When Return Ministries met several years ago with leaders in Beit Zera to discuss procuring the inactive facility in the kibbutz, they learned that the other Israelis had already tendered an offer for the same facility with the same goal in mind, to help people settle in the land.
LISTEN: Interview about Christmas in the Holy Land
Elias Kasabre speaks about what Christmas is like in the Holy Land.
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Yuval School of Music and Arts – Teaching the heart of worship
The Yuval Messianic School of Music and Arts (YMA) in Jerusalem is a worship center where students of any age or income can learn music and art with the aim of enhancing their skills to glorify Yeshua and grow closer to him.
Backed by the King of Kings Community and the Jerusalem Assembly in addition to other Messianic congregations and organizations, the school goes out of its way to raise scholarship funding for those who cannot pay tuition fees. Indeed, due to a firm “never say no” policy, and with the help of donors, Yuval’s fees themselves are set at half the actual cost of a lesson or course.
Founded in 2010 by Messianic musician Alex Atlas and by Yuval Director Irit Iffert, the school’s name itself witnesses to the vision its leaders have for it. Appearing at Genesis 4:21, Yuval is the name of the first musician mentioned in the Bible. The word yuval also appears at Jeremiah 17:7-8: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river (yuval).”
“People can come and develop the gifts that God gave them. They can put their roots into the living water of Yeshua, grow and bear fruit for the glory of God,” Iffert told KNI.
An exceptionally gifted and published Messianic musician herself, Israel-born Iffert explained that “in learning to play an instrument, sing, paint, draw or do drama, our students discover not only how to do so with excellence but also how to do so with the right heart.”
While a person may sing or play an instrument well, they may not actually be worshipping the Lord through their music.
“We place a lot of emphasis on developing the heart of worship that is focused on God alone,” Iffert said. “This starts with a small click inside that decides: ‘It’s all about Yeshua. It’s about loving Him, adoring Him. It’s not about me.’ This is true worship.”
In teaching the heart of worship Yuval also organizes seminars, conferences and special events for specific groups such as singles, “Golden Age” 60 years and older worshippers, teenagers and women. Iffert explained that the teaching staff is also instrumental in developing true worshippers.
“Our teachers are believers that come from all over Israel well as from local congregations,” she said. “They are skilled professionals – and they have the right heart for God.”
The school premises were recently renovated and expanded to include a lower floor in its building unit. There is now additional classroom space and a welcoming lobby area where students from diverse denominations, nationalities and congregations can gather to “hang out.”
Also highly gifted and published in Messianic worship music, Yuval co-director Jael Kalisher told KNI that the Yuval team helps with discipleship as well.
“Our younger students feel safe here,” she said.
“We are not their youth group, we are not their congregation and we are not their parents. We don’t have any formal authority over them,” Kalisher continued. “So they feel free to ask us a lot of questions, to share and to be transparent. We are transparent with them as well — and this is important as transparency can be difficult to find in our communities.”
“Through Yuval we can provide so much more than weekly classes,” Kalisher said. “It’s discipleship that happens very naturally and we love it.”
For more information on the school or for upcoming events, email Yuval at firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcoming Events at Yuval
Dec. 14: Golden Age worship evening
Dec. 18: Single Ladies worship
Jan. 11: Young Adults worship evening
Jan. 18: Kids’ worship
Jan. 24: Youth worship evening
Feb. 26: Purim Party (everyone invited)
March 8: Women of Worship
“His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who
play stringed instruments and pipes.”
“Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.”
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
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Israeli ministries encourage adoption, fostering among believers
“Partnering with the Orphan Shabbat (OS) initiative is quite new for us,” Chad Holland, leader of KKCJ, told KNI. “We had been talking with the OS leadership for a while and this year we fully participated in holding our own Orphan Shabbat for the first time.”
As part of the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), the Orphan Sunday project calls believers to stand for the orphan and answer God’s call to help them. One Sunday in November is set aside every year for participant congregations everywhere to hold events and presentations drawing attention to the word wide need for believing adoptive and foster parents. Because most Israeli congregations have services on the Sabbath, this special day was coined “Orphan Shabbat” in the land.
When Jodi Tucker, the international director of Orphan Sunday, contacted Holland about a partnering with KKCJ, she found someone for whom the issue of adoption was deeply personal and important.
“Although we had three children of our own at the time, my wife and I always had a heart to adopt as well,” Holland explained. “When we had trouble getting pregnant in the last few years we did some heavy research on adoption. We also registered with two different agencies, including a worldwide organization that oversees adoption between countries.”
However, adoption in Israel can be a difficult and drawn out process involving rabbinic influence and with no guarantee of success.
