His kingdom came in our midst
What is the Gospel of the Kingdom?” we asked the 84 Israeli Messianic youth at the outset of this year’s Katzir (harvest) national, summer conference. Together we realized that when Yeshua said “Your Kingdom Come,” it was not mainly a reference to some future event, but an immediate prayer that His kingdom be expressed in the daily walk of the believer here on earth in very practical ways.
Our conference was held in the shadow of Mt. Tabor, which some believe was the Mount of Transfiguration. In the cool of each evening we gathered under the stars, led in praise and worship by the teens themselves. Then, into prepared hearts, speakers planted the vibrant seed of God’s word. The response of these young people, each one traveling through his/her own challenging journey of identity and faith, was remarkable. Some came forward, lifting their arms with abandon, signaling their surrender to the Lord. Others huddled together in small groups, praying with dedicated counselors.
Getting out of our comfort zone, to share the love of Messiah is essential for all of us. But for teens, who can get selfishly caught up in themselves, it’s crucial. So, during the camp one portion of the youth volunteered in senior citizen homes and in a home for disabled children. After seeing the challenging condition of those they served, more than one young person said “Wow! I’ve never been that close to someone so helpless. I didn’t think I could handle serving them, but once I began it was incredibly rewarding. I’ll never be the same.” The other group experienced an evening of open air outreach on the beach near Haifa. The teens themselves shared the gospel in creative ways using arts, music, and “treasure hunting” (a form of evangelism focused on hearing the voice of God to direct to specific people) to begin conversations with people. For many, it was the first time sharing their faith in public.
A Brick Wall
On the fourth day it felt like we hit a brick wall. After a long day of volunteering out in the hot sun, we came back to the camp grounds and faced some serious disciplinary issues. The morale of the group was deteriorating. So we decided to cancel the evening outreach and devote the entire afternoon and evening to seeking the Lord’s face. We needed God to show up; and He did! We experienced amazing breakthrough in the afternoon with many teens being touched very deeply. In the evening, the worship turned into a spontaneous time of moving testimonies and prophesying over the youth, something many of them are not exposed to very often. Chaim, our camp director, felt there was someone with pain in their leg who needed healing. He asked us to begin praying for anyone who had such pain or any other illness. Immediately after these prayers one of the young women came up with tears: “I’ve spent the last year and a half with pain in both legs. For the first time I’m relieved of all pain!”
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, October 2018, and reposted with permission.
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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Out of Zion, a unique new Bible
All great journeys begin with a vision.
An important journey that will soon conclude with the publication of the new Jerusalem Illustrated Bible has combined two visions: one of The Bible Society in Israel and the other of an accomplished Israeli artist and his personal insights into meaning, language and art.
A “faith-based organization,” The Bible Society in Israel has, for nearly 200 years, sought “to walk in accordance to the Word of God…to obey the law of the land,” and to “Speak to the Heart of Jerusalem,” by maintaining an accessible visitor center in the city.
“For out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem”
According to Victor Kalisher, general director of the Society, The Jerusalem Illustrated Bible is intended to be a family Bible that restores the Messianic Jewish heritage of the scriptures.
“We live in a time when for the first time since the time of Yeshua, there are full families of Jewish followers of Yeshua and even second and third generation,” Kalisher told KNI. “Most biblical illustrations were foreign to Jewish culture and therefore also not authentic. This of course helped in further separating Jews and Christians, Judaism and Christianity.
“The same is true for the Jewish names in the New Testament. For example, Yeshua was changed to Jesus, Miriam to Mary and even YHVH changed to The Lord. Not to mention the name James instead of Yaacov (Jacob).”
Kalisher explained that in this edition, the illustrations are authentic to the roots of the scriptures and is environmentally and culturally relevant to the times.
“Our desire is to encourage the Messianic body around the world and also to bless all believers of all backgrounds with…a Bible with authentic beautiful illustrations…aligned with the people and context to whom God has entrusted His Word,” he continued. “We included both Hebrew and English texts, side by side in this [new] Bible edition as the majority of Messianic Jews still live outside of Israel and we wanted them to connect with their Jewish-Hebrew roots.”
All the new Bible’s illustrations are the work of Tzur Hadassah resident, Elhanan ben-Avraham, a Messianic Jewish artist who, during his 40-year life in the land, has created art ranging in scale from a 45-foot biblical mural featured at Jerusalem’s YMHA – Beit HaNoar HaIvri – to delicate, letter-sized watercolors and minuscule line drawings.
“I sat back one day and mentally took stock of the biblical art I had generated since coming to live in Israel in 1979,” ben-Avraham told KNI. “It struck me, simply in terms of quantity, that I had drawn, sketched and painted enough pieces, based on so many different Old and New Testament accounts, to illustrate an entire Bible.”
Kalisher expects the Bible to be printed this year or early 2019.
“We trust and pray with you that this Bible will be a blessing to many people of all ages and to full families, to encourage them in their faith and support their growth in the knowledge of God and to His glory,” he said.
