By Joseph Haddad
I was born in Haifa, an Israeli city that has always been known for its mix of Jews and Arabs who live peacefully side by side. My parents were from Lebanon, but they migrated south in 1946, two years before Israel became an independent state and before the surrounding nations declared war on Israel.
The Jews had begun to commercially develop the city of Haifa and my father felt he could find a better job in the growing city. Sure enough he found work with a Jewish man who owned a bakery.
In 1948, when many Arabs fled from the new Jewish state in the chaos of the invading Arab nations, my father’s boss told him not to flee, promising he would protect him and his family.
So I was born an Israeli Arab, the youngest of three brothers. My father was already 60 years old and I became the proverbial spoiled brat. My family was nominally Catholic so I believed in Yeshua in my head, and made it to mass on Easter and Christmas, but I knew nothing about a personal relationship with God.
As I grew up I was horribly abusive to my parents - and not only with words. I would throw things at them and in general made their lives wretched. I was ashamed, but couldn’t help myself. It was like some evil thing hung over me.
Once I saw my mother praying to God that He would help me and deliver them from their living hell. She also had never been told about a personal relationship with Yeshua, but she was desperate... and to whom could she look to for help but God?
In 1983, the Good Fence, an open military passage, was still in use between Israel and Lebanon, and my parents decided they would bring a nice Lebanese girl from Lebanon to marry their son - and surely she would reform me.
Enter Ibtissam, my southern Lebanon beauty who was given to me in marriage. But there was no reform. Now I had three people instead of two to abuse and revile. For the first six months Ibtissam was sure she was going crazy and twice packed her bags to flee back to Lebanon. Both times, my parents begged her to stay.
MY LIFE WAS ABOUT TO CHANGE
One wintry day in February 1984 Ibtissam and I went to visit my older brother and we found three Arab believers from a local Baptist church talking to him about salvation and redemption from sin through Yeshua the Messiah.
My heart was hard - like a stone. But for the first time in 15 years, tears came to my eyes as I listened. Somehow I was hearing words of hope - words I had never heard before.
One of the men noticed I was under heavy conviction. He looked at me and said, “Brother, would you like to pray?” I said, “I don’t know how to pray. I know how to curse and swear, but I don’t know how to pray.” He answered, “Just speak out whatever is in your heart.”
Without ever hearing a “sinner’s prayer,” I prayed, “Lord I am a sinner.
I deserve death.
Change my life. I want to start a new life.”
Instantly I felt an evil power leave me and the Spirit of God enter into my life.
I looked around. I looked at my wife - she was so beautiful. I hugged her and kissed her and asked her forgiveness.
We ran home and I got a basin of water and began washing my parents’ feet and asking forgiveness. There was joy in the house like when the prodigal son came home!
It took a while for my parents to really understand what had happened because they had never heard of a salvation experience. For a while they thought I was putting on a show - the change was just too incredibly sudden and dramatic.
But soon - when they saw the change was permanent, they both received Yeshua as their Lord and Savior. Father was 84 years old and crying like a baby. He couldn’t see well, but he wanted me to sit and read the Bible to him. Sometimes, he complained to Yeshua, “Why didn’t you save me a long time ago? Why did you wait so long?”
At 84 years old, he quit smoking. He really didn’t want anything else in life but for me to read the Bible to him. The neighbors were trying to take it all in. Even they could see the drastic change in me.
Mother would listen while I read the Bible to my father. She had been praying in the only way she knew. Now she was ecstatic. Two years later, she died, and a year after that Father followed her into everlasting life.
Ibtissam, by this time had totally given her life to the Lord. We began having a weekly Bible study in our house with the three brothers teaching us. They saw that we had a call on our lives - me, to preach the Gospel and Ibtissam to lead worship.
They suggested we go to a local Assembly of God Bible School which we did for four years, and I was ordained as an Assembly of God pastor in 1995.
I immediately joined with David Davis, pastor of Carmel Congregation in Haifa, working on the staff as teacher and mentor in the House of Victory, a rehab program for Arabs and Jews. Many alcoholics and drug addicts have been saved and healed in the program. Today, Nisim, a young man who came to the rehab center as an alcoholic and who had tried to commit suicide, is one of my right-hand workers in the Kingdom.
ISRAEL’S ARMY PULLS OUT OF LEBANON
In the year 2000, a very significant event occurred in Israel. The Israeli Defense Forces decided to pull all her troops out of southern Lebanon where they had been fighting Muslim terrorists for 18 years.
Thousands of Lebanese wait to enter Israel on May 23, 2000 to be given refugee status. Because there was no time to examine each car coming into Israel for fear of a Hizbullah counter attack, the Israeli government did not allow the Lebanese to bring their automobiles into Israel. They literally came with the clothes on their back.
All that time, many Christian Arabs (Marionites, Catholics) and some Shiite Lebanese had fought alongside the Israeli army, against Palestinian terrorists who were fighting to conquer all of southern Lebanon, from where they could launch constant attacks against Israel. Lebanese Christians living there understood that a Muslim takeover would destroy their own freedoms to be who they were.
Over the years, Hizbullah became the dominant terrorist organization and fought ferociously against the IDF and the SLA (South Lebanon Army), until Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak decided to pull out. Knowing that Hizbullah would slaughter those who had been allied with Israel, Barak gave the SLA soldiers four hours to flee south into Israel along with retreating Israeli troops.
The withdrawal took place at midnight and it was chaotic. Seven thousand Lebanese soldiers and their families fled with just the clothes on their back. Some children arrived in Israel in their pajamas. They left their homes and everything in them. They were not even allowed to bring their cars into Israel. We heard about one man who left his dentures in Lebanon, and had to have new ones made in Israel.
Because Ibtissam is of Lebanese origin, and my own parents were Lebanese, we felt overwhelmed with the hardships these families were experiencing. These people had been in daily war with terrorists who hated Jews and Christians of any kind for more than 25 years. Everyone had family members killed and maimed.
Now they were in Israel in totally unfamiliar territory. They were not Jews - nor Israeli Arabs. They
were Lebanese refugees torn from their extended families and friends.
South Lebanese soldier and his children put on a happy face as they enter Israel.
The next day, we and Pastor David Davis loaded up two vehicles with Arabic Bibles, children’s clothing, slippers, and powdered milk. Ibtissam’s sister and her husband, who was an officer in the SLA, were among the refugees. They were taken by the government to a kibbutz in Galilee.
David, Ibtissam and I went to visit them and found 500 Lebanese in makeshift caravans at the kibbutz. Ibtissam set up a keyboard outside of the area and began playing and singing.
First, the women and children came out to see what was going on. The men were more skeptical, wondering what we wanted from them. But after a while they too crowded around us. Somehow, with our own background being Lebanese, we connected with them.
Then Pastor David spoke a word of encouragement to these people, still in a daze.
He read Isaiah 29:17-20 to them:
Is it not yet a very little while
Till Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest?
In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book,
And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.
The humble also shall increase their joy in the Lord,
And the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
He spoke in English and I translated into Arabic. David told them that the spiritual deafness and blindness will be removed and they will love the God of Israel!
The men were crying and many came forward to accept Yeshua. For eight months we visited this group of 500 weekly. Slowly we became strongly bonded with these people and they understood that we loved them.
Ever since we were saved in 1984, we were crying out to God that He would enable us to preach in Lebanon. We thought God had forgotten our beloved Lebanon. Then 16 years later, He did it His way - and brought them to us!
Eight months later, the Israeli government offered the Lebanese rented homes. So 250 families chose the town of Nahariya (the meaning is “the River of God”). We immediately started a home group with a family who had come to the Lord on the kibbutz. Within two months we had to move outside into their yard because of the growth.
Winter was approaching and I was praying, “Lord, what shall we do?” His answer was to give us a house on the main road of Nahariya! We met on Friday nights. Jewish people love to walk on the beach promenade, close to our home, as the Sabbath begins. They would pass by our service, hear the singing, come in and we would witness to them. For four and a half years we stayed there until we outgrew the place and moved to yet another house.
Lebanese congregation worshiping the God of Israel
One night we were worshiping the Lord and as I looked out on the worshipers, I saw the Lebanese men holding their songbooks and Bibles. I thought, “These are the men who held guns, hand grenades and weapons for 25 years, and now they are holding the True Weapon - the Sword of the Spirit!” I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for their salvation.
THE LEBANESE ARE EVANGELISTS
Altogether, at present we have about 80 born-again members. Most of those saved in our congregation have a spirit of evangelism. Three months ago, four Lebanese Shiite families were saved. One family received Yeshua, and then brought another family, which in turn brought another, and they brought the fourth family. Ibtissam is already training their teenage daughters in worship music.
Now the children of these Lebanese believers who go to Israeli schools are preaching to the Jewish kids! Who would have thought God would bring Lebanese children to preach to Jewish kids in Israel?
I fervently believe that these Lebanese are not here in Israel by mistake. God brought them here to reveal Yeshua to them. He has provided them a city of refuge in Israel. If they had stayed in Lebanon, they would have been considered collaborators with the enemy (Israel) and thrown in jail and tortured.
Are the Lebanese happy in Israel? I will not deny that many long for their homes in Lebanon. However, I can also say with certainty that those who are believers are content. They have purpose in life, and they know they are here for a reason. God brought them to Israel to receive salvation. In due time, I believe, they will be able to return to Lebanon once Hizbullah is removed. They will be a spark of fire for revival in Lebanon!
MAOZ PARTNERS WITH US
In 2003, Ari and Shira visited us, and seeing our pioneer work, felt led to pay the rent for our building for one year. The following year, they decided to raise money to help me with my salary so I could become a full-time pastor. Their ongoing support gives me the ability to invest myself in my Lebanese flock and to have outreaches into other Arab communities in Galilee.
Lebanese couple bring their baby to Joseph and Ari to be dedicated to the Lord
In July 2006, when war broke out between Lebanon and Israel, our congregation in Nahariya came under intense fire as 700 rockets fell on our town of 50,000. Most citizens left the city for safer areas, and we gathered up our entire congregation, loaded them in the cars that were available, and headed south.
On that Sabbath, I preached at Tiferet Yeshua Congregation. I thought to myself, “While in the north Jews and Arabs are fighting each other, here we are, Jews and Arabs singing and worshiping together. When will the world get it? Yeshua is the ONLY answer!
Maoz Israel Ministries’ humanitarian aid fund, istandwithisrael.com, paid for the food for the congregation while they were in Tel Aviv, (and later sent a large sum to the members as they began to get on their feet after the war).
Yosef and Ibtissam Haddad have two boys. Amir 22, is studying for the ministry in a Bible School in Finland. Istandwithwithisrael.com is helping with his tuition. Ophir, 20 years old, is enrolled in a video school. He helps with the technical equipment in his parents’ congregation and works in the children’s department.
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Jerre Bolin in Texas prays with Maoz partners
“Thanks for your prayers for myself and my son Mike. The Lord answered them beyond my expectations. My blood pressure went from 214 to 175 to 120. My son cancelled surgery for hip re-surfacing because it no longer bothers him. Mind you, it was bone rubbing on bone. Praise God!”
Virginia M., Kentucky
Each month we receive several hundred prayer requests from our partners. And we pray for you. And we believe with you. And we have faith that God will answer your hearts’ cry.
We love praying for you, and know that prayer changes things.
Our entire Israel team prays over your request each work day at 12:45 pm. And God answers prayer!
Call or Email us!
Prayer Line in the USA: 817.563.9402 - 9:00 am to 9:00 pm CST
Email your prayer request from anywhere in the world: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Driven by Eternity by John Bevere
If you haven’t read this book, you’ve got to!
It is one of the most impactful books I have read in my lifetime. The book focuses on a subject that most believers spend very little time thinking about - our reward in heaven when this short life of ours is over.
Nevertheless, Yeshua spent much of his time here on earth talking about this very subject. For a reason! Nothing can be more important in our lives than how we will spend the next billion years… John Bevere’s portrayal of this great Biblical truth is incredibly ENCOURAGING! And MOTIVATING!
Israeli believers need this book. We invite you to help us publish DRIVEN BY ETERNITY.
Invest in the Israeli people!
We still need $11,000 (£6,600, €7,550*) for translation, editing, typesetting, proof reading, printing and distribution
*current exchange rates
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God Expresses His Love
for His Lebanese Bride
Photo: A soldier from the South Lebanese Army comforts his wife as they wait in line to cross into Israel together with the retreating Israeli Defence Forces.
There are so many scriptures about Lebanon in the Bible! We believe God’s message to us for the sheep he has entrusted us with is that the Lebanese are a special part of His Bride, and we are commissioned to nurture and care for them with all our heart.
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
With me from Lebanon...
You have ravished my heart,
My sister, my bride
You have ravished my heart...
Song of Solomon 4:8-9
Another familiar verse relates that many Lebanese became followers of Yeshua.
And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon [Lebanon], who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.
