Dirt Roads and Tender Hearts
by Eitan Shiskoff, Executive Director, Tents of Mercy Network

The streets of Arusha, Tanzania have well-worn paths on both sides. These dusty paths are used by people on foot, people on bicycles, men pulling carts and women carrying heavy loads on their heads. Cows and goats commonly travel these "side" roads. Lining the highway there are also many improvised stands, their proprietors offering wares ranging from used shoes to mass-produced African art for tourists.

If a visitor were not careful, he could buy the notion that this country is simply undeveloped, or underdeveloped. While there is truth to this conclusion, and locals do not deny it, it does not tell the whole story. To really know the people of Tanzania, we need to move beyond externals - what our eye sees on the surface. Our time in Arusha gave us a window into the heart of this nation. We experienced a portion of the Tanzanian soul that will remain with us. That portion was the deep, warm passion for God and His purposes.

Passing Through Civil War

Taking part in the annual Africa-Israel Prayer Conference, gave us a much different impression than our rides through the streets and highways. To attend the four day event, believers came from several nations: Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some of them had to ride rough roads for thousands of kilometers and pass through live fire civil war to arrive. Such seriousness about the Kingdom of God on earth is a rare jewel. Perhaps this is what Yeshua was talking about when He told the parable of the man who sold all he had to buy one pearl of great price. Not only were we in the midst of dedicated disciples of Yeshua, following Him when it was not convenient, but they looked to us as the elder spokesmen from Israel.

I have not seen such eagerness to search out the truth of the Scriptures regarding the covenants of the Almighty with the seed of Jacob. My Tents of Mercy teammate, Marty Shoub, and I presented many teachings during the course of the conference. Preceding a number of these sessions was sincere, tearful repentance on the part of African believers for the anti-Israel policies of their governments. They knelt in abject sorrow for the African Church's failure to grasp God's choice of Israel to bring world salvation, and His undying commitment to the Jewish people. Some told us that our teachings gave them a "new Bible". Church leaders and intercessors, long taught that the Church had replaced Israel, were now able to embrace God's unbroken love for her. Many said that the continuity of biblical revelation had now become understandable, inspiring, unifying and joyfully satisfying.

Humbled

Marty and I were humbled by all of this. It's challenging to describe the sensation of being so honored and appreciated. Messianic Jews are not accustomed to such treatment, especially not in Israel. Here, we are citizens, loyal to our country and thrilled to be a part of God's end time plan. Yet we are not regarded as biblically knowledgeable, spiritual leaders or reliable representatives of the God of Israel. On the other hand, our precious friends in Tanzania and her neighboring nations, received us as heaven-sent messengers!

Loaded down with gifts of colorful cloth, regal African garments, elaborately hand-carved wooden bowls and radically sacrificial offerings, we headed back to Tel Aviv and the rapid paced Israeli race for progress. Don't get me wrong. There are many advantages to living in a technologically advanced society. Quality medical care, rapid transportation and easily available education are only a few of the blessings we take for granted - while many of our African neighbors live without these advantages. As one mundane example, I feel fresh gratitude now, when I travel on Israel's newly constructed super highways. The strong picture remains, however, of the uninhibited receptivity of the African believers. Their devotion to Yeshua, and their singleness of focus on His Kingdom provoked me.

May the Creator, who invented every tribe and nation, teach us about His own vibrant characteristics through all the peoples of the world. And may we be strengthened and energized by the current, unprecedented movement on every continent among Yeshua's followers - the essential movement to pray for Israel's national embrace of her King, Yeshua the Messiah.

Colour on the road Pushing a load


Greetings from Tanzania
80 year old Bishop leads in prayer
Eitan leading the people

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