Pastor Andrew Brunson’s relief after 656 days of imprisonment in Turkey
After 1 year and 9 months of imprisonment, Andrew Brunson was granted a compassionate release from Turkey’s prison to be under house arrest.
The local Turkish newspapers released the Izmir court decision on July 25. Brunson left the Kiriklar prison around 5:30pm in the afternoon and was taken to his home where his wife resides.
Brunson’s lawyer and family confirmed that Brunson will wear an ankle monitor and cannot leave Turkey. The pre-trial house arrest will last till the next hearing – October 12, 2018.
“The change in decision of the Turkish courts brought a wave of encouragement and relief to the community of Christian believers in the area,” said a believer in the Christian community. After the release, Turkish and Iranian believers gathered to worship at Resurrection Church in Izmir.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you,
and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven,
for they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Pressure from President Trump, his campaign, and US Senate’s talk of withholding loans to Turkey are contributing reasons to the external pressure on Turkey’s decision.
A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long. @RT_Erdogan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2018
We welcome long overdue news that Pastor Brunson has been moved from prison to house arrest in #Turkey, but it is not enough. We have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson, and call on Turkish authorities to resolve his case immediately in a transparent and fair manner. pic.twitter.com/So2A4hfinZ
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 25, 2018
The believing community are calling for prayers to a fair trial and sound judgement at the hearing on October 12, 2018, for justice to prevail, and for Andrew’s complete release.
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Israel plays key role in evacuating Syrian rescue workers
Despite hostile relations between the two countries, Israel led a multi-nation evacuation of hundreds of Syrian rescue workers from their nation, transferring them to safety in Jordan earlier this week.
The elaborate and harrowing operation involved the evacuation on July 21 of 421 (plus a baby born along the way) White Helmets, a group of volunteer rescue workers, and their families who feared reprisal by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
With Syria and Russia labelling the White Helmets foreign “agents” and accusing them of staging scenes of chemical weapons attacks in order to blame Assad, group members fear for their lives as the government reasserted control over much of the war-torn country.
“The civilians were evacuated from the war zone in Southern Syria due to an immediate threat to their lives,” the IDF said on Twitter. “The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel is an exceptional humanitarian gesture.”
Aside from regularly allowing wounded Syrians to cross the border to seek medical treatment in Israel, this is the first time the Israeli military has intervened in Syria’s eight-year war. Despite its help in this mission, Israel said it “continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict.”
The United States and other nations has asked for Israel’s help and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to let them cross through Israel after an appeal from U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The United States has contributed $30 million to the White Helmets, comprised mostly of civilian volunteers who respond to airstrikes and bombings mainly in opposition-held parts of Syria. After this evacuation, more than 3,000 members still remain in Syria.
Britain has also been a supporter of the White Helmets and conceived of the plan to get them out.
“The White Helmets have saved over 115,000 lives during the Syrian conflict, at great risk to their own,” Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, and Penny Mordaunt, the United Kingdom’s international development secretary said in a joint statement. “White Helmets have been the target of attacks and, due to their high profile, we judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection. We therefore took steps with the aim of affording that protection to as many of the volunteers and their families as possible.”
Jordanian media reported that the evacuees will remain there for three months until they are resettled to Canada, Britain and Germany.
The odds of the operation’s success were uncertain. Another 400 people meant to be evacuated that night failed to arrive at assembly points on time due to both the advancing Syrian forces and expanding Islamic State militants.
According to the White Helmets, their 3,000 volunteers are responsible for saving some 115,000 lives while one in every four of them have been wounded or killed.
Recently the White Helmets had become trapped in an area of south-western Syria near the border with the Golan Heights after an offensive by the Syrian military.
“In our minds, there were no guarantees this evacuation was going to happen,” one civil defense volunteer said.
On the night of July 21, the call went out and evacuees met at the border and crossed on foot. They were received by Israeli soldiers who checked their identities and transferred them in buses to Jordan.
Organizers of the operation are in touch with the volunteers who didn’t make it out, but pulling off another such evacuation is a long shot.
“A great many factors and partners had to interact in the right way,” said German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger. “The factors that made it possible in this case to help in this way people who faced an acute threat, a very specific group, cannot be reproduced at will.”
