The Harvest - a work in progress

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37,38

Training up workers for the harvest is one of the key aims of 'Katzir' - a youth camp for Israeli teenagers. The roots of this gathering began in 1996 when leaders of a youth ministry in the USA with a vision to encourage Israeli youth, began travelling to Israel each summer for a few weeks of intense worship and fellowship with local youth. "I was invited to a youth event, sponsored by a dedicated ministry from abroad and conducted in English." said Messianic leader Eitan Shishkoff, "I saw kids raising their hands high in surrender to the Lord. I saw the broad smiles on their faces and their tender tears of repentance. I knew these young people needed this type of gathering in an Israeli, Hebrew-language format." As this initiative grew and developed, Israeli leaders caught the vision and strengthened it with their support and oversight. It began to develop a more indigenous flavour and soon the Americans knew it was time to step back and release it to fly on its own.  

Now, 'Katzir' (Hebrew for 'Harvest') is a national, Messianic youth ministry, overseen by a board of Israeli congregational leaders. Camps are held 3 times a year - at Hannukah in the winter, Passover in the Spring, and for a week during the summer holidays. Over the years, hundreds of Messianic teenagers have been inspired, challenged and equipped through the ministry of Katzir. Now grown-up, many of them return to Katzir as leaders and counselors to sow back into the new generation of youth attending the camps. 

Jewish followers of Yeshua (Jesus) are a small minority in Israeli society. Many of these teenagers are the only believer in their school so these intimate, focused gatherings help them to connect with other youth who understand the struggles of being in a similar situation. This is their time to connect with believing peers from around the nation and to share their concerns, encourage each other in their faith and pray for each other. The camps cater for about 100 kids and combine Bible study, learning to have consistent quiet times, youth-led worship, inspiring messages, art, drama and dance, mixed with lots of fun, outdoor activities and fellowship. The friendships built at these camps last a lifetime.

Many of the young Israelis attending Katzir are passionate and hungry for a deeper encounter with the Lord. One of the week long summer camps focused on 'Changing Gears' - getting back to the simple things in the midst of a fast-paced, technological world. Outdoor hikes and activities helped the kids to unwind from the stresses of modern living and to appreciate the simple beauty of nature. Physical challenges taught them to work together: to trust and rely on each other. They cooked their own food over campfires in the forest and worshiped without complicated sound systems. At the end of the week the teenagers stood in prayer circles, arms around each other as they asked for God's blessing on their lives as they returned to their home towns and cities. 

In the words of the youth attending:

"This has been a difficult period of my life
with many burdens. These days were incredible. God really spoke to me through every small thing. Thank you!"

"The Spirit speaks to us individually and wants a personal connection with each of us. Katzir helps us to develop that relationship."

"To be real is hard, but it's worth it. I passed through many things during the summer camp. Many prayed for me. It was really amazing. I don't want to continue the way I was, but really be real...I never had a lot of believing friends. Believing friends are not to be taken for granted."

"I felt a lot of love from you all. I really enjoyed it. I know that God did something deep in my life. Now, I can choose, and not be afraid. Before I was afraid. I began to sing yesterday. I feel that you are now my family. I hope we can all be together again."

The youth are the key to transforming the nation of Israel for Yeshua. Israel's future leaders are being discipled to serve their generation. The ministry of Katzir is training and equipping the next generation to go out into the harvest field. 

Simple worship at the Sea of Galilee

Pray for Katzir and the youth of Israel. 

If you would like to do something practical to help a young person attend the next Katzir, you can sponsor a place. Katzir heavily subsidizes the camp so needs to raise £120 to cover the costs for each child that comes for the week long event.