Steve in Israel
Steve Strang (center) poses for a photo in Efrat, Israel, with (left to right) rabbi David Nekrutman, Anne Ayalon, Sherry Khoury and her husband, pastor Steven Khoury, at the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation.

JERUSALEM, Israel—My sixth trip to Israel makes me realize more than ever the importance of Bible-believing Christians standing with Israel.

Nearly all my adult life, I’ve supported Israel by raising money to help the Jewish people, sponsoring events that foster support for Israel with other leaders such as John Hagee or encouraging people to travel to Israel, as my wife and I are doing this week with our friend and author Perry Stone.

I flew to Israel early, before the tour, to network with key leaders in a whirlwind couple of days of nonstop meetings that will provide story ideas for our print magazines or online. As soon as I have time to digest all I saw and learned, I will write articles about the interesting people I met.

But now I want to give an overview of who I met and what I learned, much of which is important not only for me but for each of us.

1. We must stand with other Christian believers in the land.

I met with Dan Juster, one of the apostolic leaders that is also one of the deepest thinkers in the modern Messianic movement. He helped me understand spiritually what’s going on in the land and how believers need prayer and support.

I then attended the exciting King of Kings congregation in downtown Jerusalem, pastored by my friend Wayne Hilsden. I had time to only attend one service while in Israel. While I would have enjoyed being at a service in Hebrew, I was more comfortable in Wayne’s English service that had the same spirit and style I’m used to in my own church. You can see their worship here.

I also learned firsthand of the opposition and persecution some believers face in Israel. Wayne pointed out an “anti-missionary” standing outside the service to urge young Jewish believers in Yeshua to turn away.

2. We must pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for a spiritual awakening in the land.

King of Kings has prayer 16 hours a day atop a 17-story building. The view over the city was magnificent. What a strategic location! The next day, I visited another 24/7 prayer ministry in a mixed Jewish and Arab area south of the Old City. To avoid attention, this group posts only small signs that say “24/7,” which the initiated know means intercessory prayer is offered there around the clock.

The prayer room is located in the TBN building and has a view of the Dome of the Rock. I didn’t interview anyone there. Instead, I joined the prayers for the peace of Jerusalem for strengthening believers, for nations standing with Israel and for ways to reach the Arab community with the gospel.

3. The Arab Christian community needs our support.

It is well known that at one time, the majority of the population in Bethlehem was Christian. According to a 2012 article in Israel Hayom, the municipality says that 40 percent of the 32,000 residents of Bethlehem are Christian. But, unofficial data suggests the percentage is actually lower. While many Arab Christians are nominal Christians whose families have been Christians for generations, there is a small and struggling evangelical Christian Arab community there.

One of the most impressive meetings I had was with a young Arab pastor named Steven Khoury, whose Calvary Church reaches about 400 people a week in the part of Jerusalem around the Mount of Olives. It is the only evangelical church in that area. They have a hard time even finding a place to meet. Members of his church have been killed by radicals, and he has had trouble raising the funds he needs to operate and buy property. I was impressed by this passionate young man, and I plan to write more about his church later.

4. There is a new era of understanding between evangelicals and some Orthodox Jews.

Steven Khoury is a good friend to a young Orthodox rabbi named David Nekrutman, the executive director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation. In the biblical town of Efrat, it is the first example I’ve seen of the Orthodox community reaching out to evangelicals. That impressed me as well, and I will also write about it later.

My personal experience with the Orthodox has been no cooperation and often hostility. So I’m encouraged to hear about the breakthroughs between the two groups and to hear that at least at this center, the Orthodox seem to value the support that Christian Zionists give Israel.

5. It’s good to know a networker in a foreign land.

The friend who set up most of my appointments is Anne Ayalon, the wife of Danny Ayalon, who has served as an Israeli ambassador to the United States, in the Knesset and in many other important posts. Anne is a humble woman who has done as much as anyone I know to bridge the evangelical Christian and Jewish communities. Born an American, she converted to Judaism when she got married but describes herself only as a “woman of faith.” She declined to be interviewed because she prefers to be behind the scenes, where she is a connector and influencer.

