Not alone – testimonies from Messianic youth conference
The passage from childhood to adult life is strewn with jagged obstacles. Dobson compares it to a wide, calm river that suddenly turns into narrow, deadly rapids. This phase of life that we call “the teenage years” is challenging in any 21st century culture–with its waves of sewage instantly available on every smartphone – but especially now for youth trying to live as disciples of Yeshua. And it’s even more challenging in Israel. Why?
A kid who believes in Yeshua in Israel is simply out of place. You see, the concept of pluralism in matters of faith and religion is not so prevalent here. While it’s true that there are many dimensions to the way Israeli Jews interpret and practice Jewish life, believing in Yeshua (Jesus) is not yet considered a viable option. So, to identify one’s self as a Messianic Jew in high school or junior high creates an unwanted barrier that has social consequences at an age when acceptance is so vital.
With that background, you can appreciate the surprise reported by Sarah, one of our young counselors, at the conclusion of our recent Hanukkah National Youth Conference, attended by more than 80 teens:
“Muriel was struggling. She was labeled an ‘outsider’ by her schoolmates and thought she was the only believer in her school. However, just a few hours after we prayed and asked God to send her another believer, she met a new friend at Katzir and it turns out that they attend the very same school!”
Here are a few more testimonies from youth whose lives were touched during the Katzir (Harvest) youth conference this Hanukkah:
Esther (18): “The very first night the Lord really touched me. I couldn’t push more praise out of me. I was exploding inside with the love of God.”
Eli (counselor): “This was my first time at Katzir. The first evening during the praise time, I began to feel the Lord’s presence SO strongly. It was one of the deepest experiences ever for me in Israel. I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of Katzir.”
Elior (17): “I didn’t know anyone. I felt out of place. But you received me and I found new friends. It was just such a blessing.”
This is what we beseech God to do during these camps. We are so grateful for the intercession and financial support that make these events possible. Reaching young Israelis at this age will change our nation.
This article originally appeared in Oasis Volume 17, Issue 2, 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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Feeding the hungry and praying for the sick in Tel Aviv
There are around four million residents in Tel Aviv and the cities that surround it. This area includes those who are religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, poor and rich, healthy and sick.
In the southern area of Tel Aviv, which is just a short drive away from our congregation, Tiferet Yeshua, there is a concentration of some of the most desperate people in the nation. In the neighborhoods that surround the central bus station there are prostitutes, drug trades and many homeless people. You will find alcoholics, drug addicts, migrant workers from Africa, sick people and beggars.
Love through Action
This is also where Tiferet Yeshua wants to influence for the better. Yeshua the Messiah said: “The poor you will always have with you.” (Mark 14:7). We understand, as a congregation that as part of the Israeli society, our strength is also measured by how we treat the weak and the poor; those who have nothing, but desperately need the love of God.
Our vision, as we’ve shared with our congregation, is: “Love God, love one another, and love Tel Aviv”. We thank God that ever since He gave us this vision; He’s done many great things through the members of the congregation.
In this article, I want to mainly present to you a single team (out of our entire congregation) that serves this difficult area, southern Tel Aviv. I call this team “The Latins.” They are all Spanish speakers who came to Israel from the southern and central parts of America. They aren’t rich and they work very hard to provide for their families.
Every Friday, these “Latins” make big pots of food, bring bottles of juice and water, and with a lot of faith come to feed the hungry and pray for the sick of Tel Aviv. No matter if it’s sunny or raining, they will always be there for the hungry and weak.
You must understand that Friday evening, after our congregational gathering, is the time where people go to their homes to welcome the Shabbat together with their families. The stores are closed and there’s no public transportation. Only those who don’t have a family or who are homeless will be outside near the central bus station of Tel Aviv at this time of winter. It is incredible to me that there are people who are willing to give up their Shabbat dinner at home where it’s warm and comfortable, and go to welcome the Shabbat with the most broken of our population in the Tel Aviv area.
Serving is Contagious
These last few weeks, more and more people have joined “The Latins” in their service work. Once, the food we brought with us (five full pots) was gone in less than an hour! In addition, we gave away warm clothes, blankets, and even shoes to those who were in need, but the main idea here is to just love on them with the love of Yeshua; to pray for them, witness miracles with our own eyes such as healings of backs, legs and chronic headaches, and mostly the opportunity to share with them our beloved Messiah, while letting them read from the New Testament.
This is not an easy service for the community. We see a lot of difficult situations. We don’t always know who we’re going to see the week after, because we know that those who are addicted to drugs, die of overdose or other diseases. This is why it’s important for us to talk to them about Yeshua. We know, every week, that there are some people there who will probably hear the gospel for the first and last time. That it could be their last chance for salvation.
