Pastor’s Update, March, 2022

Our Precious Brothers and Sisters in Yeshua Messiah,

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.

They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” I Peter 3:10-12

This strong exhortation taken in reference to Psalm 34:12-16 is an important reminder of what the Lord expects of us as his followers. This, all the more so in these very troubled days. He is also very clear about his own position towards evil-doers.

Our time in NZ this time is rapidly drawing to an end and in less than 3 weeks we’ll be home once again. We sense the privilege of having these 3 months away from the intensity of our life and ministry in Israel. As always, it has been a wonderful time of spiritual refreshment. Evan is delighted to have completed his book and Maala has begun the initial editing process. We welcome your prayers to see where this might lead.

With the rapid onset of the Omicron variant of Covid, we sensed it unwise to visit churches or groups in various regions, but enjoyed the visits of several to maintain the precious relationships we’ve enjoyed over the years. Thank you all so, so much for your continued support and encouragement. You are exemplary! We trust this letter finds you all well, despite the ongoing health risks and despite the often-baffling politics and continually shifting regulations.

Our almost-daily contacts with Israel indicate that so much has changed already in our absence. General society there is no longer focused on Covid, to the point where almost all regulations have been removed. Israelis have learned to live with it, despite the risks. And risks there are: several of our colleagues around the country have passed away as a direct result of the virus and in general, Israel’s death toll has been high. The impact on mental health, particularly among our youth, and the devastating impact on our economy can no longer be suffered. Life must go on!

And now our focus is drawn to an entirely different ‘nightmare.’ War! Even far away here in NZ the first concrete ripples are being felt as fuel prices rise yet again. However impactful on family economies, this is minorcompared to theeffects felt in Israel, let alone the European nations bordering the epicenter in the Ukraine. Few believed that Russian forces would invade, until it was too late. As we all see through the incoming news reports, the devastation of Ukrainian cities and the displacement of millions fleeing for their lives across borders, has been rapid. Once again, European nations are faced with absorbing millions of refugees. And these same nations are rightly concerned – will this war spill over, engulfing them also? Their fears are not unfounded. History has a way of repeating itself.

From the outset of the invasion, the congregants of Beit Asaph were filled with anxiety for their families. Around 40% of the community had emigrated from the Ukraine, leaving behind family members, friends and congregations. To put this further into perspective, well over 50% of Israel’s Messianic community are Russian-speaking. Many of these have stoically maintained their language and cultures. Identifying with their respective ‘mother-lands’ has led to the lines of tension being experienced throughout the Land. Please pray for our colleague Lev and the many Russian-speaking pastors in Israel as they seek to calm the anxieties and tensions of their respective communities.

On the bright side, we are thrilled at how quickly these same communities mobilized. Financial channels were set up help provide food and basic necessities for the women and children pouring into Moldavia, Romania and Poland. Israel Messianic teams set out for these same aid stations to reinforce the local Christians working tirelessly. Calls to prayer and fasting are being experienced daily throughout the Land. We have received the first photos now of Beit Asaph homes receiving families of Ukrainian refugees from their own ‘home towns.’ All these things are very moving for us, and while we can pray and call to encourage, in three weeks we’ll be ‘hands-on.’ Again, we thank God for the refreshment we’ve had that will sustain us in the months ahead. Please, please pray for us and our community as we play our part.

Finally, for those of you who are particularly keen to support and pray for our two mission initiatives, Yad b’Yad 1.0 and Yad b’Yad 2.0, we bring you a brief update. With borders recently re-opening between Israel and the world, we have forged ahead with plans and recruitment. Both aspects are going very well which is exciting to see. Yad b’Yad 1.0 is an initiative involving German and Israeli believing youth who will be based in southern Bavaria and engage in outreach activities and a visit to Dachau concentration camp together. Pray please for David and Frede and Motti as the Israeli leaders and for the German Freilassing team led by Sara and Jenni.

Yad b’Yad 2.0 is a mission initiative involving German, Israeli and Palestinian young adults. The plan is to fulfill our dream of two years ago (pre-Covid) and engage in outreach together in the city of Nuremburg. Evan will provide oversight and support for a team of younger leaders from within the Land and Ruben and Susanne from Germany. Please keep us in your prayers as the teams come together. The spiritual warfare associated with these two initiatives is sometimes overwhelming.

Allow us to leave you with these words from Peter’s first letter, chapter 4 and verses 7&8:

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Be blessed…Evan and Maala and Lev and Ora