I had many other wonderful meetings, including one with Chris Mitchell, bureau chief of the CBN Jerusalem bureau, who recently wrote an important new book called Dateline Jerusalem, which he calls an “eyewitness account of prophecies unfolding in the Middle East.” I also met some Israeli intellectuals who teach leadership principles from Bible characters to officers in the Israeli Defense Forces. And I got a very quick tour of the Bible Lands Museum by its director and saw the “Book of Books” display. I plan to go back to spend hours learning more about this wonderful land that gave us the Bible, which is God’s revelation to man.

My meetings have not ended. Later, I’m meeting with leaders of Magen David Adom—the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross which is the first responder in disasters—and with leaders of Operation Lifeshield. Both are charities for which we’ve raised money in the past. I also am meeting the head of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and a local publisher.

As I process what I’ve learned and do more research, I’ll write more. And I’ll tell you about this amazing tour with Perry Stone. My head is spinning after the first day of visiting the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of the Ascension, the Hill of Ill Counsel, the recently discovered Pool of Siloam, a kibbutz where a pivotal battle was won in the war of 1948, and some archeological digs south of the Temple Mount with actual pavement where Jesus would have walked. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I have six more days before the trip ends!

If you stand with Israel, if you’ve had a life-changing trip to Israel or if you learned anything from this column, leave your comments below.

Steve Strang is the founder and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter at @sstrang or Facebook(stephenestrang).

 

We had the privilege of hosting at our JERUSALEM PAVILION the annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.
This is held around the world on the first Sunday of each month.
Below is the story published by the CHRISTIAN POST:
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Millions of Christians united across denominational, cultural, and political differences on Sunday, October 6th, as part of the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem (DPPJ) to intercede for the city God calls His own, and to invoke God’s blessing, purposes, and provision upon all of Jerusalem’s people.
Believers from over 20 nations at special DPPJ event in Jerusalem Oct. 6.

From over 175 nations, believers gathered to pray in their worship services, in their homes, on college campuses, in regional gatherings, and on a 24-Hour Prayer Conference Call.

Broadcast by GOD TV to 900 million, Christians in over 200 nations were also able to join the special DPPJ Celebration at The Pavilion on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. It was co-hosted by Pastor Wayne HilsdenSenior Pastor of the King of Kings Community Jerusalem. Before the packed audience, he prayed that God would bring a peace that “was not just something agreed upon diplomatically or written on paper, but a peace beyond human understanding…a peace that only God could bring.”

Special guests and speakers participating in the event included Dr. Jürgen Bühler, Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; Naomi Tsur, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem; Berlin-born Rev. Petra Heldt, Director of the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel; and Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, founding chief rabbi of Efrat and Chancellor of the Ohr Torah Stone Institutions. There were also Christian leaders from the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, and elsewhere who prayed from the platform that God would bless, strengthen, protect, and prosper Jerusalem and her people.

Rev. Dr. Robert Stearns

This multinational, multi-denominational global prayer movement was started in 2002 by Evangelical Christian leaders, with Dr. Jack W. Hayford and Rev. Dr. Robert Stearns serving as co-chairmen. Rev. Stearns, Founder/Director of Eagles’ Wings, explained:

“God has a blessing both for the descendants of Isaac and those of Ishmael…When we turn our hearts from darkness to light, we embrace God’s peace plan for Isaac and Ishmael. God’s love is infinitely stronger than the god of hate and will cause us to triumph in our lives. ”

Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin addressing Christians at DPPJ event in Jerusalem.

Orthodox Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin told the Christian audience from many nations:

“We are living in apocalyptic and fateful times and our response to them is critical. Very often we [in Israel] feel as though we stand alone, but Evangelical Christians are our best friends in the whole world. We are eternally grateful that you are standing with us.”

