Editor's note: Pastor McQueen and Beltway Baptist Church are beloved covenant partners with Tents of Mercy.
I was born and raised in the state of Texas in the USA. As a Christian since the age of 13, I had never been directly taught the Christian church replaced Israel in the promises of God. It was just assumed - a given.

Ten years ago God arranged for me to be the pastor of a wonderful church - Beltway Park Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas. Prior to my tenure, Beltway had suffered through ten years of turbulence and turmoil. As our situation improved we began to dream of what God might do if we would only follow Him. Early on in this journey God showed us we were not giving to others for the sake of the gospel. We knew He was challenging us to sow "abundantly" even if we thought we couldn't afford it. So we began looking for a place to sow ourselves and our finances.

At the same time I was looking for a mentor in ministry - a spiritual father. Don Finto was an acquaintance of mine and I was hoping he might assume that role for me. We were from the same Christian denomination and contrary to our denominational tradition, had both become Spirit-filled believers - but Don had a lot more experience walking in the Spirit than I did.

I knew Don had this strange love for Israel and the Jewish people. I didn't understand it. Honestly, I didn't want to understand it. I thought it all stemmed from some slightly skewed eschatology. But he also was the pastor of a great church, so, even if I had to put up with this strange "Jewish piece," it would be well worth it to learn from a skilled and experienced leader.

To accomplish this, I asked Don if on occasion I could travel with him to various events. He not only agreed but very quickly asked me to attend a conference with him in Pennsylvania. The conference just happened to be hosted by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. I can honestly say, being from rural Texas, that I'm not sure if I had ever met a Jewish person. But that did not matter. I would learn about Spirit-filled ministry from Don.

At some point during our flight to Pennsylvania, Don asked if I would read his yet to be published manuscript of "Your People Shall Be My People". I was young and arrogant enough to think he actually wanted my input on the manuscript before it went to press. I think The Holy Spirit prompted Don to ask me for a very different purpose.

While I was reading, I gazed upon a quote that Don attributed to Romans 11:11-12; I was perplexed. A little background might help you understand my consternation: I went to college to study the Bible. I have both an undergraduate and graduate degree in Biblical Studies. I had read Romans 11 many, many times. I had actually worked my way through this passage in the Greek.

I had never seen this - not like he was using it. I reckoned he had to be misquoting it somehow, possibly using a loose translation. I stood up to get my Bible from the overhead bin. Don asked me what I was doing. I said, "Getting my Bible. I think you've misquoted Romans 11." "I don't think so," he replied. I am sorry to say I quipped back, "Well Don, I've read Romans 11 many times and I think I would have seen something like what you are saying if it was really there." He just smiled.

I opened my Bible and read Romans 11:11-12: "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness."

It was exactly as Don quoted in his book. I sat down, eyeswide open in astonishment, and I thought, "Oh, God, how could I have not seen this?" At that moment it was like a switch turned on inside of me. I had read this passage many times but I had never truly seen it before. The Church had not replaced Israel regarding the promises He made to her. But even more astounding; the salvation of the Gentile world is linked to the salvation of Israel! Greater riches (obviously meaning greater numbers of people being saved) are promised for the entire world as the Jewish people of the world come to believe in their Messiah.

We went to the conference and I could no longer say I never met a Jewish person! God had another surprise for me; a few days later, after we returned to Don's home in Nashville, we picked up Don's guest speaker for Belmont church ... not only another Jewish believer but a Messianic leader from Israel: Eitan Shishkoff. Almost immediately something within my heart connected to Eitan, I knew God was saying to me, "Here is the one you are to partner with. Sow into his ministry."

David McQueen and Eitan at Haifa Bay
When I returned home I took our elders through my journey, and they agreed this was God. That was a little over eight years ago but I never thought our sowing into Tents of Mercy would reap such a harvest of blessing for us in Abilene. Early on in our partnership with Tents of Mercy, I told Eitan: "Eitan, I have a strange love for my city. I want to see them all reached with the gospel. If you don't mind, I want to use you to help me reach my city. Our body of believers would like to help the leaders and people of Tents of Mercy reach the Galilee with your Messiah. And I am convinced that as you reach them, it will bring a great harvest in my city."

The Bible says salvation is first to the Jew then to the Gentile. It says if we bless Israel, God will bless us. The Bible says that as the eyes of a Jewish man or woman are opened to their Messiah, the eyes of many Gentiles will be opened around the world. When I came to Beltway Park ten years ago, we had a little over 300 people coming to our church. This past spring we had a little over 3000. We have immersed almost 1000 people in that time period as a confession of Jesus as their Savior and Messiah. It is a beginning of greater riches.

So here is my plea to my Messianic brothers and sisters in Messiah at Tents of Mercy, in Israel and around the word - I need you to hear something clearly. It is difficult - almost impossible - to convey to you how important a role you are playing in the world today. You are a greater part of what is happening in Abilene than you can possibly know.

Galatians 6:7,9 says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows ... Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." We will reap a harvest IF we do not give up. A harvest has begun among Jewish people around the world. And it is growing. And as it grows, greater riches are being seen not only in Abilene, but throughout the world.

Though at times it seems that things are happening slowly among your own people, and the price for your faith in Messiah is high, for the sake of my city (and the cities of the world), please, please - don't give up!


Eitan Shishkoff's Summer 2008 Itinerary
July 24th & 25th: Meetings at Pan de Vida Church in Mexico City, Mexico
July 26th & 27th: Meetings at Amistad Christiana in Chihuahua, Mexico
July 28th - August 1st: Teaching at Praise Chapel Conference in Phoenix, AZ
August 3rd: 8:30 & 11am Services at Belmont Church in Nashville, TN (615-256-2123)
August 8th & 9th: Teaching at Melody of My Heart in City of Industry, CA (626-330-3232)
August 10th: 9 & 10:45am Services at Valley Vineyard Church in Reseda, CA (818-776-9696)
August 12th: 7:30pm Meeting at Ohev Yisrael Congregation in Newington, VA (703-550-0888)
August 13th: 7:30pm Meeting at El Shaddai Congregation in Frederick, MD (301-695-4496)
August 14th: 6:30pm Meeting at Son of David Congregation in Wheaton, MD (240-403-2138)
August 16th: 10:30am Service at Brit Hadasha Congregation in Memphis, TN (901-685-9267)
August 17th: 10:30am Service at Knollwood Church in Mobile, AL (251-661-8383)

 


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Comments:
21:31 02Jul08 Candy Garcia -
This story is beautiful. I love how G_D revealed Romans 11 to this brother from Abilene, Texas.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Dan Juster: Negotiating With Terrorists
Moshe Morrison: Who Is The Servant Of The Lord?
David Shishkoff: Are We A Kingdom Divided Against Itself?