Amidst an increasingly secular Western world where God is assumed to be dead, or a figment of one’s imagination, it’s time to celebrate a book published 40 years ago.
Appointment in Jerusalem charts the incredible story of a young schoolteacher who had an encounter with Christ every bit as dramatic as the Apostle Paul’s and went on to fulfill her destiny in a city she knew nothing about, allowing the Holy Spirit the guide her every step.
Lydia Christensen was in her mid-thirties, living very comfortably in her native Denmark as her local school’s head of domestic science. But she was searching for God, whom she couldn’t find in her Lutheran surroundings. She even turned down a marriage proposal for fear it would detract from her determined quest to discover whether Jesus was real. And when He appeared to her in a vision, her remarkable journey of faith had begun.
Other visions followed, she began to speak in a language she had never learnt and was soon baptized in the sea by a Pentecostal pastor, sparking much ridicule and scorn from her colleagues and pupils.
It was through a vision of people in Middle Eastern dress that she felt a call to Jerusalem. She gave away her possessions and set off, in 1928, for the ‘City of the Great King’, as the psalmist describes it (Psalm 48.2). Like Abraham, she didn’t know where she was going to stay or how she was going to make ends meet, especially as she had no work permit. She only knew God had called her there. At one point she was down to her last 86 cents and went without food for four days, but it only deepened her trust.
Her first task came as quite a shock. A Jewish man, having heard that she was a kind woman, came to ask her if she would look after his dying baby daughter. Initially protesting her inexperience, she took her in and anointed her with oil as she prayed for her healing in Jesus’ name. Tikva (meaning ‘hope’ in Hebrew) made a remarkable recovery, so much so that her parents wanted her back, by which time Lydia had grown to love her as her own. But she realised she had to offer her up as a sacrifice, as Abraham had done with Isaac, and just as in the biblical narrative, she did receive Tikva back as it turned out her parents were unable to cope.
And when serious riots broke out between Jews and Arabs in 1929, she was forced to run the gauntlet of no-go areas in order to fetch water, which had been cut off by the fighting. When she struggled to get over the barricades with Tikva on her shoulders, suddenly – out of nowhere – a man came to her rescue. When she told her friends what had happened, they were all convinced it must have been an angel!
Others were leaving the city because of the tension, but Lydia believed God was calling her to be a “watchman on the walls” (Isaiah 62.6), praying for the peace of Jerusalem. And in the ensuing years she continued to mother scores of abandoned Jewish and Arab children. She also realized the city held the key to the world’s future and that Christians need to do all they can to help Israel.
We owe them a huge debt which has gone unpaid for too many centuries, she wrote to her mother. “It is to them that we owe the Bible, the prophets, the apostles, the Saviour Himself.”
Perhaps if such calls had been heeded on a wider basis, millions of Jews could have been saved from the Holocaust which was to come.
At the end of World War II, Lydia married Derek Prince, the well-known Bible teacher, and Appointment in Jerusalem was published by Kingsway in 1975 [Chosen Books, in the US] with Lydia Prince as author “as told to her husband Derek”. Together, Lydia and Derek adopted and raised nine Jewish and Arab children in Israel. They were saints in our midst and left great blessings in their wake.