To our readers whom we consider our true friends and our co-workers, we would like to begin on a personal note. In just over four months we will be returning home to Israel after having been here for two years. As we turned the corner of the new year, our hearts and those of our two children have turned strongly towards home.
We are getting together some appliances and furniture to ship to Israel, and are checking on the schools for enrollment next fall. We will be moving back to Ramat Hasharon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, for at least a year. We will be seeking God with all our hearts that He will pinpoint for us the exact location for the Training Center He bas put upon our hearts.
It could be in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Galilee. We are open to God's direction. Actually we are sensing a pull in our hearts towards a certain area, but we do not wish to say anything at this time to avoid unnecessary obstructions by the Orthodox Jewish political powers that be.
We would, however, like to tell you the story of how the vision for a Learning Institute was birthed. One evening we told this whole story to a dear friend who is one of the finest teachers of the Word of God of this generation. He suggested we share it with our readers, and so we are.
Ever since we were married (we just celebrated our 13th anniversary), and even I before, we have spoken much of what we consider Israel's greatest spiritual need along with Revival-the training of Israeli, Hebrew speaking leadership.
The formidable forces of evil, which have been at work to keep Israel from receiving the free gift of salvation, have worked overtime to keep leaders from developing. Israelis work six days a week. Many spend two to three hours a day traveling to and from work. Few believers have cars, and even for those who do, most do not drive to work because of the cost of gasoline which may run $2.25 a gallon or more.
And remember they are budgeting from an Israeli salary. Salaries may be anywhere from a third to a sixth of their American counterparts, while the cost of living is higher than the U.S.A.
Our point is that Israelis come to congregational services usually on a week night, as there is no bus service in Israel fromFriday afternoon until after dark Saturday night, which in the summer may be 8:00 p.m. They come tired and worn out from their schedule.
They are not in the best physical shape to be students of the Word in order to develop into mature workmen for the Kingdom of God. It is a process which takes too long, longer than the Time Left, to develop leaders from congregational members who can attend only one or possibly two services a week.
However, if a hungry young man or woman wants to immerse his or her life into the Word of God, and sit under concentrated teaching for a period of time - well that's great. But where will he or she find money for rent and food? A great many Israelis live from month to month, or even worse, in the clutches of the infamous Israeli overdraft.
THE ISRAELI NIGHTMARE
That simply means that an Israeli can usually write checks for $500 to $3,000 over the amount in their checking account. But the catch is that the bank interest on that overdraft is in the realm of 37% a year. And once an Israeli falls into overdraft, he rarely can dig himself out. Israel is a third world country with the very rich and the subsisting poor, with few in between.
So even though we saw the potentially great significance of a Messianic Learning Institute to the fulfillment of prophecy concerning Israel's promised revival, there was one main reason that we have not moved forward on such an important project. The reason is "land".
There is very little land in Israel available for sale. Israel is about the size of New Jersey, and there are over 4,000,000 Jews and 3,000,000 Arabs crowded into the land. One half dunam (one eighth of an acre) averages about $100,000 to a quarter of a million dollars in the cities. Yes there are isolated spots such as the Upper Galilee or the Negev Desert where one can buy cheaper land.
But because the roads are relatively primitive, it takes hours or even a full day to arrive from the populated centers to such places. A School of the Bible out there would not be able to make an impact on Israel's spiritual darkness.
To return to our story, by the spring of 1988, we realized that we had basically outgrown the congregational building in which we were pastoring. The basement meeting room was not made to pack in the 100 plus strong that were attending regularly.
We added on a porch that could crowd in another 50. But we were basically out of room. There was not enough place for children's meetings, and certainly not for a Learning Center.
THE MIRACLE HE GAVE US
It was at that time that we began to consider coming to the U.S. to enlist support for a Bible Training Center and bring our child back to the States for some special education. Our boy had been diagnosed dyslexic or having difficulty reading together with attention span deficit. When we realized what was wrong, we began to zero in with much prayer. God began and is continuing a progressive yet striking miracle in our boy's life.
