by Eitan Shishkoff, Executive Director, Tents of Mercy Network
The passage from childhood to adult life is strewn with jagged obstacles. Dobson compares it to a wide, calm river that suddenly turns into narrow, deadly rapids. This phase of life that we call "the teenage years" is challenging in any 21st century culture - with its waves of sewage instantly available on every smartphone - but especially now for youth trying to live as disciples of Yeshua. And it's even more challenging in Israel. Why?
A kid who believes in Yeshua in Israel is simply out of place. You see, the concept of pluralism in matters of faith and religion is not so prevalent here. While it's true that there are many dimensions to the way Israeli Jews interpret and practice Jewish life, believing in Yeshua (Jesus) is not yet considered a viable option. So, to identify one's self as a Messianic Jew in high school or junior high creates an unwanted barrier that has social consequences at an age when acceptance is so vital.
With that background, you can appreciate the surprise reported by Sarah, one of our young counselors, at the conclusion of our recent Hanukkah National Youth Conference, attended by more than 80 teens:
"Muriel was struggling. She was labeled an "outsider" by her schoolmates and thought she was the only believer in her school. However, just a few hours after we prayed and asked God to send her another believer, she met a new friend at Katzir and it turns out that they attend the very same school!"
Here are a few more testimonies from youth whose lives were touched during the KATZIR (Harvest) youth conference this Hanukkah:
Esther (18): "The very first night the Lord really touched me. I couldn't push more praise out of me. I was exploding inside with the love of God."
Eli (counselor): "This was my first time at Katzir. The first evening during the praise time, I began to feel the Lord's presence SO strongly. It was one of the deepest experiences ever for me in Israel. I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of Katzir."
Elior (17): "I didn't know anyone. I felt out of place. But you received me and I found new friends. It was just such a blessing."
This is what we beseech God to do during these camps. We are so grateful for the intercession and financial support that make these events possible. Reaching young Israelis at this age will change our nation.