Finally, a brief update from Uganda \ Japan’s field: You will remember from previous reports that Miriam in Uganda, working as a training officer and outreach leader with YWAM, is now married to Moses. He is a fellow missionary and together they are now on assignment in Tanzania. They are doing very well but please keep them in your prayers. It has been a long and arduous process trying to obtain a visa for Moses to visit Israel with Miriam. This requires another very long journey overland to Nairobi, Kenya to the nearest Israeli consulate. Please pray they will find favor in the eyes of the Israeli authorities. Given the current political climate in Israel that is clearly anti-Christian, they will need some ‘divine intervention.’
Eliyakim, our young in Osaka, Japan is due for a 6-week visit home to visit his family and Beit Asaph. After more than two years in the field, Eliyakim is now seeing the fruit of his labors. Last week, two young men he has been working with, were baptized into the local church.
Eliyakim works as a kindergarten teacher and has already become proficient in Japanese. He is currently studying Korean! Please pray for him and his upcoming visit to Israel – for refreshment and encouragement from us all here in the Beit Asaph community!
Our Precious Brothers and Sisters in Yeshua Messiah,
Acts 4:8, 10 – 12:
“Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: Rulers and elders of the people! … Know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Yeshua the Messiah of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Yeshua is “’the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Maala and I returned home a month ago from our break away in NZ. It is extraordinary how different life is for us between there and here in Israel. The struggles and calamities experienced in NZ are usually from the forces of nature, while here they are generally man made, and political/ social in nature! As we prayerfully intercede for the people of both nations, the spiritual parallels are very apparent!
Despite the radical adjustment each time, we are happy to be home and enjoying resuming our familial and congregational duties. Our granddaughter, Zoe, is now 16 months old, inquisitive and full of life and energy. We thank God for our beautiful weather and plenty of outdoor living space. These, coupled with nearby playgrounds, provide Maala with the perfect amenities for this highly active little girl!
Ministry life for me, Evan, typically begins the moment we return, and is ‘full-on’ with services to run and Life-groups to facilitate. Various programs fill the gaps, including our first-ever Beit Asaph Spring Fair (organized by our daughter Sara), Shavuot celebrations (Pentecost), a funeral to conduct and even a new baby in the congregation to bless!
As we begin the month of June, our teams ‘gear up’ for the two annual Philippus-sponsored initiatives, Yad b’Yad 1.0 and Yad b’Yad 2.0. The programs are in place and both will take place in August. Please pray for the recruitment process. Currently our team leaders are seeking a few more participants for the German and Israeli teams.
I would like to return at this point to Beit Asaph and recent very encouraging developments! Firstly, to the event I mentioned earlier, our congregation’s first-ever Spring Fair.
Our daughter, Sara, despite a huge program of university studies and associated internship, a part-time job and being a busy mum, formed a team and organized a highly successful event at one of Netanya’s many parks! The event included food and refreshment tables, raffles, diverse game stations, as well as races (sack and three-legged races) and even a prayer station manned by some of our older intercessors! To make it all ‘work’ required nearly 30% of the congregants, which in itself was a good thing. It took place in a public park that provided an opportunity for healthy testimony. Apart from being a lot of fun, we also raised 3,500 NIS (a little more than $US 1,000) for one of our national children’s ministries! We all agree this has to become an annual event!
Another development over these past 6 months has been the establishment of a monthly prayer and worship service where we have ‘grown’ in aspects of intercession and spiritual warfare. Following a time of worship and a brief impulse from the Word of God, the congregation breaks into small groups to intercede on a variety of topics.
The vision for these services came from three of our young lay-leaders who desire to see the whole congregation engaged in community-based prayer. With perseverance, this has been very successful. Our seventh prayer service took place on Shabbat with David, David and Olga leading and more than 90 congregants committing themselves to this time of dedicated prayer.Please pray for the continued blessing of this service in our community.
In our neighboring city of Hadera, another team of young lay-leaders (three couples) from a Beit Asaph Life-group is now conducting a monthly worship service. Approximately 40 people are attending these services. Numbers of them are seekers personally connected to the core group and interested in the message they share. This as a direct result of ‘Kingdom life’ permeating the city from the healthy fellowship of that Life-group. Please pray for the team in Hadera!
