24 August 2013

Ancient Rites In Modern Times

Empty Streets on Yom Kippur

If it weren't for the voices of children playing in the distance, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had walked into a ghost town. The streets are eerily quiet, the shops are shut up and bolted, not a single car moves on the roads and the usual media background noise from TV and radio is silenced. This is Yom Kippur in Israel: The holiest day of the year when the penitent seek God's forgiveness and even the unbelievers fast, just in case.

Children playing in traffic free streets -Yom Kippur
The experience of walking through the streets on this day has a profound effect that is hard to replicate. With the whole country shut down from sundown the night before, the impact of a whole nation focused on God (even if only for this one day) is quite awesome. If you ever find yourself in Israel on Yom Kippur (English translation:  Day of Atonement), make a point of walking around the streets. The Synagogues are open all day and filled with people dressed in white to represent purification from sin. In the very small neighbourhood synagogues, service-goers often overflow onto the street. As you walk past each one, you can hear the same chanted prayers being repeated in each building you pass. Streets devoid of traffic are a magnet for children on bikes and roller blades. For the adults, it is a day of solemn fasting. Neighbours bring picnic chairs onto the pavements and pass the long hours without food, together as a community. The young at heart, take the opportunity of empty roads to stroll together with friends. Even the motorways are silent and inviting to cyclists and walkers.

One of the privileges of living in Israel for several years, was the opportunity to experience the Biblical Holidays as a part of normal life. It is one thing to read about them in the Bible and to imagine the ancient Israelites listening to Moses as he declares all that God has revealed to him on Mount Sinai, it is quite another to actually physically sit with a modern Israeli family and celebrate these ancient rites throughout the year and partake in a tradition passed down from generation to generation, just as Moses prescribed.

God, in his wisdom, used a calendar of family gatherings and community holidays to teach his people how to worship him and walk in his ways - An annual pattern through which he would set apart a people called to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). Through this template, he would guide them through the present and point them towards his plans for the future.

The Days of Awe

Yom Kippur marks the end of the period of 10 Days known as the Days of Awe. These are the holiest days of the year according to Jewish tradition. It is a time of introspection to consider ones sins, to repent and ask forgiveness from God and from those we have wronged. An opportunity to put things right before Yom Kippur, the most solemn and important day of the year, begins. The 10 Days of Awe begin with the Feast of Trumpets, today known at Rosh Hashanah (New Year). God instructed Israel to set aside the 1st day of the 7th month as a day of Sabbath rest and sacred assembly that would be commemorated with the blowing of trumpets. The Hebrew dates follow a lunar calendar so the date changes each year. 

Rosh Hashanah 
(Feast of Trumpets)

2013 Date: Sundown 4th Sept to Sundown 5th Sept (Jews outside Israel celebrate until 6th Sept)

Biblical Reference: Lev 23:23-25, Num 29:1-6 Also referred to in Nehemiah 8:1-12

Yom Kippur 
(Day of Atonement)

2013 Date: Sundown 13th Sept  to Sundown 14th Sept

Biblical Reference: Lev 16:29-34; 23:26-32, Numbers  29:7-11; Hebrews 9:11-14, 22-24, 10:1-25

17 August 2013

Jesus Still Working in Nazareth

Acts 1:8  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Inspiring the next generation is a large and consuming call, one that Rania, the director of HOPE (House of Prayer & Exploits) takes to with enthusiasm and unwavering expectation.  This year on Pentecost (Shavuot/Feast of Weeks), Rania hosted a Worship and Prayer Event for youth, held in her hometown of Nazareth.

It was an evening themed on Acts 1:8 and included times of worship and prayer led by young people from different churches around the Galilee.  A video was shown inspiring this generation to respond to the call to be watchmen on the walls, along with prophetic dance and testimonies of young people's lives being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and of healing miracles. There was also personal ministry for the youth after a short word was shared.  In short, they were anticipating the Holy Spirit to touch many and were open to His agenda!

“We are believing for the Lord to release fresh winds of the Spirit over our region and over this generation”, says Rania.  “If we keep gazing at Jesus and His glory in worship and prayer we will ultimately look like Him, and change the world around us. We will become like the one we are gazing at!”

10 August 2013

Arise and Shine! - Jewish and Arab Youth expecting great things in Haifa, Israel

On the 17th August 2013, hundreds of Israeli young people from Jewish and Arab backgrounds will be coming together in Haifa, Israel to worship, pray and learn more about the one that unites them. Through their faith in Yeshua/Jesus, dividing walls are broken down and true friendships can be made.

Watch the videos below to see how God is moving among young people in Israel!

PRAY! The organisers of ELAV invite us to join with them to pray for this awesome event before and during the conference. Watch the video to hear how we can pray for ELAV 2013

A donation of £150 will sponsor one young believer from Israel to attend this conference (Includes ticket, accommodation and transport).


03 August 2013

Shoes, Computer Lessons and Dinner at the Beach

Holocaust Survivors receiving new orthopedic shoes
During the month of July, hundreds of Holocaust Survivors living in Israel received brand new, comfortable, orthopedic shoes to ease their feet. They were distributed by one of our partners, Helping Hand Coalition (HHC), who received them as a gift from Christians in Germany. The Survivors were delighted with their new shoes and eagerly tried them on and showed them to each other. Boxes of shoes were delivered to the cities of Ashdod, Rehovot, Afula, Hadera, Nazareth, Sderot, Ofakim, Beersheva and Jerusalem where Holocaust survivors were invited to come to local social centres and receive a free pair of new shoes.

Earlier, HHC staff had personally distributed supermarket vouchers to the homes of Holocaust Survivors in the southern towns of Sderot, Ashdod, Ofakim and Beersheva. These cities have been subject to years of rocket attacks from nearby Gaza, and Holocaust Survivors have expressed the fear they live with when they hear the sirens. The HHC representatives were able to not only bless the Survivors financially, but also to take time to sit and chat with each individual. These one to one encounters help to relieve some of the fears and loneliness these Survivors deal with on a daily basis. 

Your People My People supports the work of HHC, a local Israeli charity working among Holocaust Survivors in Israel today.  We have seen first-hand the love and dedication that goes into caring for these people in Israel through various projects. Very elderly Survivors receive personal home visits and financial help, more physically able Survivors meet in local weekly home groups called 'Warm Houses' and during the annual holidays, Survivors are taken to cultural concerts and celebrations.