As they did their research the Hollands understood they would be unable to adopt a Jewish baby as they are not orthodox. They therefore looked into adopting internationally.
“We did all the classes to adopt children and then narrowed down the countries that were available to Israelis. At that time (18 months ago) Israel only allowed adoption from Russia and Serbia,” Holland said. “We thought we would love to have a Russian or Serbian child and we pressed on.”
The Hollands hired a lawyer, met with an inspector and did everything necessary. However, they ran into one final barrier.
“Our lawyer said there was a problem as we have dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship,” Holland said. “We had to check with the American government to see which countries they would allow us to adopt from. Unfortunately, the 13 countries from which the U.S. allowed adoption did not include Russia and Serbia — the only countries that were allowed by Israel.”
Having reached this impasse Holland learned that local ministry leaders Evan Levine and Rebecca Rikhi of the HaTikva Project had been independently considering how to encourage adoption and fostering among the believing community.
When Holland introduced Levine and Rikhi to the Orphan Shabbat initiative, the triangle of partnership between KKCJ, Orphan Sunday/Shabbat and HaTikva Project was complete.
“At HaTikva we are working to actively encourage, recruit and equip families to adopt and foster,” Rikhi told KNI. “The ‘equipping’ entails a six-week training course that are we putting together to prepare families to receive a new child into their home, providing tools and methods to deal with both the joys and challenges that will come.”
“Once a child is placed with a ‘HaTikva Family,’ we will provide ongoing support of an on-staff social worker, a network of support families, congregational support and financial support as deemed necessary,” Rikhi said.
Holland adds: “The system is broken as we have found. So when Evan and Rebbeca told me HaTikva Project was researching how to streamline the process and find a better path for families to adopt, I told them that we at KKCJ would be on board with them.”
At the KKCJ Orphan Shabbat Service on Nov. 12, Rikhi gave a presentation on the situation regarding orphans in Israel. Presenting an infographic video, she explained that there are some 367,000 at risk children in the land. Hundreds of children are removed from their homes every year, but there are only 20 emergency shelters in the country. Nevertheless, couples can wait up to five years to adopt a child.
Even though it may be difficult for believers to adopt rabbinically Jewish babies because of religious considerations, orphaned refugees and children with special needs are also not easily placed in Israeli families. There is a need: Several babies with Down syndrome are reportedly abandoned in Israeli hospitals each year — some of this encouraged by the hospital staff, according to an investigation done by Yedioth Ahronoth.
“This is where believers may truly be able to help,” Rikhi encouraged.
With this in mind, HaTikva Project has been meeting with national adoption and fostering agencies to discuss the issue.
“We have been upfront with them that we are Messianic, and have received a very positive and encouraging response to our offer of help,” Rikhi said.
For the immediate future, families that are interested in adoption and fostering in Israel are invited to attend the HaTikva Families Launch Conference hosted by King of Kings on Feb. 1 in Jerusalem. The discussions will aim to provide information, assistance and encouragement for those considering taking a vulnerable child into their family.
“There are millions of children all over the world that are in need of families,” Holland said. “As a community we want to be able to do something toward meeting that need. We are therefore a champion of this vision.”
You may register here for the February conference.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
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“We Three Kings of Orient Are”
How appropriate that on the recent “Giving Tuesday” I awoke thinking about why the first century believers banded together, pooling their resources so everyone would have enough to live on as they were witnesses of the faith of Yeshua… and how there is a similar dynamic going on in Israel today.
I have long believed that from the time of Acts 12 when Herod executed James the brother of John, and then also arrested Peter because it pleased the unsaved Jews, that the apostle Paul purposely set himself to establish churches giving to help the community of faith in Israel. The reason I believe that is because it was exactly the reason Paul and Barnabus traveled to Jerusalem where they became witness to the events that saw James was killed by Herod and Peter imprisoned. (Acts 11:26-12:3)
Paul, a former extremely zealous religious persecutor of the followers of Yeshua, understood full well that this was not a problem that was going away any time soon. I believe Paul also understood that it was no coincidence that by prophetic direction of the Holy Spirit through Agabus in Antioch, they were moved to collect an offering to be taken up to Jerusalem prior to a worldwide famine to be taken to help out the believers in Israel. It was going to be a worldwide famine, yet they were taking special measures to insure that the community of faith in Israel had provision to deal with it. That is not about favoritism, it was about necessity. (Romans 11:28)
It was no coincidence then that Paul and Barnabas took the offering to give to the community of faith in Jerusalem right at the time that two major leaders of the community were targeted by authorities – one to death, one to imprisonment. We are talking about Divine timing, not coincidence. (Romans 15:27)
Paul left that scene, heading back to the churches they were establishing among the Gentiles and from that point on a major feature of his teaching was that they were to set aside donations specifically for the support of the community in Israel. (2 Corinthians 8; 16:1 & 3; Romans 15:26-27, 2 Corinthians 9:12-13; Acts 20:4). The apostle was urging the churches to continue in the giving not because of the famine, but because the faith would always have the believers in Israel in a bind. He was absolutely correct.
