About 150 congregants (including children) arrived at the beautiful, country Messianic moshav (collective farm community) which also serves as a conference center in the Judean Hills of Jerusalem, for a weekend long, Cleansing Stream retreat - an intensive time of dealing with old hurts, habits, strongholds and places given over to the enemy which prevent believers from reaching their full spiritual potential.
The first evening began with a very vibrant praise and worship session followed by a comprehensive teaching on the effects that unforgiveness, pride and rejection have upon believers. Dealing with these subjects first would then prepare the way to confront the next day’s topics which concerned shame and guilt.
After each subject was thoroughly taught, individuals were able to stand and corporately renounce places where they advertently or inadvertently opened the door in their lives for strongholds to come in and keep them spiritually paralyzed, unable to have deliverance and breakthroughs that would free them from these besetting problems of the past. This was followed by a time of one-on-one prayer for specific problems relating to those categories.
As everyone came up for prayer, we began to see the fruit of our labors as 18 congregants who had received two nights of training for this intense ministry began to move in power and authority, casting out and speaking to the spirits and places of darkness. As they reminded the spirits that each one receiving prayer was sealed with the blood of Yeshua, we all witnessed the darkness leaving and the void in these areas fill up, making a home for the Spirit of God to dwell and take over.
For many, this was the very first time that those praying had moved in this kind of ministry and authority, and, for us, it was a real tangible evidence of how our Israeli believers (some only a few years in the Lord) are maturing and allowing themselves to be stretched into a place of ministry for others. As anointing oil was used in order to, as the Scriptures proclaim, break the yoke, we could hear many taking real authority in Yeshua's name and breaking bondages.
One example of this occurred on the second day of the conference when the topic of sexual impurity was discussed. Individuals were asked to write down the names of all those with whom they had soul ties (meaning unholy sexual relationships). The purpose was to renounce each one, and as they received prayer, to cross out each name, tear the paper up and throw the many pieces onto the floor, literally putting their past under their feet and taking authority over these impure relationships, once and for all.
While many were receiving prayer, we noticed a young Israeli woman crying hysterically in a corner. One of our prayer team members came over to this brand new believer of a couple of months and asked her why she was weeping so bitterly. She explained that her background had been so intense in this area of sexual sin that she could not even remember all the names to write down. There had been hundreds of men in her life. She wept both as an act of contrition and regret, realizing how she had sinned so greatly before God, but also understanding how this had hurt her and how it had made her feel unworthy of God's forgiveness and pardon.
For that moment, she could not imagine that there was a way back to reconciliation with a holy and pure God, so in her place of despair, she wept bitterly. As our team member ministered to her, letting her know that her sin is as far removed as the east is from the west and also explaining that she is a new creation where old things have passed away and, therefore, only seen through the blood of Yeshua, she was slowly able to come to a place of forgiving herself in order to then receive God's forgiveness.
It was as if God had her in his private surgical room for a time, as she laid her head quietly on the shoulder of the one praying for her. This went on for at least 10 minutes while more prayer was going up for her, and then the yoke was broken in an instant. Her weeping turned into one incredible smile that made her face glow. She knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she had been set free from her past, and she was elated!
Another one of the more touching sessions was when two of the team members from California spoke about the pain and rejection that so many of us suffer as a result of having less than perfect parents. There was hardly a dry eye in the house as people personalized this heartfelt message. Israelis are so broken and hurt that many just wanted that hug and affirmation they never received from their own parents, so they got it in abundance at this conference. For them, that was the first road to inner healing - just being held and embraced, getting a sense of self-worth and overdue attention. It was truly a poignant and heartrending scene.
As you know, we have, for years, sought to nurture and strengthen the fellowship and closeness of our congregants, knowing that if they felt very connected to others, they would continue to come to services and grow in their faith. So another great benefit of this conference was the very strong ties that were made between those receiving prayer and those, from our own congregation, who ministered to them.
The 18 people who participated in this ministry effort really poured their hearts out to each one, and that caring and love was strongly felt and received. Many of these people had never connected or spoken to each other before this conference, but now, they not only developed a real connection, but they have new friends to turn to in time of spiritual crisis - individuals who they sense care about their souls and are willing to invest in prayer and counsel for them. So we be-lieve that besides the incredible individual breakthroughs, many many more breakthroughs were made in terms of bringing people together in order to help each other walk with the Lord in victory.
