- Two Protected Species
- Echoes of Soviet Repression
- Turning Good Things into Idols?!
- “When the Lord Brought Back the Captives of Zion”
- Download April Newsletter
Two Protected Species
“Let your loving kindness and your truth continually preserve me.” (Psalms 40:11)
Protecting the Red (Wildflower)Although I can’t remember the first time someone told me as a new immigrant, still EVERYONE in Israel knows, you are forbidden to pick wildflowers, especially the bright red poppy anemones. Israelis are completely infatuated with the cheerful red flowers that appear all over the landscape just before spring.
A national Israeli advertising campaign said: “Go out in nature, but don’t pick (the flowers)!” – “Tse l’Nof, al tiktof.” Ironically, many Israelis will toss their trash anywhere they happen to be, but they will NOT pick the wildflowers.
I love the red Calaniot, which is their name in Hebrew. They spread a message of hope and encouragement after the dry hot summers, impossibly short autumns, and wet winters. They grow in the small forest near our house. Towards the end of winter I often escape for a few minutes to the forest either with or without some of my kids – to wash my eyes with green and the occasional pop of red spotting the forest floor. There are also white and light purple Cyclamens and various yellow wildflowers. But, the red poppies are the queens, the visual prize, the dash of color that makes the rest of the landscape look adorned.
Calanit is also the name of the girl who befriended me when I was in basic training in the IDF in the fall of 1993. She was patient and sweet and strong and helped me through two and half weeks that could otherwise have been miserable. You regular readers may remember that our eldest daughter just went into the army, and we are proud to update that she made it successfully through basic training and is now in a navy technical course. She also made some good friends in her first few weeks, and the camaraderie she’s feeling is a huge asset and a wonderful by-product of the army experience here. And so it goes, the Israeli army takes that the sweet young generation and swiftly transforms spoiled teenagers into serious, equipped and trained young adults who come to do the lion’s share of watching, protecting and fighting so that Israel can maintain her freedom and security.
It’s no wonder and no coincidence that the Calanit was chosen as our national flower and is protected by law. It symbolizes renewal, preservation, persistence, beauty, boldness and life
Protected by the Red (Blood of the Lamb)
As a community we just packed 900 Passover food bags to give out to the needy. The Deputy Mayor came to visit us while we were working and commended and blessed us, saying he is proud to be part of a city where such an organization serves.
We pray for him and for our city, and we are excited to be celebrating Passover with family, unlike last year when we had to celebrate alone, confined to lockdown restrictions. In pondering the Passover/Exodus story, we find a poignant correlation between the bright red of the Calaniot and the red blood of the lamb on the doorposts protecting the people from judgment.
May this Spring, Passover and Easter season bring you the joy and cheer of renewed vitality and may God preserve you and bring you into the next season of your life! – by Hannah Tekle
Echoes of Soviet Repression
By Leon Mazin
Peace and grace to you from God through Yeshua the Messiah.
I was born in the USSR in 1968. By the age of 13 or 14 I noticed a problem. People were not saying what they thought; they were saying what was expected! TV and radio were constantly broadcasting messages “pleasing” to the government, and alternative opinions were either suppressed or ridiculed. I was only a boy, but this injustice always hurt me terribly. When I went to study at the university in Riga in 1985 and then served in the Soviet Army in 1988, I saw how propaganda was growing in strength and aggressiveness.
Under Soviet rule there was also a question of equality since the rights of some people (in my case as a Jewish believer in Yeshua) were diminished relative to the rights of others. Many who grew up in the free world do not understand how this felt, but there was a definite suppression of the human spirit.
Israel, according to our leaders, is the only democracy in the Middle East. I have always seen and understood it as such, and I have felt “proud” to live here ever since I left the Former Soviet Union and made aliyah thirty years ago. My experience in Israel up until very recently has been that you could say what you wanted to say, even if others disagreed. Your vote meant something, and you had equal rights even if you had less talent.
I do not recognize my beloved Israel today.The mass media in Israel today is filled with propaganda. It is clear that a pandemic is a real danger, and it is important to act responsibly. But when you see how some people get away with ignoring the police and the “rules of the pandemic,” while others are condemned and fined, it seems that the freedom of a human being to be the master of his or her own body is being sacrificed to the “Moloch of vaccination.” I am not for or against vaccination, however, I am for the freedom of each person to decide.