Our colleagues Lev and Ora have been training two groups of our Russian-speakers in conducting “Alpha courses.” Those involved are keenly interested in reaching out to their non-believing friends and acquaintances and beginning courses of their own. This is also a direct outcome of our focus on Life-groups. The undergirding vision of Beit Asaph is being a community of disciples that makes disciples and thisweekend we will be baptizing three new disciples. Thank you in advance for your prayers for the Lord’s continued work through our Alpha groups.
As more and more new immigrants pour into Israel, particularly from Russia right now, many of the Believers among them are contacting us seeking fellowship. There are many new faces, even in our three months absence. The invasion of Ukraine has caused severe disenchantment with its government’s policies. Our bi-monthly Shabbat services are essential in absorbing them into congregational life and providing a sense of community. Slowly but surely many will be absorbed into Life-groups where they can receive personal attention and opportunities to begin to serve. Please pray for these new arrivals.
Finally, a brief update from our missionaries in the field: You will remember from previous reports that Miriam in Uganda, working as a training officer and outreach leader with YWAM, is now married to Moses.
He is a fellow missionary and together they are now on assignment in Tanzania. They are doing very well but please keep them in your prayers. It has been a long and arduous process trying to obtain a visa for Moses to visit Israel with Miriam. This requires another very long journey overland to Nairobi, Kenya to the nearest Israeli consulate. Please pray they will find favor in the eyes of the Israeli authorities. Given the current political climate in Israel that is clearly anti-Christian, they will need some ‘divine intervention.’
Eliyakim, our young missionary in Osaka, Japan is due for a 6-week visit home to visit his family and Beit Asaph. After more than two years in the field, Eliyakim is now seeing the fruit of his labors. Last week, two young men he has been working with, were baptized into the local church.
Eliyakim works as a kindergarten teacher and has already become proficient in Japanese. He is currently studying Korean! Please pray for him and his upcoming visit to Israel – for refreshment and encouragement from us all here in the Beit Asaph community!
We are so grateful for you all and thank you for your continued support and faithfulness. We have not referred this time to the very difficult social and political climate in the Land, nor to the sense of division and widespread violence. These topics are well covered by other Israel reports. Nevertheless, please, please keep these as matters for prayer.
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
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 ofActs 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.
Events are changing at an incredible speed this year. Today, we in Israel are facing a new challenge – a terrorist war on the streets of cities. As in any war, there are already victims and strong tension in society.
However, despite this harsh reality of this year, in which we are witnessing tragic events, first with a pandemic, then a war in Ukraine, the terrorist attacks in Israel today, we have inspiring and encouraging moments in the life of our community of Beit Asaph last few months.
Here some photos from our Shabbat services:
Women’s Prayer Conference:
Purim Celebration in Beit Asaphs-the Bible Feast of the Book of Esther :
Few words about our family conference:
Just a week before the war in Ukraine started, we managed our family conference, which were participated 24 families with children, around 60 people.
The conference held for three days in the north of the country of Israel and all the participants were very blessed. It was like a “breath of fresh air” for many after all the events of the past year. The conference was on the theme of “Five love languages”, which is especially relevant in our time.
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 homesreceiving 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.”
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob (Israel) who repent of their sins, declares the Lord.
As for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord. My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants-from this time on and forever, says the Lord” Is. 59:20, 21
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness (a dense fog Hb.) is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Is. 60:1-3
We commend to you these power-filled words of promise and exhortation as we complete this extraordinary year. These same two passages formed the basis of my last sermon for the year to the Beit Asaph community. The Advent candles (a Christian symbol) are lit one-by-one each week leading up to the celebration of the birth of the child Messiah according to the prophecy (Is.9:6.)
As seen in the photo, the Hanukkiah (a Jewish symbol) also holds prophetic significance. It is a nine-branched candelabra – 8 candles are lit one-by-one each day to commemorate the rededication of the Temple during the Maccabean wars during Yeshua’s time. The ninth candle is the Shamash, the Servant Candle that is lit first and from which the other candles are lit. What a wonderful Messianic picture! In the Gospels, Yeshua declares himself, “I am the light of the world.” And through him, we become the bearers of light, God’s truth – to Israel and to the rest of the world!
As a mixed, Jewish/ non-Jewish family (like so many in the Messianic community) we enjoy the ‘best of both worlds’ and enjoy the traditions of our respective peoples. As we embrace one another, even in our differences, we believe we express the core-values of God’s Kingdom. And this is a valuable and relevant message for Yeshua’s followers all over the world. The pandemic and the vaccination issue in particular, has divided society and divided the Body of Christ. This is a tragedy and we have seen congregations here in Israel badly impacted by these differences of opinion. We implore you, our beloved Brothers and Sisters, to not allow this to happen in your communities. Accept one another as equals and find creative solutions to allow fellowship to continue. Let’s agree to uphold one another’s communities in prayer. Let’s remember Yeshua’s prayer to the Father in John 17:21…
As leaders in our community, “Beit Asaph” we saw this coming and took steps so that Body-life would continue and flourish via our system of Life-groups. We maintain a monthly celebration service with limited participation, wherever possible. Children are born and young couples push ahead with weddings. We have celebrated five during this past year…
Natan and Katya were the last couple to be married this past week. Over the past few months, Maala and I enjoyed preparing them for their marriage. But our greatest joy was to ‘pass on the baton’ to one of our young leaders, David, to perform the ceremony. He did an exemplary job! David is in his late 20’s, married to Polina, and one of the sons of our pastoral colleagues, Lev and Ora.
As Maala and I sat with Lev and Ora this week to pray and evaluate the year that is almost over, we are more than satisfied with the results. Our Life-groups are flourishing, we have been able to hold monthly sessions of ‘worship in the garden’ our monthly celebration services continue, the youth and children’s activities are well-attended and fruitful, and women’s gatherings are continuing successfully on a regular basis. These, together with numbers of small active prayer groups in the congregation, make for a healthy and vibrant community life, despite the ongoing restrictions. You cannot know how grateful we are for your continued words of encouragement and prayer!
Two years ago as we flew to NZ for a three-month break (supposedly) we agreed to return and begin the process of forming a team of pastoral advisors. These younger men and women would provide wise support for Lev and Evan and in time, future pastor(s) could potentially emerge. Of course Covid interrupted this process as other priorities took over. Now, finally the team has been formed and is taking its first steps…and it is wonderful! Please keep the two David’s, Olga and Georgi in prayer for us. We are extremely fortunate to have such gifted people serving alongside us in the Beit Asaph community.
We finish the year, tired but very grateful for daily grace. Nothing is taken for granted and every good thing, no matter how small, brings us joy.
God willing, we will fly to NZ on December 31 via Dubai. Now that ‘flight corridors’ have opened up for us via the Gulf States we feel confident to take a well-earned break. Pioneering work, as this past 14 months has been since our return in October 2020, is exciting and rewarding. But it is also exhausting and we are no longer youngsters! A bit of R&R in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, NZ will be just what the doctor ordered. Even a week in MIQ after the long flights might not be a bad thing to get us into ‘holiday mode.’ We (Evan and Maala) would greatly appreciate you remembering us in prayer for safe travel and refreshment.
God bless you and your families and communities as you prepare for the Christmas season. Make the most of it! And remember the encouraging words of the Prophet as we began this letter.
Shalom friends! How are you? You have not heard from me in a while since most of the time I am serving in the South Sudanese refugee camp where there is bad reception and no electricity. I sometimes use solar panels to charge my phone, but this is limited…
Praise the Lord for your prayers, I received a two-year work visa!!! After a long process that began in June. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!
Additionally, I came down again with Malaria a few weeks ago. Thank you to all those who strengthened me in prayer! I am feeling well now.
I am thankful to God for the team. We are a team of 4 young people (Mambo and Gift – two South Sudanese refugees, Moses from Congo and me). We met in the discipleship program. Since the end of the program in September, we are serving together at the refugee camp.
Conferences at the refugee camp – Recently we organized two youth conferences and a women’s conference. About 100 people attended each conference.
