A Blessed New Year from Israel!
There is great activity in the unseen world of spiritual forces over Israel. Even when we are not aware of any physical activity, we can sense the whirling of forces in battle around us. We are moving deep into enemy territory, and we are feeling the need for more fire cover. This newsletter is the equivalent of a patrol under attack radioing for air cover! Here is a sampling of spiritual activities with which we are involved:
A FAMILY UNDER SIEGE
1. There is a family from a small town in the north of Israel whose teenager Vered (not her real name) came to the Lord in a street outreach with which our son was involved, and who has been attending our congregation. The parents reacted very negatively when they read a blasphemous article printed in an Israeli newspaper last April about our National Israeli Youth Conference, and forbad her to continue attending the congregation.
A few weeks ago we decided to visit the family, and found that their son was killed last winter when a bus jumped a sidewalk where he was standing and ran over him. Another daughter (called Little Flame in Hebrew) had been struck with mental illness, so that the girl was near catatonic. She sat very still, but we could tell she was listening to our conversation with her parents. We felt to pray for the girl's healing. We asked permission to pray in Yeshua's name, explaining that only through His name could we be assured that God would hear our prayers.
IS THERE A CURSE ON THIS FAMILY?
The girl is now improving. The parents have told us that they will allow Vered to begin attending our meetings again. We are believing for her sister's complete healing. As we intercede for this family, we are aware that they are steeped in Middle Eastern Jewish mysticism that may have brought a curse on their family. In one of our leadership prayer meetings for this family we sensed that the area over their little town was very dark--as if a heavy cloud brooded over it.
A specific prophecy for Israelis living in their exact location is, "the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." (Mat 4:16) Because this family does believe in the supernatural, they were ready to accept our prayers in Yeshua's name for healing. We believe that healing is a key to their understanding that Yeshua is alive.
Incidentally, a local citizen actually videotaped a flying saucer a few days ago hovering in that area for some time (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 6, 1996). Of late there have been a rash of such reports here. Some spiritual leaders feel that flying saucers possibly have to do with evil spirits.
PRAYING FOR THE NEEDS OF THE FLOCK
2. A man in our congregation who has just come to the Messiah is wrestling with leaving a certain type of high finance business, because of unethical practices inherent in the operations.
3. A believer of less than a year in our congregation studying in an Israelis university is being taught with a vengeance that the Bible is legend and the people in the Bible are works of fiction. She asked for prayer for her examinations which she must pass in order to get her B.S. She decided to answer the questions according to what she believes instead of what the teacher expects her to answer. She knows she may have failed the test, and will receive the results in another week.
4. Three new believers suffering from clinical depression, all of whom tried to commit suicide within the last year, have joined our fledgling congregation. One has had a tremendous delivery, the second thinks all her troubles are the fault of others, and the third is a brand new believer with much healing yet to come. Several others suffer from serious depression. Clinical depression seems to be epidemic among Israelis, and even solid believers can continue to suffer from it unless they are delivered. (! !We just received word that another searching Israeli from a mental institution is coming to us.) The only hope for these is the miracle power of God. Our part is to pray and intercede. We and our co-workers, Arni and Yonit, have scheduled tomorrow as a day of prayer and fasting for one of these situations.
MYSTICS ADVERTIZE MEETING FOR CASTING OUT DYBBUKS
Meanwhile the papers report that this week a group of rabbis who are kabbalists (mystics) are holding a "mass public prayer" to exorcize "dybbuks" (demons) from the mentally and emotionally ill. The rabbis, who will be fasting that day, will blow shofars in the ears of the sick, a traditional kabbalistic method for exorcizing bad spirits, and will say special prayers.
They estimate that hundreds of people will attend. "Posters have been hung up allover the country announcing the prayers, saying they are meant to help: 'Mental illness, emotional problems, irrational fears, black moods, depression, paranoia, deviance and retardation, those who have been seized by spirits, epilepsy and all physical illnesses.'" (Ibid., Aug. 8, 1996)
What is very clear to us in this kind of spiritual warfare is that we must have people praying and interceding for us so that we can not only stand, but break through! And the only place we have to turn are the readers of our newsletter, our partners and fellow laborers who care about the harvest in Israel. We are looking for those who believe that God is about ready, in fact, is ready to move in Israel as we press forward in bold faith.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
Our main areas of activity are: (1) raising up an Israeli congregation (growing primarily from new believers), which is one year old this month; (2) raising up a dynamic youth group within this congregation which will be very strong in outreach; (3) preparing for concentrated evangelism outreach on streets and elsewhere with our congregation integrally involved; (4) writing materials for evangelism and discipleship based strongly on a foundation of the Old Testament and imparting the teachings of the New Testament from a Jewish perspective (there is a tremendous lack of such materials); (5) leading the congregation in anointed praise and worship, and, writing worship songs in Hebrew (our co-pastor Arni Klein in conjunction with one of our members); (6) breaking new frontiers in contemporary Hebrew music as a tool for witnessing (see page 5).