To this day the Israeli ministries are financially squeezed. Only a few are funded well and most struggle. What the international Church does not recognize is that the support dynamic that the apostle Paul sought to set in motion from them to the Israeli community of faith, was an absolute necessity. It was then and it is now today. (2 Cor. 8:10-11) He often referred to the community of faith in Israel as “the poor.”
That is one of the great challenges of the Israeli congregations and ministries, for there are many poor among them. Sometimes that is because of the high cost of living in Israel, sometimes because of such a great number of immigrants with limited earning power, and sometimes it is just because of persecutions – religious pressures applied to employers and landlords against the believers.
Few Israeli ministries are banded together in order that the living needs of all are met and so that the ministries can continue to advance as they were in the Acts of the Apostles. The modern mindset considers that kind of sharing resources “communist.” I have actually heard it called “communist” by an American pastor famous for preaching a Prosperity gospel. But this isn’t communist ideology, it is merely a necessity required to take care of a large network of ministers who desire to produce more fruit in Israel than they could in standalone ministries. Our friends at Tikkun Israel International practice this. It requires a deep commitment to the work of the ministry and a solid trust of each other, not dictatorial communism.
We cannot view ministry in Israel as we do in most parts of the developed world. The experiential wisdom of ministry life in the U.S., for example, is vastly different from ministry life in Israel. In America most church staff are paid good salaries, in Israel people in ministry have to raise their own individual support for the privilege of being in the ministry. There are sacrifices most church ministries have no clue their Israeli counterparts are making. The hard fast rules that apply outside of Israel, are not always so in Israel.
Some churches have a hard fast rule that they don’t donate to website ministries. Big mistake in Israel. Like our friends at Kehila News Israel who are providing a high value resource to the whole community of faith in Israel by making them known – large or small, regardless of charismatic or non – to the international churches…and interested as-yet-unsaved Israelis in their Hebrew KehilaNews.co.il.
The same goes for numerous website-ministries in Israel that are in the Hebrew language that allow interested as-yet-unsaved Israelis to investigate the faith and hear the testimonies of Israeli believers in the complete privacy of their own homes and computers. You may have no idea what a powerful tool this is for the Medabrim or One For Israel sites. Or the internet TV and Radio ministries like Yeshuachai TV (Yeshua is Alive or Yeshua Live) or Radio Hadashot mi Israel (Good News from Israel).
The apostle Paul understood that the need for practical material support would be an ongoing situation, and that the solution would lie in the international churches recognizing this as their duty to support the community of faith in Israel. Is it any wonder that the devil is so dead set on keeping that understanding from dawning on the international saints that there are roadblocks to understanding thrown up everywhere from the traditional denominational churches to the charismatic independents.
Just for starters, consider how many Christian ministries teach that the apostle Paul made a huge “mistake” when he finally travelled to Jerusalem in order to deliver the donations that he had collected from all the churches that he was the apostle over. He was urging that collection for the community of faith in Israel for over 3 years and he intended to deliver it by the Feast of Shavuot, or Pentecost – a prophetic marker for the salvation of the Jewish people.
Yet many Christians preach and teach that Paul made a big mistake because he was warned every step of the way by prophets that it would end up with him imprisoned in chains. (Acts 20:23) That was no mistake in judgment! That was the measure of commitment that Paul had made to the cause of his journey to Jerusalem to deliver the contributions from the churches to the community of faith in Israel. Paul was committed to a Divine purpose, and I believe he had even consecrated himself to the purpose when he took a Nazarite vow in Cenchrea (Acts 18:18) and he fulfilled his vow in Jerusalem when delivering the church contributions to the Jerusalem ministry leaders. (Acts 21:20-26)
While in Israel, still en route to Jerusalem with representatives from the giving churches, listen to what Paul told the prophets and believers in Caesarea:
“After we had been there several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands, and said, “- The Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and hand him over to the Gentiles.'” When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we fell silent and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” Acts 21:10-14
It may be difficult to fathom, but we are seeing in Israel among many, similar high commitment, personal sacrifice and consecration in order to minister the Word of God and the life of Yeshua to Israelis.
Every week for the past 16 years I have featured Israeli ministries in my Weekly Summary of Prayer Requests from Israeli Ministries & Arrows from Zion that are every bit as worthy of the support of the churches as they were in the first century when the apostle Paul carried church donations to Jerusalem exclusively for the community of faith in Yeshua.
