Pastor’s Update , September , 2022

Our Precious Brothers and Sisters in Yeshua Messiah,

“As Scripture says: “Anyone who believes in him (Yeshua) will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one in whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?

As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”                  Romans 10:11-15

Mission: My first priority is to bring you a brief, “Hot off the press” report from our Yad b’Yad mission trips you have been supporting in prayer.

Yad b’Yad 1.0 involves youth (16-18 year olds) led by my younger colleagues, David and his wife, Frede, and Motti. The German youth from Bavaria were ably led by Jenni and Sara from Agape Congregation, Freilassing. Despite the heat-wave conditions in Europe this summer they successfully conducted a brilliant program, combining lots of fun and warm hospitality with serious discipleship activities. The latter included a workshop at the Holocaust Documentation Center at Ober Salzburg, a day visit to Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, and a day of street outreach just across the border in Salzburg, Austria.

These photos ‘capture’ those moments perfectly…

Here is a brief statement from the pastor of several of the Israeli participants: “They all came home changed. Today four of the girls gave testimonies of how they experienced God and His love during the trip to Germany. God really touched their hearts and lives in a very special way…May the Lord bless abundantly all who became such a blessing to this young generation.”

Yad b’Yad 2.0 (means “Hand in Hand) and consists of a complex team of 27: five young Israeli Messianic Jews, five young Israeli Arab Christians, five young Palestinian Christians and ten young German Christians. Susanne, the Field Director of Philippus ministry (sponsor of the initiatives) and I, Evan, served as pastors in support of the younger leaders. I deliberately include these details to create ‘a picture’ of the challenges we faced, just by virtue of who we are.

Unlike Yad b’Yad 1.0, this was not primarily a reconciliation initiative. Based on Yeshua’s prayer from John’s Gospel 17:21, our declaration of unity was to show the world that Yeshua was sent by the Father. Given our historical and current conflict narratives, this was ‘easier said than done.’

The first three days were dedicated to intensive workshops: “Who are we in Yeshua?” and “Listening to ‘the still small voice.’” Other lessons were in understanding ‘Spiritual Warfare’ in the context of our mission location (Nuremberg). All these and more were conducted in an atmosphere of worship, prayer and team-building – even before we moved over to the center of

Nuremberg itself.

If you are interested, it is worthwhile to do a little ‘Google research’ on the city to fully appreciate the spiritual challenges we faced. Two salient points from the Nazi era: it is the city were the mass rallies were held that were designed to sway the minds of the masses. It was also the location of the famous, ‘Nuremberg Trials’ of the Nazi war criminals, post WWII. Amazingly, the local church that felt led to invite our team to conduct the Sunday service for them, worships in a facility on the site where the trials took place! We serve a redemptive God!

In the field, we operated in teams of three: each consisting of at least one German, an Arab and a Jew. And so, apart from being multi-lingual, each mini-team carried the spiritual DNA of John 17:21, and many times these factors acted as ‘keys’ to unlock resistant hearts.

The highlight of the outreach came about as we all gathered in Jacobs-platz in the city center. Our local German team leader, Johannes, had secured permission for us to set up a sound system and instruments to conduct a public outreach…that was a miracle in itself! A few local Christians joined us, more to observe and pray in support.

So, for at least two hours our musicians led worship in Arabic, German and Hebrew with others intermittently stepping up to the microphone and sharing brief testimonies of how the Messiah had changed their lives!  They did this with courage and incredible vulnerability. All the ‘hard work’ earlier in the week suddenly ‘paid off.’ Here is our Ethiopian Jewish Sister sharing publically:

The unique aspect of the ‘Jacobplatz outreach’ was the audience: very few Germans BUT lots of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers including Syrian and Iraqi Moslems, Turks, Ukrainians and even Ethiopians.

The ‘field was ripe’ and what an overwhelming pleasure to see our team of young men and women boldly step up to families and groups of men sharing their faith in the multiple languages needed.  Truly this was like a scene out of Acts 2. I know at one point I was so overwhelmed by what was taking place, I had to turn and walk up the street to try and control my tears…an extraordinary event!

During our final debrief and Lord’s Table before our respective journeys home, each team member expressed their gratitude. It had been really challenging at all levels, socially and spiritually, BUT all expressed it having been life-changing.

And that’s what it’s all about! Thanks so much for all your support…

On the home front: As the war in Ukraine intensifies, so too does the level of tensions between our congregational members of Beit Asaph. This is of great concern for us as pastors. The potential to literally split the congregation while it is still vulnerable, post-pandemic, is high. In their anger over Russian hostilities and military occupation, the Ukrainian immigrants in our community are tending towards nationalism in their stance towards their Russian-immigrant brethren. Such is their outrage that fellowship between the two groups is almost untenable.

One can understand the outrage and anxiety of our Ukrainian families. The situation is brutal. Their cities and villages are being destroyed and their loved ones are living under terrible duress as infrastructure breaks down. Presently this is summer-time. One cannot imagine the hardships they will face as the weather changes in another month or so if the war does not abate. PLEASE PRAY!

Here is small personal story of the past two days: One of our members V. (a Ukrainian immigrant) received word that his mother had died unexpectedly. He is the deceased’s only and beloved son. The Russian army recently entered and now occupies the city where he came from. It is literally impossible for him to go home and bury his mother. It might seem a small matter in comparison to the broader suffering, but it does serve to show us in a very personal way how our congregants are effected.

We realize this situation may be difficult to identify with for you readers in Australasia and the USA, but please know that for our Russian-speaking immigrants, this situation is far more critical to them than our own home-grown Israeli/ Palestinian conflict or the threat from Iran and its allies just across the border. I suspect that the intra-congregational tension we are experiencing is widespread throughout the Messianic community in Israel. Russian-speakers constitute more than 50% of the national community! As such please, please

We are so glad we can turn to you that we might share our blessings and our sorrows and know you stand with us through them both.

Evan and Lev