I immigrated to Israel six years ago, just five weeks after the tragic death of my husband, Billy, who was my best friend for 25 years.
Having been active in the Messianic movement all of my life as a result of being a second-generation Jewish believer, I had a great love for my heritage.Most of my life I dreamed about someday living in and being part of the Jewish homeland.For many years, I waited anxiously for the time when God would make the way for that dream to come true.
In 1993, the call to was clearly heard by both Billy and me and with all circumstances pointing towards an imminent move, we began preparing our shipment. Billy, an elder in Tree of Life Messianic Congregation, San Diego, had been diagnosed only a year earlier with Hepatitis C.
Nonetheless, being in good condition, he was well enough to travel with me three times that year in order to apply for Israeli citizenship, buy a house near Jerusalem, look into employment possibilities and tie up other last minute details before we would disconnect our lives from the United States forever.
Just as we were in the final stages of packing and purchasing our tickets, Billy went into liver failure and subsequently went home to be with the Lord after three failed liver transplants.
No one can know the devastation I felt as I realized that I would be coming to alone with no one to help me, support me or share my life as I began to meet the demanding and innumerable challenges of life in a different culture, language and land.I remember weeping all the way on the plane from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv.I could not comprehend how God would leave me so utterly alone and desolate.
Yet, despite the tragedy, I still chose to leave behind my entire world as I knew it.This included my only son who had just married, my parents, friends and congregation and co-workers.Obviously, none of them abandoned me, but as my plane continued eastward and the distance between me and San Diego grew greater, I knew they would no longer be a present force in my life.I wondered how my lifelong dream had suddenly turn into a nightmare and why God's presence, something I'd always sensed so strongly, suddenly seemed distant and detached.
And so I arrived in Jerusalem — in confusion and agony.I walked into the house that Billy and I had purchased, and as I stared out the glass doors of my terrace which overlooked the beautiful hills of Jerusalem, I felt abandoned and forsaken by God.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN CAME TO ME
But shortly, I discovered that there was a believing couple who, by coincidence, lived just a few doors away from me.We quickly became acquainted, and God put it on the hearts of this couple (I'll call them Joseph and Sarah Cohen) to help me in every way possible.When my shipment of furniture arrived, the first thing that Joseph did was to put together my bed so that I could have a place to sleep that night.Much to my surprise, Joseph returned early the next morning to put up light fixtures, connect my refrigerator and help put the rooms in proper order.
Without being asked, he accompanied me, a few days later, to the port city of Ashdod and several times after that in order to have my car released.What normally is an ordeal became a more complicated process because of the death of my husband.I had to acquire an official document from a judge, declaring him officially dead and all property released in my name alone.
Although I had studied Hebrew in the United States for several years prior to my arrival in Israel, I found that the technical language which I needed to release my car was beyond my immediate capabilities, so Joseph, who had already lived in Israel for a number of years, became my intermediary before a multitude of administrators and magistrates.It was most certainly due to his tireless efforts that my car was finally released to me.
In the weeks to follow, the Cohens helped me learn the basic layout of Jerusalem and how to maneuver my way around the complex and bewildering maze of Jerusalem city streets. All this time, it was quite clear to me that Joseph and his wife had no ulterior motives in helping me and simply seemed to be dedicated to blessing me each day to the extent that they were able to do so.
JERUSALEM BECOMES MY HOME
I suppose that in all of my grief and sadness, I had failed to comprehend the magnitude of the Cohens' acts of kindness and mercy toward me until one day I began to see my life taking shape and started to realize that all was happening due to the efforts of one couple who had devoted themselves to my well being.The knowledge of this overwhelmed me, and the next day I could barely wait to ask, "Why have you done all this for me?
Joseph simply looked at me and answered in all sincerity that the Lord had showed them that IF THEY WOULD HELP THE WIDOW, THAT IT WOULD GO WELL FOR THEM.So for that period of time, Joseph put aside his work and his other involvements in order to be obedient to that word until he had finished his service to me and completed the task.
After some time, Joseph's work, indeed, came to a completion.He had succeeded in helping me build a new life in my new home, asking nothing but continually giving and doing so joyfully.Joseph and Sarah had succeeded in bringing comfort and consolation into a life that had been devastated with disappointment and broken dreams.
ISRAEL IS A WIDOW
It occurred to me that somehow in micro, my life is a parallel with the nation of Israel, who in many ways was widowed. In fact, Isaiah 54:5-8 refers to Israel as "the widow" and says:
…"You will no longer remember the dishonor of being widowed.For your husband is your Maker. ForAdonai (the Lord) has called you back like a wife abandoned and grief-stricken… Briefly I abandoned you, but with great compassion I am taking you back.I was angry for a moment and hid my face from you but with everlasting grace I will have compassion on you, says Adonai your Redeemer. (Complete Jewish Bible)
For centuries, Israel has felt like the widow - deserted, abandoned and forgotten.Isaiah, representing Israel in her anguish cries out…"The Lord has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me." (Isaiah 49:14)
But God's merciful response is found in verses 15 and 16 where he tenderly replies…
"Can a woman forget her child at the breast, not show pity on the child from her womb?Even if these were to forget, I would not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your walls are always before me."
