- Article 1,'A Passover Discovery'
- Article 2, 'Laborers for the Harvest'
- Article 3, 'God’s Extended Arm of Mercy'
A Passover Discovery
By Eitan Shishkoff
As a new believer, I read the New Covenant account of Yeshua’s “last supper” and was stunned by what should have already been obvious. This was a Passover Seder – the ceremonial meal mandated by God in Exodus 12, to be celebrated “through your generations.” That one realization changed my life and brought me back to the Jewish heritage that had been lost in my assimilated upbringing.
It was no coincidence that this discovery took place after Yeshua was revealed to me as my Savior, Messiah, and Lord. Whereas conventional Jewish wisdom says that when a Jew turns to Jesus he has turned away from his Jewishness and from his people, the exact opposite was my experience and that of multitudes of Messianic Jews. Yeshua, King of the Jews, restored me and my family to a biblical legacy that eventuated in becoming Israeli citizens in 1992.
The ways of God are fascinating, aren’t they? In spite of nearly two millennia of bitter antipathy between the Church and the Synagogue, He refuses to be shoved off His original course.
And so we ask, “Is there continued Jewish identity and “membership” in the peoplehood of Israel for those Jews who come to faith in Jesus?”
The answer of the Catholic Church in the time of the Inquisition was “absolutely not!” They humiliated and burned at the stake, thousands of conversos.These were the Jewish converts to Catholicism who secretly continued to practice Jewish customs. Their “Christian” status was supposed to have erased their Jewish heritage. Hitler’s answer was also a diabolical “no,” as Jewish Christians throughout Europe were sent to the gas chambers and killing pits along with their “non-Messianic” brothers and sisters during the Holocaust. Their fate was fixed by their Jewish status without regard to their Christian faith.
Long Centuries without Jewish Life in Yeshua
As a Messianic Jew born in the 1940’s, I belong to the first generation of Yeshua’s openly Jewish followers since approximately the end of the 2nd century. Many heroic and sacrificial pioneers preceded our time, and we stand on their courageous shoulders. Yet their efforts remained within the context of church life. It was still uncharted territory to form Messianic Jewish communities.
Thus, the celebration of Passover as an active facet of life in Messiah (and not merely as a teaching device) has largely been recovered only in the past 40 years. Hanging on the wall of my office is a photo of me with my son at one of our first family Passover Seders. An atmosphere of tenderness and completion still radiates from our faces. We were experiencing the miracle of restoration – the restoration of an ancient, God-ordained way of life. At last, we had entered unapologetic identification with Israel’s divinely-mandated nationhood, history, and way of life.
Passover began as an annual commemoration of our deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Yeshua amplified and heightened that meaning by connecting it forever with His own blood sacrifice for our deliverance from sin’s slavery. As we savor the Feast of Unleavened Bread (April 14 to April 21) may we partake of God’s eternal redemption – of each of us, of Israel, of all the world.
Laborers for the Harvest
It is a great joy to report that the first extended Olive Tree Ranch Discipleship & Agriculture work-study program has been successfully completed. Over the course of half a year, four young Israeli men from central and northern Israel participated in indigenous Hebrew spiritual and vocational discipleship, overseen by Tents of Mercy. This is a real breakthrough and a step forward in what is available to Israelis in terms of discipleship. The young men were thirsty for more of God. Every morning we came together to the well of living water from 6:30 AM to 8:45 AM for a time of meditation in the Word, praise and worship, prayer and teaching application. Afterward we put in a full day’s work serving practically with olive trees, goats, pruning, farm maintenance, etc.
Feedback from Discipleship Participants:
“This program offers a fantastic combination of things I had been longing to be part of, specifically a community lifestyle of walking with God together, while at the same time maintaining a full-time work schedule.” “I grew in the fruit of the spirit and received lots of good on-the-job vocational experience fostering a diverse set of skills.” “On weekends back at home I found myself longing for our morning times together in consistent, unhurried pursuit of hearing God’s voice. This has been a very special time in my life.” “The internship was greater than I knew while I was in it. Only after I finished and looked back did I realize what a strong effect it had. When I came, I had no idea what Yeshua had in store for me. I came in faith, following His lead, and His grace met me here. I soon discovered that I was learning under an anointing. I also found that God had placed around me, not necessarily the men whom I would have chosen to live so closely with, but men who challenged me, sharpened me, and honestly cared for me. These friendships are still valuable to me. The lifestyle that was offered, of worship and study and service in community, surpassed all my expectations. This simple life is rich. I came with a certain understanding of life in Yeshua. While here, that understanding changed. My perspectives were deepened and my horizons broadened.”