You may say, "What's so extraordinary about those objectives? Lots of congregations around the world have such goals. . ." As one perceptive American Jewish evangelist stated, "It is 50 times harder to do something in Israel than in the West." It is not because Israelis are not searching and hungry. It is because such enormous strongholds have been built up over the centuries by the enemy. These strongholds crisscross each other, each strengthening the other.
MAJOR STRONGHOLDS OBSTRUCTING ISRAEL'S SALVATION
One of our new believers said the other night, “I still see that the greatest hindrance of Israelis receiving Yeshua as Messiah and Savior, is that they think you have to convert to Christianity and become a Christian. We concur. If Israelis could suddenly see in one fell swoop that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah who came first to the house of Israel; if they could understand that belief in Him will bring Israel as a nation (Jer. 31:36) back into relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I believe literally hundreds of thousands of Israelis would accept Him now. But this is a stronghold.
Another stronghold is Jewish mysticism which is a potluck of Eastern religions and New Age philosophy, historic European superstitions and Jewish cultural adaptations--like reincarnation, all kinds of incantations and witchcraft, praying at the graves of important rabbis, amulets and death curses--of which a considerable portion of Israel's population is terrified.
THE TERRIBLY ABUSED HAVE DIFFICULTY SEEING THEIR OWN SHORTCOMINGS
Certainly one of the most terrible strongholds is the blindness on the Jewish people which keeps them from understanding that they as a people and as individuals are sinners and need salvation like every other human being and every other nation. This stronghold is powerful because the nations, and in particular so-called "Christian" nations, have through the centuries pitilessly persecuted the Jewish people. For centuries the Jewish people have seen themselves as a righteous God-fearing people, persecuted by wicked gentile nations. Only in the last few years has this stronghold begun to crack as some Israelis are recognizing their own grave sins as a nation and as a people, the majority of which no longer believe in God.
Yet another stronghold is Orthodoxy's legal stranglehold on Israel's youth in order to keep them from being exposed to anything other than Orthodox Judaism. According to Israeli law, it is illegal to cause a minor to "change his religion". In the terminology of the Orthodox who initiated this law, changing one's religion is believing in Yeshua. Yet the Orthodox are free to offer every enticement under the sun to get converts to their own brand of Judaism.
Furthermore it is not illegal to sell youth pornography in the form of magazines, books or videos. Well, admittedly there may be some kind of law somewhere, but it is certainly not enforced. Israel's youth are inundated with evil from every direction including all kinds of Eastern religions.
Few worry about that. Billboards advertise near total nudity. Drugs are "in". The Jerusalem Post advertises prostitutes. Adultery is not seen as immoral.
We need intercession for our nation, and we need intercession for ourselves and our two children, as we work on the front lines. We believe there will be some of our readers who are specifically called to pray for our family personally—a number on a weekly basis, and some on a daily basis. There may even be a small number who feel God is calling on them to make us a primary prayer focus in their intercessory prayer life.
WE'LL CONTACT YOU BY FAX, E-MAIL OR MAIL
We want to know who you are. Then we want to know how to get prayer needs to you quickly-- specifically by fax or by e-mail. If you do not have either, and you wish to pray for us on a regular basis, perhaps you would have a friend or place of business that has access to electronic mail resources. Otherwise you will get prayer needs by mail.
We will send out immediate prayer needs at least once a week. The communication will not be a full fledged letter that would take time to compose and edit; it will simply state prayer needs--and include prayer answers. We would also appreciate receiving any word that the Lord would speak through our intercessors--although we would not be able to answer personally.
For those of you who commit to pray for us, we will send a photo of our family so you can visualize who you are praying for! Also if you have not yet received our new Jewish Calendar for the year 5757, (starting the eve of September 13) we will send you that also!
WE'RE GOING FOR IT!
We must move forward, and we are certain that God will grant us many miraculous victories as we have a team of intercessors hammering away at the enemy, and calling on God to send His hosts to fight for us! We strongly recommend that all who wish to pray for us buy a copy of Peter Wagner's book on intercession for spiritual leaders called Prayer Shield published by Regal Books. It explains how to intercede for "leaders and others on the spiritual frontlines." It is equally good for the relatively new and for the seasoned intercessor. It will greatly encourage the intercessor, and focus on how intercessors can influence the success of ministries.
May we stress that we are asking only for those intercessors who have received a commission in their hearts to take us on. Certainly we know that not everyone has been called by God to make such a commitment. But we feel confident that as those who are commissioned join with us in intense warfare, we will see an escalation of salvation and deliverance for our Israeli people.
If you are called to this purpose, please fill out the enclosed card. We bless you. And we bless our faithful faithful contributors who through your gifts keep this ministry serving in evangelism, discipling and pastoring in the land of Israel. A very prosperous and happy New Year!
For the Lost Sheep of Israel,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram