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Envision Conference 2019

Heavenly Perspective on Israel

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22 Mar 2019
Envision Conference 2019

The ICEJ hosted its annual Envision Conference in January, with over 150 pastors and ministry leaders from 25 different nations gathering in Jerusalem for a special time of fellowship, touring the Land, and learning more about God’s heart for Israel.

The main sessions at Envision featured teachings by the ICEJ leadership and select local ministers, who provided a solid biblical perspective on Israel – both the ancient and modern land and people. Given that the New Testament admits there is something of a “mystery” to Israel, the teaching series aimed to equip pastors and ministry leaders to speak and teach confidently on the subject. For some attendees, like Brian from Denmark, this was their first trip to Israel, so they had so much to take in even just driving around Jerusalem. Yet even for those who have been here many times before, like Bible teacher Sally Howard from Atlanta, Georgia, there is always so much more to learn about Israel to take back to her church and community.

On the opening night, ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler gave a powerful message from the story of Baalam and Balak in Exodus, that many today are looking for vantage points from which they can scrutinize and denounce Israel for her faults, but we need to maintain God’s perspective on this uniquely chosen nation.

The next morning, ICEJ VP & senior spokesman David Parsons emphasized the importance of preaching the full counsel of Scripture about Israel from the pulpit. “Your view on Israel says much about your view of God!” Parsons exclaimed.

Connecting with Israel and the local Body
In addition to offering ministry tools and networking opportunities, Envision also challenged attendees to deepen the personal impact of their time in Israel. Noted Bible teacher Peter Tsukahira spoke on the great importance of these ministers receiving fresh revelation from God. “What you need to be praying while you are here in the land is ‘God, open the eyes of my heart. Show me what you are doing here in this land.’”

Magne, who leads a congregation in Germany, shared that this was a motivating factor for him. “I have a firm understanding of the importance of Israel”, he said. “I hope to renew and strengthen my connection and relationship with God’s heart for Israel.”

Panel discussions with local Jewish and Arab pastors, as well as Messianic professionals and business owners, provided a rare inside perspective on life in Israel for the believing community here. In one session, Arab and Jewish ministers shared the stage, discussing the unique opportunities and challenges faced by their congregations in Israel. The unity and cooperation between these shepherds and congregations inspired the audience, as they stand firm for the truth of being one new man in Christ!

Other panels discussed trends in business and Israel’s corporate culture, and ways to get involved. “I think the Lord is calling each of you to a deeper relationship with the community in Israel”, explained Israeli consultant Yoel Shoshani. “Above all, I encourage you to be an ambassador for us to your nation.”

An especially touching session featured three local pastors who shared their personal Aliyah experiences. Pastor Birlie Belay is an Ethiopian Jewish immigrant who has started several Ethiopian Messianic congregations here in Israel. He explained the many struggles that Ethiopian Jews have in moving to Israel, including the extreme culture shock and the discrimination he faces for being African and a Messianic Jew. In the middle of these struggles, Birlie also sees God moving powerfully.

“God is doing new things here in Israel”, Birlie said. “We need your prayers for the leaders and pastors to do God’s will here. Your love makes us more jealous for Yeshua… God sent you to encourage us, stand with us, and pray for us!”

The conference also included several day outings to places of special interest in Israel. The first excursion took the pastors and leaders to Yad Vashem, the revered Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem. Throughout the tour, each story they heard about the Holocaust brought a new level of understanding and impact to the group. A separate field trip took the pastors to the volatile border with Gaza to see up-close how the ICEJ has been helping Jewish villages there cope with years of rocket fire and other terror attacks.

War of the Worlds
ICEJ director emeritus Rev. Malcolm Hedding was also on hand to add to the ministry component, and he stressed the need to recognise and steel ourselves for the intense spiritual battle already raging around us, particularly over Israel’s destiny. The three spheres where we battle most are the conflict over Israel, the conflict over our communities, and the conflict within ourselves, he explained. “God embarked upon this adventure to rescue you, and the war was won on the Cross of Calvary. But we have to work out and live out our salvation”, Malcolm declared.

Meanwhile, ICEJ VP of International Affairs Mojmir Kallus discussed some of the difficult New Testament verses concerning the Jewish people, and the need for patience “until” their hardness of heart is over and the restoration of Israel is complete. “God has a glorious future for the people of Israel”, Mojmir stated.

In another session, ICEJ VP for Jerusalem Operations Barry Denison outlined in Scripture the unique prophetic role reserved for the Gentiles in assisting with the ingathering of Israel in modern times. Drawing from Isaiah 66:18-20, he likened it to an aromatic “grain offering” being brought to the Lord at the Temple.


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