Marty Shoub

International Liason
Tents of Mercy Network
"It was especially poignant to see these symbols of solidarity with Israel, here in the one country more than any other whose history is so wrapped up in symbolically and literally replacing Israel and the Jewish people."

Author sharing a joke with Pastor Bruno
When Paul first landed in Italy at Puteoli (modern day Puzzuoli) he was welcomed by believers there (Acts 28:13,14). Not far from this same spot, believers are still welcoming Messianic Jews to Italy. This July I had the privilege of representing Tents of Mercy in the Naples area (Puzzuoli is less than 10 miles from Naples). Pastor Bruno Ciccarelli of Centro Uria was my host. As I took my first perusal of the Centro Uria grounds I was struck by the large wooden menorah erected at the head of the driveway. Adjacent to the menorah, an Israeli flag flew over the center's sports field. It was especially poignant to see these symbols of solidarity with Israel, here in the one country more than any other whose history is so wrapped up in symbolically and literally replacing Israel and the Jewish people.

"Uria" is Italian for Uriah, the Hittite soldier in David's army. I asked Pastor Bruno why, of all the characters in the Bible, he chose to name the center after this tragic figure. Bruno's answer gives us a glimpse into his character: "Uriah lost everything for the king, his wife, his honor, his life. He served the king with absolute faithfulness, regardless of whether he was recognized or appreciated. This is the model of service we want to promote - everything for the king, no matter the cost."

Pastor Bruno described Centro Uria as "a non-religious place where people can come and learn about Jesus." Aside from the guest house and large meeting hall, the grounds include a football pitch and pine groves. The center is used by different churches in the area for conferences, family picnics and youth camps. The ambience promotes an awareness of the Italian believers' status as Gentile branches grafted into the Jewish olive tree. Pastor Bruno explained, "We are trying to sensitize people to Israel's place in God's plan. If you are not interested in Israel, you cannot have a proper perspective on the scriptures - you are not interested in the future. The gospel started in Israel and it is returning there - as the nations who received the gospel from Israel, we should support Israel and the Jewish people returning to their land."

Over twenty years ago Pastor Bruno came to this realization simply by reading his Bible. "No one in Italy had this understanding. People would criticize me, 'Why are you speaking about Israel?'" Today there is a much greater awareness of Israel among Italy's Evangelical community. Pastor Bruno credits the well known Messianic leader, Michael Brown, for helping to bring clarity and correction regarding Israel's role in God's purposes. Pastor Bruno observed that there is still a lot of work required to sensitize the church in Italy to Israel. He told me, "I believe there will be a great move of God in Israel, but at the same time there will be great difficulties. The Israeli people will need true friends who will stand with them - not just tourists to visit, but believers who are willing to face the same dangers as the Israeli believers in order to bring comfort and encouragement to them."

I was only in the Naples area for one week, but in that short time I had the opportunity to speak in a number of churches and even more importantly, to meet many precious believers. Judging from the welcome and response that I received there, I believe God is fashioning this relationship of friendship between Italy and Israel as a counter to the record of wrongs from our painful history together.

By Marty Shoub
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14:30 02Aug11 Philip Latham -
The Christian church, and Christians, have much to ask God's forgiveness for in propogating "Replacement Theology" for centuries. How very encouraging it is therefore to read this.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: Universalism, Hell and Immanuel Kant
Moshe Morrison: Yarden
Eitan Shishkoff: His Mercy Endures Forever
Asher Intrater: Personal Reflections on a Court Case