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
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Shocking case of Israeli believers targeted by efforts to revoke their citizenship
Because of their religious beliefs, Ariel and Shayla Hyde, a young married couple from Haifa, are two among many in Israel and abroad who find themselves targets of what amounts to a discrimination campaign by Israel’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) to protect the nation from Messianic Jews.
Ariel’s parents, Richard and Carolyn Hyde, are also longtime targets of a religiously motivated quest by the Ministry of Interior to deport them, and more recently, Ariel’s brother, Avi, and his wife, Liora.
Historically controlled by Shas, a small, ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious political party in Israel, but one which wields much power, the MOI regularly employs arbitrary administrative bullying and quasi-legal maneuvering to obstruct aliyah (immigration to Israel) and deny citizenship to those who do not share their rabbinically held beliefs. In some cases, they also attempt to revoke the existing legal citizen status of family members of those targeted, although, up until now, unsuccessfully.
“In a democratic country, citizens shouldn’t have to fear being stripped of their citizenship,” declares a Haaretz editorial from Dec. 26, 2017.
“Law-abiding people shouldn’t have to fear routine encounters with government agencies,” the editorial continues. “Yet every year, thousands of Israelis are dragged into unfair battles with the Interior Ministry, which has turned its bureaucracy into a a weapon of ultimate power which seeks to disenfranchise citizens and legal residents of whom they don’t approve with the creation of unjustified reasons for the Israel to reassess their citizenship.
“Israelis who have sought to acquire legal status in Israel for their foreign (and non-Jewish) spouses have sometimes found their own citizenship called into question. Instead of examining such requests on their merits and granting the spouses of Israeli citizens appropriate legal status, the state has exploited this bureaucratic encounter to threaten these citizens.”
None seem more threatened than the Hyde family. The common theme behind the MOI’s efforts: The Hydes are believing, Messianic Jews.
“After some Messianic Jews have already immigrated to Israel, the Ministry of Interior can refuse to renew their passports, refuse to register their newly born children, and in extreme cases (although it has yet to happen) revoke their citizenship,” Michael Decker, lawyer and partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh, writes in The Law of Return with a Focus on Christians and Messianic Jews.
“In essence, the above mentioned situation reveals an illegal alliance between a governmental office that is obligated to operate in a non-discriminative, legal and equal manner and between fundamental religious groups, their core values being to advance their main objectives of preventing Jews from believing in ways different from theirs.”
Ariel and his parents moved to Israel and became citizens in 2003. Two years later Ariel met his future wife, Shayla, and they married in 2008. After Ariel finished college in the United States (both he and Shayla are American citizens), they returned to Israel to live in 2010, promptly submitting to the Ministry of Interior (MOI) all paperwork required for Shayla to obtain Israeli citizenship.
Israeli law provides that a non-citizen spouse of an Israeli citizen who meets all other legal requirements be granted citizenship after a four-and-a-half-year waiting period. Though Ariel and Shayla have lived here together for eight years and now have three young children (with a fourth expected in August), the MOI has not only denied Shayla’s application but has also recently informed the couple of its intent to revoke Ariel’s citizenship, effectively forcing them to leave Israel.
Ariel has served honorably in the IDF. Neither he, his parents, Shayla nor any of their children or siblings have broken any Israeli law. The Hyde family’s sole crime, it seems, is that they are Messianic Jews. They are not considered Jews at all, in the eyes of the Shas party who controls the Ministry of Interior, and therefore not entitled to live as citizens of Israel.
The late Moshe Landau, the fifth president of Israel’s Supreme Court, had this to say about religious freedom in Israel: “Every person in Israel enjoys freedom of conscience, of belief, of religion, and of worship. This freedom is guaranteed to every person in every enlightened, democratic regime, and therefore it is guaranteed to every person in Israel. It is one of the fundamental principles upon which the State of Israel is based.” (Freedom of Religion In Israel)
Then there are the broad, unrestrictive and welcoming words of the prophet, Ezekiel, with whom Shas and the MOI are likely to be more familiar, describing the future inhabitants of the modern Jewish homeland:
“For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:24-26
But the Shas party, with under 6 percent representation in the Israel Knesset, has somehow become inordinately empowered to dictate who shall and shall not be part of the people of Israel, and continues with impunity to fly in the face of fairness, decency and legality as well as the words of the prophets.
How can this be tolerated in a democratic state?
How can Jews, of all people, deny the legal rights of other Jews given their centuries-long history of injustice and suffering at the hands of others.
