Change Region:New Zealand

Special Reports

The Gaza Border Region

The Gaza border region: Visiting some of Israel’s most vulnerable communities
 

During the Feast of Tabernacles, 45 delegates toured one of Israel’s most vulnerable regions: Eshkol and Sha’ar HaNegev. Bordering the Gaza strip, these communities are often targeted by terrorists’ fire missiles, mortars and balloons equipped with flammables and explosive devices. Our tour was accompanied by ICEJ-Aid Director Nicole Yoder and Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, Executive Director of Operation Lifeshield, with whom ICEJ cooperates in setting up bomb shelters in vulnerable areas. 

In Kibbutz Magen we visited a karate club where children as young as four learn to defend themselves with their mere bodies. This form of self-defence is insufficient against rockets, so the students now also have access to a bomb shelter located right outside the building, thanks to the generous donation of ICEJ Switzerland. Following demonstration of a firefighting ATV, Ilan Isaacson, Head of Security of the Eshkol region, briefed us on the current security situation. Overlooking Khan Yunis, Gaza’s second largest city, we could sense Ilan’s sympathy towards the people of Gaza, also held hostage by terror organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and his deep hope that one day Israelis and Gazans would freely engage with each other as in the past. As we were listening, a fire balloon was reported near the Kibbutz we had been moments before.

Our final stop was Hetz Shachor, where the Deputy Head of Security of the Sha’ar HaNegev region explained how the local population stands together in administering trauma treatment and developing programs to build resilience. Their biggest challenge is not the missiles themselves, but the resulting traumatic effects on the residents. Since the first missiles were fired in 2001, an entire generation of children have grown up knowing nothing but a persistent missile barrage. People suffer from sleepless nights, depression and relive their trauma, unable to find closure. Nevertheless, Israelis from all parts of the country are moving to these areas and the population is steadily growing. Many are stirred by a deep love for the land and by the strong sense of community felt throughout these regions. Please support the ICEJ Israel in Crisis fund and help provide life-saving bomb shelters and equipment for Israeli communities who live in the frontline of terrorism.

Petra Winter from Germany explaine, “Most of all I was impressed by the locals’ resilience. They could easily leave the area, but they choose to stay. I was very reluctant to join this trip today. During the morning devotion I suddenly felt an impulse that I had to come and see how the people here live. What caught my attention was that in Gaza, children are being trained to fight and kill, in Israel we saw children being trained in karate to defend themselves. Children on both sides are being deprived of their childhood.” 

ICEJ TV Team in Germany & New office Now Open!

“Encounter Israel” Team Encounters New Stories in Germany
By: Kayla Muchnik

The ICEJ TV Production team, headquartered in Jerusalem, travelled to Germany this summer to report on the dark history of anti-Semitism and how Christians can take a stand again anti-Semitism today! As a German native, ICEJ President Jürgen Bühler personally shared stories about his family helping Jews during the Holocaust. He also interviewed German Christians who saw God move mightily when the city of Berlin was divided by the Berlin Wall. Many new Encounter Israel programs are currently in production highlighting this time in Germany, so subscribe to our YouTube and vimeo channels, as well as our email updates to see these new and powerful videos! Explore videos here: youtube.com/user/ICEJVideos & vimeo.com/icej

Sign up to receive our latest ministry updates and videos: int.icej.org/join
 

New Offices Open for Visitors

The ICEJ has completed renovations at our new offices at 38 Pierre Koenig Street, in Jerusalem’s Talpiyot neighbourhood and we are now ready to receive visitors, including tour groups. If you would like to pay us a visit or bring your tour group, we would be glad to host you! Please write us at icej@icej.org and give us details on your group and when you would like to visit. Or call us at +972-2-539-9700. 

Prayer & New Seminars at Feast 2019

New Language Seminars At the Feast

French Speakers Gather for a New Beginning • By Camille Troc
On the second day of the Feast, around 300 pilgrims from 19 different French-speaking nations gathered for a special French-language seminar in the Pais Arena. The French-speaking world is varied and dispersed, so the goal was to come together and pray for unity. Speakers from Africa, Europe and several island nations shared briefly about the political, economic and spiritual state of their nations, followed by a list of specific prayer points. Then, to engage the whole room in active intercession, we split into small groups to pray for the specific needs.

It was encouraging to see their zeal and fire in prayer, and God’s presence was tangible. For two hours, we were actors in an historic moment and accomplished much through our prayers. Despite major cultural differences, our struggles are the same: We all face a serious attack on our Judeo-Christian values and imminent persecution, whether active or passive. So we came together as brothers and sisters in the Lord and proclaimed healing and salvation over our nations and concluded the meeting with the Aaronic blessing.

This is just the beginning of something greater: New relationships, a growing network of Spirit-filled, pro-Israel, French-speaking believers, and revival for our nations.

Chinese believers rejoice as ‘one new man’ • By Haifa Lu
On Wednesday afternoon, Chinese believers from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, USA, UK and Australia gathered together for the very first Chinese Feast Seminar. Messianic Pastor Ariel Blumenthat shared about the vision of the One New Man. He explained to the attendees that the One New Man is not about taking a photo with a Rabbi, following the Jewish tradition, or having Shabbat meals with a Jewish family. It is about what Jesus accomplished on the Cross, when he broke down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles. Then Ariel brought a profound teaching on Ephesians chapter two. Living in China for two years gave Ariel a heart for the Chinese and a good understanding of their mindset and culture. He mentioned the peace Jesus made is also for the Chinese people: They are as one in Christ. At the end of the meeting, attendees prayed together for the next generation Chinese to fully walk in the unity and promised destiny they have received in Christ Jesus. 