So what does organizing a conference entail, you may ask? *Since Mambo and Gift are from the refugee camp they have connections with the pastors and local leaders. We reach out to a number of the pastors and youth leaders and set dates for the conference. (The timing is important, since we wanted to hold a conference at the end of September, but discovered that during this time they are all harvesting sesame seeds, so many people will not attend, because otherwise the sesame will go bad). *Setting a location for the conference, a church building large enough for all the participants.
*Sleeping accommodations, since most of the people arrive from afar and need to stay with members of the congregation and bring tents. *Building a plan and schedule for the conference. What is the theme? The goals? Lesson topics, finding teachers, preparing some of the lessons ourselves.
*Food – planning a menu and a budget for all the conference meals, finding cooks, buying the food or giving money to those who will buy the food supplies. There is rice and beans at the refugee camp, so the youth collect donations of rice and beans and we supply the rest. How do they do this? They go from house to house with a sack, visiting all the members of the church, and ask for 2 cups of rice, a cup of beans and a cup of oil. This is their donation to the youth conference. *Looking for donations to cover the food and our transportation to the camp and back. The budget for the whole conference is about a thousand NIS.
We encourage the youth and the people at the refugee camp to organize local conferences, something simple and beneficial, instead of waiting for a large organization to come and do some large production with fancy equipment.
Additionally, two groups from South Africa came to serve at the refugee camp; we accompanied them and served the Lord together with them.
During the day we visited people, heard their stories (people have very difficult stories from the war, but since everyone are in the same situation, they all have a burden and no one with whom to share their stories). We were there to listen and people opened up their hearts and shared their pain and their past. We prayed and encouraged them. In the evenings, we showed the Jesus film in the local language.
Please pray that the hearts of more young people will be set ablaze by the Gospel and they will go out to tell of His works to the nations!!!
Time again to check in and provide you with a range of prayer subjects, some that are very encouraging and some that you will find disturbing. Given the continuing circumstances we all live under as a result of the Corona virus, we are drawn to the Prophets for insight. Their messages to their original audiences are all-too-relevant for society and to the Body of Messiah. Hence the following quote from Joel 3:14-16…
“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine.
The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.”
On the National Front: The Israeli government continues to function well both at domestic and international levels. Rather than draconian measures to force people to vaccinate against their will, the government has brought in large quantities of medications to alleviate the symptoms of the non-vaccinated who contract Covid. They have also greatly increased the number of ECMO life support systems for the critically ill, the vast majority of whom are from the non-vaccinated sector.
We are happy for the continuing successes by our foreign ministry as they rebuild relationships damaged by previous administrations and strengthen ties with neighboring governments previously hostile to Israel. We firmly believe these successes are in keeping with Israel’s call to be “a light to the nations,” however temporary this may prove to be…
Of deep concern, however, is the threat presented by Iran’s race to produce weapons-grade uranium, while doing all they can to support of extremist groups hell-bent on making the world unsafe. [Issues for prayer]
Rather than end this section on ‘a note of fear,’ we would once again refer you to the Prophet Joel…a very interesting read! The first half of the oracle is ‘doom and gloom’ followed by the inevitable call to national repentance (2:12), followed by the Lord’s answer and redemption (2:18) and judgement of the nations that caused harm to Israel.
In these redemptive passages we find some encouraging passages including those that speak of the autumn rains that we are right now desperately waiting for. [Prayer item]
The ‘ploughing’ has been done in the month of Tishri (the month of our High Holy days) and now in the month of Heshvan we are ready to sow the wheat and barley seed – the key ingredients for bread, the ‘staff of life.’ We will leave you to ponder the symbolism that Yeshua regularly uses to speak of his kingdom…
Congregational life: We continue to maneuver our way around Covid regulations as best we can, to enable Shabbat services on a monthly basis. As a religious gathering we can meet with up to 50 people without requiring a “Green Pass.” For meetings over 50 we have to adhere to Covid Restriction Criteria:
a) having received all three inoculations or
b) having recovered from Covid in the past 6 months or
c) having tested negative on a PCR test no longer than 48 hours before the event.)
As such, our Life-group system as our primary means of congregational life is proving to be very successful. Nevertheless, the monthly Shabbat service is an integral part of the vision when we can meet face-to-face in larger gatherings. In these we preach the Word (rather than in-depth Bible discussions), lift our voices and hearts in corporate worship and enjoy our liturgical traditions and conduct rites of passage events like baby dedications.
