News from Israel
July 19, 2004
It had been so good coming back to Jerusalem three weeks ago, after being away for three weeks. I missed home so much. There is something about this country, that though it has some violence, and though it is economically struggling, and the driving in it can be too crazy ;). I can’t find myself to want to live in other place. There is something about this place that God had chosen to be the Promised Land. Something pulls me to it and makes me love it through all its craziness.
My trip to NY and LA was so great. I am so grateful to the disciples and churches I met over there. I have received so much of encouragement and love; I was overwhelmed by the Love. I was so honored to preach in NY and LA to different regions. I preached about the spiritual war we all have in our lives (Ephesians 6:10). We all live in spiritual war. I found that it is easier to see the spiritual war for my life in Jerusalem and Bethlehem than in the U.S. The reason is that Satan uses the blessings of God to tempt us. I said that I see people that fight comfort and easy living to become Christians as my heroes in faith; it is in some ways harder than living poor and being persecuted openly by others. You know it is Satan when others persecute you. But it is harder to see how Satan uses comfort and materialism to persecute the Christians. I struggled with things such as play station and cable TV. I don’t have these things back home. I saw my heart pursuing comfort instead of reading my Bible. It is not easy to fight that.
After that I went to Turkey for the Middle East Leaders Conference. I always long patiently to meet the disciples from the Middle East. With some of them I can’t even be in touch, and I look forward to know their news and fellowship with them. We had a great time of encouraging and helping one another. There were great teaching classes on marriage relationships, on counseling, on raising kids, and on purity; and yes being there as a single was a bit weird for me ; ), I had to remind myself of Jesus and Paul being singles. It was so good to learn and bring back these lessons to Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
As for the Churches here:
The Bethlehem Church is doing great as different people keep studying the Bible there, and as the members are maturing in their relationship with God. Last Wednesday we had a celebration as Farah (his name means Joy) made his decision to become a disciple. Farah is 20 years old studying Laboratory Medicine. He came for the first time about five months ago. He said he was just waiting for someone to direct him to God and to help him understand Christianity. Please keep praying for the mission here.
Two weeks ago Bernard from Jerusalem asked Chaika from Tel Aviv to marry him. It is so awesome to see how people that are originally from completely different countries, can meet and get married here, even though the church is only relatively small.
As for Jerusalem, we are passing through some hard times right now. The Church had lost many people that moved out in the last two years. The start of Bethlehem was encouraging but left a hole that is hard to fill as many disciples lost their best friends through these transitions. This month we had one more person moving out to England although Greg is seriously considering coming back in September. This makes the Church really feel down. In the same time though we still try to keep our focus right and our faith in the unseen instead of building it on what is seen. Right now there are only eight disciples in Jerusalem and twelve disciples in Bethlehem.
I would like to issue an open invitation to the disciples around the world to consider visiting the Church here. It will be so encouraging for us. And for those that have more time, we hope to have next summer from the 20th of June to the 15th of August a mission group that would be willing to come and help the Church here in evangelism, hope work, and maturing. More information will come in future newsletters. Or, email us at . If you are a Jewish disciple we definitely invite you to move to here as the government right now has a lot of programs to encourage Jews to move to Israel. This includes the possibility of free access to The Hebrew University for three years. The Hebrew University is one of the best schools in the Middle East and well respected in the world.
But first and foremost we ask for your support through prayers.
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Jerusalem Church of Christ