Latest methods used by anti-missionaries in Israel
Illustrative image - view of Ashkelon, southern Israel (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Carmiyah ministries based in the Ashkelon region have recently been the target of a well known anti-missionary organisation in Israel.
I received a call from someone saying that he and four others that finished their military service, wanted to stay in my home to learn about the life of Messianic Jews to get credits for university entrance.
I don’t publicise my mobile number, only a number not registered in my name. However when I messaged him on WhatsApp, he saw my registered mobile number and with this he could get my name and through his friends in Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of the Interior) he could illegally get my address. I knew someone trying to find out who is behind Carmiyah ministries could do this.
I did not agree to have them stay in my house and stopped communicating, however they already knew who I was and they continued their anti-missionary effort.
After this they went to the religious Jewish school where my landlord’s children go and they told his children bad things about me. They are very experienced at persecuting missionaries and they know how to make Jewish landlord’s afraid enough to evict their tenant. They feed the media with fake stories about missionaries to get them identified in society as pedophiles or some sort of criminal so that Israelis will stay away from them and not listen to them. These fake stories also discredit the Gospel of the Jewish Messiah. Nonetheless the Talmud contains lies about the Son of God too.
So my brothers, be wise, and know they are scheming against us. They think we are stealing Jewish souls.
Look up! Your redemption draweth nigh!
Carmiyah Israel is a Messianic based in Ashkelon. Founded in 1996, it's mission is to reach Jews and Muslims with the Gospel of Yeshua.
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Israel College of the Bible sends Jewish-Arab mission teams
As the the Body of Messiah in the modern state of Israel gains momentum, it’s time to lift our eyes beyond our borders! Jewish and Arab mission teams are now being sent out to minister together across the world, and the impact has been profound.
“If it’s as true as you say, just show me one Jew who believes in Jesus!”
One of our intrepid teams had gone to one of the hardest areas of Berlin close to the biggest mosque, to a park area well known for drugs and violence. They saw someone begging, so Carlos shared his testimony in Arabic, about how he was completely set free from drugs in an instant, and how Yeshua changed his life completely.
The man, an African Muslim, was amazed.
He knew the Qu’ran well, but over time had become a hardened atheist. He didn’t believe in God at all, and although they had been talking for about an hour about Yeshua, the prophecies in the Bible and so on, it was hard to reach his heart.
“You want to persuade me that God really sent His Son to die on the cross, when the Qu’ran says the opposite (and in any case, I don’t believe it)? The Jews crucified Jesus, so if it’s as true as you say, just show me one Jew who believes that Jesus is the Messiah!”
Carlos looked around for one of the Jewish members of the team and called Gal to come over. “Gal, come and tell this man who you are.” Gal had been busy elsewhere, but came to meet our new friend.
“Hi I’m Gal, I’m a Jew from Israel…” He started to introduce himself, completely unaware of what had just happened in the conversation! After some ten minutes or so, this dear Muslim man eventually allowed us to pray for him. He even took off his hat and prayed with us.
There is power in the gospel because it is true. God’s truth changes reality.
Many Israelis and Muslims who now live in Berlin are very open to the gospel. One of our teams shared a Shabbat meal with some 30 non-believers and was able to share the gospel with them all. An Israeli girl from Lod received the Lord – she had heard the gospel back in Israel, but made the step to follow Yeshua right there with the team. Together with local believers, our team has been able to share with many Muslims from Syria, Iran, and other places in the Middle East. They have also had the privilege to work with and encourage some new believers from Muslim backgrounds.
Another team was sent to Heidelberg and Kaiserslautern to work alongside local churches in their outreach. They spoke at local universities and met students, sharing the truth about our Messiah who has made us One New Man in Him, and also helped with the work of evangelism and service being carried out among the refugees and those in need.
Those who could speak Arabic were easily able to share the truth about Yeshua with many of those they met. They and had the privilege to pray with one man from Tunisia and another lady from Iran. Additionally, they were able to give a presentation to a group of German college students about the difference that Yeshua can make as they stood together, united in the Gospel of peace. They helped with some children’s ministry and led worship, all of which was also a blessing for Israeli students themselves as they are trained in the service of God.
First Paul and Barnabas, now Jew and Arab!
It’s true that here and there, Israeli believers have taken part in overseas missions in the past, but these cases have been few and far between. In order to build a heart for the nations into our DNA here at Israel College of the Bible, we have been learning about heroes of the faith who took the gospel all over the world in our weekly chapel meetings.
Now, we have started sending teams overseas to share the gospel both in word and deed. Delegations have gone to East Asia, to Germany, and to Jordan so far, with our sights on sending a team to Ethiopia in the future.
One of our favorite Bible verses here at ONE FOR ISRAEL is Isaiah 2:3, which says,
“For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
Once again, the word is going forth from Zion as Israeli mission teams of Jewish and Arab staff and students are taking God’s word to bless other nations.
The fields are white but the workers are few
Dr. Erez Soref impressed upon our students that hundreds of thousands of refugees had poured into Europe and were hungry for the gospel. Many thousands are coming to faith in Jesus and are being baptized! But are often left in great need of discipleship.
Dr. Soref asked the gathered students in Israel, “What can we do to help? The fields are truly white for the harvest. We need to send laborers”. He added that one of the students, Sharbel, was getting ready to be sent to Germany to work with new believers from Syria on a long-term basis.
Israel is in pole position to help with this crisis as there are native Arabic speakers who can share with Muslim refugees easily. Many refugees are broken and desperate, disillusioned with Islam and ready to hear the good news about Jesus.
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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In memory of Esther Moore: All shall be well
Esther Moore, born in Belgium, daughter of Rick and Patricia Ridings, sister of Bethany Tal Rosenfeld and Anna Boyd, passed away in July leaving behind her husband Will Moore and their young son Calev.
During her 29 years of life on earth, Esther was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, musician, writer, blogger, photographer and so much more. Her life was celebrated during a memorial service at Succat Hallel earlier this week with nearly 200 people in attendance and thousands more around the world tuning into a live stream.
The Ridings family moved to Jerusalem in 2000 and they have been part of the Messianic community since. Rick and Patricia pioneered a house of prayer in Jerusalem — Succat Hallel, a 24/7 prayer room in Abu Tor that overlooks the Temple Mount and Mount of Olives.
Growing up in Jerusalem, Esther was a passionate worshipper and intercessor. Her childhood friend, Adiel Abramson, shared a story about their time growing up when they attended a camp called Soldout in 2002.
“Esther and two other girls were standing at the wall and interceding very loudly, praying for people’s salvation. I was on the side going through something else. Esther saw me, stopped and sat down and gave me a huge ‘Esther hug.’ You know what I mean if you have been hugged by her. I shared with her what I was going through,” Adiel related. “I had the most profound encounter with the Holy Spirit that night because Esther pulled me and prayed for me. She’s so compassionate. She was not judgmental. She received everyone with so much love.”
Esther’s first concert was at the Rosenfeld’s courtyard in downtown Jerusalem. Adam Rosenfeld, Esther’s brother in law, reminisced, “The audience was mesmerized. You could hear a pin drop.”
To the community in Jerusalem, Esther was not just a faithful and faith-filled sister, she was a free spirit filled with vision and life. She has left a trail and mark by her hugs, love and the beautiful songs she wrote, some of which are available online.
In 2010, Esther married Will Moore and moved to Bath in England. In 2014, their son Caleb, a lovely boy who has Down Syndrome, was born. Esther championed her son and promoted him every chance she could.
In January 2016, Esther was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive and fast-growing type of cancer.
During a memorial service in Jerusalem on Aug. 26 at Succat Hallel, Bethany commented on her sister’s response to the news of cancer.
“When she found out she had cancer at the age 25, yeah she yelled and screamed hitting her car. She let out all the emotions she felt to God. She nearly broke the dashboard. She was really real with the Lord. But she did not let herself stay in a place of self-pity. or bitterness. She chose gratitude,” Bethany said.
Over the course of 2016 and 2017, Esther underwent two surgeries — one that took out all the lymph nodes in her left arm and another when they found a second lump under her arm a few months later.
“When I was first told the diagnosis, I couldn’t even say the ‘C’ word without feeling emotionally overwhelmed and completely inadequate to deal with everything that comes with it. Yet now, when I look back over this and the many hard times we’ve had before, I don’t wish that these times had never happened. I feel the bittersweetness that I can imagine a wind-torn and half frozen mountain climber feels after conquering Everest. I look back over my life and, from this viewpoint, can see how every hard thing we’ve gone through have been little mountains that we’ve had to conquer as practice for this, our Everest. I see now that out of every single time of hardship we went through, including this sheer cliff of a challenge of getting through cancer, that unbelievably – good has come out of it. Every time.” — from Esther’s blog post on Oct. 16, 2016
When Esther found a third lump — the third time the cancer had recurred within 9 months — the doctors said there was nothing they could offer that would be curative, only palliative. Though the news was devastating, Esther and Will braved yet another wave and decided to move from the U.K. to Jerusalem, where Esther grew up and where her family lives.
