Oasis Newsletter

Oasis Volume 23, Issue 7

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by Hannah Tekle

Here in Israel several incidents of discrimination against the secular population by the ultra-religious community have recently been reported.

A 13-year-old girl wearing a tank top was not permitted to board a bus in Ashkelon due to her “immodest dress.” In Tiberias, in a religious neighborhood, a young married religious woman received threatening letters in her mailbox claiming she was not properly attired, having been seen wearing pants under her skirt and failing to wear stockings.

Meanwhile, on June 8th the annual gay pride march took place in Tel Aviv right on the beach between Tel Aviv proper and the old city of Jaffa. This came shortly after our Israeli song presentation at the annual Eurovision (an international music competition which celebrates hedonism and alternative expression) won 3rd place, a dubious honor.

The social and political climate in Israel is at an all-time-record state of polarity. Since the elections in November 2022, each side is digging in their proverbial heels. The FAR RIGHT is pushing for legislation which will regulate life according to religious standards, affecting issues such as public transportation on the Sabbath, content that is taught in schools, and the role of women in the army, to name a few. The FAR LEFT is concerned with issues such as civic equality, religious freedom, the LGBTQ agenda, and removing military draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox.

Most in the Messianic community feel caught in the middle. For example, it is easy to identify with many aspects of quasi-biblical Orthodox Jewish standards. Yet, some of the Orthodox hate us and hate Yeshua, whereas the liberal side of Israeli society has tended to be more tolerant of Messianics. Keep in mind that the Messianic community in Israel is only 0.2 percent of Israel’s general population of 9.5 million people. It can feel at times like standing in a no-man’s land of society – between two large armies which are attacking each other. It can feel like finding yourself between a rock and a hard place.

Yeshua Between Two Worlds

Yeshua also walked here in this same land, in a manner that touched both the secular and the “religious.” He rejected the legalism of the Pharisees who were always trying to catch people in the wrong, to count and give an account of how many mitzvot (commandments) were missed. Yet He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it. He consorted with those who were considered sinners – tax collectors, adulterers, (not to mention those who picked wheat on the Sabbath), yet He did not condone unrighteous behavior.

Your mandate and mine, is to be in the world but not of the world. This paradoxical tension is an intense challenge. Our everyday reality is tied to the physical world, the rules of human society, the etiquette and expectations of an unredeemed system.

Occasionally, while going about life, it overwhelms me momentarily to look up and see that probably everyone around me does not believe like I do. In so many ways, it would be much easier to live a solitary lifestyle in a bubble away from all human interactions. But that is not the example that Yeshua gave us.

Yeshua was engaged with the messy people in the world, loving the Pharisees and the sinners alike, wanting them all to be saved. The scriptures call us to take up our cross and share in Yeshua’s suffering. The loneliness of walking in this no-man’s land is one of the difficulties we are called to bear.

In the northern Israeli town where we live, there are a few neighborhoods where one street is completely populated with devout Orthodox and the next street over is “hipster”/secular.

Moving through these streets, my head spins. I confess, the Orthodox are intimidating especially to me as a woman. Their strange black and white garb, side curls, and determined looks of avoiding what is “ta-may” (dirty), make me feel guilty by association even though I’ve done nothing wrong. One street over, where the hippie co-op is, tipsy, unshaven men sit drinking beer. Walking along the sidewalk to get to a shop or restaurant, I feel myself shrinking small so as not to brush up against the “locals.”

Empathy

When dealing with others in the world around us, to which we do not fully belong, it is always best to choose empathy. Yeshua loved both the Orthodox-religious and the outright sinners. His mission was not to judge either of these camps. He longed for both to approach Him in honesty, in spirit and in truth. He accepted anyone that came to Him with no pretense, no lies or masks, in humility and drew them to Himself.

Sticking Together

Those of us who are stuck in this no-man’s land need to stick together. It is critical that we hold on to each other and not give in to the enemy’s tricks to pull us apart and pick us off.