Among the many collections of artifacts on display at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem are the harvested shoes of countless Jewish victims of profound injustice. The shoes lay in heaps, unsorted. We cannot know who among their former owners were Ashkenazi or Sephardi or whether or how faithfully they followed Jewish law.
At the end of Ariel and Shayla’s last judicial hearing, Ariel spoke out.
“Usually, in Israel, defendants don’t speak to the judge it’s just the lawyers,” he told Kehila News. “But I asked at the end if I could address the court. When granted permission I told them that in Psalm 94 it says, judgment will return to righteousness.”
“As you’ve heard, the way the Ministry of Interior has been handling this is far from righteous. It’s in your hands to return the judgment here to righteousness,” he told the court. “And it ended up that was the last thing spoken at the meeting.”
At the end, the judge declined to grant the MOI additional time to consider revocation of Ariel’s citizenship but, instead, established guidelines for moving ahead with Shayla’s case. Shortly afterwards, however, apparently contradicting his first ruling (as well as ignoring the Israeli Vice Attorney General’s guidelines which, in part, establish that the MOI has no authority to revoke Israeli citizenship which has been valid for over ten years), the judge granted the MOI additional time to deliberate and 14 more days to present their claims against Ariel.
Since then, the Ministry of Interior officially opted to revoke Ariel’s citizenship though they have failed to present their evidence within the specified deadline, thus, again, failing to obey the court and continuing to leave Ariel and Shayla Hyde in limbo.
Once the MOI complies, the couple will have a short time to respond and the court will then either rule based upon the information at hand or order yet another hearing. “We’ve expected a final response in this process at any moment for the last several years,” Ariel said.
And so continues the harassment and uncertainty of the Hydes and many others whom Shas hopes to banish from Israel.
At a subsequent court hearing, characterized by the Hydes as “sudden,” the presiding judge accepted the Ministry of Interior’s proposal to grant Shayla permanent residency while the MOI continues to attempt to revoke the citizenship status of Ariel and his parents. This despite the fact that, as noted in the story, their efforts lie outside applicable guidelines established by the Israeli Vice Attorney General.
It may seem reasonable, at first glance, to allow the courts to continue to work through the Ministry’s cause, but a recent ruling by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Varda Meroz seems to put the process to shame. Haaretz.com reported in 2012 that Judge Meroz declined to strip the citizenship of a convicted bus bomber, Mohammed Mafarja, whose crimes include attempted murder and aiding the enemy during Operation Pillar of Defense.
“Revoking [citizenship] is reserved for extreme cases,” she ruled. “Mafarja’s case, despite its severity, doesn’t fall within the bounds of such cases.”
How can it be reasonably argued that making videos and expressing one’s faith is more “extreme” than attempted murder?
Ariel and Shayla plan to appeal their case to the District Court. “The Ministry of Interior asked for the appeal to be erased,” Ariel told Kehila News, “as if they had adequately responded and justice was done, but our lawyer demanded [that] the judge…make an official ruling… Thankfully, he agreed, which means that we will be able to appeal it to the District Court.”
The Hyde’s attorney told them afterward that, if they had won the case at the current level, it would have set a limited precedent. “But now that it is apparently going up to a higher court, if we win at that level, it will set a precedent for many believers in Israel, hampering the Ministry of Interior’s efforts to revoke others’ citizenship. So we believe that what the enemy meant for evil, God will turn for good.”
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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PRAYER ALERT: Update and prayer request for Israeli evangelist Damkani
Below is update and request for prayer posted on Facebook by Elisheva, Jacob Damkani’s wife, on July 24, 2018. Damkani underwent a dangerous heart surgery in the beginning of July.
Dear friends, shalom
Please forgive me for letting you wait. This time it took me longer to sort all my thoughts and feelings and to put them into words. Jacob didn’t wake up as I, many of us, had hoped, believed.
What can I say?
Did I not have enough faith? Did I not pray according to His will? Did I pray in a wrong way?
I know that the Lords wants our faith, He wants it for Him to act… but I also know that He doesn’t need our faith at all in order to do what He wants to do. He would be very powerless if what He did was limited to our faith. He is bigger than that!
At times I simply don’t know what exactly His will is and honestly, I never pray good enough. I am eternally thankful that He does not limit Himself or punish me because of my incompleteness! So thankful!
Yes, I see many examples in the Bible where faith is the key to miracles, but I also see that the Lord honours small faith, incomplete faith…
Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24
…the Lord healed this father’s boy!