Through Pastor Ariel’s message and the time of corporate prayer, the Holy Spirit released great freedom and joy in the attendees’ hearts! All praise to Jesus for the peace He made on the Cross, for Jews and Gentiles, for the Chinese, and for all nations! All glory to Jesus!

Prayer for the Nations in the Succah 
By: Twyla Ayton, Prayer Feast Team, Canada

As a first-time prayer team member and Feast attendee, I was totally stunned at the fresh perspective God gave me on Zechariah 14:16-19. Although already underlined in my Bible, the passage came to life this week as if I were hearing it for the first time. Here I was, praying in a Succah alongside delegates from over 100 nations – including Egypt – in the heart of Jerusalem. Something extra special happened when people from many nations came each morning before the Lord in the Prayer Succah and presented themselves on behalf of their country in prayer and petition. I loved the prayer tent! Whether or not you understood the language being spoken, it was so natural to agree in Spirit. A fellow team member told me that because of knowing me, it gave her a heart for my country and enlarged her tent pegs.

One morning I arrived at the Prayer Succah totally exhausted and unsure how I was going to carry on. I petitioned God and asked a team member to pray for me. But when the first person began to pray in a completely different language than my own, it felt as though a lightning bolt went right through me, and I felt a heaviness break off me! I knew from that moment on, I was going to be okay and my perspective totally changed. Praise God! I would encourage you to come to the Feast of Tabernacles to represent your nation and when you are here, join us in the Prayer Succah to stand in the gap for your country and others! 

"And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." (Zechariah 14:16-19)

ICEJ Aid Gifts At Feast Booth

Every year at the Feast of Tabernacles, the ICEJ AID has a booth in the Pais Arena and many pilgrims bring gifts for the Jewish people. Items are often homemade, and from locations around the world, bringing a wonderful intercultural flavour. When Israelis receive these gifts, they are greatly touched to know that Christians from all around the world are standing with them. This year there were several gifts donated, and thus the ICEJ AID team was able to create care packages with these donated items and give them to the new Olim who were guests at the Feast on Israeli Guest Night.

Final Day of the Feast 2019

The Spirit of Prayer Descends on Jerusalem
By: Kayla Muchnik

The closing session at the Tower of David opened with songs of praise echoing off the Old City walls of Jerusalem, and powerfully sealed all that God had done throughout the Feast. “This could be the most important session of the Feast, because we are going to pray”, ICEJ President Jürgen Bühler said in his welcome. “The basis of everything in our lives is the Word of God”, Jürgen stated. “Jesus fought the enemy by saying, ‘It is written.’” As the crowd prayed in the Tower of David, near the very place where Jesus was tried before Pilate in Herod’s Palace, Jürgen declared: “I believe we will make decisions today that will change our lives and nations.” Rev. Juha Ketola petitioned for God to pour out the spirit of prayer, enabling us to pray in agreement with God’s heart. “I want him to roll off the shame of Egypt in my life”, Juha explained. “I want to walk in the supernatural power of prayer and His word.” 

David Parsons led a time of prayer for Succot joy and laughter in the Holy Spirit, and Mojmir Kallus oversaw a series of prayers for the nations. During this time of prayer, an Egyptian brother approached Jürgen and said, “Put your glasses on and look into the sky. Do you see the double rainbow?” A God-given sign He truly was with us. Through each day of the Feast, the Holy Spirit wove a common thread of truth: We must go back to the Beginning; we must go back to the Word of God! God spoke and created; everything foundational in our faith is revealed to us in His Word, the Bible. We pray God will bring you back to the great Beginnings in His Word, and launch you into a grand, new beginning with Him! 

Love Above All Else
By: Ryan Tsuen, ICEJ Graphic Designer

Love above all else. These were the first words that came to mind as I looked at the many people gathered around me on the final morning of ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles 2019. In this historic, iconic landmark of the Old City of Jerusalem – the Museum of the Tower of David – pilgrims entered into a powerful time of worship and prayer. This closing session of the week-long festivities is always a cherished and precious time: To pray and reflect on what God had done throughout the week; to contemplate things He had spoken to us individually, and as a Body; and to “pray it forward” as we interceded on behalf of our own nations and the Body of Christ around the world. 

As leaders and representatives stepped forward to pray, the Lord ignited a fresh fire of passion and a deeper desire for His Word. Jürgen Bühler released an exhortation to the Feast pilgrims “to be a people who treasure the Word of God…[because] the basis of everything in our lives is the Word of God”. It is this Word that existed in the Beginning; this Word that became flesh and atoned for the sins of the world; this Word that is God’s love letter to His people.
What a unique and memorable time to be standing side-by-side among the many people of the nations gathered here in Jerusalem, the city so dear to the Father’s heart.