In the fall of 1988, he was on a first and second grade level in all his subjects. Now, a year and a half later, at 12 years old he is studying in a regular school where individual accelerated education is taught. He is studying on a fourth and fifth grade level in English and Math, sixth grade level in Social Studies and Science. Praise the Lord, our God is great!
As we stated, we felt that God had appointed for us this time in the U.S. to share with His people this dream, this vision, this opportunity to establish the Learning Center. We knew that to buy property that would have any potential at all for growth would cost in the area of $2,000,000. That was more money than our minds wanted to fathom, but that was reality.
One thing comforted us, however. Every single step of progress in fighting the good fight of faith, whether large or small, takes an enormous miracle in Israel. We have often marveled at the incredible demonic forces arrayed against us for what seems to us a rather small or ordinary step forward. Israeli believers will tell you it is so.
Therefore, if we have to believe God for a miracle every time we turn around, we might as well gird up our loins and believe him for the funds, the land, the buildings, the teachers, the curriculum in Hebrew, the right students, in short, the plan of God for this school.
WHERE LORD, IS YOUR PLAN?
We were well aware, however, that when we arrived in the U.S., we had no plan yet for gathering the funds. This was Step Number One as there is no financial credit in Israel. When you buy a home, a business, property or such in Israel, you pay cash. There are some limited government loans for special cases which are included in the rights of new immigrants or very low income newly weds, etc., but we knew without asking that there would be no provision from the Israeli government for the purchase of property for a Messianic Jewish Yeshivah! (Bible Study Center)
Jewish Orthodox Yeshivah? What a question! A large chunk of our tax shekel goes into the pockets of Orthodox synagogues, Orthodox yeshivahs, Orthodox charities and Orthodox-politicians. But on the contrary, there are many Orthodox elements that would attempt to stop the very purchase of property if they knew it would be for a Messianic Jewish Yeshivah. And they do not mind using legal or illegal methods.
We had only been in the United States a few weeks when an Israeli believer who lived in an apartment about 150 feet away from us, came up to Shira one day and said in typically Israeli fashion: "Boy am I mad at you! So it should happen to you! Why should it happen to you? Why shouldn't it happen to me?
Shira said, "What ever are you talking about?" He answered, "Last night I had a dream. I dreamed that a U.P.S. truck drove up in front of the apartment complex with a very large box. I yelled out, "Is that for me?" He answered, 'Are you Sorko-Ram?' I said, "No, they live across the way." He replied, 'Well help me carry this box over there.'
We carried it over to your house, and just then Ari walked up and said "What's this?" The U.P.S. driver said, 'Package for you.' Ari opened up the box and there inside were two million one dollar bills!"
Our friend continued saying with a straight face, "Why should it happen to you and not to me?" Shira answered, "Don't you know that we have come to the U.S. to raise $2,000,000 for an Israeli Yeshivah?" He looked as her incredulously. "What?" Shira said, "Sure, come on in the house and we'll show you the August 1988 issue of our Maoz newsletter that has just come off the press. It specifically says that we are asking God for $2,000,000 for this school."
Needless to say, we were encouraged. But we still had no plan as to how to raise the funds. Then a few nights later Ari decided to visit an old fashioned tent revival that had appeared along side the highway about a mile from our apartment. Ari took along this same Israeli friend and another brother. They arrived quite late and sat in the back, not to disturb the service.
There was a middle aged man who seemed to be moving quite beautifully in the gift of prophecy. Suddenly he came to the back where the three men were sitting, and pointed straight at our Israeli friend. He said, "You are called to evangelism. Not just simple evangelism, but with miracles. Because God has done miracles in your life. But not in this country and not in this language."