I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:14-15 ESV)

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:1-2)

Please pray for the annual children’s camp Tents of Mercy is hosting in July, with participants from the other Tikkun-related congregations in Israel as well as volunteers from a sister congregation in the US. Thank you!


Fear Is Not My Future

By Guy Cohen

In the second letter to the Thessalonians, we see that these new believers really suffered for their faith. Trials will always exist in a believer’s life, tempting us to be afraid. Yet what we learn from the Thessalonians is that they gained hope and trust, enabling them to respond with patient perseverance.

Paul wrote to the church of Thessalonica along with his co- laborers Silvanus and Timothy. Together they had witnessed a breakthrough of the gospel in this city of idolatry. When the new believers accepted Yeshua into their hearts they were filled with the love of God and compassion for the citizens around them. Paul gave thanks to God for them, expressing his pride in their patient endurance and their walk with Yeshua.

It reminds me how every time a new immigrant comes to Israel and begins to learn the language and culture, we teach them the Hebrew word “savlanoot” which means patience. But to be honest, Israelis don’t have much of it themselves. And if we look at the world today, we see wickedness and impatience growing. How can I, as a follower of Yeshua, walk in patient perseverance?

  • By internalizing the fact that I am saved by grace
  • By actively being filled with the love of God
  • By growing in faith
  • By looking ahead in hope, knowing eternal life in Yeshua

As I move through life, I know that our present surroundings are temporary as we journey into eternity. That knowledge allows my heart to be filled with compassion toward those who do not know Messiah and are not born again.

In chapter 3, Paul says there are challenges still in store for us throughout this lifetime; but the Lord is faithful. He will strengthen us and keep us from evil. The enemy wants us to fall. He lays many traps to ensnare us and paralyze us in fear.

However, when I’m filled with the Presence of God, I have peace in knowing that His shalom will help me through every challenge.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” (Psalm 23:4)

Even and especially when the enemy tries to put fear and concern in my heart, I will trust God!

Fear may have been our past, but fear is not our future.

“…your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.”

(2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 NIV)


The Stone that the Builders Rejected

boulder

By Leon Mazin

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalms 117:22-24)

Shalom dear brothers and sisters in Yeshua the Messiah!

Blessings and peace to you from our Heavenly Father. We are immensely grateful that you are standing with us in the proclamation of the Glorious Name of Yeshua the Messiah in Israel. As summer arrives, I want to update you.

Congregational Planting:

As a congregation, we have existed since 2001 and then started a sister congregation in Upper Nazareth in 2004. From there, we developed many projects in Haifa, including humanitarian aid programs, a theological school, an internet TV channel, educational initiatives for youth, and the “Eagle-Nesher” equipping project for IDF soldiers after they finish their obligatory service.

Now we are planting a new congregation – preparing a team, looking for a space to rent, and gathering funds to pay for repairs.

The Eagle-Nesher Project:

After having taken a break due to Covid restrictions, with God’s help, this August a team of 15 will be going to Norway. Together, we will focus on the disciplines of faith, study, service, development, and hiking in this wonderful country with dear friends. Our goal is to give more Israeli youth an opportunity to get involved in the ministry of Yeshua the Messiah.

Humanitarian Aid:

Mercy for mercy’s sake – Israeli law forbids giving humanitarian aid in order to change a person’s religious beliefs, and we are grateful for this law. It protects our children and adults from bribery. With God and your help, our humanitarian projects have grown threefold since 2020. We are happy to freely bless people in need, and they are enthusiastically grateful to receive. We pray that though we cannot openly share about Yeshua, this giving will serve an important divine purpose – to help the needy know that their Heavenly Father cares for them and that hope is not lost!

Return to Zion:

We are preparing a group of new believers for water immersion (baptism). At the same time, we are running the Alef Course (Bible Study). We ask for your prayers for both. We are also preparing groups of new leaders and want to continue to train the next generations for positions of leadership, that we may advance with enthusiasm and proficiency.

We would appreciate your prayers!


Download July Newsletter

Download July Newsletter


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