This article originally appeared on Tiferet Yeshua, January 10, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Moti serves on the pastoral staff at Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv.
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‘Go forth’ – a unique discipleship approach for Israeli believers
If you enjoy reading the Bible while traveling throughout Israel, raise your hand! This is exactly what the organization Lech L’cha does on its discipleship programs for young Israeli believers.
With a passion for teaching the young in both age and faith in Yeshua, Alon Grimberg and Yochanan Stanfield established Lech L’cha, which means “go forth”, the very words God spoke to Abraham (Gen. 12:1). The organization has various training programs “for life and service” for young Israeli believers interested in deepening their study of the scriptures, academically and spiritually, providing guidelines for a healthy, faith-based lifestyle of serving the Lord.
What is Lech L’cha?
In the late 1980s, a young Israeli man studying at a Bible college in England, wrote to his friend back in Israel.
“We need a similar program in our small country – in our own language and that fits who we are,” he wrote. Twelve years later Lech L’cha fulfilled that vision, hosting its first group of students in March 2001.
The founders of Lech L’cha define the program as training for life and service and offer four program tracks.
The basic discipleship program includes a three-month study of scriptures, combined with trips around Israel, volunteering and meeting and fellowshipping with other Messianic believers. Learning takes place in a classroom setting but also alone, because the goal of the program is to provide personal learning habits in preparation for walking out one’s faith.
This program was developed to provide the framework and the space for young Messianic believers to get closer to God and to deepen their consciousness and knowledge of the scriptures. As part of this program, participants also learn about living together in a group, the nature of the service and volunteering and, above all, the importance of solitude with God and his Word.
“Young people are challenged to let God work deeply in their hearts. It is a time of spiritual journey experiences and lessons change lives,” the website says of this specific program. It is open for students ages 19 to 27.
The first graduating class consisted of three participants and two staff members. Now the program has grown so much that there are two graduates’ groups per year, instead of one.
Another program, Shaliach (envoy) to Africa, sends delegations to East African countries. Shaliach includes learning and volunteering overseas, mainly in Uganda and Ethiopia. The motto of the program is from Isaiah 66:19: “They will proclaim my glory among the nations.” Its purpose is to help local congregations in spreading the gospel as well as volunteering, visiting schools, communities, orphanages and more.
Naturally, Lech L’cha felt compelled to include a special preparatory program for military service. Netzor (guard), in cooperation with Netivah Center, is a nine-day course aiming to prepare young Messianic believers who are facing the challenges of military service. It emphasizes spiritual and mental preparation. As part of Netzor, participants meet Messianic soldiers on active duty and get the chance to hear their testimonies and receive guidance for dealing with difficulties that may arise during military service.
In addition to these three programs, two more were added in 2016. Hetzim (arrows) is a new six-week program which prepares recruits to the IDF, and is also run in cooperation with Netivah. Young Israelis who are about to be drafted in the IDF, strengthen their walk with the Lord and develop their skills in teamwork and leadership.
Held for the first time in 2016, Hetzim was packed with tours, volunteering, study of scripture, lessons in history and geography, lectures, workshops on apologetics and leadership development activities, and more. The first group had 19 participants, some of whom indicated that this was a great opportunity to learn new things and to better prepare for military service.
Since learning volunteerism and giving to society is a great part of Lech L’cha’s vision, the organization launched a new opportunity of ministry in 2016, Ten (give). Within the Give program, students are offered the choice to continue for three to four weeks serving in various settings of Messianic organizations and congregations in Israel and participate in various voluntary activities in society.
The Vision: “Go and make disciples”
“Make disciples who make disciples who make disciples,” is Grimberg and Stanfield’s main vision.
As stated on the website:
We wish to train young Israeli believers toward a life of faith and service, whether they are called to serve as part of Messianic framework or not, when Yeshua is the center of all our actions.
Rachel (Rachely) Scapa, studied journalism at the Open University TLV under Yedioth Aharonoth's journalist Dudi Goldman. Rachel served as news correspondent for various radio stations abroad, including BBC 3 Counties and Voice of America, both in English and Portuguese, giving the best reports from Israel. Currently she has two radio shows - one in Portuguese, which she has had for more than 13 years, presenting News from Israel and the ME. In the other, in Hebrew, she presents Brazilian music, on an Israeli radio station. Rachely is also a columnist for a Christian newspaper in Brazil, distributed over the triple border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
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Members of Knesset forum honor Christians supporting Israel
The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus (KCAC) and the World Jewish Congress held its 11th Annual dinner at Jerusalem’s Waldorf Astoria last month to recognize and honor Christians who have shown their commitment to Israel and the Jewish people.