He had no way of knowing that this was an Israeli brother who would be going back to Israel, since he had not opened his mouth. Furthermore, the preacher could not have known that this same Israeli brother had been a paraplegic who had been healed miraculously by God. Definitely this preacher had a genuine prophetic gift.
Then after a few minutes, as he continued to minister, he returned and began to speak to Ari: "The...the million dollars that you came to this country for, you will have. In fact, all the money you came for, you will have it.
"Now read between the lines," he continued. "When people ask you how you are doing and what you are doing, don't just say that everything is fine. Tell them why you are here. In fact, you should get on the telephone and call people that you have not spoken to in a long time. And you should talk to the people about what you are doing, and you will have what God called you here for."
Surely we were greatly encouraged. But we still did not have a plan. Shortly after we visited with a friend that we greatly love, Bob Weiner of Maranatha. We shared with him our vision. As we began to talk, he said, "You know, you will not be able to raise those kinds of contributions speaking in churches and Messianic synagogues.
But you need to break up the sum into digestible portions, for example: 2,000 people could give $1,000 or 200 people or ministries could give $10,000. He continued, "Get on the phone and call the people that you believe have a desire to see the salvation of Israel."
We both immediately felt that in the allotted time we had in the States, we would not be able to contact 2,000 people. Nor did we begin to know 2,000 people to talk to if we had the time. But we felt it would be in the realm of possibility to reach 200 people or congregations and ministries who would and who could give $10,000. Bob looked at us and said, "I'll give the first $10,000."
Obviously, we realized that many would be lead to give other sums larger and smaller as the Lord lays it upon their hearts. But we now saw God's plans begin to move.
In the next few weeks three known ministries sent or pledged $10,000, another couple sent in $10,000 as a result of the Maoz newsletter, and five others pledged $10,000. Another $25,000 has come in smaller donations specifically for the Yeshivah Fund. That is already a total of $115,000 in donations and pledges. Furthermore, the ministry property in Israel is worth about $500,000, and could be sold in order to put the finances into this larger project.
Yet this is far from $2,000,000!
After being here a few months, events began to take place in Israel among the believers that grieved us sorely, but which God used to instruct and prune us and prepare us for the work that is before us in Israel. However, it occupied our minds and our souls and our prayers for months.
We continued to preach and teach on Israel and give seminars across the United States, Canada and Mexico. However, the raising of large contributions seemed distant and remote in comparison to what was happening with people we loved so very much in Israel. Yet over the months, God brought us through in victory, and now, a year later, we have again began to focus on the challenge of the Messianic Jewish Institute of Learning for Biblical Studies in Israel.
THE VISION IS RENEWED
At the beginning of this letter we told you that last month we had shared this story with some very valued friends, who in turn encouraged us to put it in our Newsletter. A week or so later they wrote us, and sent a donation for $10,000. God has not forgotten His plan-or us.
Last week, we visited our friends of many years, Reverend and Mrs. Kenneth Hagin. Reverend Hagin told us that he had an impression in his spirit that only now are we really prepared spiritually for the purpose God has for us in Israel. We have prayed earnestly that God would prepare us, and with His help we are going forward with this very major project.
So now we have told you our story! If there are any of you who are reading this letter, and would like to talk to us concerning this Messianic Jewish Learning Institute, please call or write us.
We can give you more details concerning some property we are looking at, the projected curriculum, and goals for training Israeli leaders in the wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We see this school as one that must turn out leaders who live lives of integrity and holiness.
Leaders who operate in the gifts of the Spirit, full of faith and love. Leaders who understand the plan of salvation for the whole world, and specifically for the nation of Israel, as presented in the whole Bible-all the Scriptures, both Old and New.
Leaders who understand the covenantal promises that God has made to the physical seed of Abraham-truth that will set Israel free!
No we are not gifted fund raisers. We will speak of the school to people only as God opens the door. But we believe and trust in Him, that He will do it, even as He said.
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." Matt 6:33
In the service of our Messiah,
Ari and Shira Sorko- Ram