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Raising Our Expectations

Arise Summer Tour 2019 & Feast Youth Day

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11 Sep 2019 (All day)
Raising Our Expectations

The ICEJ recently hosted its 2019 Arise Summer Youth Tour, and to say that it was life changing is no exaggeration. Forty-five Christian youth from ten different nations came together to experience Israel, most of them for the first time. Hailing from a variety of backgrounds, the group of 18 to 32-year-olds explored ancient biblical sites, served Israelis in practical ways, laughed and worshipped together, and became one family in the process.

You may be thinking: “Great! A bunch of kids ran around the desert and swam in the Dead Sea… What’s the point?”

The purpose of ICEJ’s Arise youth tours is not just to reach the younger generation to ensure the future of our ministry. The heart of the Christian Embassy’s calling is to awaken the Church today to the biblical, historical and political significance of the restored nation of Israel - both the Land and the People. The best way to achieve this kind of in-depth education, especially for the youth of today, is to walk, swim, and climb alongside them as they physically experience Israel for themselves.

Today’s youth face battles on every front, especially over faith and competing ideologies. And Israel is the most hotly debated 'foreign policy’ subject on college campuses in our day. In universities around the world, even respected professors routinely promote anti-Israel hatred and boycotts and vile antisemitic views in their lectures and publications. And what do our youth really know in order to respond? Maybe they know Christianity was birthed from Judaism? Maybe they know Jesus was a Jew? Or maybe, they don’t.

Many young Christians today have grown up in churches where the subjects of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel were totally neglected or worse, where Replacement theology was preached. They are ill equipped to step into a serious conversation on Israel with a solid understanding of the region’s modern history or the strong biblical credentials for Israel’s restoration.

This is why the ICEJ offers youth tours. In a world that runs on sound bites, tweets and hashtags, we must build their knowledge base on Israel brick-by-brick, starting with a biblical and moral foundation, the right historical background, and an up-to-date perspective. In this way, the ICEJ seeks to give young Christians the ability to think critically about Israel and to base their opinions on the Word of God.

Personally, my entire life changed after a two-week tour to Israel when I was still a young girl. The Lord used our tour leader, a great woman Bible teacher who did not dumb down the information for my young ears, to instil a passion for His land and His people. This is the same aim of the Arise youth tours. It is time to raise our expectations! God is doing a work in Christian youth around the world and He has given them an insatiable hunger for knowledge.

We saw this during the Arise Sumer Tour in July, with believers as young as 18 engaging in the debate over Israel and her many facets, old and new, biblical and modern. They asked tough questions and truly strove to understand Israel in its multiple layers. They were equally as thrilled with the City of David archaeological finds as with the security challenges on the Golan Heights and the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Their curiosity could not be tamed and many days it extended beyond our scheduled activities into evenings of exploring on their own.

Perhaps the most touching moment for me was a conversation at the end of the tour with Will, who is 19 and just finished his first year of college in California. I asked him what his favourite part of the tour was, fully expecting to hear snorkelling in the Red Sea or the camel ride in the desert. But this college freshman, who spent the tour bopping around with headphones and cracking jokes, looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “the Holocaust museum... it was really impactful and sobering”.

One might assume he only came to Israel for the free trip provided by his grandmother. But Will was deeply impacted and changed, and by a museum of all things!

Those who have devoted many years to visiting and standing with Israel can easily forget the power of this nation to impress and inspire when seeing it for the first time. The restored nation of Israel is not just a sunny vacation spot, home to rich archaeological treasures, a wellspring of biblical truth, or the subject of political controversy - it is all of these combined, and so much more!

Everywhere we went in Israel, we encountered God: From the dark night and countless stars of the Judean Desert, to the sunrise over Masada, the still waters of the Sea of Galilee, and even the crowded streets of Jerusalem. Among the special highlights this year, the Arise group spent a day helping to clean up the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

There also was a strong teaching and devotional component to the tour, as Arise director Jani Salokangas was assisted by Adam Gabeli of ICEJ-Canada, Peter Ecenroad of ICEJ-USA, and several young Finnish pastors.

In every moment the Lord was speaking, touching, and changing lives. Every participant, from the youngest to the oldest, from the most knowledgeable to the least, was transformed by the working of the Holy Spirit.

On the outside it may have looked like just a lot of fun - which it was. But the Arise tour’s full impact on its participants will only be measured in eternity. So, thank you for partnering with us here at the ICEJ as we impact the next generation with the message of God’s plan for Israel and the Jewish people.

The young generation is open to the wisdom of our elders. We are looking for guidance in a complex world. Sometimes we need confirmation, or an extra push in the direction the Lord is already leading us. Therefore, if you are a parent or a grandparent, you have the opportunity to do what Will’s grandmother did: Sponsor your child/grandchild on the next ICEJ Arise tour, which will forever change their life. Together, let us raise our expectations of this next generation, and watch them Arise to meet it.

Even more so, if you are a young person, I encourage you to join us in Israel next year and let God change your life through a trip to His special land. Say “yes” to the calling of the Lord to come to Israel and take a step towards His plan for your life.

 

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Feast Youth Day
At the Feast of Tabernacles 2019, the ICEJ once again is sponsoring a special day of ministry, worship, fellowship and fun for young adult believers from across Israel and abroad. Feast Youth Day is scheduled for Tuesday, 15 October and will feature guest speakers and worship leaders at the morning sessions, an afternoon excursion, outdoor meal, and a special youth focus during the evening celebration. Musical artists will include Shiloh Ben-Hod, the most popular new Messianic singer/songwriter in Israel. It will be an exciting day of learning about Israeli history and culture, gaining a biblical perspective on the Land and people, and personal testimonies from different young leaders both in and outside Israel. For more information on how you can take part, contact feastreg@icej.org

 

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