Yes, I had faith that Jacob would wake up on Tisha beAv. A few times he has almost made it, he almost came out, to the surface (it does look a bit as if he is diving deep and slowly coming up to get his head above the water. And then he stops, just a few millimetres before he is out).
And then, after another big effort of trying hard to wake up he is so exhausted and seems to collect strength again, sleeping deeply…
Was I disappointed? In a way, yes.
Did I lose hope? No!
Am I still believing for a miracle (which becomes bigger and will bring more glory to our Almighty God with every hour that passes and Jacob is still sleeping). Yes, I am!
I know that the Lord is a good God. A merciful God. And I know that He has a perfect plan for our lives. For Jacob’s life, for mine and for all of your lives. That doesn’t change because of a prayer not answered or rather, answered differently.
For a few days already Jacob is stable. His body is becoming stronger, the chest they have opened a few times heals, he overcame that fever; his lungs, his liver, kidneys, heart… they all do their work well. Two weeks ago some doctors said this would not be happening. But God…!
They often allow me to stay longer than only half an hour now, which is great, often it takes quite a while to reach Jacob, his spirit, his soul. I am thankful for those wonderful nurses that do their very best for us. May God bless them richly for everything they do and renew their strength daily, and most important: may He give them faith, saving faith!
So, please, let’s take a deep breath, thank the Lord for who He is, for His love and mercy, for all the good things and miracles He does in our lives, and let’s thank Him for the things we don’t understand (yet), since they also come from His loving heart, let’s gird our loins (that’s one of Jacob’s favourite expressions) for the good fight that continues. We should not and will not question our amazing God in His doing. He knows what He is doing. His thoughts are so much higher than ours.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
Beloved friends, thank you for holding on to our Almighty God – in full faith and no matter what is happening in our lives,
He is good, all the time!
Much love to you
The text on the picture below is in German… A dear friend has sent it to me today. It is so true…
Why we pray
We don’t pray to inform God –
That would mean He doesn’t know anything.
We don’t pray to motivate God –
That would mean, He doesn’t want.
We don’t pray to activate God –
That would mean He can’t.
Instead we pray
because we need the conversation
with our Father
to lay our will into His will. S. Kettling
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
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Rock falls from Temple Wall the day after Jews mourn destruction of their temples
JERUSALEM, Israel – A woman praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City miraculously escaped injury when a 220-pound rock came crashing down next to her. She continued to pray.
It was the day after Tisha B’Av (the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av), when many Jews fast and mourn the destruction of the Jewish Temples, the first by the Babylonians in 585 BC and the second by the Romans in 70 AD.
Daniella Goldberg, 79, was praying in the “egalitarian” area at the southern end of the Western Wall, near Robinson’s Arch, designated by the High Court in 2000. Three years later, a small prayer platform was built there and 10 years after that a second, larger prayer platform was added. In January 2016, the government approved a plan to further develop the site.
The larger platform was meant to accommodate members of the Women of the Wall, a feminist movement that believes women should be able to pray in any way they wish.
Members of the group often wear prayer shawls and kippot, traditionally reserved for men. The group has been a thorn in the side of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who set the rules at the main part of the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.
After Monday’s incident, police cordoned off the egalitarian area as Israel Antiquity Authority personnel arrived to evaluate the situation.
IAA officials said several possibilities may have contributed to the rock falling, adding that the Western Wall is regularly monitored to ensure it is safe for the thousands who pray at the site.
An IAA statement said they would submit their recommendations after examining all the relevant information, noting they’re “aware of the sensitivity required in handling this case and will work in cooperation with all the relevant bodies.”
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz called the falling rock “an extremely rare incident” that requires people to search their souls. He thanked God no one was hurt.
“The fact such powerful incident happened after the Tisha B’Av fast, during which we mourned the destruction of the First and Second Temples, triggers questions too complex for the human soul to contain and requires soul searching.”
Speaking with the Times of Israel, Meir Ben-Dov, who helped excavate the area when Jerusalem was reunited following the 1967 Six-Day War, said the massive rock likely dates to the Herodian period 2,000 years ago.
“So a rock fell, so what?” the Times quoted him as saying. “The State of Israel hasn’t ended. The Messiah won’t come because of this.”
Tzippe Barrow is the CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem. She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) nearly two decades ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.