Christians participating in the DPPJ observances not only pray for Jerusalem, but also add practical action to their intercession.This year a check of $15,000 was given from the DPPJ offerings to support two Eagles’ Wings Feeding Centers in Israel, which feed both Arab and Jewish poor in Jerusalem and Tiberias.

Additionally, millions participated by praying in their churches, homes, and special services throughout October 6 – from cities and rural villages, from huts and mansions, from cathedrals and simple church buildings, and from college campuses to underground churches in China and seven Muslim countries.

Eagles’ Wings/Greater Calling

Throughout the 24 hours of October 6, believers from around the world also prayed together through an internet “virtual prayer room” created by the 24-Hour DPPJ Prayer Conference Call ministry Greater Calling.Callers representing most of the states in the U.S. were joined by believers from many nations, including Canada, Kenya, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, British Virgin Islands, and Italy. The Lord was praised, shofars were blown, and the people raised their diverse voices in one accord as they prayed for Jerusalem and her people groups.

The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem – held the first Sunday every October – is the largest Jerusalem-focused prayer initiative in the world, involving tens of millions of believers, participating from over 175 nations and from “underground” churches in China and seven Muslim countries. It is endorsed by over 1,200 prominent Christian leaders worldwide.

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Rabbi Sha’ul / The Apostle Paul

A survey was taken of people who are over 95. The question was: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently? The 3 most frequents answers were:

1. I would reflect more.
2. I would risk more.
3. I would do more things that would live on after I’m dead.

Most of us are under 95 and have a lot more tread still left on our tires. But it doesn’t hurt to ask this question at any point in your life — in fact, the earlier the better.

I preached this message at King of Kings in Jerusalem this past week. We discovered the apostle Paul’s response to this question, “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?” His answer? Well watch and see my sermon here: Living without Regret

For seven years TWO PORNOGRAPHIC SHOPS operated right outside the doors of our Pavilion worship center. Imagine that – our children forced to pass by that half-open red curtain before entering the house of the Lord!

We knew we had to do something about this curse, but one owner could not be found and the other told us he would NEVER sell. Then we remembered what the Lord said about demonic strongholds:

“This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29

So that’s what we did. It was in the midst of a season of prayer and fasting that the breakthrough happened. The owner that we could not find actually came to us by surprise and decided to sell and move out. We purchased the first shop and closed it down. And now the latest news…

Moving out of Red Shop

Moved out!

This week the second pornographic shop shut its doors and is gone! Praise the Lord!

The keys are now in our hands and we’re about to turn another curse into a blessing.

In place of the red curtain of addictive bondage, we’re opening a door of freedom and hope. Together we will open the Anchor of Hope Family Counseling Center.

Dr Katherine Snyder in front of shop

Dr. Kathryn Schneider and the Anchor of Hope Counseling Center about to MOVE IN!

In these last days, “the LORD is building Jerusalem…. He is healing the brokenhearted and binding up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:2-3) He is the “wonderful Counselor.” (Isaiah 9:6).

If you’d like to partner with us in establishing this new center, it’s possible to give here

Thanks!

Ladder of Grace from HeavenXSmall“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)  [God]has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began….” (2 Timothy 1:9)

The deliverance of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt parallels our own deliverance from the bondage of sin and Satan:

  • Their deliverance would not be complete until Israel reached the Land of Promise. Isn’t this true for you and me as well? Yeshua said: “…but he who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22).
  • Only the blood of a lamb could save Israel’s sons from death. (Exodus 12:21-23).  Similarly, only  “the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) can deliver you and me from death.
  • Israel didn’t leave Egypt empty-handed, but carried out a trove of gold and silver. We too enjoy the riches of God’s grace. “He who did not spare His own Son…. shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
  • The children of Israel were saved when their enemy was buried under the waters of the Red Sea. And we too were delivered when our enemy, our old sinful nature, was “buried…through baptism into death.” (Romans 6:4)
  • It’s God’s plan that each child of Israel arrive safely in Canaan. But it didn’t work out that way for hundreds of thousands;  “For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD—to whom the LORD swore that He would not show them the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Joshua 5:6). Let this be a warning to all of us. “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us…. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall…” (1 Corinthian 10: 11,12).