Since fall 2017, Esther lived in Jerusalem and her family thanked God that they got to see her every day during her eight months in Jerusalem.
“I really learned to hold time with Esther,” said Bethany. “All we have to take into eternity is our heart, what God forms in our heart. This time on earth is like we are in a womb. It is dark and we cannot see God. We can hear His voice and heartbeat. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Even though Esther was my younger sister, she was my hero. She showed me what was 1 Corinthians 13:13 was, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’”
In April 2018, Esther fought her last battle against cancer with immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a treatment that supercharges the immune system to fight against the cancer. After six weeks of immunotherapy in an alternative treatment center near San Diego, Esther contracted sepsis and entered into a coma multiple times. (Click here to read more of the details of Esther’s treatments and to help with the remaining medical bills.)
During her last waking hours, she spoke her last words: “Hodu l’Adonai ki tov” (Give thanks to the Lord for He is good).
Esther breathed her last and stepped into eternity.
Will Moore, Esther’s husband, saw a beautiful vision during her last moments.
“It was the clearest vision I have ever seen. It was like I was back at our wedding waiting for Esther under the hupa. I saw her dancing down the aisle to me again. As I stood there I saw my tuxedo change and I knew it was not me standing under the hupa. It was Yeshua. All the emotion I had when I stood under the hupa came back. The excitement of seeing how happy she was dancing down the aisle and how in love and absolutely captivated by her beauty I was. It was the happiest moment of my life. I knew in a moment Yeshua was seeing His bride come, and he felt all those feelings ever more now as she danced towards Him. He is her true husband, and I know how joyful she is now.”
Will said his friends chided him for getting married so early, at age 21. But as he looked back he said it was the best decision he ever made since his time together with Esther would be so short.
Esther’s love continues to inspires. She loved and followed Yeshua with all her heart. God’s love for us is not dependent on our response. And Esther’s love for God was not dependent on God healing her.
“It was not about her getting her dreams and future and her calling here on earth,” Bethany said. “She loved God. Period. Without conditions. I hope I can be like that. She really finished her race well.”
As Rick Ridings, Esther’s father, remarked at the memorial service, “We don’t pretend that we know everything. It is better to know God than to know why. We can say with all of our heart that Esther knew God, even when she didn’t know why.”
Esther’s body might have been broken in the battle, but her spirit was strong. She lived 29 years of life to the fullest.
She has left a legacy on believers in Jerusalem and worldwide.
Click below to view Esther’s song: “Height of the Storm”
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Memorial for Esther Moore: Touching eternity on a Jerusalem rooftop
Illustrative image - a view of the Old City of Jerusalem (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
On a roof top overlooking the city that will receive Yeshua, under a moonlit Jerusalem sky, cooled by a strong summer breeze, a bereaved family gave whole-hearted praise to God. Through their tears, the Ridings-Moore-Rosenthal-Boyd family declared “Hodu L’Adonai Ki Tov, Ki L’Olam Chasdo – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy is everlasting.”
These words, “Hodu L’Adonai Ki Tov – הודו לאדוני כי טוב” were the last words spoken by their 29 year old daughter/wife/sister, Esther. She repeated them to each member of the family at her bedside, even as she was departing to be with her Lord. Over and over, at the memorial held in her honor on August 26, 2018, her family and close friends spoke of the courage, faith, and love shown by Esther in her two and a half year battle with cancer.
What left me unable to hold back tears was the unreserved way this remarkable family lifted their voices to give glory to the Creator/Redeemer/Healer to whom they had doggedly appealed for the rescue of their precious Esther. This was a young woman in the prime of life—a composer/singer of stirring songs, speaking directly of the dark storms of life that threaten to block out the light that yet will shine. Despite their crushing loss—three generations stood on that summer eve lifting their voices and their hands before the Most High, affirming “You’ll never let me down, never let me down. NO, you’ll never let me down.”
