Oasis Newsletter

Oasis Volume 22, Issue 12

Native Galilean Now Sees Arabs Differently

Akko

by Guy Cohen

Harvest of Asher Congregation – Akko, Israel

Orthodox Judaism influences a large portion of the population, well beyond its observant adherents. As a case in point, many Israelis who do not wear a kippah or consider themselves to be religious, still voted for the rightwing Religious Zionist political party in the recent Israeli elections.

On the other side of the political spectrum, we have the liberal political parties emphasizing personal freedom, tending towards a “do whatever feels right to you” attitude in all areas of society, but especially in the realm of sexuality and homosexuality.

Personally, I grew up in a traditional Orthodox Jewish environment in the Galilee. My view of non-Jews, including Arabs, was to lump them all into the same negative and inferior category. It was not necessarily hatred, more as if I belonged to an elite portion of society. I considered myself much better than those “pagans” outside my group and did not want to associate with them.

After I came to faith in Yeshua, I became more open to Arabs, as fellow Israeli citizens and to their culture and language. In addition, when I was a young man I got a job working at the Palm Beach Hotel in southern Akko. There were many Arabs employed there and as we worked together, I began to see that the differences between us were not so great. They too have been living here for many generations and we will not do to them what was done to us in Europe, and in the Holocaust. After all, caring for the “foreigner in your midst,” is one of the commandments of the Torah (Leviticus 19:34).

However, sometimes it gets complicated, when that “foreigner,” includes portions of the Bedouin population in the Negev Desert in the south who have become a lawless society, trafficking drugs, stolen IDF weapons, etc. There are also extensive mafia-type Arab Israeli gangs in central and northern Israel. They hold great numbers of illegal weapons and extort money from Arab businesses. Innocent Israeli Arab bystanders are killed almost weekly due to internal violence. The peace-abiding majority of Israeli Arab citizens is desperate for these waves of crime and violence to be controlled. They are entreating the (Jewish) Israeli police force and the army to do whatever it takes to solve the problem.

Many believe that a liberal government with more moderate policies such as we recently had, is not as likely to solve these problems. Therefore, in the November 1st elections many young Israelis around the age of military service perceived the liberal approach as tying their hands and exposing them to unnecessary danger while letting crime escalate. So they elected a clear right-wing majority they felt could solve these problems. There is hope that the new government will have a chance for some stability and longevity following four years during which razor-thin government coalitions fell apart, again and again.

In truth, the ultimate solution will not be found in a stronger police force nor improvements to our democratic form of government. What we really need is a heart change – a new heart and a new spirit placed in us by Yeshua Himself! Then true change will come.

As a teenager, I used to write off Arabs just as right wing politicians do today, thinking it would be better if they were not here. Today, when I see an Arab, I see someone created in the image of God for His glory. My perspective changed because my heart was transformed by Yeshua, the King of Israel, which I hope and pray will happen to all.


Instructions for Assembly

by Hannah Tekle

Tents of Mercy Congregation
Kiryat Yam, Israel

Why Kehila?

“Kehila” is a Hebrew word that means community. It is used colloquially among Israeli believers to refer to a Messianic Congregation.

There is a saying in Amharic, the primary language of Ethiopia, that “the womb is as colorful as the rainbow.” When our children were little, people would frequently use this phrase to explain the unique personalities and different qualities that each of our children displayed.

Our children happen to look very much alike. In fact, people often think that our two girls and two boys are two sets of twins. Nevertheless, they are as different from one another as can be! Despite having shared parents, shared life experiences, family traditions, standards and education, (even if the oldest ones often claim that the rules get looser and looser with each kid that comes along) siblings still turn out different.

Siblings share space. They share memories. They have to share toys and they have to share time and attention with their parents. Many times they get on each other’s nerves and fight ruthlessly. But having brothers and sisters, as we have told our children so often, is like having built in friends. If it is done right, they are the people you will feel the most comfortable with, be the most challenged by, and be defended by fiercely should you need protection from someone or something.

Kehila is like a family. We are different but we belong together.

Congregants are like siblings. We do things together. We learn together. We grow together. We sometimes get along and sometimes we experience conflict. We love each other. We belong to each other. We grow better because we get to share life together. We share one another’s burdens. We share one another’s joys and share in one another’s grief as well.

In this post-Corona era, many are discussing whether the old format is still relevant. The weekly meeting and the classic congregational elements – worship, children’s ministry, messages, and local outreach – are the weekly family meal, the family night, the family traditions that form the memories and the family flavor that gives us identity and belonging.