Kalisher added that the Bible Society in Israel needs financial support and would appreciate any individuals and organizations who would partner with them to financially back the project.
Cliff Keller lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife, Marcia after making Aliyah in the spring of 2011 from the United States. His most recent novel is a work of historical biblical fiction entitled The Lion or The Lamb: Samson Ruth and Salvation. Cliff also blogs at Standing by the Gate and has a writing website, goodStories.
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New Year in the Land of Promise – Hope for Israel feeds families
The Fall season is the most festive time of the year in Israel. Starting with Rosh Hashanah – the Biblical Feast of Trumpets, traditionally recognized as the New Year for Israel – the Jewish people enter into Days of Awe that conclude on the Day of Atonement. While the latter is a day of fasting, Rosh Hashanah tends to be the opposite: families come together to feast, where every dish is symbolic of God’s blessings.
There are many families in Israel who struggle to make ends meet and feel discouraged by not being able to celebrate the Biblical feasts in a traditional way.
It’s common for Israelis to share gifts and food baskets with their friends and family, similarly to families around the world who bless others on holidays like Thanksgiving or the Harvest Festivals. In Israel this holiday custom continues through Sukkot– the Feast of Tabernacles, just a week after Yom Kippur.
Through Operation Hesed, the Hebrew word for grace, Hope for Israel ministry delivers food packages to close to one thousand underprivileged households in Israel just in time for the holidays! The food distribution is conducted twice a year, over the High Holidays in the Fall as well as the Passover holidays in the Spring.
Hope for Israel ministry reminds us that in our efforts to build God’s kingdom, we cannot forget that a key part of honoring God is to also be gracious to those in need. It is an immense privilege to help our neighbors in need and to bring glory to God in the process.
When we help the people of Israel observe the Lord’s appointed times, we emphasize the prophetic significance of these holidays.
Who: Operation Hesed by Hope for Israel
When: Rosh Hashanah – the Feast of Trumpets & Pesach – the Passover
What: Food Supplies and treats
Result: Provision for almost 1,000 needy families
Partner with Hope for Israel to bless the Jewish families in need, helping them celebrate the Biblical holidays!
WHAT TO PRAY FOR?
● For every Israeli to have a place to celebrate the High Holy Days with a caring community;
● For the gifts to reach the right homes, so that many will see Messiah glorified;
● For an abundant outpouring of His Spirit during this special season!
HOW CAN I HELP?
● Support Operation Hesed financially by sending a gift to Hope for Israel ministry;
● Learn more about Hope for Israel and their ministry in the land
● Share about this project with your family and friends for greater impact!
To find out more about the mission and the work of Hope for Israel, click here.
This article originally appeared on FIRM and is reposted with permission.
FIRM (Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries) is a global fellowship of Biblically-grounded believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that bless the inhabitants of Israel—Jews, Arabs, and others—and the Jewish community around the world.
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Wife of Israeli citizen denied citizenship due to faith in Jesus
According to Israeli law, a foreign spouse of an Israeli citizen will automatically be granted citizenship if their partner is Israeli (Israeli Nationality Law of 1952.)
That is, at least in theory, regardless of their religious views:
“Israel will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitant irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture” (The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel \ 14.5.1948)
However, because the Ministry of Interior is under the control of Orthodox religious Jews who have great disdain for followers of Jesus, these rights are regularly withheld. This leaves Jewish believers in Jesus in a predicament where they must spend tens of thousands on lawsuits to take the matter to the court system, simply to receive what was rightfully theirs in the first place.
Andreas Stutz, an Israeli citizen who received an honorable accomplishment award from the President of Israel himself while serving in the Israeli Air Force (IDF), is one of our own college professors and is a Jewish Israeli believer in Jesus. Andreas married his Polish sweetheart and together they have two children (who are also Israeli citizens).
Almost two years ago, the Stutz family began the process of acquiring citizenship for his wife – as a wife and mother of Israeli citizens. The process which should have been quick and immediate became a long drawn out series of investigations. It certainly seems like this case was receiving unusual, more stringent process than others, and no doubt this is because of the fact that the Stutz family are believes in Jesus. This caused great distress and caused them to consider leaving Israel.
Since the beginning of the process, Andy’s wife started suffering from severe health problems that required urgent treatment. However, without citizenship, she cannot receive treatment in the Israeli healthcare system.
Last week, the Ministry of Interior invited the Stutz family to come and finally receive the Israeli identification documentation for his wife. Excited, the Stutz family went to the Ministry of Interior, only to find out that once again, their request had been rejected, and no reason was given.
”ONCE, AFTER MUCH INVESTIGATION AT THE NETANYA OFFICE OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERIOR, THE CHIEF OFFICER, A RELIGIOUS WOMAN, ADMITTED TO ME DIRECTLY THAT THE ONLY REASON WE WERE BEING HARASSED AND DENIED CITIZENSHIP, IS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN JESUS.”