The Israeli news regularly reports on threats to restrict the rights of those who “refuse” vaccination, I feel uncomfortable, and I am churning inside, as I did when I was in the USSR! But now my disappointment is much greater. After all, Israel has always been a free country!
Why am I writing this to you? I want to provoke you to prayer. Earnest prayer changes the heart of a nation’s leaders. Dear friends, your prayers and your contributions are an integral part of our work for the Lord in the Land of Israel. Thank you for strengthening our arms.
Peace and protection upon you and your family members from the Almighty, Heavenly Father.
Turning Good Things into Idols?!
By Guy CohenIn the book of Thessalonians, Paul addresses believers who “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Idol worship takes on many forms. All too often at one point or another we may cross the line and find ourselves making an idol out of something.
One biblical example is that of Moses and the bronze serpent on a pole. When the people spoke against God, He sent venomous serpents as punishment. Then the people went to Moses admitting their sin and asking for him to pray. God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent which the people would look at in order to live (Numbers 21:4-9). Originally the bronze serpent was a blessing, but eventually it turned into an idol. Generations later, King Hezekiah broke it into pieces (2 Kings 18:4).
Throughout history and even today, objects of all types have been turned into idols. Again, once the object becomes an idol, that which was meant to bring life can bring death. Many religious objects have been made into the “answer” for our sins and troubles. However, in fact it is Yeshua, the living Word, who paid the price for our sins and who sent the Helper, the Spirit of God to dwell in us who is our protection.
How could a pastor become an idol?
In various areas of life, all too often we look to a man in authority – a leader we can see standing physically in front of us. This is understandable because we often feel the need to lean on something tangible. I have noticed that no matter how often I admonish the congregation to look to God, they still tend to look to me for answers that only He can give. This is dangerous for the congregation, and is subtly used by the enemy to bring disappointment, blame and division.
Yes. The pastor should be an example of living a life dedicated to God, a life of intimacy with Yeshua and the leading of the Holy Spirit in daily life. However, our strength is in God, and our personal decisions must be made by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Another area which can become a form of idol worship, even among believers in Yeshua, is the desire for a marriage partner and family.
How could marriage and children become an idol?
Marriage and family are natural and biblical. However, we must not put them on the highest pedestal in our hearts. If they become the focus of our thoughts, causing us to put Yeshua aside in the name of a relationship, we are putting the cart before the horse. Moreover, a marriage relationship without God in the center is incomplete. (I want to encourage people to be patient because God has a plan for our lives and timing is part of it.)
We must be aware of what our heart is drawn to because the enemy sees and the moment our attention is caught we run the risk of entering into the enemy’s trap, believing it is from God. Later when things don’t work out we may find ourselves asking God why He led us there. In all things, we must guard our heart: “Worship the LORD your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Luke 4:8).
“When the Lord Brought Back the Captives of Zion”
TIKKUN ORIGINS – Part 2
(For more on this Origins Saga, see Part 1.)
By Eitan ShishkoffIn the early 90s, both Asher Intrater and I were being pulled to Israel, to play a small part in the fulfillment of biblical prophecies of the Jewish return from the diaspora to Zion (Psalm 126, Jeremiah 31:8-10, etc.)
A new chapter was opening in the partnership we’d forged throughout the 80s with Dan Juster and others. Preparing for the leap of aliyah (returning to Israel) consumed our immediate families, as we drew strength from the Tikkun congregations sending us.
New Toyota vans for both the Shishkoff and Intrater families were amazingly provided when we arrived in Israel, thanks to a donor’s generosity. The Beth Messiah elders (including Jerry Miller) sacrificially allotted a salary base to Asher and me for our initial years of absorption in the Promised Land. What a significant, and ultimately fruitful sacrifice!
I remember our first Thanksgiving as immigrants in Israel. It was barely two weeks after my family had landed in November 1992. We traveled two and a half hours from Haifa to Asher and Betty’s home in a Jerusalem neighborhood. It was hard to believe. We had actually made the move. The challenges of immigrant life were already evident, and our idealism was being tested. So, spending that evening together provided timely, warm comfort to our hearts.
Help Hurdling the Language Barrier
The trust and affection Asher and I had for each other enabled us to support each other during those first steps in Israel (and ever since!). With loving affirmation, Asher’s radical commitment to functioning in Hebrew challenged me. Talking and working in Hebrew is a big hurdle for new immigrants. He encouraged me; and we patiently forged a new stage of our friendship in Israel’s resurrected tongue.