I thought to myself, these people are the real thing. Here they are, not pretending to understand why or how their exceedingly lovely young daughter/wife/sister has ended her earthly journey. Nor are they withholding their unspeakable sorrow. Yet they are giving tribute to Messiah Yeshua, whose coming kingdom they are so dedicated to hasten. Not incidentally, the Ridings’ have made this an around the clock pursuit by establishing Succat Hallel (Tabernacle of Praise) in Jerusalem in 1999. It has grown to be a 24/7 center of worship and intercession, with participants drawn from both Israel and the nations.
One could only be moved by the God-glorifying response of Esther’s husband, Will, her sisters, Bethany and Anna, her parents, Rick and Patricia, and all the nieces and nephews (who also sang and spoke movingly). Yet It was also the recounting of who Esther was (we should say “is”) and how she responded to the excruciating trial of watching her body being eaten away. “Esther was a free spirit, always wanting to be out doing things,” reflected Bethany (her big sister by 11 years). “It was so hard to see her hooked up to all those tubes in intensive care for so long. But even there, she still shone with the love of God and the joy of life. She didn’t hide her reaction of anger and grief to the initial shocking news of cancer, or of having a Downs Syndrome baby (Esther left behind her prized four year old son, Calev). She was neither bitter toward God, nor did she stay in self-pity.”
Bethany’s conclusion summed up the message of Esther’s life and of the entire evening. “All we have to take into eternity is our heart. This world is like a womb that we temporarily reside in. We can only hear God’s heartbeat—just as the child within his mother hears and feels her heartbeat.” What a thought—that our current stage is preparing us for a far more brilliant and lasting reality! Big sister continued, carried by a wave of lasting wonder. “Esther is my hero. She showed me, more than anything, LOVE—true love, unconditional love. Esther’s love for God wasn’t dependent on her healing or fulfilled dreams. I just hope I can be like that.”
Then she poured out her heart before us in a song she wrote shortly after Esther’s passing. What gripped me was that, again, it was a cry out of the raging storm of grief and love. “From the womb of time, soon we’ll see clearly.”
Esther’s second sister, Anna, was no less eloquent, no less passionate in describing Esther, no less compelling as she added “This world in its broken state is not what God intends. We have a choice—to dwell on questions or to catch the wind and rise on the winds of praise.” Her song—one of startling, tender witness to Esther’s legacy—spoke of penetrating the earthly, worldly measures of what’s important to get to the ultimate reality of Messiah’s reign.
I am undone by this family. All three girls (including Esther, who sang to us through a gritty, gutsy black and white video “Height of the Storm” are writers of deep songs of devotion, sung hauntingly with humility and whole-hearted authenticity.
This was an evening when we touched eternity. We experienced the gracious presence of God on that rooftop overlooking the city of the King. We felt, together with Esther’s family, the incredible worth of one person who lives life to the full. We wept and we sang. And we listened in amazement, to a true tale of suffering and loss—met with unshaken trust in the goodness of God.
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.
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Israeli Immigration Appeals Court rules foreign tour leaders are not missionaries
The Ministry of Interior refused to allow the entry into Israel of a Christian married couple who have served as tour leaders, bringing thousands of tourists to Israel in the past decades. A successful appeal to the Jerusalem Immigration Appeals Court overturned the decision.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson (their names have been changed for the purposes of this article) are South African tour leaders who have been guiding pilgrimages in Israel for the last 20 years. Obviously, pilgrim groups coming to the Holy Land are an important source of income for the Israeli economy and help improve Israel’s reputation abroad, especially if the group leaders are friends of Israel. Half of all tourists entering Israel are pilgrims who are here to visit historical holy sites.
The Ministry of Interior is aware of the importance of tourism and used to make concessions to make the life of travel agents and tour leaders coming into Israel easier. In the past, Ministry of Interior policy permitted foreign tour leaders to operate in Israel with a tourist visa, as long as the tour group is accompanied by a certified Israeli tour guide.
Refusal of entry into Israel
The Johnsons have worked with Israeli tourism companies for decades. They accompanied hundreds of groups over this period and even rented an apartment in Jerusalem so that they would have a place to stay while guiding pilgrims. In 2015, suddenly and with no prior warning, they were both denied entry into Israel, each under a different pretext.
Border control officials argued that Mr. Johnson, in whose name the Jerusalem apartment was rented, meant to illegally settle in Israel. Mrs. Johnson, on the other hand, was refused entry on the grounds that her work as a tour guide was not properly certified. The couple made an internal appeal to the Population and Migration Authority at the Ministry of Interior, which decided to approve the renewal of their tourist visa, with the right to repeatedly re-enter Israel.
