Shalom from Tel Aviv at the season of the Feast of Tabernacles!
The congregation rose to their feet. The holy ark was opened and the Torah Scroll was lifted out and set on the bima (podium). The Scroll was unrolled to the place where it read: "On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets." (Num 29:1) As we read the words of the prophets, we blew the shofar and praised the God of Israel.
It was the Jewish New Year (called the Feast of Trumpets in the Bible) and our newborn congregation was celebrating this feast as were thousands of Jewish synagogues around the world. But as a Messianic Jewish congregation in Israel, we were also celebrating our own first anniversary and the harvest of souls the Lord had given us this last year.
THIS YEAR WAS FOR BUILDING THE FOUNDATION
We were not a large throng. We were a few score, a year-old congregation north of Tel Aviv. But our existence, like every other congregation in Israel, is a great spiritual victory. Almost all of our members are sabras (native-born Israelis) and most of them are new believers. The members in this little Body are brimming with life, events, revelation and outreach. Every person is a story .
As we disciple our people, we are implanting in their hearts the longing to see all Israel saved -including their parents, brothers, children and friends. Our goal is that our congregation be molded into teams of evangelists who can bring a person to salvation and then disciple him or her into maturity. This Hebrew-speaking congregation is reaching out to sabras--native-born Israelis. The congregation is growing mainly from new believers who are coming to the faith. Here is a sample of testimonies in our congregation.
Hannah, who is a registered pharmacist, is our firstborn of this congregation. She came to the Lord under the discipling of our associates, Arni & Yonit Klein, a year before we began a congregation. She is a very talented song writer and has written the words to most of the songs on Arni's outreach album One Way Ticket. Here is her testimony:
"I came to the faith two years ago after a search of five years. I won't say I was looking for God, but for my inner self. Along the way I figured out that the problem was a spiritual one, so I turned my search in that direction. I entered into the occult, mind control, and Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). I became a medium, and people paid me money to tell their future. I taught courses in mind control. I also used my powers to heal people.
"One day I looked and saw it was all a lie. I saw corruption all around me. I saw my peers teaching values that they did not live up to. I told my supervisor to cancel my next set of courses. I didn't want to be involved in a lie any more.
WHAT IF I JUST DISAPPEARED?
"I tried becoming Orthodox but quickly saw that was not the answer. My inner hole got bigger and bigger. Where could I go? Finally I thought, what if I would just disappear? Commit suicide? I imagined my funeral and I began to tell my close friends that I was going to die.
"I thought about God. Would I meet Him? Would I be with Him? The name of a friend came into my mind. I couldn't get her out of my mind. I hadn't talked to her in a few months and only knew that she had moved to the north and had had some experience with God. I thought to myself, it would be a bit strange to call up someone I hadn't talked to in some time and tell her I'm thinking of committing suicide. But...I called her.
"She said to me, 'There is a way out. Come up and visit me and I will tell you about it.' When I got there she told me that she had found Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel. I said, ‘I don't want another religion. I've had enough. Close your Bible. Tell me what has happened to you.'
SHE TOLD ME, "YOU DON'T NEED COURAGE"
"She related how she had turned her life over to God, and He had changed her through Yeshua's gift of His life. I knew immediately that was what I wanted. I said to her, 'I want to hear you pray.' When she prayed, I felt she had this contact with God I was looking for. I prayed, 'God, I am sick of looking to people. If what she is telling me is the truth, then I want You to tell me directly.' My friend urged me, 'Tell God that if He will show you that this is the truth you will be willing to follow Him totally.' At that moment I had a revelation of what the cost would be--everything. I knew I didn't have the courage to make that kind of a commitment. She explained, ‘You don't need the courage. You must ask God to give you the courage.'
"I thought, this sounds like a good deal! I will ask God to show me the truth and to give me the courage to follow it. At 4:00A.M. I woke up and I KNEW that I had found the truth. And I had such courage! I got up in the morning and went back to Tel Aviv. Immediately I changed my job because my work dabbled in the occult.
"I was on fire. I was changed. I was so happy that I have been talking to people everywhere since that day. As God began to show me different sins in my life, I have repented. At first I did not understand in its entirety who Yeshua is and what He has done for me. But as I studied God's Word, the truth has been unveiled before me. My greatest burden is to spread the Good News to my Israeli people."
Shlomi, who has a business in commodities: "I have always believed in God. I was born into an Orthodox home, studied in Orthodox schools and afterwards attended a yeshiva for four years. But even though I studied the Talmud, I found myself living more or less as I pleased. I was a traditional Jew, but never really tried to keep all the Miztvot (commandments).
