27 February 2014

Remembrance Day For Jesus

10 year old Megan Adams was overwhelmed and beyond nervous at the thought of singing in front of the Queen and the British Prime Minister at the Royal British Legion's Remembrance Day event at the Albert Hall, London. She had been chosen along with four other girls from families serving in the armed forces, to form an all girls group to sing a special song composed for the event.

"You'll come back when it's over,
No need to say goodbye..."

The song was beautiful and moving, there was hardly a dry eye in the auditorium. Then, a big surprise was announced.  Megan's father, a Naval officer who had been serving in the Indian Ocean, had returned 3 months early and was in the audience. We witnessed the emotional moment when a child who thought their father was far away, sees him returning. Visibly overcome with emotion, Megan cried "Daddy!" and raced to meet him. As he engulfed her in his arms, she burst into tears and held him tight. He got down on his knees and hugged her for what seemed like an eternity. The one her heart had longed for, had returned and she was at peace in his arms.

Every year, a memorial day is set aside to remember the sacrifice made by many young men and women, who gave their lives to rid the world of tyranny and secure our freedom. Wreaths are laid, special songs sung and eloquent speeches delivered. At the Royal British Legion event there were tears as the departed were remembered along with cheers for the elderly Chelsea Pensioners: the ones who survived. The tradition of remembering those who have died for us is common in countries all around the world. In the USA it is called Veteran's Day, in New Zealand and Australia it is ANZAC Day, and in South Africa along with many other nations, they commemorate Armistice Day. It is a day to remember and be thankful.

On a different occasion, over two thousand years ago, another remembrance day was inaugurated. On the night he was betrayed, on the eve of Passover, Jesus took some unleavened bread. When he had said the blessing, he broke the bread and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

The symbolism of Passover was very familiar to the disciples and Jesus was reinterpreting it to explain the shocking events that were soon to follow.  Israel looked back to the Passover in Egypt as a defining moment in their history, when their identity as a nation began. It was when they were delivered from death and slavery through the powerful hand of God and were freed to go and worship Him as a nation. Many years later, through an act of sacrifice at the time of Passover, we would also be delivered from slavery to sin and set free to serve the Lord. As Jesus led the disciples through his last Passover ceremony, he told them "to do this in remembrance of me."

20 February 2014

Meet the 0.2%

From time to time, we like to share the personal stories of some of the people in the ministries we work with.  Believers in Israel only make up 0.2% of the population, and yet God has established either home groups, prayer centres, or congregations in every city across the Land!

Simon & Liz
Simon is the Coordinator for the VIP (Very Important Prayer) Room in Tel Aviv, run as part of the ministries of Avi & Chaya Mizrachi.  Being born into a Jewish family from the USA, Simon first visited Israel in 2001 and felt he would return in the future.  After completing his education in America, he was accepted at Tel Aviv University where he met Liz, a fellow Jewish student who attended Adonai Roi Congregation.

From the age of 5, Liz was raised in a Messianic Congregation in the USA. On her 18th birthday, she gave her heart to the Lord while camping with her friends. After visiting Israel in 2004 she fell in love with the people and felt that God was calling her to return here and live. In August of 2005 she immigrated to Tel Aviv and began her MA studies in Education at Tel Aviv University where she and Simon met.

Liz invited Simon to come to one of the services, which unbeknownst to him began a journey of discovery.  Simon was amazed at the worship and was confronted with the Gospel for the first time and began attending services and bible studies over the next several months.  He began to question what he believed, compared to the reality of what he was learning and experiencing at the meetings.  He wanted to know that God heard him, that God had plans for his life, and to know for sure that Yeshua (Jesus) was real. 

In 2005, some Christian visitors from the USA were sharing at a local conference that Simon was invited to attend.  On the last day, the visiting team had arrived at the venue with their suitcases in order to get to the airport as soon as the meetings were over.  While on their way out the door after the closing session, one of the team leaders turned around and walked back into the meeting, heading directly towards Simon.  “God hears your prayers.  Yeshua is real.  And He has great plans for your life!”  And then she left, rushing to catch up with her group.

That night, Simon gave his heart to the Lord.  God had heard his prayers.  He knew Yeshua was real, and wanted to get on with God’s plans for his life!  A month later, Simon was immersed (baptised) in the Mediterranean Sea on a beach in Tel Aviv, and has been an active member of Adonai Roi Congregation ever since.  He and Liz also got married and today they have two lovely children.

After completing his university studies, Simon began working as a teacher in the Tel Aviv public school system.   At the same time, he also studied at an intercessory prayer school run by Or Yisrael IHOP and eventually stopped teaching to work full time with the prayer ministry, helping with administration and leading a couple of weekly prayer meetings. 

