It feels weird to look down at someone when they’re kneeling before you in abject humility. In a Jerusalem conference I found myself in this position before a highly respected veteran Korean church leader. He was repenting for his country’s callousness toward Jewish suffering, and passive anti-Semitism during and after the Holocaust.
So, I got on my knees facing him. Then he began weeping, sobbing with regret and a broken heart for our people. I listened and watched, gripped by the intensity of Han Sik Kim’s emotion. I could only put my arms around my brother while he wept. In each other’s arms, a Korean and an Israeli, we were united by Yeshua.
What had released this wave of repentance, joined by the several hundred Korean believers in the conference session?
In part, it was my repentance before them earlier in the evening. I had said:
“My place, our place tonight as Israelis, is to repent before you, for not serving you…the nations for whom we were given responsibility by Almighty God. We have not given you a good example. Our calling, from Abraham onwards has been to bless all the nations of the earth and to serve you as faithful priests – bringing prayers and atonement before God on your behalf. Instead, we profaned God’s holy name by our idolatry. Yet, He promised to sanctify His great name by bringing us out of the nations and back into our own land – which is why you have come to Eretz Yisrael, to see this redemption in progress with your own eyes.”
When I expressed this openly, asking the group to forgive us, I felt a shudder pass through the room. Something broke. Genuinely humbling one’s self can be unnerving, but it produces a mirror response. After I spoke, Brother Kim came up to repent before me, and all Israel.
Humility begets humility.
Repentance begets repentance.
Love begets love.
Today, we are in a unique situation. Today we see, for the first time in nearly 2000 years, both the awakening body of disciples throughout the Nations – and in restored Israel. I believe that is why our friends from the Nations come to Israel. They long to take part in an historic opportunity.
How shall we enter into His end-time plan together? God is calling us into levels of cooperation we have only begun to glimpse – on every level – from the personal to the familial, to the congregational, to the regional and beyond.
This will take mutual humility.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” ( James 4:10).
Melody of Eternity
About 5 years ago my wife suggested we start a music school. She herself loves music very much, and all our kids play musical instruments, the older ones even on a professional level (if you wish, I can send you a video – just contact me at email@example.com).
The goals for the music school:
To give the children in our congregation a chance to receive good musical education
To serve underprivileged new immigrant children in a humanitarian way and keep them off the streets
To grant professional musicians an opportunity to teach instead of “cleaning the streets” To give both children and teachers the chance to learn the melody of eternity under the umbrella of a Messianic Congregation
Now the Rainbow of Sounds Music School under the umbrella of Return to Zion Ministries is in full swing. We have 45 students, many of whom are very talented. The school employs 11 teachers part time – some of them are believers, while others are far away from God, as is the case with most immigrants from the former Soviet Union (that empire of failed communism and belligerent atheism). But all of our teachers love the atmosphere at the Messianic Congregation. For me this is a barometer of activity or non-activity of the Holy Spirit.
Now allow me to introduce you to one of our teachers, an accomplished musician immigrant:
My name is Mindia. I am a composer, arranger, producer and teacher. I was born in 1973 in the city Batumi, Georgia in the Former Soviet Union. After teaching music at university level, in 2012 I immigrated to Israel and now live in Haifa. For one year now I have been teaching piano and music theory at the “Rainbow of Sounds” School of Music and Arts under the umbrella of “Return to Zion Ministries.”
The school is like one big family. We rejoice together with our students. Their success is also our success. Each time one of the kids advances in musical expression, it stimulates me to continue and to create more and more.
No other activity unites the soul, spirit and mind like music–while connecting us with our heritage and improving perception, empathy, self control, and memory.
We would like to expand the school to include audio recording, as well as advanced content such as arranging, harmony, acoustics and musical variety.
Playing a music instrument requires a long term commitment. There are no shortcuts to mastering a skill. This is especially important to impart to our children, since today’s world is bombarded with fast technology and instant gratification. For this reason, we so appreciate the chance to further develop the school.
Please pray for our music school, as a spiritual initiative – for the Lord’s face to shine upon all participants, students and teachers alike, that they may open their hearts to Him. At the same time, I would like to ask you to consider partnering with us financially in this project. Blessings to you all.
Coming of Age
Every society has some sort of “coming-of-age” ceremony for its young people. The onset of puberty is the beginning of major changes in the life of a young person, involving much more than just physiological development. This is the point in life where one is moving out of childhood and into the world of adults. Of course a 12 or 13 year old is not really an adult. However, the young person is quite capable of making serious life choices and commitments regarding faith and identity. If kept, these will develop into a genuine mature faith in the Lord and service to the community.
On a recent Shabbat morning my grandson, Itamar, chanted beautifully from the Torah scroll at Tents of Mercy Congregation. Surrounded by close family and friends I thought of my own Bar Mitzvah fifty-six years ago. It was so important to me then and still is. All my sons and daughters have done a Bar/Bat Mitzvah – some in the United States and some here in Israel. It is a ritual woven into our life.
In the Jewish community this rite of passage signifies that the young person is now obligated to keep the commandments. The Torah scroll has a prominent place – not in an idolatrous fashion, but because it symbolizes those things which are central to our faith. The Torah, (five books of Moses), is the foundational revelation upon which all scriptures are built – the remaining books of the Older Testament as well as the Newer Covenant scriptures. Therefore it represents the entire revelation of God in written form and also Him who is the center of our faith–Yeshua the eternal living Word Who became flesh and dwelt among us.
Also, more so than Bibles printed in book form, the handwritten parchment scroll is a symbol rooted in the history of Israel. It is an expression of continuity with the covenant nation that received the Word at Sinai and has been entrusted with it until today. We are part of the remnant returning to the Land promised to our forefathers, and we are part of the remnant returning to the God of our fathers through the atonement of Yeshua HaMashiach.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah is an occasion when the young person has the opportunity to affirm his or her own connection with and commitment to the God of Israel, the Messiah of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the people of Israel – in a visible expression of the covenant community of believers. He or she reads the appropriate passage from the scroll for that Sabbath. Then, in our congregational tradition, gives a short teaching about the passage and an affirmation of their faith.
In whatever culture we find ourselves, “Coming of Age” should be an opportunity to bring a boy or girl into the sphere of responsibility where their walk with the Lord and their service to the community is beyond that of a child, and where they are expected to take on an ever-increasing responsibility for their own actions and a deeper pursuance of relationship with God.