27 October 2012

A Great Harvest In The Middle East!

A few weeks ago, Iranian security forces raided a prayer meeting in Shiraz, South Iran. Church members were threatened and several leaders arrested and detained at a Ministry of Intelligence detention centre. This is just the latest incident in a series of harassments against Christians in Iran. According to the organisation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, there has been an alarming rise in detentions of members of evangelical house churches in Iran. Most were interrogated for lengthy periods, suffering verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Many were released after questioning, but some have spent weeks or months in prison, suffering repeated interrogations, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, and pressure to inform on others and abandon their faith. It is believed that the Islamic leadership are concerned about the growth of the house churches in Iran and the numbers of Muslims converting to Christianity. The church in Iran and throughout the Middle East need our prayers. As has so often happened throughout history, times of persecution are bringing about a harvest of new believers. God is moving, drawing both the children of Ishmael and the children of Isaac back to himself.

Iranian House Church
In Israel, the population is also concerned about Iran - particularly the Iranian government and the increasingly aggressive threats coming their way. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has, since 2005, declared his intention to wipe the people of Israel from the pages of history. The continued development of Iran's nuclear program has certainly added a very serious note to the verbal threat. The believers in Israel, both Arab and Jewish are watching the news and standing together to pray for God's mercy and deliverance from the hand of Iran. Messianic Jews and Christian Arabs alike believe the tensions with Iran will lead to a great harvest in Israel, with many coming to faith from both Jewish and Muslim backgrounds.

Rania Sayegh, is an Arab Christian and intercessor from Nazareth. She has been praying about the situation with Iran for many years. From the first time she read in the news about Ahmadinejad's desire to destroy Israel, she felt an urgency to pray. During prayer, the Lord gave her a picture of a large creature rising up over Iran. She wanted to fight the creature in her vision but the Lord said, 'Don't war: worship, because this is my war, not your war.' As she began to worship, the creature in her vision shrank and crumbled.

13 October 2012

"I looked for a man..."

We were chatting with an Israeli pastor in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago,  and mentioned the news snippets we’d heard about the possibility of a war between Iran and Israel.  We had seen a scam email do the rounds on Facebook and had heard talk of pre-emptive strikes.  We had also heard repeated the now familiar rhetoric from Iran about ‘wiping out the Zionist entity’ and ‘removing Israel from the global map’.  It’s not always easy to sift out the rumour from the reality.  How can we know what’s really going on?    We know the scriptures talk of wars yet to come, and also instruct us to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’.  How can we pray effectively when it’s not always clear to us what God’s agenda might be in such a situation?

One thing we can know for sure is that Israel is, and has been for some time, preparing for the possibility of a conflict with her neighbours.  Gas masks have been issued to the population, emergency situation drills have been conducted, a dedicated radio station for alerts is in place and an early warning system using personal mobile phones has been set up.  Local pastors have been preparing their congregations for the possibility of a war, encouraging them to have emergency supplies at home and to know the location of their nearest bomb shelter, if they don’t have one already built into their apartments and homes.

06 October 2012

For one of the least of these...

for one of the least of these...
Over the years, Agape Distribution Centre, has helped and served hundreds of needy people in the greater Tel Aviv area. Based out of a small shop, in the centre of the city, Agape provides monthly food packages and clothing to families and individuals living below the poverty line. Every month, more than 90 families come to this facility to receive a package of essential food items and to browse racks of second-hand clothing. Agape is run by members of ‘Adonai Roi’ (The Lord is My Shepherd), congregation, a local Messianic fellowship led by Avi Mizrachi. The friendly staff aim to live out the words of Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Many of the families who come, have never met believers in Yeshua (Jesus) before and are curious to know what motivates the staff to be so kind and helpful. It is an opportunity to share about faith in the Messiah and to offer to pray for them and their situations. One man, who was very sick, received prayer and later returned full of joy because he had been healed. Another man asked for prayer for restoration in relationships with his family and was amazed when he was reconciled with his mother after several years of not speaking. After receiving practical help and prayer, many of the people are open to take home Bibles for their families and to read more about the Messiah who cares.