Robert Mawire received the Lifetime Achievement Award for decades of generous support of the Jewish state. Cary Summers received the “Night to Honor our Christian Allies Tourism Award” for his program Passages, which provides subsidized trips to Israel for the next generation of Christian leaders.
Mawire has been instrumental in encouraging and building support for Israel among Christians all over the world. In a recent interview with the Jerusalem Post, Mawire said: “The Jewish return to Israel is undeniable evidence that the Bible is true.”
“How could you love Jewish ancestors and not their descendants?” Mawire added.
Summers, who also serves as president of the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C., has visited Israel more than 100 times.
“This is a truly moving moment to be honored by a state and a people which I love so dearly,” Summers said. “I hope that programs such as Passages will continue to build deep and long-lasting connections between the State of Israel and the next generation of American Christians.”
KCAC works to develop communication and cooperation between the Knesset and International Christian leaders and aims to highlight the support provided to Israel and the Jewish people by Christians around the world.
“Christians have been our most tried and faithful friends over the last few decades,” Josh Reinstein, the Orthodox Jewish director of KCAC, told journalist Paul Calvert. “It is Christians who stand with Israel, not countries, today. This is because they put values and beliefs ahead of economic and political support.”
“The Knesset has opened its eyes and realized that these [Christians] are our best friends and we need to say ‘thank you’ for the work that they do,” he said.
In a separate interview, Shai Hermesh of the World Jewish Congress said he is happy that Jews and Christians have found a “common language.”
“I am so happy that we can talk together, share our thoughts, beliefs and values, and support each other. After these years of doing these events together we are not only friends and colleagues but also feeling like we are part of a family,” he told Calvert.
Both Reinstein and Hermesh, keenly aware of the persecution being suffered by Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, also spoke of the need for Jews to stand with Christians now.
“Even today it is more important for Jews to stand with Christians than for Christians to stand with Jews,” Reinstein said. “Unfortunately Christians are involved in a genocide right here in the Middle East and Africa, and no one is saying a word. It’s not enough for Christians to say ‘never again’ for the Jews: We also have to stand up for our Christian allies. It think we do a lot to that effect and we hope that more Christians would get involved.”
Hermesh echoed these sentiment.
“It is time for the Jews to support the Christians too,” he said. “Around the world Christians need a lot of support – and Jews and Israel should do almost everything in order to support them.”
Minister of Tourism Akiva Govrin and Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel both attended the dinner as well as International Christian Embassy Jerusalem Executive Director Jurgen Buhler and Bridges for Peace Director Rebecca Brimmer.
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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Young, busy mother makes time to serve Holocaust survivors
Letter from Alona
My name is Alona. I am one of ten people who visit and serve the Holocaust Survivors in Haifa, Israel. Leaders from my congregation told me about the opportunity to work with Holocaust Survivors and I felt in my heart to serve in this area.
For the past three years, our group has been distributing food to Holocaust Survivors in Haifa. We visit them in their homes and sometimes they meet us somewhere to receive our gifts. We give them bags of food such as sugar, flour, oats, oil, etc., or a food voucher so they can buy whatever grocery items they need.
Many of the Survivors do not need money or food as much as they need attention. There are many who are willing to receive prayer from us. When we visit them, we sit and talk and they share their stories about their lives. We have heard countless, chilling stories about the people who helped these Holocaust Survivors escape during the war.
I remember one particular story about a grandfather who shared how he lived in a church warehouse. A Priest hid him there and cared for him because he was worried about his safety. During the three years of hiding in that warehouse, the Priest taught him many things from the Bible about God. A life-long bond formed between them. The grandfather/survivor is forever grateful to that Priest for saving his life.
The work we are doing with the Survivors is so satisfying. Sometimes it’s difficult because they are not always open to us because they are afraid. Its takes time and then they start to talk when they feel safe with us. We love our work and we are so happy to work with them from our hearts.
The survivors say that they are very surprised and thankful for the help. At first, they thought we were sent from the Israeli government to serve them. But we explained that we come in the name of the Lord, not out of duty or even payment, but with love from our hearts and the gifts we give them are from God.
Please pray that we will have wisdom regarding how to speak with them and to know how to get through to their hearts. Every person is unique and special, so we really need wisdom to know how to reach each one. Pray also that we will have more people to help us serve.
With love in Messiah,
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.