Learning Together in the Succah
Each year, in preparation for the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles, an outdoor Succah is erected on the grounds of Jerusalem’s Pais Arena. The Succah is a “hidden gem” of the Feast, serving as a gathering place for pilgrims to intercede for their nations and each other, experience the festive atmosphere of this annual Jewish tradition of “sitting together in the Succah”, and gain greater perspective of the Feasts of the Lord through daily seminars. Dr Jacob Keegstra, ICEJ-Netherlands National Director and author of “God’s Prophetic Feasts”, provided an excellent introduction to Succot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. Keegstra discussed the biblical background, what Jesus did, and the prophetic significance of this particular Feast of the Lord. Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, Executive Director of Operation Lifeshield and Torah Scribe (Sofer STaM) spoke on the mystery of the Hebrew “Alefbet”, the significance of how the Torah begins, and tied it together with the Hebrew Torah’s final word: Israel. Daniel Goldstein, founder of Jerusalem-based Jewels of Judaism, walked through the various biblical and Jewish calendars and helped attendees begin to decipher – and embrace – the mystery of the biblical calendar, the Hebrew months, and the annual Feasts of the Lord. All three seminars are available as MP3 downloads at ICEJstore.com, and come highly recommended.

New in 2019
Thank you to Chris Mitchell, CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief, for serving as MC for the Feast’s evening celebrations in the Pais Arena.

Jerusalem March & Israeli Night - Feast 2019

Winds of Change in the Middle East
Pilgrims arrived early Thursday morning for prayer and worship ahead of the day’s rich and thought-provoking seminars. Rev. Mats-Ola Iskhoel oversees a network of 400 churches in Russia and brought a hope-filled challenge: “Sometimes, we start off in life with a dream and it doesn’t work out, but God takes the clay and starts over and He makes something beautiful. This is the story of Israel… If the clay of your life is marred, He can take it and start over and make something beautiful despite what came before.” In Breakthrough in Saudi Arabia, CBN’s Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell discussed Saudi Arabia’s incredible transformation, such as the Saudi Crown Prince’s recent meeting with Evangelical Christian leaders, and ‘Vision 2030’, the government’s initiative to diversify their economy and attract Christian tourism. Chris’ interview with three young Saudis highlighted the impact of these sweeping reforms, especially for women. Then in a dramatic moment, author Joel Richardson addressed the audience from the possible site of Mt. Sinai in the Saudi desert via a live Skype call and openly displayed a Bible, reading from Isaiah 60. Richardson led this first-ever tour for Christian tourists to the Saudi Kingdom. 

Ingolf Ellssel, ICEJ Board chairman, gave a prophetic perspective on current events, stressing: “If God is doing something new, He first reveals it to His prophets.” Ellssel pointed to Deuteronomy 30:3, explaining God will first gather His people and then redeem them. Christian involvement is so crucial, since every revival requires prayer beforehand. Despite dark times, Ellssel encouraged prayer and time in God’s Word as our highest priority, adding: “God is still sovereign; these difficulties will not destroy us, they will bring us back to God.”

Local Believers and their challenges were addressed by a panel of Jewish and Arab pastors living in the Holy Land.
• Messianic pastor Berlie Belay described the Ethiopian community in Israel’s unique situation: “God is using the Ethiopian Jews for a new revival” and thanked the attendees “for what you are doing [through the ICEJ] in bringing the Ethiopian Jews back to Israel.”
• Ashdod pastor Israel Pochtar said, “When I share with my neighbors about the love of Christians… my neighbors have a hard time believing me.”
• Discussing the spiritual life of the local Christian Arab community, Jerusalem pastor Basaam Adranley reported “seven Arabs were baptised last month and many are coming to know the Lord… There is a big struggle against what God is about to do” but they continue to persevere: “When we feel like we have lost our vision, God tells us to stand because He is faithful. 

Jerusalem March
Each year, the festive Jerusalem March is a highlight for both our Feast pilgrims who march and the tens of thousands of Israelis who line the streets of Jerusalem to greet them. This year, thousands of Christians from over 100 nations, attired in national costumes and waving their flags, paraded once more through the streets of Jerusalem to express solidarity and love to the people of Israel. As the nations lined up in Sacher Park, Chayapat from Thailand, dressed in his traditional Thai costume, said: “We appreciate so much to walk and see all the nations as one family, and to show all of the Jewish people that we love them because of Yeshua.”

The Jerusalem March is an event that must be experienced to fully understand the impact, both on the Israeli spectators and Christian marchers. Petra Gorny, a Feast volunteer from Germany, shared: “The March was awesome because it was a witness of just how many people from the nations love Israel. One could see how the local Israelis were touched by this, and sense how much they desired to be accepted both by their neighbours and other nationalities, and the Jerusalem March is proof this can be achieved.” Rene from the Cook Islands was the youngest in her group: “This is my first year at the Feast and I am 14 years old. It is really nice and I want to come back next year. It has been fun to interact with other people. God has a new beginning for me. I am not sure yet what it is, but I am excited.” Moises Vasquez from Australia (pictured above) marched with other Aussies while using his phone to live-stream through ICEJ’s official Facebook page, allowing our friends and followers from around the world to virtually walk amongst the pilgrims. “The waves of people from every tongue, tribe and nation set the city abuzz, and smiling faces of all ages lined both sides of the streets”, recalled Moises. “It’s become one of my best highlights and why wouldn’t it when I get to yell out ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ in Jerusalem and hear back the response ‘Oi, Oi, Oi’!” 

As thousands of Christians declared God’s love for the Jewish people and Israel, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to receive this “hug” from the nations. As one family expressed it, “It’s beautiful and they come here every year. They come only because they love Israel. It is amazing!” 

Historic Skype call: Saudi Arabia to Jerusalem’s Main Stage
History was made when Feast pilgrims witnessed a live Skype call between Dr Bühler from the main stage of the Pais Arena in Jerusalem to Christian author Joel Richardson speaking LIVE from Al Bayad, Saudi Arabia, believed to be the actual site of Mt. Sinai. During the Special Presentation: Breakthrough in Saudi Arabia, Feast pilgrims watched in amazement at the big screens as Joel pointed out the possible Altar to the Golden Calf behind him, then turned 180 degrees to show Mt. Sinai – where Moses would have received the law directly from God’s hand – with the split rock clearly visible in the foreground. During the call, Joel openly held up his Bible and read from it, something which would have been unthinkable until now.

The Nations Celebrate With Israeli Guests
After an exciting afternoon of enthusiastic marching through Jerusalem, pilgrims filled the Arena for a spectacular evening with our Israeli friends. Ray Sidney and his international choir knocked it out of the park with their explosive worship to the King of Kings. Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency spoke of the Christian Embassy’s vital role in bringing the Jewish people back to Israel: “We are following in the footsteps of the Bible and the prophets in the redemption of the Jewish people, and therefore we are doing it with partners. And one of our most important strategic partners is the ICEJ”, he said. “It’s an incredible organisation that works with us, and personally, since I started my long political and public career I have found the ICEJ in many spheres of life in Israel.” Herzog then presented Dr Jürgen Bühler with an award on behalf of the Jewish Agency for Israel. On the award was inscribed Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” 

Nehemiah Award honors lifetime achievement
The ICEJ also presented its annual Nehemiah Award to Rev. Michael Utterback, a Christian leader with a lifetime of achievements in building support for Israel and the Jewish people. An ordained minister with the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee, Rev. Utterback first established Ministry to Israel (MTI) in 1988 in response to a unique vision to become engaged in the great Ingathering of the Jewish people back to their ancient homeland in Israel. In 1991, Utterback’s MTI began partnering with ICEJ and other organisations to assist Jewish families in making the journey home to Israel. Over the next 30-plus years, he thrust himself into facilitating Aliyah: From fishing activities across vast expanses of Russia, to sponsoring transport operations and airline flights, to planting new immigrants securely in the Land of Israel. Including Aliyah efforts of the ICEJ, Ezra International, and his own MTI, Michael Utterback assisted tens of thousands of Jewish people to return to Israel. In receiving the award, Michael shared, “I am very honoured. The ICEJ has been in my heart for many years.” He also observed, “There is no other nation like the nation of Israel. This is a land of miracles. It is in the DNA of every Jew. Miracles are not a strange thing for Jewish people… The fact that Israel exists is a modern-day miracle. There is a good reason why.”

“Our dear Jewish friends that are here tonight, many of you have made Aliyah to this land. I want to tell you that YOU are a miracle. You are witnesses to the nations of the earth that the God of Israel keeps His promises. You had to come back to this land, so that the nations could know that the God of Israel is truly God.” Quoting the prophet Jeremiah, he underscored the prophetic significance of Gentile involvement in Aliyah. “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and tell it to the isles far off, He who scattered Israel will gather them.” Addressing Israeli guests, he added: “You are here tonight because it is God Himself who brought you. He brought you to Himself so He could embrace you and show you how much He loves you... Your God is watching over Israel tonight and He cares about you. I want you to know that I love you too.” 

For over 30 years, Rev. Michael Utterback has travelled worldwide and spoken as an advocate for Israel. His roles with the ICEJ included Liaison to Churches, International Director, and member of the ICEJ’s international Board of Trustees. Today, Michael remains active in Aliyah and absorption efforts with MTI and as International Director for Ezra International. Michael and his wife Gina live in Jerusalem and have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

Renowned violinist Serguei Popov came to the stage for his traditional Feast solo performance, yet this year he was accompanied on the piano by an old friend from musical college days. This was no ordinary “old friend”, but Roman Polanski, Director of Russian Aliyah for the Jewish Agency.
This past spring, Roman was a guest speaker at an ICEJ reception in Jerusalem, where he reconnected with Serguei after 35 years apart, only to find both were now fully involved in Aliyah work, with Serguei serving as ICEJ’s Coordinator for the Central Asian Republics.

A troupe of Taiwanese dancers brought excitement and cultural flavour to Israeli Guest Night. With exotic, colourful costumes, skilled dancers performed tribal dances of worship to the Lord, involving long bamboo sticks which fellow dancers moved in unison under their feet with speed and precision. It was truly a flawless performance which left the audience in awe of this unique Chinese tradition.

New in 2019 International Gospel Choir Debuts for Israeli Guests
By Fiona Chow, Media Feast Team, Finland

Months ago, Feast Executive Producer Michael Mann reached out to Feast worship alum Ray Sidney with this request: “I would love to have a Holy Ghost party on Israeli night with a large gospel choir on stage worshipping our King. Is this at all possible?” In faith, Ray responded with an enthusiastic, ¨Yes!¨ Ray, an American Gospel singer who has served on the Feast worship team, immediately shared the idea with two long-time Feast singers from Finland, Linda Laukkkonen and Fiona Chow, who he was visiting. Within a few months, thirty singers had committed to sing, and the ICEJ’s first-ever International Gospel Choir was born. Compromised of singers from six nations (Finland, Canada, Fiji, Norway, the Philippines and the USA), the choir’s energy, unity and strong message of hope had the audience dancing and praising through every song. Everyone agreed this was an historic moment at the Feast that should become an annual feature of Israeli Guest Night.

A Spectacular Beginning

Feast 2019 Opens with Worship in the Wilderness
From the shores of the Dead Sea to the heart of Jerusalem, ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles 2019 blessed and challenged thousands of Christians from nearly 100 nations during the week of Sukkot! As the sun slipped behind the Ein Gedi cliffs and the full moon began to rise, a blow of the shofar summoned hearts of Christians around the world to worship the Lord! American singer/composer Eddie James and his team of young performers led the crowd in energetic, joyful worship to Jesus. Thousands of voices united together to proclaim, “You are worthy of it all.” Pastor Alberto Magno from Bolivia emphasized the importance of presenting an offering of thanks to our Lord. Joshua Aaron, a local Israeli musician, then brought a lively ukulele vibe to traditional Jewish worship music. 

A Heavenly Perspective
In this refreshing atmosphere of praise and worship, Brother Yun, former leader of the underground Chinese church and author of the book “The Heavenly Man”, recounted the miraculous ways God showed up during times of intense persecution for preaching the Gospel. “If God comes into your persecutions and challenges, then everything is possible”, Yun told the pilgrims. “I have had the great honor to serve Jesus and was in prison four times over 12 years for preaching the gospel… But God said to me, ‘The prison is the reality, but I am the truth.’” Hundreds came forward in response to Brother Yun’s message seeking personal ministry from this proven servant of God. 

Communion & Confession in the Garden Tomb
After the exciting evening of worship in the desert setting of Ein Gedi, hearts were awake early Monday morning and ready to commune with Jesus at Jerusalem’s tranquil Garden Tomb. The garden was full of God’s people and His sweet presence and peace were evident. To one side, the empty tomb stood as a reminder of our resurrected Lord and King, as pilgrims raised their voices in unison to proclaim, “This is amazing grace.” Local pastors Berlie Belay (Jewish) and Saleem Shalash (Arab) together led the gathering in a beautiful time of sharing communion. Saleem remarked, “What Jesus prophesied in His days, is happening in our days!” 

Respected Bible teacher RT Kendall shared a life-changing message on the importance of ‘total forgiveness’ in the life of every believer. In response, many pilgrims responded, and tearfully confessed away bitterness and unforgiveness. “You may be waiting for vindication and you want the world to know what someone has done to you”, said Kendall. “But God says, ‘Totally forgive them and make sure that no one knows about it’... The proof of total forgiveness is that you don’t tell anyone. Total forgiveness is a life sentence. You don’t do it just once.”

“I cried and cried, because I can feel that Jesus is here”, said an elderly woman from Fiji who has visited the Garden Tomb many times. “This is not history we are remembering; Jesus is alive and here with us today.” 

The Nations Gather In Jerusalem

Monday evening, thousands of pilgrims from nearly 100 nations assembled at Jerusalem’s Pais Arena, many wearing their national attire and proudly waving their country’s flag. Some of the new or unusual nations represented at the Feast this year were Macedonia, Iraq and our first-ever large delegation from Egypt! Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, delivered a short and encouraging welcome to the city: “We don’t take it for granted that we have friends dedicated to Jerusalem, Israel, and the Jewish people. Thank you for your support, love, and your advocacy in your own countries. Today in synagogue, we read Ecclesiastes, but the essence of this book is very clear, faith is the purpose of why we are here in this world… Our faith comes above everything else. Thank you for your love and support. Come back again.” 

Singing, dancing, and vibrant music filled the arena throughout the evening, which culminated with a message on the Feast theme “Beginnings” from ICEJ President Dr Jürgen Bühler. “This year’s Feast of Beginnings is, in one sense looking back at where things started, but also looking forward to new beginnings”, exhorted Dr Bühler. He also stressed the importance of having the right foundation with God before stepping into a new beginning, which starts with a hunger and respect for the Word of God. Holding his Bible aloft, he declared, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most precious book in the world.” 

New in 2019:

The ‘After Glow’ - An old Feast tradition known as the “After Glow” was revived at Feast 2019, as pilgrims were invited to stay around for an extended time of worship at the end the evening services. After the main program drew to a close, pilgrims were encouraged to linger at the foot of the stage as the Feast music team led them in a special time of worship and soaking in the presence of the Lord.

Broadcast WORLDWIDE
In addition to livestreaming on our social media outlets, this year’s Feast was broadcast worldwide through four networks (Vision Norway, Daystar, GodTV, and LMTV). YouTube also actively promoted morning and evening sessions to viewers.


  

Youth Day At the Feast 2019

Embracing a New Start with God
The first morning in the arena kicked off with worship, prayer and powerful sessions covering our relationship with God and the new beginnings He has for us.
Pastor Andrew Kou from Taiwan emphasized the Feast as a time to rest and rejuvenate through worship. “God’s word t o us this morning is to let go of the things we manage at home... Our role now is to rest and rejoice.” ICEJ Vice President David Parsons pointed out with every beginning, something must end; a principle reflected in the sad ending to the ancient world as told in the story of the Flood. In his new book Floodgates, Parsons noted that Jesus likened the ‘Days of Noah’ to the end of this age, but also gave hope of the glorious new Beginning ahead. 

Israeli Bible teacher Peter Tsukahira spoke on new beginnings based on Abraham’s binding of Isaac and the new lease on life it offered his beloved son. Pilgrims embraced the promise of a new start with God. The ‘God in the Nations’ panel then took a deeper look at how Christians around the world are standing with Israel. ICEJ Vice President of International Affairs, Mojmir Kallus interviewed Christian leaders from three diverse countries on what God is doing in their nations: Apostle Apollinaire Gboagnon from the Ivory Coast, Pastor Stephen Mirpuri from Manilla, and Apostle Fabio Abbud from Brazil.

Next Generation:
From the ends of the earth, the Fiji band led off the evening service with an island-style time of worship. The atmosphere shifted as South African evangelist Angus Buchan took the stage with a message of great conviction, repentance, passion and intimacy with God. Angus decreed: “If you take the Bible out of your faith, then you have nothing, and the enemy knows this.” He emphasized the importance of daily time in God’s Word, adding he spends five hours reading the Bible every day. At his invitation thousands of pilgrims offered a prayer of repentance, confessing their areas of unbelief in the Word of God, and expressed their commitment to read the Bible each day. The evening closed with a powerful time of singing, dancing, and prayer. Many hearts were impacted and changed forever!

Yong adult delegates at the Feast enjoyed a special day excursion to Bethlehem. The purpose was to challenge and equip them to better understand and represent Israel in their nations. Moises Vasquez, a youth pastor from Brisbane with ICEJ-Australia, “loved seeing young people deeply connect their childhood faith with the Land where the Bible was written. Each place in Israel tells a story and Bethlehem Pastor Naim Khoury’s story is one of fearless faith and a family’s commitment to loving a community into God’s Kingdom.” Dr Naim Khoury pastors the largest evangelical Christian Arab congregation in the Holy Land, which faces intense persecution from Muslim neighbours for standing with the Gospel and with Israel, including numerous firebombs. The Feast youth gained a new love for these Christian Arab brothers and sisters and a burden to pray for their safety. 

A Taste of the Middle East
After a delicious lunch of traditional local fare in Bethlehem, the group journeyed to the Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem’s busiest outdoor market. Once in the “shuk”, they teamed up for a grand scavenger hunt, called a “Shuk Dash”.  Following a list of items to find in the crowded Israeli market, the young people had tons of fun weaving through the crowds of people. By the end of the day the group was all laughs and smiles and bubbling with questions about Israel. Feast Youth Day was a perfect mix of fun and education on Israel, all wrapped into one “next gen-friendly” package.

Egyptian Pilgrims at the Feast
For the first time ever, a delegation from Egypt came to represent their nation at Feast 2019. They belong to a network of Egyptian Christians who embraced the vision of the Isaiah 19 Highway, as well as the prophetic summons of Zechariah 14:16-18 that Egypt should come to Jerusalem each year to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, so there will be rain in their country. As they stood on our stage in Jerusalem praying for their nation, it started raining in Egypt! And when they landed back in Cairo, the country was inundated by unusual heavy rains – to the point that schools and businesses were closed. This outpouring of favour on Egypt affirmed to the group that God indeed was pleased with their ascent to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast!

Day Four At the Feast 2019

Prophetic Promises for the Region
The fourth day of the Feast began with anointed worship and a time of prayer, followed by excellent seminars on Israel and Beginnings still to come. Rev. RT Kendall tackled the timely topic of a godly response to transgenderism and same sex attraction, which rests on the biblical belief that God as Creator made them male and female, and only He assigns gender. “Every generation has the stigma, to test what the Believer is”, Kendall stated. “Are you ready to be embarrassed by your friends, because of what you stand for? We must be ready to be embarrassed and face the stigma.” Daniel Yahav, pastor of Israel’s largest Messianic congregation, delivered a bold message on God’s Word as ultimate truth. Yahav gave a powerful analogy: “The Titanic is sinking and some people are still painting the rails, although the Lord is standing at the gate. However, we lift up our hands because we know He is coming soon and we want to be found faithful.” 

Back to our First Love
Mosy Madugba, National Director for ICEJ-Nigeria, spoke on rediscovering our first love and the power of the Holy Spirit: “Some of you may be saying, ‘I am not praying as I ought to pray. I am not fasting as I ought to fast’. Some of us are growing stagnant in our faith.” He urged attendees to “go back to the beginning where fire fell down… It was in this city where it all began. The baptism of the Holy Spirit took place here.” The Isaiah 19 Highway seminar discussed the Middle East’s anticipated spiritual harvest. Yosef Sarig related what God has showed him regarding highways and borders for us believers: “We are called to be a blessing and this will only happen when we can break down the borders in our hearts.” Milad Khoury, a young Arab Christian believer born in Gaza, yearns to see reconciliation between Jews and Arabs; he stressed the importance of unity and praying for our enemies. Tom Craig, instrumental in bringing the group of Egyptian Christians to this year’s Feast, walked delegates through Isaiah 19 and closed by stating: “This is a time when Jesus is moving powerfully in the Middle East and all over earth to see His kingdom come.”

Feast Bus Tour: A Walk Through Time
By Matthew Stark, Social Media Feast Team, USA

As the bus left Jerusalem headed north, I was curious to visit the controversial, yet biblically significant Judea/Samaria or “West Bank”. A short drive and entry through a small checkpoint, surrounded by watchtowers and barbed wire-topped stone walls, and we were there. Passing Ramallah, administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority, put into perspective the close proximity of the players in this modern-day conflict. Soon after, we stepped into ancient history on the Hill Road, the “Way of the Patriarchs” where Abraham would have travelled. The quiet rolling hills, covered in terrace-farmed olive trees, give no outward indication of the lingering dispute over this territory.

Mount Gerizim overlooks the modern city of Nablus, also under Palestinian control, in the valley where ancient Shechem rested between Gerizim and Mount Ebal (Deuteronomy 11:29). Looking down, we could see Jacob’s well (Genesis 33:18-20) and Joseph’s Tomb (Joshua 24:32). I stood overlooking this nexus of the ancient world in awe. At Shiloh, the path was lined with rich archaeological discoveries: A recreated Byzantine basilica, the orphan mosque of the Mamluk period, and an olive press from the early Islamic period were interspersed with the remains of Jewish mikveh baths, water cisterns and storage for food and grain.
Reaching the top of a hill, archaeological remains of where the Tabernacle once stood lay before us. The twelve tribes would have gathered on these vine-covered hills to meet with the Lord; from the time of Joshua (chapter 18) through Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel, until the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines in 1 Samuels 4:11. Time and again, I was left awestruck by the profound significance of this land. From Gerizim, to Shiloh, and back to Jerusalem... this tour was a “walk through time” along key locations in Israel’s early history. I highly encourage all future Feast pilgrims to consider investing an afternoon exploring Israel’s rich history through the guided bus tours available each year during ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles. 

Apostle Rene Terra Nova brings "Faithful and True" word
Wednesday night at the Feast of Tabernacles was a time full of worship, dancing, singing and an inspirational word from Apostle Renê Terra Nova of Brazil. Opening the evening was our own Vesna Bühler with a poignant song about the peace of Jerusalem. Then the nations began to pray for the regions of the world led by representatives from the four corners of the earth: Fiji, Liberia, Canada and UK. Local attorney and Messianic leader Calev Myers spoke about the incredible favour that God has placed over Israel’s economy and business sector. “The top three nations with companies listed in NASDAQ are America, China and Israel”, he explained. Eliahana Eli then led the crowd in a powerful performance of intimately singing the word of God back to the Lord, as beautiful white flags waved in the background. Apostle Renê Terra Nova came to the stage with great excitement, passion and authority. “God is working on our character, defining our vision, and our dreams so that He can establish this new beginning in your life”, he declared. “Everything you need, God has already prepared for you.” Pilgrims gathered around the stage as Renê spoke forth in faith: “Today, God will begin something new in your life.

NEW in 2019 ICEJ Academy Makes Debut: By: Aaron Hecht
Feast 2019 saw the launch of the ICEJ Academy, with senior leaders of the ICEJ giving presentations on the history of Christian Zionism, the foundational principles of the movement, its Biblical underpinnings, and the growing relations between Jewish and Christian communities both within Israel and in the nations. They also shared from their own pursuits and experiences both the basic knowledge and practical steps needed to grow the movement and enhance its effectiveness worldwide. Those attending the ICEJ Academy eagerly took notes and engaged both the speakers and each other in dialogue about the material. Many spoke of finishing the sessions with a renewed sense of purpose, and were excited to bring what they had learned back to their home churches and communities and share it with others. The ICEJ looks forward to expanding the ICEJ Academy and making more teaching sessions available in the near future.

The Story of Homecare

“Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth…” (Jeremiah 31:8a)

Sometimes a story begins even before its beginning. This is the story of Homecare. After the Six-Day War in June 1967, Soviet Jews were stirred to return to their roots and immigrate to Israel. There were no direct flights and many obstacles were imposed by Soviet authorities. Miraculously, ICEJ became part of the story of this modern-day exodus when God provided pathways to Israel through our international branches.

Then in 1996, in response to a wave of about 5,000 olim coming into Israel every month, the ICEJ took over an initiative started by Dutch nurses who recognised the great needs of these new immigrants. This basic home nursing program for Russian Jewish immigrants initially became part of ICEJ’s Soviet Jewry Department. “Homecare” has since come to the aid of scores of people who have made Aliyah but struggled with serious health challenges. Many are elderly, sick and often traumatised by the darkness of the Second World War.

God says in Jeremiah 32:41: “Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.” Homecare reflects this verse and the Father’s heart for His beloved people.

Aliyah is a beautiful fulfilment of God's purpose. Jews come to Israel full of hope, yet because of difficult circumstances, discouragement can overwhelm them. Homecare steps in when nobody else is there to help, and has been a channel of comfort and hope for over thirty years.

For many, the visits from Homecare are a highlight of their week. Eyes light up when a Homecare worker comes in, and joy and compassion enter their rooms and hearts.

Please join us in making an impact on elderly Russian Jews today. When you send your generous gift to ICEJ Homecare, you make a difference one life at a time!

A Milestone in Aliyah

At the Feast of Tabernacles 2019, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem also celebrated reaching a new milestone in its Aliyah efforts, as the ICEJ has now assisted more than 150,000 Jews to make the journey home to Israel since our founding in September 1980.

In modern times, some 3.6 million Jews have returned to the Land of Israel from all over the world – from the north, south, east and west – in literal fulfilment of biblical promises. For example, a massive wave of over one million Soviet Jews have made their way home to Israel ever since the collapse of the Iron Curtain exactly thirty years ago in October 1989. In response, the ICEJ was there to help with this historic Ingathering, not only from Russia but from many other regions of the world as well.

The ICEJ has engaged in a wide variety of Aliyah efforts, working closely with the Jewish Agency for Israel and other partners to help with the Jewish return to the Land of Israel. As of October 2019, the ICEJ has provided substantial assistance to more than 150,000 Jews making the journey home to Israel. That represents more than ten percent of the Jews who have made Aliyah over the past four decades.

In addition to these Aliyah figures, the Christian Embassy has also provided generous assistance towards Absorption projects that have helped tens of thousands of new Jewish immigrants settle into their new homes and integrate into Israeli society.

Meet the New Immigrants
To mark the occasion, the Christian Embassy invited forty of our recent olim (new immigrants) to attend the traditional Israeli Guest Night during the Feast of Tabernacles. This included individuals or families from Belarus, Brazil, China (Kaifeng Jews), Colombia, Ethiopia, France, India (Bnei Menashe), Russia, South Africa, and the Ukraine.

The 150,000th oleh assisted by the ICEJ is Danyl Godim, a medical doctor from Ukraine who made Aliyah in 2019 with his wife Ana, a nurse, and their two children.

Their son Elia, 16, came ahead of the family on the Naale youth pre-army program supported by ICEJ. The parents and younger daughter Oliana, 10, came on the Jewish Agency's “Profession for a New Life” program for medical doctors, also supported by ICEJ. Thanks to this unique program, Danyl will receive his license to practice medicine in Israel in less than a year.

Danyl and his wife decided to make Aliyah because they feel Israel is their true
home and here they can give their children a better future.

“We are grateful for all the assistance we have received, and could not have made Aliyah without it”, said Danyl. “We now want to begin giving back – me as a doctor, Ana as a nurse, and Elia as a soldier in the Israeli army.”

“I really have a hope that my family will find a good future and a good education here”, added Ana. “And I’m really thankful so much for everyone who helped us. I’m talking now about not only [money], not only about some food, it’s also about moral support.”

An Array of Aliyah Efforts

Over the past forty years, the types of Aliyah assistance provided by the ICEJ have included:

• Sponsoring flights to Israel for Jews making Aliyah.
• Offering grants to needy Jewish families moving to Israel.
• Providing transport by bus, train and other means to the airport for Aliyah flights.
• Paying for travel, lodging and other expenses for Jews to complete their documentation with the Jewish Agency.
• Providing special medical care and ambulance service for the handicapped on their way to Israel.
• Organizing ‘fishing’ efforts, such as concerts, seminars and mobile exhibits, to locate Jewish communities and encourage their move to Israel.
• Sponsoring Aliyah seminars and camps organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel.
• Funding Hebrew language classes and computer courses for young Russian Jews preparing to make Aliyah.
• Sponsoring Aliyah Fairs, ‘Red Carpet’ welcomes, and other events for Jewish immigrants just arriving in Israel.

Main Routes of Aliyah
Meanwhile, the ICEJ’s main routes of Aliyah have included:

St. Petersburg-Helsinki: The ICEJ’s first major route of Aliyah was through St. Petersburg and Helsinki, and we have now transported over 35,000 Jews from Northwest Russia to airports in St. Petersburg and Helsinki and over 4,000 Jews to the airport in Belarus – all bound for Israel.

Kaliningrad: Another 5,000 Jews have been transported from the Kaliningrad enclave in Poland for flights to Israel since the early 1990s.

Ukraine: During the years when ICEJ was the main sponsor of Exobus in the 1990s, we bused over 35,000 Jews to Kiev and other locales for flights or voyages by ship to Israel. Since the crisis with Russia erupted in 2013, the ICEJ has sponsored flights, pre-Aliyah seminars, Aliyah programs and transportation efforts for over 2,000 Ukrainian Jews.

Central Asia – ICEJ has assisted over 8,000 Jews coming home from Uzbekistan and neighboring Muslim republics since 1996.

Western Aliyah – Over the past decade, ICEJ has assisted with the upswing in Aliyah from France and Germany, as well as from North and South America.

Ethiopia – After sponsoring numerous absorption projects for Ethiopian Jewish immigrants for many years, the ICEJ has sponsored direct flights to Israel for 1,920 Ethiopian olim arriving since 2016.

Bnei Menashe – ICEJ has partnered with Shavei Israel to bring 1,065 Bnei Menashe from northeast India since 2012.

Here is a sneak peak of the Aliyah Timeline in our WFJ November/December 2019 issue: 

Thank you for taking a deeper look into the beautiful work of Aliyah! Join us in continuing to help Jews come home to Israel!

 

Share this: