In the footsteps of the first congregation in Israel
Ten days after Yeshua’s ascension into Heaven, on the Feast of Shavuot also known as Pentecost, His followers gathered in one place in Jerusalem.
Right then and there they received the Holy Spirit and history was changed forever.
Not long after this supernatural event the first community of believers was established in the Holy City.
Yeshua’s disciples were united first and foremost by their God-given mission and vision.
However, the end of chapter 2 in the Book of Acts lays out some defining aspects of how they led their lives.
The passage demonstrates that congregational life was not centered on a weekly meeting, but it functioned more like a family, whose members took part in each other’s lives, serving one another in love.
This standard has been adopted to be the foundation of the Ahavat Yeshua congregation in modern day Jerusalem,
Gathering regularly for worship and prayer, the members of the congregation are concerned also about deepening their relationships, to share struggles and victories, and to study the Word together.
The Ahavat Yeshua (Love of Jesus) congregation was founded on the Feast of Shavuot in 2006, in pursuit of God’s presence and the manifestation of signs and wonders that would soften hard hearts and draw Israelis in to be able to recognize that Yeshua as their Messiah.
Local leaders and founders of the congregation, Asher and Betty Intrater together with Eddie and Jackie Santoro became the first pastors.
Following the pattern of Acts 2, they see the role of the congregation to be ushering Yeshua’s return to reign in Jerusalem by fostering, in unity, an indigenous revival.
Like that first Jerusalem congregation two thousand years ago, Ahavat Yeshua brings together Jews from Israel and the nations, as well as many non-Jews who have come to Jerusalem from around the world and regularly attend the congregation.
The community’s name was chosen to reflect the heart of their ministry – to see Yeshua’s love increasingly manifested as the congregation grows in members and maturity.
Twelve years later, the congregation continues to stand for the simple and direct sharing of the gospel, training disciples, and building altars of prayer and small groups.
It strives to be a base for apostolic and prophetic ministry in the land of Israel.
Learn More: ahavatyeshuajerusalem.org
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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Over 1000 Japanese believers gather to hear Bible teaching from a Jewish Perspective
There is a vibrant body of believers in Japan who are studying the Bible from the Jewish perspective and have a love for the Jewish people and Israel! They are associated with Harvest Time Ministries and recently, around 1,100 of them attended the 9th Harvest Time Ministries Second Coming of Messiah Conference held in Osaka(Oct. 31), Nagoya(Nov. 1) and Tokyo(Nov. 3) to learn from Messianic Rabbi Larry Feldman and his wife, Fran.
A Japanese Pastor Meets an American Messianic Jewish Scholar in the Philippines
In 1989 Pastor Kenichi Nakagawa, the founder and leader of Harvest Time Ministries, met Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, the founder of Ariel Ministries, at a conference in the Philippines. This was a turning point in Pastor Nakagawa’s ministry. He comprehended that Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s teaching of the Bible from the Jewish perspective was the approach he must learn and share with the Japanese people so he dedicated himself to relearning how to teach the Bible and laid out the philosophy and principles that have since guided Harvest Time Ministries.
Philosophy of Harvest Time Ministries
We teach and comprehend the Bible from the Jewish perspective. Based on a thorough understanding of the time, culture, and context, we interpret the Bible using the literal grammatical-historical method.
There is a huge gap in time, culture, and geography between the Bible’s authors and us. The meaning of something that would have been easily understood by those living at the time of writing is now difficult for us in the 21st century to comprehend. For that reason it is essential for us to learn the historical background of the Bible.
Further, since the Bible was written in the context of Jewish culture it is necessary to have knowledge about the manners, customs and languages of that time.
Why is Harvest Time Ministries so passionate about teaching the Bible?
Harvest Time Ministries believes in the power of the Word and understands Japanese culture. There is a long history of the gospel being proclaimed in Japan with the percentage of Christians remaining stuck at around 1% of the population. This should not be interpreted to mean that Japanese will not accept the message of the Bible. There are some countries which have a national passion for singing. There are some countries where people love to do community activities. The approach to evangelism is determined by the characteristics of the people.
So, what do Japanese love to do? Japanese love to study! This is a characteristic of Japanese culture. In this context, Harvest Time Ministries approaches the Bible straightforwardly and focuses on seriously studying all aspects of it with the belief that understanding the Bible will bring about a true spiritual awakening to Japan.
Connecting Japanese Believers with the Messianic Community #1
Harvest Time Ministries has forged a strong relationship with Ariel Ministries and in 2001 began a major activity called the Fruchtenbaum Seminar. Each seminar was 2 days long with Dr. Fruchtenbaum teaching and Pastor Nakagawa interpreting and elaborating. Every year around 450 people attended.
Over the course of 15 years attendees learned about the following themes:
|2016||What is Dispensationalism?|
|2015||The Climax of Eschatology|
|2014||The Rapture, Great Tribulation, and Destiny of the Jewish People|
|2013||What the Bible teaches about the Millennium Kingdom|
|2012||What the Bible teaches about life after death|
|2011||What the Bible teaches about salvation|
|2010||Angelology, Satanology, Demonology|
|2009||Eschatology and Israel: A Study of Romans 9-11|
|2008||God’s Program of Salvation for Mankind|
|2007||Messianic Prophecies in the Old Testament|
|2005||The Life of Messiah from the Jewish Perspective|
|2003||John’s Book of Revelation|
|2002||The Eight Covenants of the Bible|
|2001||The Historical Unfolding of the Abrahamic Covenant|
Connecting Japanese Believers with the Messianic Community #2:
Harvest Time Ministries Second Coming of Messiah Conference
In 2010 a second major activity, the Harvest Time Ministries Second Coming of Messiah Conference was started to support the faith of Japanese believers who are anticipating Messiah’s return. Its aims are to ignite a spiritual awakening in Japan, to connect with the Messianic community and pray for the salvation of the Jewish people and to prepare for the Second Coming of Messiah.
The conference has had a distinguished list of speakers from the Messianic community addressing the following topics:
|The time of the salvation of the Jewish people is near – now, the prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled one by one before our eyes-|
|8||2017||Eitan Bar||Jewish evangelism in the Internet age|
|7||2016||Irving Salzman||An Orthodox Jew who met Messiah shares his views about eschatology|
|6||2015||Mottel Baleston||From the Garden of Eden to the new heaven and new earth|
|A Jew and an Arab who know Christ|
|The gospel revealed in the 5 books of Moses|
|Kanzo Uchimura’s ministry concerning the Second Coming of Messiah and today’s Messianic Jewish movement|
|2||2011||Noam Hendren||Satan’s strategy and God’s grace|
|1||2010||Noam Hendren||God’s plan of salvation for the world|
9th Harvest Time Ministries Second Coming of Messiah Conference
This year’s invited speakers were Messianic Rabbi Larry Feldman of Chosen People Ministries, who is currently serving Shuvah Yisrael congregation in Irvine, California and the President of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America and his wife, Fran.
Fran Feldman opened the conference by sharing her testimony of growing up in a Jewish home and how first her brothers, then her mother and finally she and her father came to faith in Messiah Yeshua. Hiroshi Nakagawa of Harvest Time Ministries USA interpreted for her. Her story resonated with many of Japanese believers who are also 1st generation believers in their family.
Rabbi Feldman spoke on:
- Presenting G-d’s Plan For Israel From the Jewish Scriptures (Tanach),
- G-d’s Promises to Israel, Presenting Messiah From The Jewish Scriptures (Tanach), and
- A Biblical Basis for Jewish Evangelism
Rabbi Feldman says this about their experience:
This was the first time that Fran and I came to Japan and we were not sure what to expect but were very surprised and blessed by the entire trip. To begin with the ministry was wonderful. The three meetings in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo were very well attended. The worship was godly and spiritual. Samuel Kan’s music and singing was uplifting and encouraging. People were very receptive and diligent in their desire to learn the Scriptures. The Spirit of God truly seems to bring us all together and overcome any cultural differences. The whole trip was just a complete joy and blessing to my wife and myself. I look forward in the future to the ministry in Japan.
Views of the Participants
After the program, many participants wrote their impressions. These are some of the reasons people attended and are interested in Jewish evangelism.
- The 900+ messages on Harvest Time Ministries’ Message Station Internet site are interesting. Harvest Time Website: https://harvesttime.tv/
- Harvest Time Ministries teaches the Bible using the literal grammatical-historical method and from the Jewish perspective.
- Went on the Harvest Time Ministries’ Holy Land Tour and met Messianic Jewish believers in Israel.
- Had an experience with a Christian organization like Bridges for Peace
- Church prays for the salvation of Israel
- Interested in eschatology
Two responses highlight the need for and the fruit of Harvest Time Ministries connecting Japanese believers with the Messianic community through bringing teachers to Japan and going to Israel:
- Up until now I have not had a very good impression of Jews. My impression came from what I heard about the Palestinian problem and Jews being focused on wealth. This prevented me from loving them. But, I felt through experiencing today’s conference that God has given me an opportunity to repent. I personally know several Jews and will now pray for their salvation and happiness.
- I first learned about Jewish evangelism when I started listening to Pastor Nakagawa’s messages. Before hearing about it I had absolutely no interest in the Jewish people. Now I consider them to be precious. I pray from my heart for the salvation of the Jewish people. I have attended every Second Coming of Messiah Conference. Since I came to believe in the second coming of Messiah I live each day with a feeling of peace.
