C an she really be 15 already? No, I'm not talking about my daughter (who is almost 18!!!) but about our congregation, Ohalei Rachamim, Tents of Mercy. On December 2, 1995 our community of believers was born in a warehouse in Kiryat Yam, Israel. At that time we totaled about 30 souls. The warehouse, a long narrow concrete enclosure, sandwiched between a meat packing plant and a small furniture factory. With the right timing there was stereophonic sound - a table saw whirring on one side and the refrigerator motors on the other. They were humble beginnings to be sure!

Our dream was to see the Book of Acts come alive again. In that original, first century Messianic Jewish community there was an emphasis on helping the poor and planting new congregations. After 15 years we can celebrate the amazing fulfillment of that dream. We are now five congregations spreading from the Haifa Bay to the Sea of Galilee, with some 500 people and our own warehouse filled with humanitarian aid for distribution. Thousands of needy immigrants and veteran Israelis have received help. What's more, by meeting basic physical needs in cooperation with local human services, we've seen a change in Yeshua's public image.

For this special birthday we threw a party. Tents of Mercy members were asked to bring food dishes native to their original countries, to enjoy the vast diversity in our backgrounds. Nineteen nations were represented! We feasted on plov (a Central Asia rice and lamb dish), angera (Ethiopian pancake-like bread with spicy meat sauce) and good old-fashioned American macaroni and cheese. Delightful music was provided by an orchestra comprised of young people from within the congregation, including a string section.

Fittingly, it was the third night of Chanukah, the feast commemorating the rededication of the temple. What a joy it was to rededicate our "temple" of living stones to the glory of Messiah Yeshua in Eretz Yisrael. I deeply believe that these years have been a prelude to something of much greater magnitude in the Spirit. We are filled with anticipation that the next fifteen years will carry us into an end-time harvest that will usher in the coming of the King. Thank you for being a part of our extended community. The purpose of this newsletter has always been to open our lives to you, so that God might weave our hearts together, bringing His Kingdom from heaven to earth.

 

By Eitan Shishkoff


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Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Daniel Juster: Accommodating Evangelicals
Daniel Juster: An Unparalleled Opportunity
Avi Tekle: Fire on the Mountain
Asher Intrater: Rabbinic Judaism - lessons from the Book of Acts