"In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria ... Israel will be one of three with the Egypt and Assyria a blessing in the midst of the earth whom the Lord Almighty shall bless saying 'Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria the work of My hands and Israel My inheritance.'" (Isaiah 19:23-25)
My family has been based in Israel and strongly connected with Egypt, Turkey and Kurdistan for many years now. In our recent journeys along the northern section of this "highway" in southeastern Turkey, God has been giving us a glimpse into a shaking that is taking place throughout the Middle East. Living and working in the Middle East we encounter opposition and challenging spiritual conditions. Therefore, it's imperative to maintain a faith attitude of "eternal optimism," centered on His promises, that God can intervene in the most hopeless situation, and bring life from the dead.
Hebrews 11 describes those who walk by faith as, "looking for the city whose architect and builder is God." This verse holds an important principle that can be applied to the Isaiah 19 highway. We are praying not only for the Kingdom to come, but in the same way, that the highway will break through from the future to the present: Our prayer is the "In that day" (as recorded in Isaiah 19) would be "In our day."
Houses of Prayer Conference in Ancient Antioch
Over the last 20 years, one of the most exciting developments in the Middle East has been the prayer movement sweeping through the nations of the Isaiah 19 highway. True to Isaiah 19, the movement began in Egypt and has been gaining momentum in North and East Africa since the early 1990's. We believe it is through such prayer that the highway ("Mesilah" - literally "elevated way" in Hebrew) will be built and that the revival that has begun in Egypt will spread northward from there.
We recently travelled to Turkey to facilitate a conference in Antakya (ancient Antioch) for those living and working along the highway. The vision of this conference was to establish houses of prayer in our com munities. Participants from Egypt, Israel and Turkey gathered for teaching about regional history, the prophetic significance of Isaiah 19 and practical elements in the establishment of prayer houses. It was a very rich time and a blessing to be together with these committed and humble servants from around the Middle East. Pray for this movement to grow and increase in intensity along the Highway. This is a crucial part of the infrastructure of this Highway.
From Antakya we headed east on the promise that the Lord would lead us. I sensed Hebrews 11:8 was to be our guide. "Abraham when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going." The Isaiah 19 highway is the same route Abraham traveled and while we weren't sure exactly where we were going, we felt we were on the right path. After stopping to encourage and pray with local believers we traveled to Diyarbakir (on the ancient Tigris River) where we partnered with the local fellowship. Despite serious testing, these believers continue to persevere. Their focus is reaching the nearly 2 million primarily Kurdish descendants in the area. The leaders of the local fellowship invited us to accompany them to the trial of the young men responsible for the murder of the believers in Malatya in 2007. (For more information see: http://malatyafilm.org)
We were initially told we would not be allowed to enter the courtroom due to limited space; however, because we were foreign guests we received approval to attend. It's difficult to describe in words the depth of feeling as we watched the proceedings of the five young men on trial for this crime. Although the trial has continued for the last two years, the question still remains, who was behind this cruel and inhumane act? We believe that the deaths of these believers were not in vain. Pray that God would use this situation to bring honor to His name. Pray that through these proceedings the governmental authorities would understand why these crimes happened, bring the guilty to justice and protect believers from those who seek to harm them.
We then continued on to our easternmost destination, a historic Turkish city near the Iranian border. Since 1985, we have been working in this city and were excited to hear first-hand from the local leaders all that the Lord is doing. The time of sharing and prayer with our friends lasted the entire evening. An Israeli praying together with an Iranian pastor is something that could only happen on the highway. We all sensed that the Lord has begun a ork in this city that will produce fruit in the years to come. Pray for this fellowship with more than 100 Iranian and Afghan believers, that God would increase the favor He has given them, both with the local population and the governing powers.
Signposts on the Road
Last month elections were held in Lebanon and Iran. In Lebanon, the election of the moderate Sunni, Hariri, was quite surprising. Even though Hezbollah's expected victory did not materialize, Lebanon still needs concentrated prayer so that the new government can rule over the nation. Pray that freedoms guaranteed to Christians in Lebanon would be upheld.
Iran on the other hand re-elected Ahmadinejad, although there was unprecedented internal opposition especially by those wanting more democratic freedom. There is a groundswell for change in Iran. These elections have resulted in the heaviest unrest Teheran has seen in years. Pray that international desire for dialogue will not stunt or undermine this important process. There is a huge shift of allegiance within Iran regarding issues of faith and truth, with unprecedented numbers of new believers being reported. The current political climate, although discouraging in the immediate future in terms of human rights, may well fan the flames of the revival higher.
As we see Netanyahu come to grips with Obama's pressure for the so-called "Two State Solution," together with other developments in the Middle East, we can see the rumors of wars, and possible End-Times scenarios coming in and out of focus. Our heart cries out: "Let Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10) "Let mercy triumph over judgment." (James 2:13)
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Dan Juster: The Dilemma of Liberalizing Theology|
|Eitan Shishkoff: Wrestling With Tisha B'Av|
|Marty Shoub: A Voice For Those Who Cannot Speak|