“White for the Harvest”
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.”
For the past 20 years Harvest Time Ministries has been inviting distinguished Messianic Bible teachers to Japan to give Japanese believers a first-hand experience of the Bible being a Jewish book and to have Messianic teachers get a first-hand experience of the support Japanese believers have for the Jewish people and Israel. It is appropriate to conclude this article with a word from Pastor Nakagawa about his experience doing this ministry and his expectations for the future.
The average Japanese considers the Bible to be a sacred book of a Western religion that is difficult to understand. But, once I started teaching people how to read the Bible from the Jewish perspective I saw more and more people understanding it.
Our ministry began with the vision: Bible Study will ignite a Spiritual Awakening in Japan. We now see this vision steadily being realized. A spiritual awakening in Japan is underway! We pray and ask for your prayers for the season of Messiah to come to Japan.
Daniel Eichhorst has lived in Japan for 35 years. He is currently teaching English at Tohoku University in Sendai. In 2015 he and his wife were baptized by Pastor Nakagawa and they are active in Harvest Time Ministries. They traveled to Israel with Pastor Nakagawa on the Harvest Time Ministries Holy Land Tour in 2016. They have also attended Ariel Ministries’ Camp Shoshanah in Keeseville, NY two times.
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Aliyah and Worship Conference in Malta
After boarding the wrong train, I had to catch a taxi toward the airport, but due to heavy traffic and a blocked train crossing, we had to find an alternative route. My driver’s name was Moshe so I told him, “You once parted the Red Sea so this should be easy!” We had a good laugh and I was able to return to joy, although a bit nervously.
Upon arrival at the airport a lady told me it was too late – the gate was closed! But another lady helped me rush through and I passed through the gate with 7 minutes to spare!
Then I felt the L-rd say so it will be with the Great Aliyah from the West. Some will hear “it’s too late” and give up. Others will persevere and come through with the gates closing as they exit. Others won’t come at all. So it will be when the L-rd roars from Zion and His children come trembling from the West.
The Aliyah conference on Gozo was filled with heavenly worship and prophetic words to build up the Body of Messiah and exalt the King of Kings. And I was in awe of how the L-rd had already spoken to so many people in prayer houses and churches throughout many of the Mediterranean islands and coastal regions to prepare the way for Aliyah from the West when the ships come through. This is so completely in alignment with the Word of G-d!
We don’t know all the details of how the Aliyah from the western nations will take place but we do know that the G-d of Israel is faithfully preparing the way in order to fulfill His last days promises.
Carolyn Margolin-Hyde was raised in an Orthodox Jewish synagogue near Chicago. She graduated from University of Illinois and as an RN she practiced nursing for many years. After making Aliyah Carolyn served as worship leader at K’tsir Asher, The Harvest of Asher Congregation, in Akko, and then led worship at Kehilat Poriya, a congregation near Tiberius. She has written and recorded many worship songs in English and Hebrew and her worship CD’s include “Just Like Joseph” and “The Latter Rain”- contemporary worship CDs; “Deep Calls to Deep” – a soaking CD; and “Fine Linen” – worship with a touch of the blues.
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An open letter to Paul Wilbur
On September 25, 2018 Paul Wilbur gave a concert in Jerusalem, created a live recording, and touched many hearts. I was there. He’s been doing this for some 40 years, and we’ve been friends for 37 of those years. I’ve written him this letter to express what happened inside me during the event.
You stood before a packed house at the Pavilion, backed by top notch musicians and singers. The air was charged, electric. Then you plunged in, unhesitating, boldly welcoming the Lord to return to the City of the Great King. And as never before, I got it. Anticipating Yeshua’s coming is the heart of your message. How appropriate, especially for this time in history. I realized anew that it’s this anticipation that forms and defines us. “Adonai, Adonai. Every knee will bow to you Lord most High…”
I’m so proud to see you in this place the Lord has given you, to see your years and years of sincere, all-out praise. It’s a place of much influence, giving glory to God in earnest—inspiring multitudes.
Wow! Remember our Friday afternoons at Beth Messiah, those pre-Shabbat prayer times 35 years ago. We’d groan (well, mostly Asher) and jump and yell and fall on our faces before the Lord as He visited our hunger with His presence. There were prophetic moments then—longing to be in this land. And now here we are!
Hearing these songs that move my heart, I’m newly aware of the stark contrast we live with. On one hand there’s the current day-to-day struggle—to see lives transformed by Yeshua’s death-busting atonement. And on the other hand—His coming reign. I’m lifted, strengthened, freshly inspired by the Lord’s voice through yours. The King is coming so soon. And that makes all the difference.
“You’ve captured our hearts…My soul is thirsting for you…the touch of your love.” These lyrics are of intimacy. Mr. Wilbur (as we called you back in the congregational elementary school where we taught together in 1981-84) you remind us of the exceedingly personal dimension of our relationship with the Messiah. It’s not academic. It’s intimate. Through your worship, the transparency of your passion for the Lion who is a Lamb, I am brought back, restored to tenderness.
It’s so tough to stay tender in this harsh world, especially in Israel. This worship experience is a respite from battle. “Your love is better than life…My soul is satisfied with the richness of you.
When you sing about the longing for Yeshua to come it feels as if you are expressing the truest longing for all of us. “Who was and Who is and Who is to come.” As you did back at Beth Messiah Maryland in the 80s—you continue to inspire us to worship the Lord with all our heart. What a journey! I will ever love and deeply appreciate you.
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, November 8, 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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France was the “only African team” in the recent World Cup final, according to Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto – literally half the French team had African origins! Is their success an indicator of Africa rising, or merely an expression of the challenges many Africans in the West face in reaching the highest levels in anything except sport?
Where It All Began
Revive Israel supported a recent event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the political capital of Africa and home to the African Union Headquarters and UN Economic Commission for Africa – and the likely home country of the Biblical Queen of Sheba and base of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8.
The aim of the Africa-Israeli Restitution Forum was to address root causes of some of Africa’s problems. The core concept was that the sins of Egypt against the Jewish people (Ex 1:8-14) have never been repented of by Africa collectively, bringing a curse – ultimately over not only Egypt but also all Africa by extension, just as Achan’s sin brought a curse on all Israel (Joshua 7:20). These curses of Egypt, slavery, despotic leadership and child murder, have therefore been afflicted upon Africa, hence a long history of slavery, often tyrannical leadership and high infant mortality.
Curses Turned to Blessing
The broad African representation in the forum repented on behalf of their Egyptian precursors, asking forgiveness of the Jews present, and seeking to align themselves with Israel. There was also deep reconciliation between Ethiopians and Ethiopian Jews, as well as forgiveness towards the white race for the sins of colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism and slavery of the black race. Also present were tall and dark-skinned Jews of the South Sudan/West Ethiopia Neur tribe (Isaiah 18:7), whom God touched deeply.
Several interesting events took place around the same time:
- During the forum, a peace treaty was signed between warring tribal factions who have killed tens of thousands in nearby South Sudan, including many Neur. (See here).
- The day we left Ethiopia, an event was held for over 120 members of the Ethiopian parliament, strongly encouraging them to move their embassy to Jerusalem.
- Newly elected Christian President of Ethiopia and Nobel Peace Prize contender, Abiy Ahmed (see here), normalised relations with neighbouring Eritrea, after decades of bitter warring and the deaths of tens of thousands. (See here).
Beginning in Egypt
So, are there any Biblical indicators of a new dawn for Africa? There is a Biblical pattern of Israel entering Egypt in time of difficulty: Abraham in time of famine, along with Jacob and Joseph; Yeshua, Mary and Joseph were political refugees, and in the future it seems that Yeshua will enter Egypt in time of difficulty (Is 19:1) and as part of his strategy for reclaiming planet earth (Rev 1:7), en route to Israel. This Biblical pattern is encapsulated in Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I called my son”.
So why Egypt? In Isaiah 19:25, Egypt receives an extraordinary title from God: “Egypt My people”. Why? We need to look back to Genesis! The firstborn son of Abraham was Ishmael, son of an Egyptian mother and husband of an Egyptian wife. God told him that he would be the father of “a great nation” (Gen 17:20) – note NOT “nations”, and given his ethnicity and proximity, this is surely Egypt! In Biblical culture, the lead and protecting role of the elder brother is very important – therefore the elder brother according to the flesh should physically protect and bless the younger, Isaac – son of the promise.
A New Africa
Psalm 68:31 was a guiding Scripture for the Africa-Israeli Restitution Forum:
“Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God”.
Just as the remnant of Egypt is entering a new alignment with the remnant of Israel, so Ethiopia is called to lead Africa in blessing Israel, releasing an end-time wave of blessing across the continent. Could it be that we are about to see reversal from slavery, corruption and dictatorship, a revival overflow from Africa? Could a continent that spent centuries serving other nations now rise up to become first among equals? Let us pray together for Africa to be released into the fullness of her destiny in the Lord!
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, October 31, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Joni has worked in education and management and has been a writer for Kehila News Israel since 2016. He holds an MBA, as well as teaching qualifications. He lives in Israel with his family.