Messianic Soldiers in the Israeli Army: Bolder than Ever about Their Faith
Kehila News Israel (KNI) brings you the first published survey online of Messianic Jews serving in the Israeli army or IDF (Israeli Defense Forces).
KNI conducted the survey in cooperation with several local ministries that organize conferences and Bible studies on weekends for hundreds of Messianic soldiers currently serving in the IDF. All Israelis, men aged 18 to 21 and women aged 18 to 20, are required to do some form of military or community service. This means that thousands of Messianic Israelis – Jewish and non-Jewish, men and women – have shared in the Israeli army experience at one time or another. We are especially proud of our soldiers who are facing the challenges of today, which are more complex than ever before.
From the survey results, it is clear that openness about Yeshua (Jesus) in the Israeli army is indeed the new “normal”. Of those Messianic soldiers asked by KNI, a remarkable 96% say that their fellow soldiers know of their belief in Yeshua as the Messiah. Possibly even more remarkable is that 78% of their commanders or officers know of their belief in Yeshua. This is certainly a generation that is bolder than ever in sharing and living their faith!
Equally encouraging feedback from the survey results is a largely supportive and pluralistic reaction from their fellow soldiers and officers with 64% of them having a “positive” response, 22% having an “indifferent” response and only 14% expressing a “negative” response upon hearing about faith in Yeshua. Contrary to what older Israeli believers remember of their army experience, very few Messianic soldiers today face significant discrimination or persecution. Furthermore, a relatively high percentage (30%) responded that they have a fellow believer in their unit. As recently as fifteen to twenty years ago, it was a rarity for any two Messianic soldiers to be found serving together.
A statistic that has not changed over the years is the high percentage of Messianic IDF soldiers serving in combat. A vast majority of 57% responded that they are serving in combat units, with many serving in volatile areas, such as the Gaza border (9%), Lebanon border (15%), and Judea & Samaria (18%). The believing community in Israel, both young and old, is known to be very Zionist, nationalist, law abiding, with a high motivation to serve God and Israel. There is a long history, albeit unknown to many, of Messianic believers serving in combat units and elite special forces including Sayeret Matkal (General Staff Reconnaissance Unit) and Shayetet 13 (Navy Seals). Today’s Messianic IDF soldiers are no exception.
In reading this encouraging information about Messianic soldiers, it is important to remember that over the past five months Israel has been facing a new type of terror, in which lone attackers suddenly try to stab, shoot or run over unsuspecting Israelis. Their preferred targets are IDF soldiers. In the midst of these terror attacks are hundreds of Messianic IDF soldiers, serving the State of Israel, defending its citizens, and most of all, being a tremendous blessing and testimony to their fellow soldiers.
Another aspect of understanding the significance of the boldness and openness of Messianic soldiers today is the effect they have on the way Israeli society views believers in general, but particularly relating to immigration or aliyah. Those who are already Israeli citizens are not questioned on faith matters by the IDF. Like all other Israeli recruits they are drafted and evaluated for their potential skill. However, Messianic Jews wanting to immigrate to Israel can face difficulties because of their faith. It is noteworthy that even during the years when Messianic soldiers were still fighting for equal opportunities, a 1988 poll published in the Jerusalem Post found that 78% of Israelis were in favor of Messianic Jews immigrating to Israel under the Law of Return, as long as they could prove Jewish lineage – and were willing to serve in the IDF. For three decades and more, Messianic Israelis have demonstrated that they can and do serve their country, not in spite of but because of their faith in Yeshua. This has resulted not only in more openness to accepting our service, but also more willingness to hear our testimony about Israel’s Messiah.
KNI is working on more news stories, interviews and testimonies about Messianic IDF soldiers and their work. Stay tuned because these articles will be published in the coming weeks and months. Help us change the way the world sees Israel and share these encouraging testimonies with your friends. We can’t do it without you!
UPDATE March 6, 2016: There were 69 respondents to our survey by active duty IDF soldiers from a total population of several hundred Messianic soldiers.
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Jerusalem Prayer list – February 26, 2016
The wondering Jews are home again. We are back in Israel after a long trip that really started on January 4, 2016 and just now ended on February 24, 2016. It was an intense time, but it was also a very interesting and hopefully a blessing to all the churches and conferences that we attended.
