we won’t be murdered.”

The Knudsen’s were introduced to a young man in the church in Bethlehem who had been “groomed and seasoned by ISIS,” Peggy said.

“Here, he was being brainwashed to hate America and Israel,” Peggy said. “Now he says, ‘I pray for America.’ This young man, who could have had a totally different life, loves those who he was willing to hate.”

Overall, Monte said it was a great trip for him and Peggy and beneficial to the leaders who were able to learn more about the conflicts in Israel.

“Most people don’t realize this, but politicians from all over the world are familiar with the Bible’s prophecies,” Monte said. “Out politicians all have an understanding of some biblical prophecy.”

This is why Monte finds it so important to speak into the U.S.’s political leadership God’s desire, Christian morals and values and purpose of government.

“The Bible actually says politicians are God’s ministers,” Monte said. “I consider them anointed by God, whether they know about it or not, so I have relationships with all of our congressmen and senators for the purpose of praying for them.”

Monte and Peggy travel to Des Moines several times a year, especially when the capital is in session, to express their opinion on how they expect their leaders to vote on certain issues. Peggy said that it’s important their voices be heard.

With each Israel trip, Monte said it affects his speaking and preaching, mostly through illustrations he hears and finds along the way.

“Our guide at one time spoke to us: ‘The nose is the strongest of your senses and will remember more than what you see,’ he said. So isn’t it interesting a coal fire is mentioned two places in Scripture. When Peter denies Jesus, and after the resurrection when Peter jumps from the boat and swims to shore,” Monte said, given as the kind of illustrations he gathers from his trips to Israel.

“Things of that nature, every trip we go on we think, ‘Wow, isn’t Jesus cool?’” Monte said.

But Monte added that the reason him and Peggy return to Israel again and again is not to gather sermon material, but to help give every believer the opportunity to visit the “Holy Land.”

FCOC will be taking a group of 40 people to Israel in March 2018. This will be Monte and Peggy’s 10th trip. They hope to implement a lot of what they learned during this last trip into the one this spring, giving the other tourists the opportunity to meet with leaders and influencers in Israel like they did.

“I think it’s a development experience,” Monte said. “It develops something in you (as a Christian) you can’t get without that visual.”

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