- Article 1,'Shofar Blowing Marks 20 Years'
- Article 2,'Maria, My Mother'
- Article 3,'Humanitarian Aid Report”'
- Article 4,'Love is All You Need”'
Shofar Blowing Marks 20 Years
It had been 20 years. Looking around at the standing-room-only crowd of worshipers, I did the math. They had come to celebrate the Rosh HaShana shofar blowing at the Akko congregation, Katzir Asher. Hearts eager for more of God, they came from all of the congregations in our network. Even while relishing the Lord’s strong, sweet presence I quickly calculated the passage of time since our first home Bible study. In 1994, seven of us began meeting in the small apartment of an immigrant couple north of Haifa. Twenty years later that has become five congregations and an agricultural disciplining center – stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee. Four of them gather in their own, paid-for facilities. Our combined number hovers around 500.
Next, I thought “This is a magnificent achievement of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He’s the one who called us back from exile. He’s the one who gathered Israeli believers in Messiah from every background, to be here in this room, calling for Yeshua to return to Israel. He’s the one who authored Tents of Mercy and the subsequent daughter works. Praise Him!”
I felt overcome with gratitude and joy. I experienced a sense of peaceful fulfillment rare during the constant dealing with facts-on-the-ground questions like, “Am I doing enough? Is Yeshua effectively being made known in Israel? Do our activities really reflect the greatness of God’s redeeming love?” Beholding the fruit of His grace, I basked in thanksgiving.
I then asked, “What about the next twenty years?” Immediately I knew we had arrived at the end of one era and the beginning of another. It is time for the next generation of leaders and disciples to emerge. It is time for the mothers and fathers who labored these twenty years, to take on the mantle of mentor/ coach. What an exciting stage.
The Lord has done much in these twenty years, and I believe He’s getting ready to do much more during the next twenty. Those of you who have stood with us and participated through prayers, visits, and finances are part of this miracle. Todah! Thanks! All of this is a prelude to the next chapter. It won’t be easy, because darkness is beginning to cover the earth. But the Lord promises that He will arise over us and His glory will be seen upon us (Isaiah 60:2). Rough modern paraphrase: “It don’t look so good out there, but the best is yet to come.”
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In October 1968, a young lady in Belarus gave birth to her first born child. That young lady was my mother Maria, and I was that baby.
Maria was also born in Belarus. She was still a newborn when her family had to flee from the Nazis in 1940. During the war she was wounded from ammunition shrapnel, but her life was miraculously spared. She grew up in an economically challenged home and had a tough childhood and adolescence. For that reason she never denied me or my children the privileges of life. She cared deeply and practically for her family, gave preference to the needs of others and had a servant’s heart.
One morning in August 2014, at the beginning of the new school year, my bedridden mother called me to check whether I had remembered to take my own youngest children to school(!). Later that same day I received a phone call from her caretaker, who said that my mom had passed away. It all happened so suddenly, and yet even on her last day on earth, she was thinking of others.
Unlike many Jews in the Former Soviet Union, my mother received a good Jewish upbringing. However, the family culture under the heavy-handed Soviet rule of Communism did not encourage an open expression of emotions or communication within the family. In retrospect, I see this as a great loss—the Iron Curtain had covered our hearts as well as our nation. Now that my dear mother has gone to be with the Lord, I do have one regret: not having spent enough quality, heart-to-heart time with her. With God’s help I try to act differently with my own children.
Growing up, as she did, in an atheistic regime, Mom was not very spiritually oriented. She did, however, enjoy attending our Messianic services from time to time. I am greatly consoled by her confession of faith in Yeshua the Messiah, during the concluding days of her earthly journey. Of course, even after the seven day Shiva (the Jewish mourning period), we are still grieving as a family. But with the hope given to us through the New Covenant, we know we’ll be reunited one day!
Some may have esteemed my mother for her devotion to her family. In my eyes her great value is based on the fact that she was created in the image of God. Death has NO power or authority to destroy this image.