For ten years the Teaching from Zion Ministry in Brazil in partnership with Netivyah Ministry from Jerusalem have celebrated a Congress for the Restoration of the church and of Israel in the building of the Har Zion Congregation in Belo-Horizonte, Brazil. This year was very special because it was the 10th Anniversary of this congress. There were around 700 participants in the congress. We had Keijo Lindeman from Finland with his wife Salme and with Ina and Ulla, participate in the teaching and Ina did a great job in the translation from Finnish to Portuguese. Keijo delivered a deep teaching of the implication of the Restoration of the Church and Israel for our Eschatology (End Time Theology). Barry Shulam our son gave a great teaching on the practical aspects of the Restoration Movement for Israel and the Church. He delivered an excellent message with a whole lot of humor that softened the seriousness and gave a clear picture of the blessings and dangers of doing Restoration Theology. Marcelo and Matheus delivered a wonderful teachings the future of the Lord’s Work in Brazil and in the Latin World and the importance of the Anussim / Marrano Jews to the Restoration of Israel. This year the whole congress was calm and peaceful and the most enjoyable part of the congress was the fellowship and the celebration of having so many leaders from all of Brazil.
This year I shall be traveling more than any other year in my life. Next Friday, the Lord willing, I shall take a group of Graduates of the Lipscomb University on a trip in the Foot Steps of the Apostle Paul. This trip will be a week in Turkey following the Seven Churches of Revelation and a week in Greece following the churches that Paul started in Greece. In all the Archaeological sites I shall give lectures on the Archeology and history of these ancient cities, and of course the biblical implications of the geography and archaeology for the Biblical texts. In the end of March this year I shall be again in the USA lecturing in Nashville, Tennessee, and in Houston, Texas, and from there to Havana, Cuba, to teach and to bless a Messianic Congregation that was established in Cuba. In May, God willing, I shall repeat the teaching in Turkey and Greece with a group of Chinese brothers and sisters, and in June will be in Finland, and the USA again. So, I do need your prayers for me and for Marcia – for these extensive travels. For a 70-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman – only God’s grace will be sufficient. Please keep us in your prayers.
The only reason that we are able to be out of Israel for so long this year is because the Netivyah staff and the Roeh Israel Congregation and are so capable and blessed to be able to take care of the Lord’s work on their own. Please pray for the young leadership of Netivyah and of the Roeh Israel congregation. Pray for Yuda, Hannah, Oleg, Shlomo, Daniel, and Nancy.
Pray for Israel. The Palestinian terrorism is not stopping and every day there are at least 3 or 4 or more attacks with knifes, axes, guns, the use of cars as weapons, and of course the most common is stones and Molotov Cocktails (bottles filled with fuel and set on fire and cast on civilian cars, soldiers and policeman.). The state of Israel has no practical answer to this kind of terrorism. I pray for the Lord God of Israel who delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery to deliver Israel from these wild shameless and ruthless terrorists and enable the sane and wise in the Middle East to work toward a peaceful and honest solution of peace.
Please pray for Marcia and I to go through this next trip in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul. Especially Marcia needs your prayers for strength and stamina and wisdom to know when to rest and when to go with the rest of the group.
Pray for two new congregations related to Netivyah. The Roeh Israel Congregation near Helsinki, Finland! It is a congregation of second generation of Finnish brothers, young families, who are committed and energetic. The second new congregation is in the city of Vitoria, in the State of Spirito Santo (The Holy Spirit). This is a congregation of young families and brothers who are survivors of a congregation that has gone rogue. They need your prayers and especially God’s blessing. Also pray for those dear brothers who need deliverance from and who are still captured by the rogue leadership in the old congregation. God is able to clear and deliver truth seekers and dedicated brothers to the Restoration of the church and Israel.
Of course we continue to pray for the sick and those who need special blessings in issues of health, well-being, and work related problems.
Please continue to pray for Yuda. He had minor surgery on his back and will have to have a bigger surgery next month. Pray for Zvi and Sara, Tania, Ludmila in Jerusalem and also for Ludmila in Moscow, Miriam, Zvi D., David S., and Martha his wife.
In Brazil please continue to pray for Paulo. I have noticed that when we pray for him and he knows it he feels better. Add Clara and Frank a fine young family in Brazil who needs divine healing and blessing. Please Pray for Maria (Marcelo’s mother) and his father in your prayers. Maria is Marcelo’s mother who prayed for his salvation 20 years until Marcelo heard the clarion call of the Lord.
In the United States we keep on praying for our dear sister Ruby in Oklahoma, Michael Knezevich in Portland, and for Danah and Noaam our daughter and granddaughter in California, and for Liz in Georgia, and for Mike in California. Marcia’s father and mother in East Tennessee also need your prayers.
