By Marty Shoub

"I didn't know anything about the country. One of the men said, 'the north is green and the south is desert.' I said I would go to the north ... we got on a bus and drove north; I was looking at the green northern plains of Israel when something happened to me. The only way I can explain it is if you had had your arm amputated and all of a sudden it grew back. That is what it felt like in my guts, my innermost being. It brought tears to my eyes."

It was October 1973 and the Yom Kippur War was still raging. Only a week earlier Michael Hersch had quit his job in the States, passed through a screening test that weeded out 99% of the applicants and been accepted as a volunteer on a kibbutz in Israel. As he stared out at the hills of Galilee, Michael knew he was where he had always been destined to be. After six months of packing tomatoes, Michael went back to the States, but the wholeness he found in Israel stayed with him; he knew one day he would be back for good.

Michael's journey back to Israel began with a difficult journey back to Israel's Messiah. Raised in a traditional Jewish home, Michael struggled with deep issues of life. Disillusioned, Michael sought answers that would satisfy the longings of his heart. Over the course of several years, Yeshua began to woo Michael to Himself. Through a series of miraculous signs and a steady diet of the scriptures, slowly Michael came to trust in Yeshua. But it was only after his return from Israel that he publicly confessed his faith.

Many years later Michael met Angela at Beth Messiah Congregation. Angela grew up in a Christian home with an acute awareness of Israel and God's heart for the Jewish people. In 1989 she enrolled in the IDF's "Sar-el" program. Angela was only in the country for 2 weeks and as a Gentile, knew it was extremely unlikely she would be able to immigrate to Israel, but she also knew in her heart that somehow, someway she would be back to stay. As Michael and Angela grew closer together they talked about the possibility of making a life together in Israel. Angela knew she had found her man, but a proposal did not seem to be forthcoming. Angela vowed, "Unless Michael proposes to me by June 15th I will know he is not the one." Michael did invite Angela on a date June 15th but waited until the very last moments of their time together to propose. Michael: "I was so nervous that I blurted out, 'I can't imagine you going to Israel without me.'" Of course Michael meant to say "I can't imagine me going to Israel without you!"

Michael and Angela were married in 1990 and almost immediately began planning to return to Israel. Just as their final preparations were wrapping up, two significant events complicated their move. The Gulf War started and Angela discovered she was pregnant. The Hersches were not about to let pregnancy or war perturb them. All flights from the States to Israel had been cancelled but Michael and 5 months pregnant Angela took the first scheduled flight out after the ceasefire had been declared. June 6, 1991 Michel and Angela were back in Israel - no longer volunteers but citizens.

Every immigrant story has its share of trials. Looking back Angela thinks their early days in Israel would have made a colorful immigrant sitcom. Many of their plans did not work out as expected and like all new immigrants they had to pioneer through the setbacks, pressures and obstacles. Michael's initial "promised" job prospect fell through, so, along with two other friends, they decided to establish their own construction company. Michael had been a contractor in the States and anticipated he could transfer his skills to the Israeli construction industry. An Israeli lawyer who helped Michael incorporate the business offered this encouraging advice: "Do you know what you are doing? You are entering into the most 'dog eat dog' business in the world ... its war!" War indeed! Between collecting payment for completed jobs (no easy task for an immigrant in Israel) and maintaining peace between Arab and Jewish construction workers, Michael found himself on a battlefield. He compared those early years to storming the beaches at Normandy, "The pressure was intense but in order not to get killed you had to keep moving forward."

So in 2002, now with three children all born in Israel, Michael, Angela and family headed back to the USA. After a year, the training Michael had received was completed and the Hersches were prepared to return to Israel. Again the Hersches put the matter before the Lord and sensed the Holy Spirit directing them to stay in the USA but they were not sure why. The answer came when Michael and Angela took a ministry trip to Georgia that took them close by "Be in Health Ministries" headquarters. Angela had received personal ministry from a friend who had been taught by "Be in Health" and they were intrigued to learn more. A short visit to the ministry center turned into a week long stay and Michael and Angela knew why they did not have a release to return to Israel. Not only did they receive personal freedom from many difficulties, they understood their calling was to bring the same freedom to the body of believers in Israel. "Be in Health" promotes wellness through identifying spiritual roots that may be behind physical illness and emotional difficulties. Michael and Angela stayed on to complete the ministry's internship program.

Following their internship Michael was not sure about his next step. Michael decided to take three days apart to pray and fast before the Lord. God re-affirmed His call for the Herschs to return to Israel. He reassured Michael through the scriptures that he was to return to Israel and God would look after all their needs. So on August 28, 2006, four years to the day that the Herschs had left Israel, they returned, equipped with vision, training and direction. The Herschs moved back to Poriyah, the town where they originally started out, back in 1991. Michael and Angela sensed that if God had sent them back with a specific ministry, they would not need to advertise or promote themselves. Instead they determined just to pray and see what God would do. Two days after returning they were invited by Kehilat Poriyah to present a "Be in Health" seminar - the Hersches have been busy bringing a message of health and freedom around the country ever since.

This past April, Eitan Shishkoff and Moshe Morrison ordained Michael as part of the eldership team at Kehilat Poriyah. Along with their own healing ministry they help to provide leadership to our Poriyah congregation. Their home has become the informal youth center for the burgeoning youth ministry in Poriyah. Michael and Angela had known from their youth that Israel would be their home. Like most of us who have made aliyah, they have faced many ups and downs, but through it all God has been faithful to see them through every hardship.

Equipped to bring a message of healing and restoration, the Hersches know they are participating in the promise God made to Israel so many years ago: "'For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,' says the LORD, because they called you an outcast saying: 'This is Zion; no one seeks her.' This says the Lord: 'Behold, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob's tents and have mercy on his dwelling places.'" (Jeremiah 30:17,18) Truly, Michael and Angela Hersch were destined to return.


By Marty Shoub

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Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: Anti Christian Zionism
Eitan Shishkoff: Graduation Ceremony
Asher Intrater: Keeping The Sabbath