What was to be a temporary casting aside was not to be the permanent status of this beloved land.But God is beckoning to those who would help the widow. This challenge to the nations was spoken of in Isaiah 40 to comfort His people, clear a road through the desert, level a highway and proclaim the Lord in power.
In short, helping the widow means comforting her, investing in her well-being and providing where there is lack so that she is able to put down her roots and produce fruit.
Israel, the widow still grieves, because she is without her Messiah and without her hope.If God is speaking to you to be that man or woman who is to put other things aside and help the widow, will you not obey the call?If you do, it will go well with you.
Are you able to clear a road through the desert and level a highway where the Lord can be proclaimed in power?While you may not be physically in the land of Israel in order to do these things, your investment can be just as great as those who physically labor to bring the good news of Messiah to this generation of Israelis.For those of us who labor in the field, it is obvious that we are fueled by you who have been given a vision and a desire to pray and finance the ongoing work - your stake is no less great or important.
Cookie is now married to a wonderful Israeli believer, Itsik, who works together with her at Maoz. God has restored the many things that were temporarily removed from her life — including family, friends, congregation, job, home and spiritual well-being.
Both Cookie and Itsik are now on the front lines as their lives are dedicated to seeing salvation come to Israel.
As a footnote to this story, Cookie recently spoke with Joseph to find out if God was true to the things that He had spoken to his heart — about it going well for him.
He told her that since that time, the following has happened to them:
For the first time, he was able to buy a car and become mobile (a tremendous need that caused his family to struggle for many years without one.)Many family members, from whom he and his wife were formerly estranged have been completely and miraculously restored to them in great love and unity.
He and his wife have had tremendous opportunities to travel worldwide to ministerwith great signs and wonders following — including one woman being healed of blindness from birth.Joseph and his family, themselves, have experienced supernatural health for these many years and have had no need of medical intervention of any kind.
In fact, God has poured out upon them an abundance of blessing:People have felt led to bless his family on numerous occasions with phenomenal vacations to magnificent places (something that they, in their wildest dreams, could never have afforded financially or would allow themselves such personal luxuries.)A believing dentist felt led to undertake the cost of a substantial amount of dental work needed by Joseph, giving him a brand new smile free of charge.
Beyond that, the rewards for obedience to God's voice, many of which are received in this life, cannot be compared to the unspeakable rewards that will be bestowed in the life to come.The Scrip-tures say that..."No mere man has ever seen, heard or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord." (I Cor. 2:9, Living Bible)
Isaiah cried out, "Never again shall you be called "The God-forsaken Land" or the "Land that God forgot." (62:4)
So too, will Israel be restored to the glory that God once bestowed upon her. She will bless the world, and the world will, in turn, be blessed by her.
The enduring call to help the widow is still to this land and this generation. Know that if you do so, it, too, will go well with you.
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Why the Camp David Summit Failed
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth-
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.Psalm 137:5-6
The peace negotiations between Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat broke down over the Old City of Jerusalem.For over two weeks President Bill Clinton worked to bring an end to the Middle East conflict, but to no avail.
Arafat's insistance to make the Old City in Jerusalem the capital of his Moslem state can only be understood from a spiritual standpoint.
Satan has hated, does hate, and will continue to hate the nation of Israel because it is a constant reminder of God's sovereignty, His grace and His plan to bring salvation to the nations of the world.The Old City of Jerusalem is the place where God chose to live — to place His shekinah glory.It is also the exact spot that Yeshua, the Son of God, is returning, and the place from which He will rule the world.Satan does not want the reborn Israel to possess the city where the King of Israel will one day rule the world.This is a battle between the Lord and the god of this world.
And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut to pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.Zechariah 12:3
Consider this:Since the birth of Islam, Jerusalem has never ever been the capital of any Arab nation, nor has it ever been even an Arab cultural center.It is not mentioned even a single time in the Koran or in liturgy.Mohammed never visited the city, nor did he have any ties to it.Whenever Moslems have been in control of Jerusalem, it has held little importance to them.
MOHAMMED NEVER CAME HERE
Instead, Mecca is the religious center of Islam.It is where Moslems believe that Abraham nearly sacrificed Ishmael, and where Mohammed lived most of his life.Moslems pray five times daily in the direction of Mecca.
When Mohammed started his religion, he adopted several Jewish-style practices, such as praying in the direction of Jerusalem.However when he failed to convert the Jews, the Koran changed the prayer direction to Mecca and Jerusalem lost significance to the Moslem people.
"Jerusalem gained stature a few decades later when rulers of the Umayyad dynasty sought ways to enhance the importance of their territories.One way was by building two monumental religious structures in Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock in 691 and Al-Aqsa Mosque in 715.
