Our Precious Brothers and Sisters in Yeshua,
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Ps 91:14-16 NIV
If more than a year of pandemic that has severely disrupted our lives and left our nations reeling was not enough, here in Israel we are face-to-face with the reality of war yet again within our borders.
This report is primarily a call to you, all our prayer partners, to intercede for the nation and for our peoples. In addition, however, we will update you on the radical reforms we are leading the Beit Asaph community through – our successes and our challenges…
These past few days have seen a rapid escalation of deadly conflict, initially centered on our nation’s capital, Jerusalem, but has now spread as a result of rocket barrages from Gaza upon Jerusalem and our southern cities. Civil unrest is accelerating at an alarming rate in many of Israel’s Arab towns and cities. The IDF is retaliating with deadly force against targets in the Gaza strip and our police force is doing everything possible to quell the rioting. Your news broadcasts will be providing you with disturbing coverage. The reasons behind the present ‘nightmare’ are complex and highly subjective. Of course this wouldn’t be Israel without everybody having an opinion! Our task however, is to focus prayer into the situation.
I have just been interrupted in writing as sirens have started up. We are heading for the bomb shelter!
As I continue this morning it all seems a little surreal with the sounds of hammers and drills from a nearby building site and military aircraft patrolling overhead. Ben Gurion airport was closed last night so no civilian air traffic for the present. We are on a ‘war footing.’ Our son-in-law, Beni, remarked as we came out of the bomb shelter, that ironically the Corona year, 2020, was the quietest year (from a security perspective) in Israel’s modern history!
As Messianic and Christian community leaders, we have mobilized the local Body in prayer. Over the next 48 hours Beit Asaph Life-groups will be gathering physically or by Zoom and praying the following prayer: “We pray for ALL our peoples – for their physical and emotional safety, for the rapid restoration of peace and for consolation for all victims of the conflict, regardless of politics or national loyalties. We pray for our young men and women serving in Israel’s Defense Forces that they will do so in safety and with integrity.”
We are so very grateful for you all and for your willingness to stand with together with us in this call to prayer and intercession.
Beit Asaph Update: We apologize yet again for the long gap between reports (last one in January.) Maala and I and our pastoral colleagues, Lev and Ora, have been working non-stop leading the Beit Asaph community through radical reform.
Here are the steps we have taken: By the end of March we successfully ended the contract on the Beit Asaph facility and stripped it of all contents. We placed 30 cubes of essentials into storage with 24/7 access. We blessed four local congregations with a variety of furniture and even dismantled our stage for one of them. While shedding a few tears as we stepped away from our beautiful congregational facility of 21 years, we signed contract on a small center situated 5 minute’s-drive from Netanya. This center now provides us with a central administrative office, a dedicated prayer room plus a 20 sq meter seminar room for training and group meetings. We love it as it’s situated in a quiet rural setting just a 20 minute walk from our home. This facility is already being well-used and we are making good progress with our neighbors.
Our beloved Ethiopian Messianic friends have opened their hearts and facility to our Beit Asaph youth group for their weekly gatherings.
In parallel to these shifts and changes we now have 12 Life-groups established and operating successfully. Some of these are based on previously established ‘home groups’ but most are new. They are based on location of our members around the central Sharon Valley, and upon language preference. Still not all members are attending a Life-group yet and our hope is to establish another three in the very near future.
The Life-groups learn to operate by common agreement under the supervision of the pastors. They choose when to meet and in what homes. They manage the rotation of responsibilities for their meetings that are based on the four elements of Acts 2:42; “the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer.” The goal is that everybody has an opportunity to develop skills of facilitation in all of these areas, whether hosting or preparing the bible discussion. As pastoral couples we help with the first weeks of getting the groups stabilized and training in skills where there is a lack of confidence. Part of the process is encouraging the groups to focus on the systematic study of Scripture and most are somewhere in the Gospel of Matthew, being reminded of who Yeshua is, what he is, and how his kingdom operates.
As pastors it is wonderful to be so mobile and in contact with the community at a far deeper and personal level. We are finding that we have more time for discipleship and prayer while more and more members are actively engaged in community life and outreach. A recent development is a monthly “Worship in the Garden” at the home of two families who live in community. This provides a perfect opportunity to gather up to 50 people from several Life-groups to fellowship and worship and pray for one another and unite around the Lord’s Table. We hope this will reproduce itself in other locations in our area.
Two big challenges that we’d value your prayers for: a) to help members through their resistance to the changes. A significant number are deeply grieving the loss of their weekly Shabbat services “with the preaching and collective worship and all the things we have held precious and necessary for congregational life. Our intention nevertheless is to hold celebration services every few weeks, once the Corona restrictions lift sufficiently to make them possible again. However, we will not return to the model we once held to.
b) We also need prayer for the re-establishment of our ministry to children. The previous regimen of weekly Shabbat services provided the perfect opportunity to hold 40 minute classes and bible activities. During 2020 children especially suffered from real-time interaction. Now we have a responsibility to get this up-and-running and in fact make major improvements. Ora right now is working on the model and the logistics required to make it work. She would so value your prayers!
Please note: The Corona pandemic was NOT the reason we are making these changes. But it certainly got us thinking! Got us praying! Got us moving! We look forward to sharing some great testimonies with you in the next couple of months…
You are loved and appreciated,
Evan and Lev