In Finland, we have Anna, a very dear old sister who is really in bad shape and needs God’s mercy for herself and for her family. Anna is one of the pioneers and original prayer warriors for Israel in Finland. She is one of the strongest Finish women that I know, but now she is old and sick and falling and needs the mercy of God. Please also pray for Anna’s daughters and granddaughters. The whole family needs healing and protection from God’s mercy. Also pray for another sister in Finland called Anna-Majia. Tim Tucker is a living miracle. He has been sick with A.L.S. for over 30 years and we believe it is by the grace of God. Please keep Tim in your prayers. Near 50 years ago Tim was able to annualize the situation in the United States and also in the Middle East and foresee the events that are happening now. History has a simple formula – what is what is going to be. Of course King Solomon already said this in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Pray our dear brother Raymond and his family and his work in Singapore.
Pray with us for the following dear brothers and sisters in Japan: Pastor Curita in Tokyo, and the husband of Yumi, and Sadako San, Shoko San, Takeo Sensei and Tomoko San all in Japan.
God will bless you for praying for the wellbeing of brothers whom you don’t know personally. This is really the most important way to realize the unity and demonstrate the power of the Body of the Messiah down here on Earth. Please keep your prayers for Israel.
Blessing on all of you who pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and pray for Netivyah and the Roeh Israel Congregation in Jerusalem. God be with you and answer all your prayers.
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First-Nation Christians Look to Israel for “Inspiration”
The Norway House, a Christian Cree community of some 6000 on the shore of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, has just brought a group of their youth to Israel for the third time in five years.
In April 2012, the community’s Youth Leadership Development Mission got their first taste of Israel. Speaking back then to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, chief of the Cree Nation Ron Evans explained what he as leader of this initiative was hoping to accomplish. “The objective is to help develop leaders among First Nations youth. I visited Israel for the first time last year (2011) and I was overwhelmingly inspired,” remembered Evans.
The Cree elder saw many similarities between the two peoples. “The Jewish people are the historic, indigenous people of Israel. For Canada’s First Nations, Israel’s story demonstrates how an ancient people can maintain their heritage while embracing the modern world, and in so doing achieve self-determination.”
Shelley Faintuch, the director at the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg who helped Chief Evans make his first connections in Israel, was also enthusiastic. “The future of Canada’s First Nations depends on building the next generation of ambitious, dynamic and innovative First Nations leaders,” Faintuch told JTA.
The experiment was apparently a solid success. In February 2016, on the eve of their third trip, Evans told the Canadian Jewish News that his community was learning a great deal “by looking through the lens of Israel’s inspiring story. Israel is first and foremost the land of the heritage of the Jewish People, who have achieved self-determination in a modern democracy and diverse state.” The Cree leader admired how the Jews had recovered their roots after thousands of years. “Those of us from First Nations communities can appreciate the fascinating balance between modern and ancient that we see in Israel, and especially the sense of connection to the land of one’s ancestors.”
The spiritual kinship with Israel created by the Cree community’s Christian faith was an extra incentive. Evans noted that because of their knowledge of the Bible, “a visit to Israel will resonate more with my people than a trip to a theme park such as Disneyland.” Each year, along with their experience of modern Israel, the First-Nation youth tour the world-famous sites and archeological finds from both Jewish and Christian history.
This year’s mission focused on Israel as the “start-up nation,” a nickname acquired by the country’s global leadership in high-tech, medicine, water recycling and other entrepreneurship. “We want to see what we can learn from Israeli innovation,” Evans explained, adding that ideas for economic cooperation would also be explored.
When asked about safety concerns, he responded that those worries evaporated pretty quickly. “In the beginning there was fear about war and violence.” But the first trip went so smoothly, Norway House had no trouble recruiting a group the following year. The 2016 mission was filled to capacity, reported Evans, and now other First-Nation leaders are asking him how to organize similar trips.
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Intercressors For Israel Prayer Points – February 26, 2016
Intercessors for Israel seeks to raise up a prayer army in and for Israel. Though we are burdened to teach about and stimulate prayer in the lives of individual believers and in local congregations, our primary calling is to intercede before God in behalf of the people and Land of Israel, and to do our part in the battle to prepare the way for the return of the Lord.
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WATCH: What’s it like to be a Believer in the IDF?
There’s a growing number of Messianic soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces. They boldly provide the light of Messiah in some very difficult circumstances. Kehila News Israel will soon be publishing the results of a survey we did among Messianic soldiers, and following that some exclusive interviews with some soldiers, in which they share different experiences they have encountered as believers in the IDF.
Below is a new video by Hananya Naftali, a medic in the IDF, who is passionate about God, sharing the truth about life in Israel and his experiences in the Israeli army. Check out his YouTube channel for more great videos he’s produced.