12 February 2014

It Takes a Whole Community to Raise a Believer

“On the quiet calm streets of a Shabbat morning in Tel Aviv, the first notes of the piano can be heard. The worship team is practising, seats are being set, the headphones are being charged, the coffee is brewing, and families from Tel Aviv are gathering together to glorify God and study His Word. All rise to sing The Sh’ma, the ancient Jewish prayer from Deuteronomy 6 that declares our God’s Oneness and blesses his Glorious Kingdom forever! This is Adonai Roi Messianic Congregation where we are making disciples and building a community in Israel. “

In 1996, Adonai Roi (The Lord is my Shepherd), a Messianic Jewish Congregation led by Avi and Chaya Mizrachi, began with a few people meeting together in a private home. People were coming to faith at Dugit Outreach Centre and they needed to know what it meant to follow Yeshua. Now it has grown into a vibrant community. “Every Saturday morning, the service provides a place for the local Body of Messiah to hear a short teaching from the week’s Torah portion, to raise their arms and voices in worship, and to listen to a message that the pastor has prepared. Above all it is a community of young and old that is seeking to live their lives as disciples of Yeshua and to grow together in Him.” 

Since 2008, Adonai Roi has been a “homeless” congregation; a tabernacle of God that has moved from a dedicated meeting hall, to a local park, and to the basement of a youth hostel. It has moved 4 times in the last five years and currently meets in the foyer of Beit Immanuel, an historic hostel run by believers in Jaffa.  “While moving from place to place has had its difficulties, the Lord has been with us wherever we go! Please pray with us that the Lord may plant our congregation in the Land with a permanent home. As he gave individual allotments to the Tribes of Israel, may He give us our lot and provide us with a new home.”

 The mission statement of Dugit and Adonai Roi has always been to preach the gospel and make disciples, and in so doing, Adonai Roi has become a diverse and growing community.  Recently, Orit* came into Dugit Centre with questions about Messianic Judaism. She was an immigrant from Romania who works as the manager of an hotel in Tel Aviv not far from Dugit. After having a nice conversation, Dan, the Outreach Director, invited her to come to a Shabbat service at Adonai Roi. She came early and was moved by the worship and amazed by the message, which spoke of Yeshua’s presence in the Tanakh (Old Testament). When the offer was made for the congregation to

06 February 2014

3 World Religions + 1 City = Street Party!

Pastor Shmuel A. leads a congregation of Jewish believers in the north of Israel.  At first appearance, this is not particularly startling or even attention grabbing.  But if we add that Shmuel A. is the only known Arab Pastor of a Jewish congregation in the world, then perhaps this is more than worth our mention. 

An Israeli Arab pastoring Israeli Jews?  But they hate each other don’t they?  They are constantly at war or fighting with one another according to what the media tells us aren't they?  Apparently not!  In fact, a whole lot more is going on between Jewish and Arab Israelis that has nothing to do with hate or fighting or oppression or persecution than the news or even half our churches would have us believe.

Last December was a festive month in Israel as three major celebrations took place, one for each of three major world religions.  The Muslim festival of Eid, the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, and the Christian holiday of Christmas.  In Haifa, the city transforms itself for a month long festival called ‘The Holiday of Holidays’, shutting off roads, putting up stalls and planning shows.  People come from all across the city and also from around the country for the celebration and cultural events.  There is dancing, artisans selling their crafts, local food, and a joyful atmosphere among the large crowds.

Large crowds attend the month long festival

Local cuisine - making falafel balls
While some might express concern at these faiths all converging in one place, the locals do not,  and even more so the local believers.  Why?  Because this month long street party provides the perfect opportunity to share the gospel of Yeshua, the good news that He came for all mankind, all people groups, to bring eternal hope and life.  Jewish and Arab believers meet at the festival each year, and together  share their faith, in unity as the ‘one new man’, as it says in Ephesians 2, that the Messiah broke down the hostility between Jew and non-Jew, even bringing us together in Himself to make one new man from the two and thus creating peace!
Arab Pastor Edward Tannous and Jewish Pastor Avi Mizrachi

This last Festival was no exception as Arab and Jewish Congregations joined forces for “There is Hope” campaign.  Shirts were printed with the logo in Hebrew and Arabic, books and bibles were handed out, they worshipped together, gave out coffee, and shared their common faith with all who were interested.   Some expressed shock that an Arab and a Jewish person believed in the same God.  Muslim women took bibles, father’s took books for their children to read, people left their contact details so they could talk more later.

Please remember to pray regularly for the Jewish and Arab believers in Israel.  They are working together to share the gospel with their communities, reaching out with God’s love to their cities, making every effort to be living examples of  ‘brothers living together in unity’, of loving each other so that the world will know they are disciples of Yeshua.  Just like their shirts declare, there is hope!

Your People My People partners with local believers to help fund outreach events such as 'There is Hope'.  If you would like to participate in financially supporting outreach in Israel, please click the ‘Donate Online’ link and note in the details that your gift is for ‘outreach’.