"Then the Umayyads did something tricky:The Koran states that God took Mohammed "by night from the sacred mosque in Mecca to the furthest (al-aqsa) place of worship."When this passage was revealed (about 621), "furthest place of worship" was a turn of phrase, not a specific place. Decades later, calling their new mosque Al-Aqsa they began to claim it to be the place Mohammed visited.But when the Umayyads fell in 750, Jerusalem lapsed into near obscurity." (Jerusalem Post, 19/July/00)
When the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, the Arabs demonstrated no special concern for the city.However as the Moslems began to mount their counter-crusades to regain the city, they developed a whole literature extolling the virtues of Jerusalem.As a result, Jerusalem became the Moslem's third most holy city.
JERUSALEM, FORGOTTEN,NEGLECTED AND UNCARED FOR
However, when the Moslems conquered the city in 1187, the city lapsed into its usual obscurity.The population declined, and even the walls crumbled, and it remained an unwalled city for three centuries until Suleiman rebuilt the walls in 1535.
Moslem interest again rose in the 20th century when the British troops under General Allenby took the city from the Turks.Palestinian leaders made Jerusalem a centerpiece of their campaign against the Jews who were attempting to return to their homeland.
During Israel's War of Independence in 1948, the Jews held on to the western part of Jerusalem, but the army of Jordan captured East Jerusalem.Now, safely in Arab hands, the Moslems proceeded to lose interest in the city.It reverted back to a backward town, deliberately downgraded by the Jordanians who favored their own capital, Amman.
If a citizen of East Jerusalem wanted to take care of banking business, order a telephone or mail a package, he had to travel to Amman. The "Friday sermon" was not delivered from Jerusalem, but from Amman.Even the Palestinian covenant in 1964 did not so much as mention the name of Jerusalem.And no Arab leaders (except King Hussein whose visits were very infrequent) visited the city.
ISRAEL REUNITES THE CITY
When Israel conquered the Old City and tore down the wall that divided Jerusalem in 1967, Muslim interest immediately reawakened.The 1968 Palestinian covenant, this time, mentioned Jerusalem by name.And the surrounding Arab nations became preoccupied with the obsession to take back the Holy City, even though under Muslim rule — be it Arab, Kurd, Mameluke or Ottoman — it was never declared its capital.
On the other hand, whenever Jerusalem was under Jewish rule — whether Biblical, Maccabean or Israeli — the city was the undisputed capital of Israel.Jerusalem is mentioned in the Old Testament 667 times and 144 times in the New Testament, besides the hundreds of times it is called by other poetic names such as Zion.
Jerusalem has been the center of the Jewish people and the Jewish religion and the Bible for 3000 years.Yet now that Israel is back in her land with Jerusalem under her sovereignty, the Palestinian neighbors who have never had a nation before and who have never had sovereignty over Jerusalem are unyielding and uncompromising in their demand to make Jerusalem their capital.
The Israelis, worn and sick of a century of fighting in the Holy Land, voted in a Prime Minister who said he would make peace with the Palestinians.At these recently failed talks, there is no doubt that Barak offered to Arafat what had been up to now the unthinkable.He offered 95% of Judea and Samaria.He offered to give them in exchange other parts of Israel proper to make up for the 5% Israel needs to retain the largest blocks of the 170,000 Jews who live in Judea and Samaria today under Israeli sovereignty.(The rest of the settlers would have to leave or live in a Palestinian state.)He offered to hand over many Arab districts in East Jerusalem.He even offered to give Arafat partial sovereignty over the Old City in East Jerusalem, with Israel retaining only security control over the city.And he offered many, many other bonuses, to the dismay and horror of many Israelis who felt that a Palestinian state along side of Israel would one day attack the greatly weakened Jewish state.
But Arafat insisted on complete sovereignty over the Temple site, the place where the Lord said He chose His presence to dwell.Barak, though a liberal, non-religious man, could not give him that.And so the talks ended and peace evaded the Holy Land once again.
Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)
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If these are not momentous times, then what is?!Every Israeli knows that this period is our most critical moment in history since the founding of the State in 1948.
Barak and Arafat promise to continue peace talks back home.Israelis continue to await the outcome of their fate.Will there be war?Will there be peace?Will they keep their homes or will the Palestinian police order them out?
Will the armies of the Muslim nations, with Arafat at the helm, again try to destroy the 5,000,000 Jews in their tiny strip of land along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea?
Believe us, Israelis are searching for the whys.Why for 2000 years did the Jews have to wander throughout the world, fleeing one nation after another seeking asylum from persecution.And even in their own state, there is still no respite — with countlessenemies who hate the Jews and dream of the day when Israel will be no more.Why, our people ask, did God not make a way of deliverance for Israel — a plan of salvation?
If ever there was a day to help Israelis find their Messiah, their Deliverer, their Hope of Glory, it is today!
Bless Israel today and you will be eternally blessed.Invest in helping the Jewish nation find their God.Many of them will one day meet you, as you enter the gates of heaven, to say thank you for giving me, a widow, the chance to exchange hopelessness and helplessness for eternal life.
Partner with us as we bring the message of salvation to the people of Tel Aviv and as we disciple Israelis to be strong believers so they in turn can become leaders themselves in the Kingdom of God.
We guarantee you, you will never be sorry for blessing Israel.
All Israel Shall be Saved,
Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. As our ministry is greatly expanding — because of the hunger and receptiveness of the Israelis — we need your monthly support more than ever before.
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