“I was a successful hair dresser, and had a large beauty salon for 15 years. I invested in other businesses and began to accumulate some wealth. Then through a series of events, everything collapsed around me, and I lost all my businesses. I began to dig my way out of this hole and finally began a new business, but I was devastated. My brother Shimon had been a hippie on drugs, but then joined a group of Messianic Jews. He attended the Sorko-Ram's congregation many years ago, and tried to get me interested, but I thought he was crazy. For twelve years Shimon has prayed for me.
"Shimon who lives in Jerusalem now, called me last July and invited me and my parents to come up and visit him. Since I hadn't seen him in a very long time, I decided to go. After dinner, Shimon opened the Bible and began to teach my parents who were getting more and more interested in the faith. I don't know why, but I began to cry. Then I brushed it off, but I mentioned to my parents later that there was a remarkable peaceful spirit at Shimon's house. Shimon then called me and said, 'I would like you to visit a congregation of my friends in Ramat HaSharon. I'll drive down from Jerusalem and take you.' As we walked in, the congregation began to sing. It got my attention! Then they began to sing a song which says, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives.
I GOT SAVED BEFORE THE SERMON
"I began to weep profusely. I couldn't stop. Before the sermon, Ari and Shira called me up to the front, and then asked my brother Shimon to lead me in a prayer of repentance and acceptance of God's salvation. I did so, and from that moment, I have been radically changed. Everything about me is changed. All I want to do is study His word. I pray hours each day and come to study at the congregation at least five times a week. I want to live only for Him. My only regret is that I didn't become a believer 12 years ago!" (Last week Shlomi and Shimon's mother received the gift of salvation in our congregation. Their father, who had quietly accepted the truth not long ago, was there to witness his wife's salvation. They plan now to join the congregation.)
Miriam, who works in computers: "I looked for God in all kinds of places. I sought Him in all kinds of Orthodox groups. I took courses in Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism); I attended services of Habad and of the Braslev sect for two years. But what they were teaching didn't seem realistic. Also I saw they talked one way and lived another. I was looking for something deeper.
"My sister had gone to the U.S. and had had a life changing experience. When she came back, she took me to the home of Yaacov Damcani, an evangelist who explained to me the way to salvation. When my sister told me about HaSharon Congregation, I decided to attend. Slowly I began to realize that I was hearing the truth.
"When Prime Minister Rabin was murdered last November, I was numb with shock. I thought, How could an Orthodox Jew who claims his way is the only right one, kill our Prime Minister? Perhaps, I thought, what they teach is not the truth.
I HEARD A HUGE EXPLOSION THUNDER BEHIND ME
"Four months later, I was standing in front of the bank, getting money out of the automatic bank window, when I saw a friend. We started to talk. And then I found myself saying, "Oh, I've got to run," and I started walking very fast though I wasn't going anywhere in a hurry. Two minutes later I arrived at the corner of Chernokovsky Street when a huge explosion thundered behind me. The force of the blast hit my back and I started running, too afraid to look back. I think 12 people were killed and a 100 wounded in that terrorist attack. Nothing was left of the automatic bank window. Then I knew God was taking care of me. I knew deep in my heart that Yeshua was my Messiah. I gave Him my life and have been growing in Him every day.
In the future we'll have opportunity to share more testimonies.
Our congregation is made up of radicals. Our purpose is to glorify the God of Israel and His Son, Yeshua, and to bring the Kingdom of God to our fellow Israelis through the manifestation of the power of His Holy Spirit.
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Of Donkeys, Boats and Ccomputers
Back in the ancient days of the late 70's we lived in an Israel that was still quite behind the West in electronic consumer products. We had applied for a telephone for our rented apartment, and waited half a year to receive it. The day the government phone service drove up to our house to install our phone, all the neighbors down the street came out to watch the workers march in with our phone.
Perhaps you can understand, then, that when we were visiting a few years later in the U.S., we were taken aback when an American ministry offered to sell us a new computer at a discount because they found its capacity too small for their use. I remember that I initially recoiled in horror. Computers were going to be a primary instrument for the Anti-Christ or the False Messiah, the Roman ruler, the lawless one or whatever you want to call him, right? How could we get involved with such instruments of ill-repute?
TIME RUSHES ON
Israel and we have come a long way since those days--a very long way. Israel is on an even par with just about any nation in the world when it comes to electronics and chips. Fax machines have changed our lives forever. Then the cellular phone hit Israel and has sent it reeling--or should we say ringing. It is claimed that Israelis have more cellular phones per capita than any other nation.