The Cleansing Stream team included Chris Hayward, President of CS, and his wife Karen; and Hank and Myrene Morris - all of the pastoral staff of Church on the Way, Van Nuys, California. This wonderful team, who loves Israel, paid their own airfare to minister to the members of our congregation, Tiferet Yeshua..
These testimonies are excerpts from one of our MaozIsrael Prayer Letters.
To receive our weekly prayer letter via e-mail, please e-mail us at email@example.com
Gaza is Not So Simple
A Look at the Other Side by an Israeli Believer
By Ron Cantor
There is a word in Hebrew that I probably would not have learned so early in my development as a Hebrew speaker if not for the political climate that we are in here. The word is “hitnatkoot” which means disengagement. Wherever you travel you see signs for and against Ariel Sharon's hitnatkoot from the Gaza strip in southwestern Israel.
For many believers - Jews and Christians - the issue of Israel giving up land to the Palestinians is unthinkable. God gave them the Land and it would be wrong to give it up, they reason. However it is not so simple. There is a humanitarian issue as well that must be considered.
Now don't get me wrong, I am an ardent Zionist. Nevertheless I have to acknowledge that there are about 2,420,000 Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza that were made in the image of God. These people deserve to be citizens of a democracy and not stay forever in a diplomatic limbo. I don't blame Israel for this, but the countries that made war with Israel in 1967. I blame Arafat and the PLO who stirred contented Palestinians against Israel.
It is difficult - but let me explain:
1. Palestinians (except for those who live in East Jerusalem which Israel annexed) are not citizens of Israel. They have no country to which they belong.
2. If Israel would decide to annex the entire West Bank and Gaza, then Israel would have to grant citizenship to 2,420,000 (in addition to the more than 1,000,000 who already hold Israeli citizenship).
3. If Israel did that, it would only be a matter of time before Israel would no longer have a Jewish majority. If it happened today the country would instantly be about 40% Arab and 60% Jewish..
4. If Palestinians from around the world were given the “right” to move into Israel proper (as is their demand) it would be an Arab majority overnight. Even without immediate immigration, because of the much larger Arab families, we would be out numbered very soon. Then the mostly Arab “Israeli” government would easily pass laws inviting the millions of Palestinians from around the world to move to Israel. The name Israel would surely be changed to Palestine. You can imagine the rest…
5. If Israel decides to give up the areas of Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians there will be security issues. While we would retain a Jewish majority (81/19, Jewish/Arab) width from east to west would be razor thin in certain areas. It is only about 9 miles from the Mediterranean Sea to the old eastern border of pre-1967 Israel in some places.
6. There is also the biblical issue; does God want us giving up His Land? Would such a move bring His displeasure?
1. The government has decided that it is best to give up land where there are large Arab population centers (like Gaza) and annex other lands in the West Bank that would allow those Israelis who live in the West Bank in major Jewish population centers (settlements) to stay there and grow.
2. Until Arafats death, Prime Minister Sharon's plan was to simply disengage from them, starting with Gaza, leaving the Gazans to be responsible for their own welfare. Now it seems that Mahmoud Abbas is willing to coordinate the withdrawal with Sharon.
3. Under this plan, if the terrorists from their Palestinian nation do continue to attack Israel, Israel would not be forced to use the same restraint that she has had to for so many years - a restraint that has resulted in many Jewish deaths. I would expect Israel to attack back just as if she were attacked by any other nation.
4. From a merely human point of view, it is my opinion that our security would be served by leaving Gaza. The task of dealing with over a million Arabs, many in refugee camps (infiltrated with terrorists), is no picnic. It may be better to leave and then respond with enormous force in the event of any more attacks. (However, the unanswered question would be how the world will react to Israel defending herself from a terrorist state on her borders.)
5. Disengagement would begin by evacuating about 8,000 Jews who live in Gaza. Many of the Jews live there for religious reasons, while a good number understand that you can buy more than double the house for your money in Gaza than in Tel Aviv.
Major Divide in Our Country
There are basically three groups.
1. The Ultra-Religious: They believe in the restoration of the Davidic kingdom. Many of them would rather die than leave the West Bank or Gaza. Some of their rabbis have even told our Orthodox soldiers not to obey their officers in the event of an evacuation. While these ultra-religious rabbis and political leaders have a lot of support amongst evangelical Christians, they are quite unpopular here in Israel and are viewed by many as fanatical. In the last few weeks, some of them have turned violent, threatening the lives of government officials who voted for disengagement.
2. The Peace Group on the left: These people have lost almost all credibility with Israelis. They had popular support 10 years ago as the Oslo accords unfolded, but when the Palestinians resorted to terror, the peaceniks still didn't understand what we were dealing with. They continue to believe that Israel is to blame and that Arafat was a worthy partner. They are like those who would not hold a mass murdering rapist guilty, but blame his imperfect upbringing. As a result, they are considered naïve, idealistic and on the fringe.
3. Security First Group: The third group makes up most of the nation. These people want peace with the Palestinians but are very wary of the real goals of the new Palestinian leader, Mohmoud Abbas, who was the right hand man of Arafat for forty years. Many of them are opposed to giving up land, but not on religious grounds. For them it is an issue of security. On the other hand, there are others who would be eager to give up land in exchange for a real peace. The Security First Group is divided into two subgroups:
a. Those who are for the disengagement are not for it because they think it will lead to peace, but rather because they don't believe we will have peace in the near future. In their minds the next best thing is to simply wash our hands of the Palestinians and leave Gaza altogether.
b. Those who are against the disengagement feel that leaving Gaza would be a reward for terrorism and would only encourage more terror. Furthermore, they feel that Israel needs a presence in Gaza for security reasons. Israel's absence would open the door for more organized terror and would limit our intelligence capabilities within Gaza. Only when the Palestinians are clearly preventing terrorists from attacking Israel would they be willing to pay the high cost of uprooting Israeli citizens from of Gaza.
So what is the best plan for Israel today: Disengagement or not?
I can honestly say with all conviction that I don't know! On the one hand I have great difficultly with the idea of giving up biblical land even for peace, much less for war - which is where we are after 15 years of the “peace plan”. The scriptures speak very clearly to the restoration of Israel and it would seem a step backwards after the miraculous three-day conquest of Jerusalem and the West Bank (during the last three days of the Six Day War).
On the other hand, the human cost of occupying Gaza is also great. Many of our young men have been murdered while guarding Gaza. Protecting the settlements there is very dangerous and many soldiers resent being sent into such hazardous conditions to protect people that they believe shouldn't even be there. If we left completely and then treated any attack as war and responded appropriately, it might make us safer in Israel.
In addition, we can't simply hold on to it forever without giving the inhabitants citizenship and I already explained the problem with that.
Certainly, no one can quarrel with a prayer that beseeches God for a strong but moderate Palestinian leadership that really wants peace to arise. For a man whose life mission will not be to destroy Israel.
As believers we are called to:
1. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
2. Stand with Israel and the Jewish people
(Genesis 12:2-3, Zech 8:23, Rom. 11:11)
3. Pray for the salvation of both Arabs and
Jews alike."And so all Israel shall be
saved." Romans 11:26
IS THIS IT??
by Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram
On February 8, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared, “Today, in my meeting with [Palestinian Authority] Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, we agreed that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and that, in parallel, Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians everywhere.”
And so, once again a cease fire has been declared between Israelis and the Palestinians, as was done with the Oslo Accords in 1993. Since those days almost 12 years ago, the thinking of the Israeli people has gone through a revolution. Almost overnight, Israelis had to adjust to the idea that a terrorist group had pledged to become a peace partner, and the state that had always been called a mortal threat would be created by mutual agreement. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 9, 05)
Now twelve years later, Israel's acceptance of the idea of a two-state solution is deeply entrenched - not because Israelis want to see their land divided up, but because many Israelis have reluctantly come to the conclusion that time is not on their side. Recently we have seen a number of articles whose writers fear there is no guarantee against another holocaust overtaking the Jewish people - this time in Israel.
And so, jounalists conclude, “Israel has given up the dream of many of its citizens to permanently reclaim the Biblical heartland that it captured in 1967. At least as profoundly, the perception of a Palestinian state has flipped from being regarded as a mortal threat to being seen as a historic necessity.” (Ibid.)
There are still major obstacles however. Palestinian thinking has gone through no such revolution. Arafat promised his people that they will surely “return to their homeland” in Israel proper (code words for replacing a Jewish state with a Muslim one.) Arafat promised that Jerusalem will be their eternal Muslim capital. Signficantly, PA Chairman Abbas has not yet begun to address his people about the painful concessions that Palestinians (not just Israelis) will have to make in order for there to be peace.
Even more profoundly, Abbas has made it clear now for two and a half years that he thinks Palestinian violence against Israel is counterproductive and wants it stopped, not because he wants to end the war against Israel, but because he simply sees that tactically at this time, violence is counterproductive. In other words, he can get more (a Palestinian state) now by stopping the terror. After he has obtained what he can through diplomacy, he will then be free to give the green light to terrorism for further gains.
From the Israeli side, Ariel Sharon now believes that Israel's survival depends on giving the Palestinians land to create their own state. He is initiating this process by disengaging from heavily-populated Arab areas - starting with Gaza and some Arab cities in the West Bank. And his plan is to begin his withdrawal from Gaza on June 10, including uprooting 8,000 Jews from their homes.
When the February 9 cease fire was declared, there was no air of excitement among Israelis, no feeling of an historic turning point - only an anxious hope that somehow this time things might be different - that the Palestinians would finally “abandon terror, democratize and give up the dream of two states, both of them Palestinian.” (Ibid.)
Meanwhile, Hizbullah operatives in Lebanon have been offering up to $100,000 to any Palestinian who is willing to carry out a suicide attack. In fact, Palestinian Authority security officials have expressed fear that Hizbullah and Iran were planning to kill Chairman Abbas to thwart attempts to revive the peace process. (Ibid.,Feb.10, 05)
*It is important to note that the Palestinians themselves claim their numbers to be 3.8 million - as they receive aid from the United Nations according to their numbers. But recent in-depth Israeli studies, led by Bennett Zimmerman, presented to the Knesset reveal there are 1.4 million less Palestinians in the territories than claimed. (Ibid., Feb 3, 05)
Ron and his wife Elana are members of Congregation Tiferet Yeshua. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Maoz Partner,
We've been this route before. Bloodshed, terrorism, hopelessness. And then the U.S. and the nations announce a new peace plan and another summit. It looks hopeful for a few days, weeks or months. And then the shooting, the rockets and suicide bombings start again. All Israelis are wondering if this time could be different.
There is no Israeli alive who does not yearn for peace. We who are Messianic believers in Israel - both Jews and Arabs - know God gave this land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To Ishmael, he gave other lands, but not Israel's land.
And yet for Israel to come into the fullness of the certain and unchangeable promises of God, she must turn again back to her God. It is just not going to happen while Israel continues in her sins. And so, as it was in Bible days when Israel forgot her God, the possibility lies in front of us that Israel may soon be forced to leave part of her God-given land.
Meanwhile, government security agencies, fearing right wing violence, are warning that the same conditions are now present that led to the assassination of Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin exactly ten years ago.
The security surrounding Arieh Sharon and a number of cabinet members who advocate disengagement from Gaza is unprecedented. The danger of an extreme ultra-religious Jew assassinating Sharon “to save Israel” is real.
Yet as Israel's distress deepens, her people are growing more open to the Spirit of God - as the Bible foretells.
The Cleansing Stream weekend retreat brought our Tel Aviv congregation, Tiferet Yeshua (the Glory of Yeshua) to a new level.
When God's people forgive and get free of shame, guilt and condemnation, and when they are delivered of sexual and other addictions, they become mighty men and women of valour.
The number of Israeli believers is steadily growing in our congregation. We have outgrown our building and are actively searching for another congregational facility to rent. In other words, the lack of space is slowing down our growth - something we are sure is not God's will!
Because of the low incomes of the Israeli people in general - of which our congregation is representative - we will need your help to make the move. Certainly, our Israeli believers pay their tithes and give offerings, but they cannot pay the expenses of renting a property in Tel Aviv, one of the most expensive real estate areas in the world (because of the sparsity of space in this tiny nation.)
Yet look what God is doing! In the midst of the uncertainties that grip the Middle East, He is saving Israelis, healing their bodies and their hearts and preparing them for spiritual leadership and service!
If you will join together with us and partner with us on a monthly basis to help us rent a larger facility, we will have room for the Israelis who are soon to receive Everlasting Life in the coming months and years. We will have room to feed them the Words of Life and nurture them through the Spirit of God!
“If you love me, feed my sheep.” Those are Yeshua's words to you and to us. We welcome your partnership to feed the lost sheep of Israel.
For Zion's sake,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. Our present contract runs out in five months, so we feel impelled to search diligently and believe God for a building that could seat up to 700 people (for our future growth), and that would have space for our children, youth and fellowship activities - so extraordinarily important for believers living in an environment often hostile to their faith.
We want to have enough time to prepare the new facility for our needs, so please be in prayer with us that God will point us to the right place!