Eitan Shiskoff

Executive Director
Tents of Mercy Network
"This model had God's approval."

"... the Kingdom of God is extended through deep, committed friendship and the bonds that come from walking through persecution, apathy, and inexperience - yet overcoming these obstacles."

By Eitan Shishkoff

Eitan & Avishalom
In 2001, six years after we opened the Tents of Mercy congregation in a Kiryat Yam warehouse, we sent out our top young leader to establish a daughter congregation in Haifa, 30 minutes away. It was not easy. Leon, the young Russian-speaking planter, was dynamic. His vital connection with our largely Soviet background members, had a lot to do with our growth.

Prior to commissioning Leon, I had been excited to see our numbers increasing. We began multiplying house groups. I thought:

"Hey, why shouldn't we have 100 groups of 10 each! That would be 1000 people - a mega-congregation for Israel."

But I noticed two things. First, our group leaders were inexperienced. They were struggling to develop healthy small groups. Secondly, I perceived a pioneering drive within the strongest young leaders. They were looking beyond the confines of the "mama" congregation to other population centers nearby. Was I to hold them back? Or was there something to the book of Acts model? In the first century, the apostles prayed and sent out evangelizing congregation planters to begin new works in unreached areas. This model had God's approval. He had already done it this way here, in Israel.

A Small, but Bold Step

Eitan & Guy
We sent Leon, together with 30 people, to Haifa. We dedicated the work during Hanukkah (the Feast of Dedication) in 2001. It had the full blessing, continued financial support, and active oversight of the Tents of Mercy leadership. This first daughter congregation was called Shavei Tzion (those returning to Zion). It is thoroughly rewarding to see the fruit of this faith step. Today, Shavei Tzion owns its own building in an extremely accessible area of Haifa, Israel's third largest city. It sports a part-time Bible college, music school, food distribution, guest facilities, and a television studio. A mere three years after its dedication, Shavei Tzion launched another congregation - this one in Nazareth. That work continues, providing humanitarian assistance and pastoral care in Yeshua's hometown. Uniquely, it is led by Vakif, a brother from the Muslim culture of Tatarstan.

That was only the beginning of the "sending out" of congregation-planting teams. Several years later in early 2005 another promising young leader asked to be relieved as our general administrator, in order to found a congregation in Akko, Katzir Asher. Guy and Tali Cohen have poured out their lives, not only into their congregation, but into the city itself. As a native of Akko, Guy's relationships go far beyond the body of believers. His testimony as a local-born Israeli is compelling.

Each Congregation is a Sending Base

Former town councilman and business entrepreneur, Eric Morey, opened our fifth congregation in his Poriya home near Tiberias. His heart beats for new territory. In fact, each new "outpost" of believers creates another sending base from which to launch fresh communities of faith.

Eitan & Leon
The Tents of Mercy Network of congregations is now spread across the Galilee. Back home at the "mama" congregation in Kiryat Yam, the last few years have brought Avishalom to the fore as my protégé, courageously taking on both the pastoral and humanitarian ministries of our center, Ohalei Rachamim.

Why have we emphasized the planting of new congregations? It's because our predecessors did it this way. In the Book of Acts we find a clear pattern of exploratory teams being "sent out" (the original meaning of apostle, apostolic). These teams remained in strong relationship with those who sent them, including periodic visits for encouragement and oversight, as well as councils that brought together those who'd been sent out.

The classic example happened at Antioch, resulting in many new disciples (14:21) and the appointment of qualified elders (14:33).

"Now in the congregation that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers ... As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said 'Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away." (Acts 13:1-3)

I fully believe that we are seeing apostolic life restored in Israel. The way of life exemplified by the 1st century Messianic Jewish apostles was one of bringing Yeshua's redemption to unreached population hubs. Then, communities of believers were formed in order to strengthen their faith, celebrate their salvation, and draw their friends and neighbors into the kingdom.

An Intimacy of Brotherhood

The group that prayed, fasted and sent out Barnabas and Shaul in Acts 13 did not leave behind a YouTube clip of the fellowship enjoyed that day. I wish they had. They'd been given an historic mission. We can sense their expectant camaraderie.

