“One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
Twenty years is the minimum benchmark duration of one generation.
A twenty-one year process came to fruition on December 3, 2016. That process began with the founding of the Tents of Mercy congregation. I was privileged to found the congregation, inaugurating our fellowship in a simple warehouse in Kiryat Yam, outside of Haifa in December of 1995. Many years later I began to realize that the congregation would eventually need a younger leader. This individual would have to be able to communicate with the upcoming generation in Hebrew as well as be familiar with Israeli culture to make him and the congregation relevant in mainstream Israel. It was then that I saw the hand of God on Avi, and sensed that I was to pour myself into him, with the likelihood that he would be our primary leader for the next generation.
More than sixteen years ago I saw in Avi a man of character, with a depth of commitment to Yeshua and an eagerness to grow spiritually. That he was of Ethiopian Jewish origin served to further impress me, because I saw his double determination. On the one hand he carried that heritage with honor, and on the other hand he was fully involved with Israeli believers of all ethnic and national origins. Then, to my permanent delight, he courted our daughter, Hannah, and they married in October of 2000.
At that time Avi worked for the national Department of Health. During his seven years in that post he gained valuable experience taking care of new immigrants and enabling them to understand and benefit from the appropriate government services. When he joined the congregation’s staff as an intern, I was immediately attracted to his heart for people and his ability to make our humanitarian efforts touch lives. Spiritual leadership soon followed. We have walked closely together, especially during this past seven years of preparation to receive the mantle of senior pastoral leader.
The Shabbat of Avi’s ordination was thrilling. I’m not exaggerating. The sanctuary was filled with congregational members and many visitors who’d come to bless Avi and Hannah as we entered a new era. Many of us were moved to tears, realizing the profound meaning of the shift. After an eventful pioneering stage, Tents of Mercy would now be led by a couple in their early forties instead of one in their late sixties.
I cannot fully put into words the satisfaction, gratitude, and anticipation that I am experiencing in this transition. It will be my privilege to continue overseeing our five-congregation network, with greater freedom to coach all of our leaders, and to serve the rest of the Israeli body in several capacities that already occupy me.
Cause Them to Inherit It
When Moses commissioned Joshua to lead Israel in his place, he said to him:
“Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8). This charge applies to Avi and to his entire generation. We have entered perilous, yet momentous times. I urge you to join me in celebrating these generational commissionings all over the globe, and to intercede often for the next chapters to be written for the glory of our Messiah.
Here are a few of the many prophetic prayers and blessings declared over the congregation and the new pastoral couple while they knelt before the Lord and His flock.
Hanan Lukatz, chairman of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Israel: “Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: ‘Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.’ And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight’” (Numbers 27:15-18).
Asher Intrater, apostolic coordinator of the Revive Israel Network of Ministries focused his keynote message on the Hebrew meanings of the word “hasmacha.” In Hebrew ordination and authority and relying on someone all come from that same root, ס-מ-כ, samech-mem-chaf. These three meanings came to bear in the ordination ceremony for Avi. Ordination in Hebrew literally means to lay hands on someone.
Anise Barhoum, highly respected spiritual father in the Galilee among Arab Evangelical pastors and Director of House of Light: We are a family together. We stand like a wall around you for protection so only those our Father allows can come in. We are happy to stand here in this place and bless this family including grandchildren to come. We pray for this congregation to be family that loves each other, and focuses on the victories.
Patty Juster, Restoration from Zion: This takes place on the day when the portion of Scripture is read in synagogues all over the world, which speaks of “Generations.” It is a holy time.
“For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments” (Psalm 78:5-7).
We are celebrating something today of our historic relationship one with another – by God’s grace being able to maintain covenant from generation to generation. Why is this important to God? Because he desires Godly offspring. There is a testimony established in the line of Jacob. God desires this transfer of testimony of God’s goodness, faithfulness and ability to keep covenant. God has placed in the hearts of men and women a demonstration of His covenant with His people. And this is the fruit of that testimony – the goodness of the Lord and his deeds being told from Generation to generation.
Guy Cohen, Akko pastor: God is with you. You are not alone. He has prepared you and given you what you need. You have already broken through many barriers, and God will break through many more through you.
Shmuel Birnbaum, Israeli pastor: God has promised to bring us into the Promised Land and give us shepherds after His own heart.
Matthew Rudolph, Director of Gateways training school: The Lord is rock and honey for you and for this congregation – the strength of the rock and the sweetness of the honey.
Shmuel Aweida, Haifa pastor: “Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your name be given glory on account of Your gracious love and faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1 ISV). Walk in His sovereignty and grace. There will not be a day you won’t need them.
Avi’s concluding words: Hebrews chapter 11 describes faith as the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. This is spoken on the background of a cloud of witnesses – heroes of faith who have bequeathed to us hope and promises from God for the coming generations. We are here surrounded by a cloud of witnesses – fathers standing behind us. We thank God for the heritage that He has given us, more than we could have asked for.
“For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (II Timothy 2:11-13).
God is not dependent on this pastoral couple to establish His kingdom. He is dependent on Himself. God who brought us to this point will be faithful to continue working into the next generation, in power and in breakthroughs.
As King David said in Psalms 23, our cup overflows. That which we have received from God is not only full but overflowing.
As generations of fathers and sons we receive Your calling on us, humbly trusting that You are faithful to fulfill what You have promised. Help us stand with You. Help us bring Your people into the promises. We declare Your kingdom in this land.
“And he led the flock to the back of the desert” (Exodus 3:1).
Several weeks ago fifteen men from Return to Zion Congregation, a pastor from Holland and a tourist from Russia made a trip to the desert together, with the same goal as the previous trip in 2015:
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
In the midst of our busy daily routine, as we rush about meeting our responsibilities, we need to regularly stop and dedicate time to the Lord, to be still and experience His presence. The desert is the perfect place to emphasize this aspect of stepping out of our often hectic schedules, together with other men who are seeking to live lives dedicated to God.
This year, on our first day we hiked to a small canyon near the Dead Sea and walked for about 16 km. During the hike, we shared with God and others what was on our hearts, enjoyed the stunning natural scenery, drank coffee and tea in the middle of nowhere and took time to just be still in Him.
Links in the Chain
Scripture describes a special “chain” of which we are a part:
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Yeshua; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Yeshua is God” (I Corinthians 11:3).
We need to be a strong link in this chain. We, the men, are a source of blessing in our homes, and we are to be the connection between our family and God! If we are a weak, rusty link, this condition will adversely affect our families and our communities.
Our short trip into the desert was a special time of renewal, fellowship and rest. It was an opportunity for us as men to remember that we are called to be a strong and loyal part of God’s divine chain.
We are already looking forward to another Desert Experience in 2017!