Humiliated and exhausted from fighting, the Stutz family have no other choice but to uproot their kids from their lives and to leave Israel and go back to Poland – the country where Jews had to escape for their lives from only some years ago.
Please pray for them and SHARE this post until it will reach high places among governments and people of influence!
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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The Israeli Ministry of Interior – playing with matters of life and death
Since she found out her Jewish identity, Sara (not her real name) had a dream to immigrate to Israel. Sara was adopted at age 6, never knowing that her birth father was Jewish. It wasn’t until age 12, when she came across a photo of Anne Frank, that she couldn’t help but notice how similar she looked to her.
Only a few years later, when asked to do a family roots project at school, did Sara come across the fact that Jewish blood ran through her veins. That revelation led to her desire to return to her ancestral homeland. She asked a court to unseal her family records in order to prove her ethnicity and was miraculously granted an order to have her documents released to her for the sole purpose of obtaining citizenship in Israel – a rare decision by the American courts to corroborate her birthright.
Sara began to see the light at the end of the tunnel after a kind Ukrainian woman offered to help Sara, suggesting that she and her family leave the U.S. and try to immigrate from the Ukraine. However, even after obtaining this woman’s help, upon arriving in Israel, Sara was told by the Ministry of Interior that her documents were inadequate to grant her citizenship.
Although she says she has given them everything workers there have demanded, the Ministry of Interior continues to derail her and not advance her situation. After receiving a deportation notice, Sara realized she had no choice but to hire an attorney to help her get what was rightfully hers – full citizenship as a Jew in the country which promises the Right of Return to all natural born Jews.
It has now been three years, and the battle is still pending even with the assistance of a law firm dedicated to fighting these discrimination cases on behalf of Jews who are not followers of today’s rabbinic Judaism.
Sadly for Sara, this injustice of living in a country with no status has had repercussions. Her husband is unable to work legally and there were times when they barely had enough food to feed their family.
Even worse is the medical condition of Sara’s 12-year-old child who suffers from serious asthma attacks. One such attack last year landed him in the emergency room unable to exhale. His lungs swelled and the life-threatening position caused the hospital staff to seriously consider putting him on life support. Although he survived that particular attack, another one could be fatal.
Sara and her husband also cannot legally drive in Israel since driving without an Israeli license after one year is not permitted. Obtaining an Israeli license is not possible without a clear status, which they lack. This means that they rely on kind neighbors who, in the event of another life-threatening attack, will drive their son to the emergency room, if they are even available to do so.
At one point, Sara asked permission from the Ministry of Interior to return to the U.S. to obtain crucial medicine for her child but was denied this request. Now the temporary health insurance they had in Israel has chosen not to renew their policies without giving any reason for that decision. Although they might be able to secure another company, the $350 needed per month to pay for health insurance is expensive especially considering they are not able to work.
Even to insure their one child will cost $75 per month. This while they are still paying off their present hospital bill of $25,000. Sara pleaded with the judge who is overseeing their case highlighting the need for her child to receive a thorough examination and medicine, but the judge continues to side with the Ministry of Interior and has granted them 10 extensions for what were clearly bogus reasons designed to stall.
Sara desperately wants to remain in Israel with her family as full citizens, but the Ministry of Interior is playing an all too familiar game designed to wear them down both financially, emotionally and now physically. They have been doing this with other Jews who they deem to no longer be Jews by virtue of the fact that their faith does not line up with the only expression of what is considered to be the Jewish religion acceptable in Israel: Orthodox rabbinic Judaism. Even Conservative and Reform Jews cannot be married by their own rabbis in the State of Israel as they are not accepted as observant enough to qualify as legitimate alternative streams of Judaism.
In short, the system has been hijacked by a handful of extreme zealots who have a vested interest in weeding out all those they consider to be undesirable. This was the very thing done to their own people throughout centuries of host countries rejecting and persecuting God’s chosen. It is unthinkable that history would repeat itself in this way by those who suffered now perpetrating this horrible injustice upon the weakest among them, at the mercy of those who have arbitrarily decided that rabbinic faith trumps Jewish blood.
The Ministry of Interior is playing a dangerous game, both morally and legally. The Law of Return categorically states that individuals who have one Jewish parent or grandparent are eligible for citizenship. This does not stipulate whether one is an observant follower of rabbinic Orthodox Judaism.
With mounting legal and medical bills of over $30,000, Sara has all but given up.
Many others who were waiting for their rights to materialize and who, as a result of not being able to become a productive member of Israeli society, became weary and left humiliated, rejected and cast aside. That is already unconscionable.
But in the case of Sara, a Jewish mother, who will be responsible if tragedy befalls her child due to the illegal, outrageous and unethical persecution of Jewish-born Messianic believers? Who will admit denying this family their God-given right to a home with their own people? And who will justify, God-forbid, the death of another innocent Jew?
Chava Stein, the granddaughter of Jewish European immigrants to the U.S., made Aliyah to Israel in 1993. Married to an Israeli, they live in the center of the country.