And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
I believe that many of the Lebanese descendants who came 2000 years ago to Israel and believed in Yeshua will be saved today as the Lord is faithful to a thousand generations! (Deuteronomy 7:9)
Because the former SLA soldiers blessed Israel for 25 years, they are pioneers as allies to Israel among the Arab nations. They are the first Arabs (except Israeli Bedouin and Druze) to actually fight alongside the Jewish people.
Hundreds of these South Lebanon soldiers paid with their lives at the hands of Muslim terrorists because they stood with Israel.
That Scripture is still valid. “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.” It is the truth for all cultures and to every nation.
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Through the Bible Series by Gordon Lindsay
This Bible course was created to give readers a love of the Scriptures.
We have already received contributions to translate and publish a total of 10 of the books. We have another 27 to go!
Before his death in 1973, Gordon Lindsay, founder of Christ for the Nations, authored a Bible course called “Through the Bible” series. Lindsay teaches the personality of God and the way He deals with human beings by analyzing the lives of the men and women of the Old Testament.
Although Rabbinical authorities of course teach from the Bible, they do not usually deal with the deep spiritual relationship between God and man.
For the Israeli reader, this will be a fresh new way of looking at the Bible characters and learning from them what God wants and expects from us today.
Each book will cost $1,750 to translate, edit, proofread, typeset, print and distribute (£1050; €1200 current exchange)
Your gift will help Israelis mature in their faith -
strengthening them to share with other Israelis
who are searching for the truth!
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Dear Maoz Partner,
After hearing Joseph Haddad’s story first hand, we realized the power of one witness - the three young people sharing their faith on the streets of Israel had a powerful, residual effect on many lives -lives of the Lebanese refugees, lives of his own family, and the lives of everyone in our congregation, Tiferet Yeshua.
Pastor Joseph regularly takes time to come and share with our congregation, and when he does, there is such a freedom of worship, praise, and an outpouring of God’s spirit. Why is that? Because when brothers dwell together - Jew, Gentile, Arab - there is a “good and pleasant” atmosphere of peace! And the abundance of joy is evident to all!
When we decided to share in the fruit of Pastor Joseph’s ministry by supporting him monthly, it was a financial step of faith. But many partners came alongside us, and we have been able to continue our support - because of you. We want to continue to bless him and his very effective ministry with regular monthly support… and we ask for your help.
The thrill of publishing books is just in our DNA! We have worked for many years in Hebrew book publishing, in spite of the Orthodox burning of books, the post office dumping books in the trash cans, and standing against the monopoly of the commercial book stores in Israel.
BUT WE WILL NOT BE DENIED! We continue to do whatever it takes to pick just the right books
that will impact Israelis - unbelievers and believers, alike - to secure publishing rights, to translate, edit, format, print and distribute these books nationwide. Why are we so adamant about this? Because a BOOK is going to have a longer life than we have! And we want to be impacting the next generation with spiritual truth long after we have gone to heaven.
Simply put… WE NEED YOU! Every day, when we go to our office and see our beautiful staff of Israeli believers working to accomplish every detail of our vision, we realize, that without you, our partners, we are powerless.
You see, you provide our people power (salaries). You provide the paper (supplies). You provide the facilities (our buildings). You provide the equipment (printers, copies, sound, media, and computers). You provide the sustenance for us to do the vital work of reaching every Israeli we can with the TRUTH of our Messiah!
Your gifts of your time (prayer) and talent (money) are what sustain us every day. We could not accomplish one tenth of one percent of what God has placed in our hearts to do without YOU!
We need you this month. We need your prayers. We need your gifts.
When you give this month - whether it is for our ongoing daily ministry outreach, or for our publishing literature, or for Joseph Haddad, or for istandwithisrael.com - just know that your gift is working to bring the Gospel in every way, shape, and form, to those who are ready to hear it!
Together we will see the fruit of our labors - not only on this earth, but in the Kingdom to come.
The day will come when we will see ALL of Israel saved!
Blessings from the Holy Land of Israel,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. This month, if you have not already
requested your Messiah Jewish Calendar, there
is still time! For your gift of $35.00 (£22, €25) or more, just request it, and we will send it! we will send the Jewish Calendar to you. Just be sure to check the box for the Calendar when you make your donation.
Partner with Maoz today by supporting our projects:
Maoz Israel Ministries | istandwithisrael | Congregation Tiferet Yeshua
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