We saw the promises playing out before our eyes:
“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgements, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers…He will bless… your [olive] oil,…and the offspring of your flock,in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you.” (Deuteronomy 7:12-13)
One of our main service projects was pruning 500 olive trees to help breathe new life into an olive grove that had been neglected for several years. We are looking forward to harvesting this grove next year, believing that the oil quantity it produces will increase.
Another project we helped with was the “offspring of your flock.” During these months a few hundred kid goats were born on the goat farm where we did much of our service and vocational training. We helped “catch” the babies, and then fed them by bottle until they learned to eat grain and hay. The guys learned tangible lessons, translating Bible parables regarding flocks and trees into personal understanding and application.
Many other parts of the Word have taken on special meaning such as:
“Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”(Matthew 9:38)
“He goes before them and the flock follows Him, because they know His voice.”( John 10:4)
The program also included taking monthly field trip/prayer days out into inspiring nature venues in the Galilee with historical and Biblical significance. One day we had the surprise privilege of immersing a tourist brother in the Jordan River and receiving prophetic messages for him. We appreciate your prayers and support which made this first extended session possible! Planning is already underway for the next session to begin later this year. If you are interested in helping this program through prayer, financial support, or equipment purchase, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
God’s Extended Arm of Mercy
By Leon Mazin
The storefront on Yaffo Street in downtown Haifa looks like any regular take-out restaurant in the neighborhood. People drop in for their daily hot meals. Some bring their own plastic containers, and some receive their meals prepackaged. The idea of Shavei Tzion’s soup kitchen is to allow financially challenged residents to receive their help in a discreet manner that respects their privacy.
The goal of the food distribution is to show unconditional mercy, and it is not done in order to gain more members for our congregation. Through referrals from Haifa social services, the kitchen receives people from all faiths and backgrounds, with no strings attached. Humanitarian aid that is prompted by faith is a product of God’s spirit. We who have experienced mercy are drawn to show it to others.
It is in God’s heart to allow needy people to trust in His providence, and to feel that someone truly cares. We, as believers in Yeshua, can ease their burden somewhat by providing hot meals. This aid allows soup kitchen clients to experience God’s providence in a personal way. If He cares that the birds of the air receive their daily portion of nutrition, how much more does He care for the needs of men – His unique creation. We pray that as the soup kitchen clients receive our humble offerings of food, they would tangibly experience God’s goodness and mercy, and that the identity of their true Provider will be revealed to them.
God, help us as your servants to be hidden behind your extended arm of mercy. God, let our left hand not know what our right hand is doing, so that you alone will be glorified. (Matthew 6:3)
We are living in very uncertain times. Many people are burdened by daily worries and are fearful about their future. This is the time to actively demonstrate God’s mercy. Only He has all the answers. Only He can protect us from evil. Please pray for our soup kitchen ministry to be an effective extended arm of God’s compassionate love to the needy people around us.
“I greatly enjoy the healthy food your kitchen serves. I hope it will never stop! I wish health and happiness to all its supporters from all my heart!”
“I have diabetes. Your kitchen has been very helpful in providing me with meals suitable for my diet. Many thanks to your organization.”
“I thank you for your help, especially to the elderly. Because of it, we do not need to spend hours standing in front of the kitchen stove each day. I am very pleased with this service.”
|During Passover this year, Tents of Mercy’s Humanitarian Aid Center in Kiryat Yam will again celebrate God’s redemption and provision by distributing 700 packages to needy families referred to us by the local municipality. We are planning to involve volunteers from a local public school and representatives from the municipality. This is a sign of favor, partnership and community spirit. Your prayers are most welcome, as well as designated donations as you may feel led.|