Information about alleged missionary activity
In early 2017, Yad L’Achim (a Jewish orthodox organization dedicated to maintaining religious and racial purity in Israel) sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior claiming that the Johnsons were engaged in missionary activity. Therefore, the Johnsons were summoned to an interview at the Ministry of Interior office. As a result, their request to extend their visa was refused. The internal appeal they filed was rejected, and they were ordered to leave Israel.
Thus, the couple – supporters of Israel whose livelihood depends on having permission to enter the Holy Land – had no choice but to turn to a law firm specializing in appealing Ministry of Interior decisions. Advocate Michael Decker submitted their appeal to the Appeals Court.
The parties’ arguments to the Immigration Appeals Court
Lawyers’ representatives of the Ministry of Interior claimed:
That the Yad L’Achim organization provided information claiming that the appellants were missionaries and that missionary activity is a criminal offense in Israel. According to the claim, the appellants were involved in converting Jews to Christianity.
Moreover, the Ministry of Interior’s own sources claimed that the appellants’ center of life is in Israel, since they have been here for extended periods of time. Thus, the Johnsons either intended to illegally settle in Israel or have already de-facto settled here.
Representatives of the Ministry of Interior found it difficult to present actual proof of missionary activity. Therefore, they presented the secondary claim regarding the couple’s center of life and suggested a possible compromise; the Johnson’s tourist visa could be extended for six months, subject to depositing a bank guarantee. After the visa expired, the couple would have to apply for a work permit in Israel.
Advocate Decker, for the appellants, claimed:
The accusation of missionary activity was based on information from a rival tour guide and was, in fact, a false allegation submitted to Yad L’Achim in order to harm the livelihood of the petitioners.
Moreover, the Ministry of Interior had no proof that the couple engaged in missionary activity. Furthermore, there could be no proof – the couple focused their activities on work with Christian pilgrims; as such, they never guided groups of Jews. Thus, any preaching of Christian doctrine was aimed at Christian tourists. If a person really wants to engage in missionary activity in Israel (converting Jews to Christianity), then guiding pilgrims is the least effective course of action.
Also, since other tour leaders are not required to obtain a work permit, there is no reason the Johnsons would require one. This request was a backup “condolence prize” for the Ministry of Interior after their main accusation could not be proven.
Lastly, the Johnsons are South African citizens. They and their family members all reside in South Africa, and their wages come from foreign pilgrims, so their center of life is not in Israel by any definition. Therefore, there is no reason to require a work permit that is not required of other tour leaders. The position of the Ministry of Interior is unfounded, and it needlessly harms both the appellants and the Israeli tourists, since the appellants will not be able to guide pilgrims who have already arrived in Israel.
Immigration Appeals Court verdict: There is no basis for the Ministry of Interior’s claims
Judge Menachem Pashititzky went straight to the heart of the matter when he asked whether the Ministry of Interior had proof that even a single Jew had converted to Christianity because of the appellants’ activity. In addition, the judge emphasized to the legal representatives of the Ministry of Interior that in any case, missionary activity is not in itself forbidden in Israel. The law in Israel only prohibits granting favors or money to entice a person to convert and/or persuade minors to convert. Since the respondent did not have evidence of any conversions (due to the appellants concentrating on work with Christians), the Ministry of Interior’s entire line of reasoning is baseless. The conclusion is that the Ministry of Interior rushed to conclusions that harmed the appellants on the basis of entirely invented, false claims.
Furthermore, his Honor agreed that the appellants’ center of life is in South Africa, and that they have no intention of settling in Israel. Beyond the arguments’ above, the allegation was disproven by common sense, the decades during which the appellants lived in South Africa and guided groups to Israel without settling here. In this context, the judge also noted that he did not understand the reasons for the change in the Ministry’s long-standing policy regarding the requirement for a work visa.
In conclusion, the judge ruled in favor of the appellants, since the respondent’s decision was deemed unreasonable and disproportionate. The couple will receive a tourist visa by the end of 2018, subject to a bank deposit of NIS 30,000 in order to ensure they do not illegally settle in Israel. They will need to apply for a work visa to continue working in 2019 and declare that they will not perform any illegal missionary activity during their stay in Israel.
Joshua Pex is a partner at the law firm Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh, which represented the appellants in this matter.
Advocate Joshua Pex is a partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm in Jerusalem. He specializes in immigration to Israel.