When you are eating in a restaurant, cellular phones are ringing around the room. The other day we saw two guys sitting across from each other both talking on cellulars; they looked like they were talking to each other. No respectable plumber, carpenter, gardener or fix-it man will be caught without his cellular. The army has now passed a new law that when Israelis come in to do their yearly reserve duty, they have to turn their cellulars off because their phones were interrupting the training classes.
Now the Internet and E-mail are ushering in--some say--the greatest revolution of this century. It was not many months ago that in Israel you had to have a special security pass to obtain permission to hook into the Internet. That lasted a few months before the dam broke. Now Internet is everywhere. It is touted as the one thing in life that you can't live without. It is the wave of the future. It is the future!
WE GROW OUR OWN EXPERTS
We thank God that we ourselves do not have to spend time learning everything there is to learn about the world of Internet. Our teenaged son Ayal is a whiz kid in computers which will probably be his tentmaking as he follows a call into Israeli youth ministry.
Also Evan, son of our longtime board member Paul Liberman is a computer programmer supervisor at a major Israeli computer company. And to cover us on the U.S. side, teenager Austin, the son of our Maoz administrator in America, Christy Wilkerson, is also into computers and Internet. It is Austin who set up our page on the World Wide Web. Between Austin and Evan who can work on our Web page from both sides of the ocean, we will see a continuous updating and enhancement of the information about Maoz and our Maoz newsletter.
Our daughter Shani will be sending our prayer requests to you via E-mail. And for good measure, a computer teacher at Tel Aviv University is part of our congregation and helps us with programming and troubleshooting in our regular computer work.
As you can guess, we have become completely committed to the idea that we are not about to let the devil disseminate his message on all the modem facilities available in the world while we believers act as if we were still living in the 1800's--or even the 1960's.
Last month our call for Maoz intercessors was made with the concept that we can get prayer information to you by fax within a few hours fairly inexpensively--or if it is via e-mail, almost instantaneously and almost free.
Yes, we will be e-mailing our prayer requests from our office in Israel, and we will be sending prayer faxes to our offices in the U.S., England and Germany. Our administrators there will then be faxing the information on to you as quickly as they possibly can.
Even though the month is barely half over, we have received wonderful, wonderful encouragement from our readers who are purposing to be a part of this prayer network for Maoz ministries and for our family. We just have to learn the basics of how to send group e-mail and get fax machines programmed for group sending, and our office administrators synchronized for this spiritual offense, and then we will be ready to go!
GOD'S ULTIMATE WEAPON IS HIS PRAYING PEOPLE
However, we cannot close without saying that for all the electronic equipment and know-how the Lord is blessing Maoz with, this prayer offensive is all about people- prayers--intercessors-- YOU!
The machines are our servants to aid us in God's work, even as a donkey served to be the vehicle to bring the Messiah into Jerusalem. Or even as a little boat was used to transport Yeshua to the crowds awaiting Him, and big boats carried the Shaliach (Apostle) Paul to different countries where he was called to minister.
They used the means and modes that were available to them in that day. We want to do the same, and to the very best of our ability we will use the methods that are available to us today. The faxes and e-mail and the Web will keep us in close contact with you. Through these means, this ministry will be able to reach many more people faster and increase our ability to harvest.
Electronic mail will enable you to pray for us with far more up-to-date knowledge of events than ever before. These devices will give you on-the-spot information concerning the results of your giving, your prayers and your support of ministry in Israel and to Israelis. If you are connected to the Internet, check out our Maoz page. See you on the Web!
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Coffeehouse on the Street
This coming Saturday will be our first outreach as a congregation. We will be going to the promenade in Tel Aviv. Arni will be singing and the teams will be witnessing. It is our Coffeehouse on the Street.
You, our Maoz supporters, have been instrumental in establishing this congregation. Your support enabled us to concentrate on evangelizing and discipling a whole group of Israeli new believers. At the same time we are working on many national projects in areas of literature, outreach materials, prayer, conferences, youth outreach and working towards the unity of the Body in Israel. Arni Klein's outreach album is nearly finish. We plan to distribute thousands of them as a tool for evangelism. All of these efforts are coming to fruition because of you!
Because you are our partners, we need you every single month. It is the combination of our regular, faithful contributors combines with a few one-time larger gifts that will make it possible for us to minister this month, pay our ministry costs and continue to increase our outreach! We know that your support and your prayers will cause this ministry to fight the good fight of faith and win! You are laying up treasure in heaven, and thus you are rich toward God. (Luke 12:21)
I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. (Luke 16:10)
We also know your hearts are with us, because you are investing your treasure in the souls of Israeli men and women. You will have many Israeli friends in heaven! We're moving on and we are so glad you are with us! Salvation is of the Jews, and now we are seeing salvation coming to the Jews! Thank you for being a part.
Regards from your new Israeli friends!
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
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