I hope you see it, and if you don’t, please study for yourself the things I have scripture referenced here. It has been my great honor for two decades to have seen these things from God’s Word, and to act upon that knowledge to the best of my ability. I hope you will too and “Giving Tuesday” is an excellent place to start.
We are like the Christmas carol, “We Three Kings of Orient Are bearing gifts we traverse afar” to lay our gifts at the feet of the body of Messiah in Israel so that Yeshua may continue to raise up His kingdom throughout Israel by the irreplaceable witness of local Israeli ministries and believers.
Donna Diorio is an American Christian who returned to her childhood faith in 1981 and looking around the church said, "This is great! but where are all the Jews?" That question was answered ten years later when she discovered a Messianic congregation in Dallas. Since 2001, her focus has been to provide a weekly summary of prayer requests from Israeli ministries via a subscription email list to prayer leaders on many continents.
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Christian ministry from Canada raises flags to commemorate Israel’s creation
During an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the adoption of United Nations Resolution 181 recommending the creation of an independent Jewish State, Dean Bye, international director of Return Ministries in Canada, led one of several tours of a former boarding school at Kibbutz Beit Zera.
“We from the nations…acknowledge that Israel is the foremost of the nations and that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of this nation,” Bye told an enthusiastic group of international visitors to the kibbutz in the Jordan Valley on Nov. 29.
Return Ministries, whose theme is Working Together for Israel, established a base in Tiberias in 2013 and, in 2016, began working with Israelis to restore a former boarding school for 350 students, grades seven to 12, that had closed in 2008. The formerly abandoned campus of approximately 15 acres is currently being transformed into an educational facility focused on helping young Israelis become established in the land. Christians from abroad come to serve while demonstrating an unconditional love of Israel and the Jewish people with no hidden agenda.
Last week, Bye presided over a ceremony in which 37 flags were raised. The goal is that 70 flags will one day surround the Israeli flag at the main campus entrance representing nations that are actively supporting the restoration project. Bye compared that number to the 33 U.N. member nations who originally voted to adopt Resolution 181.
“What did the kibbutz [leadership] do?” Bye asked his audience. “Did they go with this little Christian ministry or did they work with the organization sanctioned by the [Israeli] government… It would seem like it would be an easy answer. Well, they made a decision; maybe they would work together.”
As a result, Return Ministries committed to “go through the awkwardness of what it might mean as Christians and Jews working together.” They see their involvement in the cooperative effort as partial fulfillment of Christians’ biblical imperative to serve God’s people according to the words of the prophet Isaiah.
“When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob.” (Isaiah 14:1)
RETURN MINISTRIES COMMITTED TO “GO THROUGH THE AWKWARDNESS OF WHAT IT MIGHT MEAN AS CHRISTIANS AND JEWS WORKing TOGETHER.”
Now, in 2017, Return Ministries is the primary fundraiser responsible for renovations to the school’s once-abandoned structures and for establishing a welcome center for Christian pilgrims who come for short visits or three-month internships with the ministry.
Though its restoration is incomplete, the campus is currently home to several who have completed their military service in Israel, providing, in Bye’s words, “a soft landing” for those who have served in the land.
“Literally thousands of hours have been spent here by Christians,” Bye added. “Thousands of dollars have been placed here by Christians saying it is time we serve and honor these kibbutzim [who] established the beginning of the modern State of Israel.”
The campus tours last week were followed by the formal flag-raising ceremony beside the Jordan River in which Return Ministries “declared God’s message to the nations, that we are intent upon being the ‘true’ united nations supporting the restoration of Israel and the return of her people from the nations.”
Resolution 2017, presented at the closing of the ceremony, begins: “Representing our nations in a spirit of repentance and humility, we believe we have a biblical mandate to enter into covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Return Ministries’ commitment to that covenant (complete text of Resolution 2017 can be found here) includes prayer for Israel “day and night,” renunciation of all forms of replacement theology and the intent to fulfill God’s mandate by serving His people sacrificially, with unconditional love, declaring as Ruth did to Naomi, “Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried…” (Ruth 1:16,17)
We are intent upon being the ‘true’ united nations, supporting the restoration of Israel and the return of her people from the nations.
The ceremonies concluded with a closing blessing and fellowship beside the Jordan River. Return Ministries urges prayer that 70 nations will commit to pray, serve and fund the restoration of the center at Beit Zera. They invite interested parties to serve and learn as the campus restoration continues, to pledge to pray in support of Resolution 2017 and they welcome online donations from well-wishers.
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.