He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…and the God of Maria, my mother. May she rest in peace.
I thank our ministry friends for their prayers and support during our time of bereavement.
Humanitarian Aid Report
Our humanitarian aid mandate is not only to help the poor, but also to provide practical assistance to those affected by national crisis, such as the recent war. Here are some of the projects we are currently involved in:
High Holidays Outreach & Monthly Food Distribution
Our monthly food basket distribution helps 350- 400 needy families with a generous bag of 14 basic items. During the holiday season, we increase that to over 20 items, including traditional festive items such as pomegranates. Based on last year’s experience and the large number of requests we received this year from the Kiryat Yam City and Welfare Offices and from other organizations, we doubled the number of recipients to over 800. The growing need reflects the difficult state many families are in. This increase may seem modest, but when you look into the extra administration, logistics and on-ground work, not to mention the financial cost, it’s only by grace and faith that we are taking this step. We truly appreciate your prayers in this regard.
Family Support Center
This is another project that is an on-going enrichment as opposed to a one-time assistance. We were requested to partner with the city of Kiryat Yam to create a parent-child counseling center. The purpose of this facility is to provide a place where atrisk children and their parents can receive guidance, support, and counseling. Our part began by physically cleaning, renovating the space, decorating the interior (with assistance from members of Tents of Mercy’s community and volunteers from abroad) and providing furnishings from our used furniture warehouse. The center is called “An Oasis – Preparing the way for Parents and Children.” The program has begun and we are in the midst of continuing further renovations since a major leak was recently detected. The repair will cost approximately $5000 and we are seeking to help them. The vision of this center is very close to our hearts as well as yours. What an opportunity!
Financial Assistance toward Essential Needs
Tents of Mercy serves as an “address” for those in need of financial assistance for essential needs of various kinds. Recipients are referred to us through the city welfare offices, as well as other reputable organizations. This financial assistance is granted for essential needs including urgent medical and dental care, payment of utility bills (electric, gas, water), etc. Those who receive grants from this department are mainly at-risk children from needy families, elderly and Holocaust survivors, single-parent families, and new immigrants. The importance of this branch of our humanitarian aid work speaks for itself. Our decision-making board members come from community and social work backgrounds. So the process is guided both by prayer and a deep understanding of families’ genuine needs.
Financial Aid for Professional Training and Re-training
It is very important to us to assist not only those who are in dire need but also those who are striving to improve their socioeconomic status. Often the poor get stuck in a cycle of need, and we are excited to see people break out of that cycle, by assisting them to get the necessary training. We have witnessed the fruit of this work, where recipients have gone from cleaning and menial jobs to professional and better-paying positions. These are the same people who are then able to help others and give back to the community.
In conclusion, we would like to express our heart-felt appreciation for your partnership in all these endeavors. We are humbled by the fact that we have received mercy from the Merciful One and in turn are able to give to others. May His likeness be engraved in all that we do, showing His Love and Glory among His people.
“Love is all you need” was written on their decorative napkins. And experiencing Sasha and Sigal’s wedding, one was convinced. Set in the Carmel forest, the celebration was an oasis of joy and love amidst the smoke and death of the Gaza war.
“In my imperfection, I pledge my unconditional devotion to you for our entire lifetime,” said he, looking into her eyes. “I promise to continue loving you faithfully, even in times when love will not be as simple for us as it is at this moment,” she responded.
Sasha is the son of the Tishkovs, who made aliyah from Kazakhstan in the former Soviet Union. Sigal is the daughter of the Shishkoffs, immigrants from the U.S.A. East meets West – in Israel. They courted for five years, through high school and army service, serving together in the Tents of Mercy youth group and worship teams.
Their wedding was a climactic celebration of restored life in Israel, fulfilled prophecy and intertwined lives, and also a glimpse and foretaste of another Wedding yet to come.