Quality time together
Another passage which demonstrates the intimacy of brotherhood experienced by the first century apostles is Shaul's farewell to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:17-38. We aspire to this level of affection. Our council of congregation/ministry leaders is a welcome opportunity to open our hearts to each other. We listen, laugh, eat, joke, counsel, pray, and speak into one another's lives. As papa/coordinator, I am submitted to these men and they to me. It is a rare gift to develop relationships over decades - pioneering together in our old/new land.

By the grace of God, new Messianic communities have been formed in 21st century Israel. Through the Tents of Mercy Network, the rugged founders of a handful of these congregations have chosen to walk in covenant brotherhood. The next step will be linking with other similar networks in Israel. After more than 30 years of trust-building with my longtime partner, Asher Intrater, the network he leads, Revive Israel, is the ideal candidate.

I believe that the Kingdom of God is extended through deep, committed friendship and the bonds that come from walking through persecution, apathy, and inexperience - yet overcoming these obstacles. Our apostolic team represents a wide range of origins. We hail from Belarus, Ethiopia, America, Tatarstan, and Israel. It is the privilege of a lifetime to participate in the restoration of apostolic life here, where Yeshua first called his disciples together and commissioned them to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

By Eitan Shishkoff
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17:48 29May14 Jean Singh -
THANK YOU for allowing me & my friend, Jan Doyle, to volunteer for a few days in your warehouse in November, 2012. It was there in your kitchen, where I met the amazing Marc Chopinski, who gave me 2 copies of his CD - YES and AMEN /ISRAEL'S HOPE.

18:44 29May14 Erik Ronneberg -
Amen! This works. Recently I married in Kerala, India. My wife came with me to Alaska, USA. We worked and ministered to people here from many nations who work here - Nigeria, Thailand, Mexico, Phillipines, etc. Then we helped build a church for my wife's father, a pastor in Kerala. My daughter was in the womb in Alaska, born in India, and will come back to the USA soon. I see the blessings of the nations in my life, to all young men I say GO with Jesus, even if you don't have an apostolic father from Israel, the blessings will reach you. Wherever you are, take a team, blessing the nations, go by faith. This is abundant life. My own life says AMEN to this testimony happening in Israel, it works all over the earth. Rural or urban, it works all over the earth. Give your best, sow your best, the harvest will amaze you!

22:31 29May14 Beverly Schneider -
What a great article. I cant wait to go to visit these different congregations

15:58 03Jun14 Ruth Hartman -
Praise Adonai. For the past few years Ive been praying for Isreal; to include naming the few persons I have personally met that are living there. One of the names has been: "Eitan Shishkoff and all who minister with him." Therefore

  -- Eitan Shishkoff replies: This is a very touching response to the recent article we published. May you know that you share in the "spoils" of spiritual warfare, even as David made it clear that those who remained with the supplies shared fully in the fruit of the army's efforts. Please don't stop praying

14:37 05May14 Ken Ladley -
Seeing this article, reminded me of our visit to Tents of Mercy with New Haven House of Prayer in March this year. We gathered with Pastor Eitan and Pastor Avishalom and prayed over them and I had a word for them: I saw the Tents that were now filled with foods and stuff to go to the people being transformed. And I saw the Tents being filled with people instead of stuff, and these people were coming there to be trained and refreshed (oasis) and then they were being sent out all over Israel and the world. The Tents of Mercy have a much larger calling than filling peoples food supplies. You are called to provide people in the ministry

  -- Eitan Shishkoff replies: I am touched and strengthened by your reminder of the prophetic prayer you made over us. Thanks so much for caring and for standing with us in an enduring way. We cannot do this without you --- really!

16:07 05Jun14 Esther Matos -
I love the heart of the Father! Thank you for this article, it is an encouragement. I saw Pastor Eitan Shiskoff on web streaming in an IHOP conference some years back. I said to myself: "he has the heart of a father". It's good to see the work going forward. Hope on my next trip to Israel I get to visit the congregation; again thank you.

  -- Eitan Shishkoff replies: Thanks for taking the time to write these words. They humble me and challenge me to continue bringing the Father's love to the people of Israel. Please continue interceding that we will see more and more Israelis discovering Yeshua in the days to come. Please visit us on your next journey to the land.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: Choosing Community and Leadership
Daniel Juster's article in French: Choisir Quelle Communaute & Quels Leaders?
David: ISAIAH Zionist Prophet Interceding for the Nations
Shavei Tzion: Counting the Omer - Lifting up our Youth
Asher Intrater: Exile and Redemption
Cody and Liat: Media Development at Revive Israel