Let’s not become weary. Let’s keep on keeping on. “….Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11).

God wants us to make it to the end even more than we do. That’s why He gives His amazing grace — to motivate us and empower us to work out our salvation and reach the Promised Land.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

BulletXSmallThis is a GUEST POST  from one of my favorite writers (My wife Ann!)

“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

There is a kibbutz (well, sort of..) in the Rehovot area of Israel that is a very interesting place to visit, if you are fascinated with the history of modern Israel.

In the 1940′s the main “industries”  of Kibbutz Ayalon were a laundry facility, where the “kibbutzniks” worked, cleaning clothes for British soldiers and the like, and a bakery where workers kept busy day and (curiously) night.  It was a very noisy laundromat, and the machines in the bakery seemed to be unusually squeaky and clattery as well.  Anyone closely watching at certain times would have noticed a rather disproportionate number of people coming and going from these two places of employment.

What only a few knew was that below those two facilities there was a large inter-connected munitions factory.  Israel hadn’t even been “born” yet as a state and, therefore, couldn’t technically be making weapons.  Their infant survival depended on it though, so a clever system was created for entering, leaving, and signaling.  Right under the noses of the British army, an elaborate weapons cache was building up, and much of Israel’s defense as a young nation was due to this secret place.  One day the British soldiers who dropped by were offered warm beer, while their laundry was being processed.  Their “kibbutznik” host kindly said,  “Next week, if you’d like cold beer, let us know ahead of time you are coming and we’ll refrigerate it for you”.  A clever way to get a heads up.

Today the British soldiers are no longer feared and all of the secrets of Kibbutz Ayalon are revealed.  One can go in and out of the passageways and see all of the working stations, hear all about the codes and secret signals.

You and I have a secret place, and a secret weapon as well.  It’s right where you are sitting right now.  You have a private line to heaven that can’t be intercepted.  You can set battalions of angels into action, stop disease, free prisoners, release God’s power, pray scriptures back to God, intercede on behalf of hurting, broken people.  It sounds fanciful, but it is true!  God has given us an enormous arsenal of weapons as well as defensive shields.

Charles Spurgeon cried out one day, “Look upward, and let us weep!  You have given us a mighty weapon and we have permitted it to rust.”

Let’s pick up this weapon, shine it and sharpen it, and join a global army of prayer warriors that will usher in God’s purposes, his heart and his mind, with power and force.  For this we were chosen and appointed.

“… praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance…” Ephesians 6:18a

Oh, God, my prayers often seem weak, sporadic, and late in the game. Teach me to pray, releasing into being the things in your mind and heart, here on earth, as in heaven.  Amen. 

Ann would love to get you comments below!

GossipXSmallIn my last two posts I talked about the destructive powers of the tongue — to others and to ourselves.

Now a few tips on how to TAME that tongue.

Tip #1  When it’s time to speak, seek to build up, not tear down

Paul gave this command in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When you get inside information does it get buried in the cemetery of your mind or is it just a matter of time before it leaks out. When the grapevine climbs along your wall, do you cut it down or encourage its growth with a little fertilizer of your own?

Here’s helpful rule shared by Henry Van Dyke: “Never believe anything bad about anything unless you positively know it to be true; never tell even that,  unless you feel that it is absolutely necessary‑‑and that God is listening while you tell it.”

Here are some ways to help others whose tongues tend to tear down and not build up:

  1. If they are slandering or gossiping, ask them to name their sources.
  2. Tell them you will not listen to hearsay Read the rest of this entry »