Our Dear Brothers and Sisters in Messiah,
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (Yeshua’s prayer from John 17:20, 21)
What a summer it has been. Our temperatures have remained consistently in the 30’s Celsius, which has added stress to the tensions we feel politically and in areas of national security. The threat of war from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah across our northern border is constant as are missiles from Gaza into Israel. According to today’s news Israel is preparing for a wide-scale campaign in Gaza. These are terrible times and we thank you in advance for ‘standing in the gap’ for our nation.
In our July report we also mobilized prayer for our two Yad b’Yad (Hand in Hand) initiatives – YbY 1.0, our youth reconciliation encounter between German and Israeli Believers and YbY 2.0, our evangelistic outreach involving German, Israeli and Palestinian young adults. Because of the conflict narratives connecting our communities, the spiritual warfare attached to these initiatives is intense (i.e. German-Jewish/ Holocaust and Israeli-Palestinian ongoing conflict). This makes your prayer an essential part of the success of these programs so please never under-estimate your role and again, thank you for your partnership with us.
We will share an example from each of the two initiatives to illustrate what can take place.
As the youth of Yad b’Yad 1.0 made the 15- hour bus journey from Weinstadt (near Stuttgart in Germany) to Krakow in Poland they were in high spirits from having formed new relationships in beautiful surroundings. The moment they crossed the border into Poland, however, everything changed. Emotions became highly charged, several participants suddenly became ill and the team leaders found themselves with their ‘hands full.’ This situation is somewhat to be anticipated given the nature of their journey to the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. NB: Eighty years ago this journey was taken under very different circumstances…
As they move together through the exhibits our young people inevitably face the shame and pain of this “terribly dark place” in our common history. Hand in hand they take these burdens with them from the infamous railhead where the sorting took place to the Field of Ashes behind Birkenau. Finally, outside the camp, they share the Lord’s Table as a statement of their mutual forgiveness and unity in Yeshua.
This is such a powerful experience for them and hearing these 16-18 year-olds testify of its impact on their lives is humbling. Through this encounter they truly become “disciples of Christ. “
One of the participants, 16 year-old Natanel from Haifa, testified before his family and congregation upon his return to Israel. “I went on this trip with some big questions about God. To be honest, I was more interested in going to Europe to have ‘time-out.’ But in Auschwitz I met Yeshua in the midst of all the horror and injustice and I have chosen to turn my life around and follow Him completely.
Natanel’s pastor shared that when he spoke the entire congregation broke down in tears. Similarly, many of our Beit Asaph youth who had been on the journey shared of deep personal encounters with the Lord.
Just one day following the youth team’s return journey, the young adults of Yad b’Yad 2.0 arrived in Bavaria to begin an intensive week of training and outreach.
This year we appointed 3 young leaders to direct the program: Elias a Palestinian Christian from Nazareth, Ruben a local German Christian and David a Messianic Believer from Beit Asaph, Netanya. This enabled Evan, Maala and Susanne (the older visionaries behind the program) to take background roles in pastoral care when needed. These new young leaders were brilliant in providing a creative but safe environment in which to function.
For our days of outreach we crossed the border into Salzburg, Austria and spread along the banks and bridges of the Danube and into the city’s parks and walking malls. Once we broke through our fears our mixed teams of Israelis, Palestinians and Germans began to see miracles happen. So many people were prayed for, testified to and in some cases, fed and clothed! People from a myriad of backgrounds experienced an encounter with Yeshua – some received salvation, others dramatic healings and yet others acts of the Lord’s compassion.
It was also an honor to reconnect with the local football club we played against last year, which has continued to gather and train asylum seekers (primarily Moslem). This time we brought a young professional coach from Nazareth with us as our ‘secret weapon.’ The ensuing game was carried out in a great spirit of camaraderie and we continued on into the evening eating together, dancing together, sharing our hearts and praying with individuals. It is precious to see the Spirit of God at work no matter how different our backgrounds are.
For the last three days we travelled up to Munich and stationed ourselves at the YMCA, right the heart of the city and the Moslem area. Again miracles happened as team members used their talents in music and face-to-face evangelism to boldly approach those open to listen. What a privilege it was to observe Fahid debating the existence of God, Mayar and Jenny kneeling praying for somebody with an injured leg and Maala sitting with a young Bosnian Moslem woman sharing her testimony.
The great bonus of the Yad b’Yad experience, however, is in the changes that occur in the lives of the participants themselves and some of these were dramatic. For all of us, our sense of mission has simply continued into our work places and communities and daily lives. This past Shabbat after services at Beit Asaph, the Israeli team went out into the center of Netanya worshipping and sharing their faith with all who would listen and daily testimonies are posted on our WhatsApp media group to simply encourage one another. Regardless of the fears or skepticism we might have had prior to the mission we have all returned to our respective communities as bolder disciples willing to make our lives count for the Lord and his kingdom.
As so many of our younger people like to say: You rock God! Come on!
We are so excited to see what the Lord has in store for us next and are already in the planning stage for our next year’s Yad b’ Yad programs. Thank you for your continued love, support and prayer.
In His service together,
Evan and Lev (for Beit Asaph)