This past Shabbat, October 09 – we gathered once again at the Israel College of the Bible facility and despite being light in numbers because of the “Green Pass” restrictions we had a glorious time!
A highlight for us was dedicating our newest member of Beit Asaph, Josef – my assistant’s first child!
Vision that became real activity:
In order to meet a big need of learning the Bible and fellowship for our children, we prayed about it and the Lord gave us a vision to open the “Children’s Club” project, separate from the Sabbath services of the entire community and open as a ministry dedicated exclusively to children.
How the ministry takes place: Regularly, we gather all children aged 6 to 12 for 2.5 hours of club lessons in the evening after school.
Classes are taught by parents trained by us, youth after the army and teenagers help in organizing. Helping to serve the club helps young leaders to grow to be a leader.
Classes include worship time with music, joint prayer, Bible lesson according to a specific program, joint dinner, crafts according to the topic of the lesson, games, communication.
Children and their parents love the club very much and we see good fruits of blessing in families.
We ask you to support us in prayer so that we have the opportunity to expand our ministry, for appropriate facility, transportation and all ministers and helpers.
The Bible Club for our children and our weekly youth activities are flourishing as is our growing women’s ministry. We are super grateful to our neighbors; Rivka and her team at the Ethiopian congregation and Pastor Roman in Caesarea who have opened their facilities to Beit Asaph for our activities. Together with Israel College of the Bible we are well-catered for without having the huge expense of maintaining a large worship facility of our own! And all the while we are able to foster strong relationships and unity in the broader Believing community.
The National Body: We are deeply grieved by regular reports and calls for prayer from various parts of the country. Our intention here is to rally prayer for the local congregations, both Jewish and Arab. Corona and government policy has split the Body terribly. The vax/anti-vax issue is dividing families, congregations and the nation. We are bombarded with so much confusing information and fear-mongering and of course the inevitable governmental policy of pushing vaccination as hard as possible while employers increase pressure on employees to comply. All these things and more are making congregational life and pastoral work very challenging. We are witnessing a ‘falling away’ from fellowship life in many parts of the Believing community and some congregations showing significant signs of disintegrating…even those that have previously been very stable and impactful in their regions. Please make this a major priority in prayer.
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Revelations 21:1-3
It is not usual for us for us to choose biblical texts that are directed towards ‘end times’ but perhaps not surprising, given the circumstances we have all been living in during the past 16 months. Up until six months ago I used to laugh when our daughter would say, “Abba we need to prepare for the Apocalypse.” We no longer laugh as we face yet another new wave of the Corona pandemic, suffer war and threats from our enemies, experience civil unrest and racial tensions internally. Of course we keep an eye on international affairs as well. Travel in and out of Israel remains highly restricted and we hear frightening news from friends in many parts of Europe suffering extraordinary flooding. May God help us all!
Our big concern on the health front that warrants your prayers is the arrival of the ‘delta variant’ of Covid-19 that is highly contagious, makes people very sick and is seemingly undeterred by the Pfizer vaccine so many of us have had in Israel. Already the vaccine’s efficacy rate here has dropped from 94% only a few months ago, to 64%. Those of us in the upper age-bracket are once again having to be extra careful.
On a personal front, Maala and I have just completed a broad range of medical tests and are comforted by very positive results. We are careful to keep a healthy lifestyle to counter our stressful vocation and high level of people-contact. Nevertheless we would cover your prayers for us and for our pastoral colleagues, Lev and Ora. We all need a summer break and a change of scenery. Right now though, our new government is closely monitoring the alarming rise in national Covid-19 statistics. This week will once again see limits placed on gatherings. Are we headed towards another “lockdown” or are we simply going to have to learn to live with this virus in the community? Those sorts of decisions of course have enormous political ramifications, dangers to health notwithstanding.