Let us not neglect the assembling of ourselves together, as some have made a habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

Sometimes as families, we have to adjust and accommodate to growing and changing needs, so also as a kehila. A weekly tradition we used to have before Corona was a time of fellowship and refreshment in our coffee house following the Shabbat service. During the season of online services, we canceled the lease on the space that housed the coffee house, and our traditional fellowship time has not been the same since.

gathering

Not-By-Chance Provision

The fellowship hall, which adjoins our sanctuary, houses the humanitarian aid distribution center on weekdays, congregational events in the evenings and weekends, and ideally would be arranged and available for events at different times during the week as well. This multipurpose space has been well used for over 20 years and is in need of some repairs and renovations, involving replacing the broken tile floor, installing acoustic ceiling tiles and adding some atmospheric lighting. As we pray and plan these changes, our desire is also to recreate that welcoming “coffee house” atmosphere.

Renovations will begin in the near future, but in the meantime, congregational life must go on. We tried a few temporary solutions for the after service fellowship time, but felt frustrated with the results. Seeking to make some progress, we decided to begin by taking the coffee house chairs out of storage, and were planning to go shopping for tables and a few other items. And then that very week we received a donation shipment that included tables, shelves and colorful rugs. They were exactly what was needed to make a large, open hall feel cozy and welcoming – what a sweet and unexpected gift from God!

To highlight God’s provision to our congregational family members, we turned the service schedule upside down, just like the “cafe hafookh” (upside down coffee – cafe au lait) that we make and Israelis love to drink. Now we are beginning our service with a relaxed time of conversation over cookies and coffee followed by praise and worship enriched by the unity and bonding in fellowship. This is not a “supplement” to our worship time. It is an essential element. Especially after two years (!) of “remote” services, and with our marvelous cultural diversity,* we need this comfortable “kitchen table” setting to get to know each other, to be encouraged, and to bear one another’s burdens.

In family life, as in life in general, we hit rough patches. By God’s grace, with faith and prayer and sometimes with a little bit of mental, relational, and physical “elbow grease” the wrinkles smooth out and looking back, we are filled with contentment to see how God works.

Organized religions want all members to conform to a pattern, to be the same and disappear into the whole, but living out an authentic faith as part of a community is complicated. It involves reveling in our unique qualities and praising God for the differences and diversity while asking Him for grace to love one another. It requires agreement and unity on the important things, giving one another space on the marginal things, and being kind and generous in all things. We must be committed to a faith community. Our roots must be planted firmly to receive the full nourishment, paying the full price and receiving the full benefit.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalm 133:1-3 KJV, emphasis added)

*God promised that regathered Israel would reflect this very diversity of national backgrounds.

“But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.” (Jeremiah 23:3)


Good Standing

by Leon Mazin

Shavei Tzion | Return to Zion Congregation
Haifa, Israel

Shalom dear brothers, and sisters in Yeshua. Grace and peace be to you from God our Father! Thank you again for praying and participating in these Israeli ministry projects.

Congregational News

We recently finished the autumn flurry of Biblical celebrations with the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. It was uplifting and exhausting at the same time, as holidays always are. We hosted many guests from all over the world — including China, Latvia and Norway. We experienced the ministry of prophecy and words of knowledge, and were renewed in the presence of the Lord, friends, and family members. In the midst of national and international crises, elections and constant military threats, this season set apart was a wonderful gift from the Lord.

Humanitarian Aid Ministry News

With the influx of new olim (immigrants) and refugees, we urgently need to renew our finances! We have helped hundreds of people from Ukraine and Russia in recent months as more and more have passed through our center. Some came to Israel to escape the war, some to avoid mobilization in Russia, and there are those who came as refugees for a year or two — just a mass of traumatized destinies and needs. WE THANK YOU for donating and enabling us to serve these people!

Aliyah – The Return

Wars, famine, and epidemics are all foretold in the prophecies of the Tanakh and the New Testament. We are living in the challenging times of prophetic fulfillment. It’s important not to lose focus. Israel’s focus is Aliyah – the return of the Jewish “exiles” foretold by the prophets. As we see its growing pace, it is important for you to offer support through PRAYER. Interest in Aliyah is periodically lost in the midst of other events, but the prophetic Word says that the RESTORATION of Israel will be a huge step closer to the return of the King of Kings. And we hear the prompting from the Spirit of God: “Bring back Your scattered children to the land of their fathers.” But there is a human toll. Aliyah is uncomfortable and even painful for many coming from Ukraine and Russia. They have undergone serious mental and emotional trauma. Our intercession can both bring them back and also bring the Lord’s healing. Please pray for this!

A personal thought and experience to share: The Lord draws my attention to Exodus 33: 12-23 where Moses asks the Lord to reveal His glory. He declares, “If your presence does not go with us, don’t move us anywhere.” I think every person growing in the Lord comes to the place – as I have – where he or she makes this desperate plea. And it is then that “prayer in one direction” ends, and a DIALOGUE begins.

And the Lord said, “Behold, I have a place; stand on this rock…” (Exodus 33:21).

Stand On The Rock! Those who know the New Testament understand that the Rock is the Messiah. It is only by standing on Him and building upon Him that we can withstand all that awaits us in the coming months and years. May you and I do so, and experience God’s glory and guidance!


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