What would we do, now that we were finally living in Eretz Yisrael – the land of Israel? Connie and I had agreed before coming that if all we were able to do was to pick oranges, that would be enough to validate “picking” up our family from the U.S. and moving to Israel. But God had other ideas.
Those “ideas” had been planted during an early morning prayer meeting back in the States. While interceding for the Soviet Jews who, in late 1989, were finally free to leave, God interrupted my prayer. Such chutzpah! Still in prayer mode, I saw a desert oasis. There were palm trees, tents, and a spring-fed pool – everything but camels! Having no idea what it meant, the Spirit began to unpack this waking vision, one I’d not even asked for. The oasis represented a place in Israel that was to provide humanitarian aid, healing, and salvation for those wearied by the spiritually dry desert. I heard the phrase, “tents of mercy.” Only years later, in Israel, did I come across an astounding verse in Jeremiah that contained this concept: “Behold, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places” (Jeremiah 30:18). I understood that God wanted a center – an oasis of mercy – among His people in His land.
Tents of Mercy & the Blessing of Persecution
So, after only three years, in December 1995, we found ourselves pioneering a small congregation consisting of three house groups and providing a very modest amount of humanitarian aid. It began with three cardboard boxes to be exact. We rented a drab warehouse in a rundown area and began worshiping the Lord, in Hebrew, Russian, and English. Most of the congregants were Russian-speaking immigrants living in the Haifa Bay area. A few of us were spoke English, including Moshe Morrison and his family who had made Aliyah as well. The shared language was Hebrew – and most of us were still far from fluent! We called the congregation Tents of Mercy, in Hebrew, Ohalei Rachamim.
Some local Haifa Bay Orthodox Jewish elements were not so happy and firebombed our rented facility two years later. Having the support of Dan, Asher, and Paul meant a lot – plus David Rudolph and Don Finto who had joined the central Tikkun board by that time. In a way, the firebombing was the best thing that ever happened to us. As a result, we began receiving unsolicited donations and were able to begin purchasing a large, brand new, second-story warehouse only 100 yards from where arsonists tried to burn down the first facility!
Then the young leaders raised up within the Tents of Mercy began planting new congregations. First in Haifa, and Upper Nazareth, then Akko and Poriya (near Tiberias). What a humbling reality, to be revisiting the pattern of the Book of Acts – seeing the reborn Messianic movement multiply on its native soil.
Nurturing & Equipping Israeli Youth
Along the way, we saw the urgent need of teenagers in the local congregations. Unexpectedly, I had the privilege of helping establish Katzir (harvest in Hebrew), as a national youth ministry over 20 years ago. Year after year, Asher sent members of the Revive Israel team to be counselors to the teens. Under his leadership, Revive Israel has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the equipping of young Israeli believers. Other ministries in Israel took part as well – Maoz with the Sorko-Rams and Dugit with Avi Mizrachi. Talk about feeling supported! Often, Asher was a special speaker challenging the teens to give themselves to God radically, and God moved on them
In one camp, held ina tent in the desert, Asher repented on behalf of other parents for mistreating and failing to support their teens. I was personally brought to tears and reached out to my teenage daughter who was one of those listening. We’ve been able to walk out our shared burden to see the youth of this reborn nation strengthened in their faith. The prophet Joel says that our sons and daughters will prophesy in the end-times. What a privilege to help equip them.
I also love to visit the Revive Israel Equipping Center near Jerusalem as an “uncle,” and worship with Asher and his team there.
Grandfathers Together, Passing the Baton
For nearly 25 years we focused on serving in our regions and mentoring spiritual sons and daughters – Asher in the center of the country (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) and I in the north (from Haifa to the Sea of Galilee). Dan Juster also made Aliyah, adding his encouraging presence to Ahavat Yeshua Congregation and other Tikkun related works. As we turn the corner to become grandfathers (in the natural and in the spiritual sense) our friendships are holding strong. God has birthed eight Messianic congregations and additional servant ministries. In recent years we have seen the next generation of leadership develop new outreaches and a network of mutually supportive ministries across the nation called Tikkun Israel.
For the “founding generation,” now in our late 60s and early 70s, our focus is mentoring. We are passionate about raising up the next generation of leadership and releasing the works we helped pioneer into their hands. To paraphrase 3 John 4, we have no greater joy than to know that our children are walking in the truth of Messiah.