We have a new government! Most of the country is very grateful to see a change of leadership and a ‘unity government’ of broad diversity. Despite initial concerns about its ability to function (you know the saying, “three Israelis in the same room – five opinions and just as many political parties!”) Although it is still ‘early days’ they are off to a good start. Diplomatic bridges have already been repaired with some key partners and on the home front civil tensions are slowly easing and some important social reforms are ‘on the table.’ As followers of Yeshua, we don’t have to agree with the policies of our governments but we do have a responsibility to pray for our leaders! Please pray for PM Naftali Bennet and his Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and their cabinet of ministers,
ranging politically from the center right to the far left and with the strongest contingent of highly capable women that Israel has ever seen. It is most unusual for us to place so much emphasis on politics in our prayer report. But the past two years of poor leadership in Israel literally placed our nation at risk. It is not surprising that we are overjoyed at seeing political stability restored, given the current circumstances we live under.
Beit Asaph Update: We are thrilled toreport that we conducted our first full service after 16 months! It was a glorious celebration with 150 adults and a full quota of kids in attendance. Asher and his worship team had practiced hard during the course of the week. It was great seeing our daughter, Sara, and Lev’s son, David and his wife Polina, on the team.
I (Evan) worked all week on a message based on the Book of Nehemiah, drawing many parallels from the text to the current situation in both Israel and in the national Body of Messiah (see photo).
Israel College of the Bible (ICB) kindly opened their facility to Beit Asaph and this week we will be sitting with their leadership to negotiate the terms for a regular arrangement. Our hope is to conduct a celebration service at the College once a month. Please pray for favor in our negotiations.
Meanwhile our youth enjoy their weekly meetings at the local Ethiopian congregational facility and our Children’s Bible Club is now well established at the facility of a Russian-speaking congregation in Caesarea. We sense that God is well-pleased at this cooperation between local ministries. Our training/ prayer center and administration office at Beit Itzak are serving us well and several of the new Life-groups are conducting weekly meetings there.
We are delighted to report that we now have 15 Life-groups established, the newest being a group made up of serving soldiers and those who have been recently released from the I.D.F. Please pray for Michael, Asher and Hodiyya as they help the group establish roles and responsibilities. Like most of the Life-groups they have adopted the method of systematic study through Books of the Bible, beginning with the Gospel of Matthew. This is a great place to begin to help the members rediscover who Yeshua is and how His kingdom functions. As we regularly visit the groups, it’s interesting to hear how each one draws relevance from the text, depending on the relative ages and cultural backgrounds. These pastoral visits help us assess where the needs are for further training – in group facilitation or how to prepare and facilitate an effective Bible discussion.
Both Lev and Evan find this kind of pastoral work far more rewarding and personal than the inordinate time previously spent each week preparing for the weekly Shabbat services. The reforms require us all to be far more flexible and mobile but succeeding to train our congregants and develop ministry skills and confidence among many, makes it all worth it. Please keep us in your prayers…
Missions: a brief word about Miriam (Uganda) and Elyakim (Japan):
Miriam has recovered from a bout of Corona virus that she contracted while travelling to Kampala to renew her visa. She is now out with the team she has helped train doing mission outreach among the refugee camps that surround the base on the Sudanese border.
Elyakim assists the local congregation in worship during services and during the week functions as a kindergarten teacher for local children. He is gifted in languages (six to-date) and has plans to learn Korean. At every opportunity he is out on the streets of Osaka sharing the Gospel with all who will listen!
David (my assistant) is currently putting finishing touches to the team of Yad b’Yad 1.0 – the youth mission to Nuremburg in early August. This initiative needs your prayers. It has been a nightmare trying to recruit as you can well imagine. Hence the team is smaller than usual and will limit its activities to Germany rather than the usual travel to Poland and Auschwitz. There will be much to be done around Nuremburg, however, and they will visit the concentration camp museum of Buchenwald. Hopefully flight restrictions won’t cause cancellations…
With the cancellation for the second year running of the Yad b’Yad 2.0 mission initiative for young adults we have decided to bring the Israeli team together for a weekend retreat in Newe Shalom in the Judean foothills. This will provide continuity and give us the chance to pray for one another and an initiative next year, 2022.
Thank you all for persevering in prayer for us in Israel and in particular for the Beit Asaph community. We are so grateful for your interest and continued support. This is never taken for granted. We pray too for you that you remain healthy and strong in your faith.