It had been two years since our last conference tour, Shofar 2008, and the memories of that wonderful event had begun to fade. We worked on the preparations, the graphic design, the hotel reservations, the advertisements but we were still left to wonder what exactly would unfold as we gathered guests from the nations to travel, pray and worship with us for nine days. Perhaps the first inkling of what was to take place was Eitan's bold declaration for the conference theme: "The Harvest is Ripe". A ripe harvest means results; it means production and fruit that will last. As we gathered on our first day together, we were 150 people from 20 different nations. We had representatives from every continent and race. The richness of so many different cultures and life experiences made an indelible impression on us. That afternoon, we left the confines of our Tents of Mercy building and went down to the Kiryat Yam beach nearby.

As we gathered there and believers cried out for salvation in that place, our guests probably could not fully understand how meaningful their presence was to us who labor in this field. Avishalom shared with the people about his vision for humanitarian aid ministry on this beachfront. As he spoke, I expect his eyes could not have helped but stray across the street to the absorption center. This was where he first lived as a teenage immigrant, young and alone, without a clear sense of why he was in Israel, but also with a certainty that this was the place where he belonged. How amazing that some 15 years later Avishalom was leading a group of international delegates to pray for a harvest on the site of his aliyah.

As we traveled by bus to the various places where the Tents of Mercy Network and Revive Israel are in ministry, the message of harvest greeted us at almost every turn. In the fields along the Galilean highways, farmers were beating down the olives from the trees laden with fruit. Bright red pomegranates bent their branches over almost to the ground, waiting for harvesters to pluck them off. It was apparent that the harvest is indeed ripe. Our gathering together re-affirmed that Israel's spiritual harvest is a joint effort between Israeli Messianic believers and believers from the nations joined together in the Lord of the Harvest's last days' plan.

The last time I was in Kenya, I encouraged my friend Margaret to join us for our upcoming conference. Margaret replied that she would bring a delegation. I was overwhelmed with surprise and delight when Margaret organized some forty Kenyan believers to join us. Our Kenyan brothers and sisters were such a blessing. We were all so enriched by their prayers, worship and love for Israel. We know they came at great personal sacrifice - which only makes their contribution even more precious.


A highlight I will always cherish was our time at the Kotel (Western Wall). Two Mexican American brothers, Gerardo and David were deeply overwhelmed and broke down in tears at seeing the wall. I put my arms around them and encouraged them to come to the wall and pray. I knew something special was happening but I did not know why they were so overcome with emotion. Gerardo explained: he and his brother David were the descendants of Spanish conversos that had fled to Mexico to escape the inquisition. Throughout the centuries, father to son, the family preserved their Jewish heritage. When their father heard they were going to Israel he sent them (as is the Jewish tradition), a prayer written on a piece of paper to place between the cracks of the wall. There was a personal side to this story that is best left between father and son but as they placed their father's note between the ancient Herodian stones, I witnessed a journey that spanned the globe and the centuries - two Jewish brothers whose families had suffered the pains of exile and persecution had come home.

I expect most of our conference guests could tell a similar story. Our time together was short, but it was rich and it joined us together in the Spirit in ways we may not fully understand this side of eternity. If harvest means fruit that will last, I am convinced "The Harvest is Ripe" has produced lasting fruit that will remain for the future great harvest yet to come.

 

By Marty Shoub


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Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Daniel Juster: Islam, Violent Jihad and Israel
Moshe Morrison: Longing For Home
Asher Intrater: Abraham & Lot "Why Did Lot Tarry?"