There's an old song that starts off, "Something's happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear..." The singer wasn't too sure what it was, but he knew enough to know "something" was happening.
Yeshua chided the religious leaders of his day for not having the wisdom to discern the incredible "something" that was happening right before their eyes. He reminded them that they all could discern the weather by scanning the signs in the skies yet they could not discern the signs of the times.
To be sure, there is always something happening in Israel but today we see the "signs of the times" reinforcing Yeshua's exhortation: "Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are already ripe for harvest."
What started up with a handful of believers in a Krayot living room near Haifa has in 10 short years grown to 5 unique yet linked congregations. Is it any wonder that the name of this enterprise is Tents of Mercy? Remember, this is not Latin America or even North America: This is Israel. The growth we are seeing is remarkable and it is the Lord's doing.
Eitan Shishkoff is sensing the approaching harvest: "More than any previous time people are searching. It is easier to talk to Israelis about Yeshua now than in times past... God's grace is upon the congregation. We have come to a place of stability and growth that naturally flows towards reaching out beyond the community of faith."
In the last two months Tents of Mercy has grown to include two new congregations, Katzir Asher (Harvest of Asher) in Akko and Kehilat Poriya in Poriya Illit.
Akko's history is marred with Israel's failure to possess it (see Judges 1:31) and the forceful exploits of successive tyrants and invaders. Congregational leader, Guy Cohen, a native of Akko, explained that the Lord has called believers to conquer Akko as well - not with force of arms but with the Love of God.
Now every Wednesday evening believers from Katzir Asher go out in the city to share this love. Recently, Katzir Asher immersed four new believers. Guy Cohen recalled how one of these four came to faith through the testimony of the believers. For six months the Akko believers extended hospitality and kindness to this man before the love of God overcame his fear and doubt.
In just over a year through hospitality, mercy, witness and prayer, Katzir Asher has emerged into a viable Messianic presence in a city infamous for being the gateway of the crusader invasions.
Poriya has an altogether different history but the same God of Israel is at work here too. Congregational worship leader, Ronnen Venter shares the following two stories:
"In June we had the privilege of having an evangelistic meeting with Sid Roth. Sid brought a powerful salvation message. Two Israelis, Michal and Omri responded to the alter call and received prayer from Sid. Later that week at our seekers meeting we asked Michal and Omri if they understood what Sid Roth prayed for them in English. They said 'No, but we just felt the love coming out from everyone when they prayed for us in the name of Yeshua.' We asked them if they wanted to accept Yeshua right now by praying the sinners' prayer after us. They agreed and prayed aloud with us."
"Chaim, an Israeli man from Tel Aviv, came to the following Shabbat meeting. He told us it 'totally blew his mind' to hear all these new things about Yeshua. He has not yet accepted the Lord though and needs to be prayed into the kingdom."
"We believe that the end time harvest will be reaped by those who overcome the fear of leaving their comfort zones and step out into the dying world around us. Pray for us that we will be overcomers in the Galilee."
Leon Mazin is the congregational leader of Shavei Tzion (Returnees to Zion) in Haifa and Netzer HaGalil (Offshoot of Galilee) in Nazareth. Leon noted that both congregations share a call to demonstrate a Jewish Messianic vision to their respective communities. The Lord has disclosed specific strategies for each city.
Shavei Tzion has a bi-monthly Shabbat dinner to welcome visitors and conducts quarterly street outreaches. They have recently begun a new ministry, "New Bezalel" (Bezalel was the craftsman anointed by God to construct the Tabernacle). Prior to the annual feast days, artists from the congregation invite Haifa artists to join them in creating celebratory art for the feast and exploring the reality of Yeshua.
The Lord is directing Netzer HaGalil in a different way. Leon explained that they started the congregation in August 2004. Believers from Nazareth were coming to Haifa and the Krayot to join with the more established congregations. This city that was the first Jewish community to reject Yeshua had become a center of Gentile worship but did not include a Jewish Messianic congregation. Netzer HaGalil is indeed a tender shoot sprouting up to reverse the 1st century community's rejection of the Messiah.
Last Shavuot, Netzer HaGalil and Shavei Tziyon travelled to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) to immerse seven new believers. Leon explained that, coming from the former Soviet Union, these new believers had been ashamed that they were Jewish. They laboured under a history of stigmatization and prejudice. In Yeshua they have found freedom to worship the God of their fathers with the joy that comes from the Father's welcome. They desired to be immersed to publicly confirm this new freedom.
Leon had forgotten that for many Israelis, Shavuot is just another holiday. The spot Leon had spied out was packed with crowds enjoying a day at the beach. Experience had taught him to be wary because during previous immersions some locals had voiced their disapproval and had caused a disturbance. Here a huge crowd had gathered, and Leon was braced for hecklers and who knows what else. To his delight and surprise the crowd voiced their approval and some even called out "pray for Israel" while believers were being immersed. Some young men swam out to Leon and asked if they could be immersed!
After the believers returned to Nazareth, Leon took his American guests to a hill overlooking the city. Shavuot is the start of the wheat harvest in Israel and naturally evokes the call to bring in the spiritual harvest. Leon spoke to these believers about Yeshua's heart for labourers to reap this harvest. As Leon finished speaking thunder boomed and the heavens poured down rain. This is indeed a sign and a wonder; it does not rain in Israel at this time of year. Afterwards, Leon remembered that it was on a Shavuot long ago that the Lord sent thunder and rain as a sign to confirm His word (see 1st Samuel 12:6-18).
Dear reader, there is "something" happening here. All the leaders I interviewed for this report were emphatic about two issues. They didn't want to take any credit for the current blessings and they all wanted to relay to you that they desperately need your prayers. Let these testimonies of the stirring of harvest encourage you to pray all the more that the Lord of the harvest would send out labourers into His harvest.
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