The Haifa-Dusseldorf Connection
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Johannes, Avishalom, Dima and Israeli youth delegates

Editor's Note: Johannes Englehardt is a long time friend of the Tents of Mercy network. In February of this year he invited a delegation from Tents of Mercy and Shavei Tsion congregations to participte in a special conference in his home city of Düsseldorf. Here is his story.

In 1988 Düsseldorf and Haifa joined together as "twin cities", agreeing to cultural exchanges and political friendship. This was a positive move towards building relations between Germans and Israelis but God had something even better planned for us. In November 2001, Eitan Shishkoff, visited Düsseldorf, the state capital of NRW (North-Rhine-Westphalia). The following spring, Leon Mazin came our way to continue this spiritual "bridge building". For me and my family these encounters were the beginning of a strong personal connection to Israel. It was the first seed of personal relationship between Yeshua believing Jews and Christians of both cities. It was the impetus for the establishment of our ministry, "Bridge-Haifa Düsseldorf eV" in April 2002.

Day of Prayer "NRW for Israel" in Düsseldorf

In 2007, we inaugurated the annual "Day of Prayer for Israel". This event is held at different locations in North Rhine-Westphalia. This year we had the privilege of hosting the Day of Prayer, "NRW for Israel", in our city. We invited eight Messianic Jews, young pastors and youth leaders from Tents of Mercy and Shavei Tsion to participate in this day of prayer - especially as bridge builders towards the young generations.

Avi and translator speaking at the conference
On Friday evening, we had a Shabbat celebration together with our Israeli guests in a local Christian Highschool. Liliya, from Tents of Mercy lit the Shabbat candles. We sang and prayed together and we sensed in our spirits that Yeshua, the King of Israel, was in our midst.

When Pastors Dima L. (Shavei Tsion) and Avishalom Tekle (Tents of Mercy), spoke the blessing over the wine and the bread, we felt the love and presence of our Creator and our Saviour Yeshua. We realized that we are all bound together in expectation of His second coming as King of Israel. We had a splendid time of fellowship on this Shabbat evening - a good start in anticipation of our day of prayer.

On Saturday, Christians and Jews, young and old, Israelis, Germans and expats from other nations gathered to prayer for Israel. The aim of the conference was that prayer for the country and the people of Israel would become a priority in our country. This includes in particular, to strengthen the existing ministries for Israel and Israel Prayer groups in North Rhine-Westphalia. Our expectation was to see local believers take the initiative, to be "watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem".

Framed in praise and prayer, accompanied by refreshing flag dances, our guests from Israel were introduced to the assembly. A diary of a Survivor of the Holcaust was recited and we remembered the crimes of our ancestors, especially those committed in the city of Düsseldorf. These included slander, persecution, expulsion and the murder of many Jews. Walter Tholen, who grew up during that time, asked for forgiveness on behalf of us all. Some of us gave testimony of how God has touched and opened our eyes to his beloved nation of Israel. Others presented their specific ministries for Israel. I greatly appreciate that members of many different Christian congregations, denominations and diverse nationalities of many parts of the country participated in this prayer day.

School Partnership with Haifa

The Free Christian Highschool Düsseldorf not only provided us with a lovely auditorium for the event but was also involved in the activites: "Since the beginning of this year there is an official school partnership with Israel," said Dr. Ulrich Marienfeld, head of the school, "and we expect a group of Ironi Gimel School students from Haifa to visit with us in March." Students under the direction of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Heinrich took care of the catering of the participants and Herm-Dieter set up a first class cheese counter.

Comments from Participants

Avi and Dima leading Erev Shabbat blessings
Ulrich Freischlad, an active supporter of the prayer day, said: "When we pray together as Christians and Jews for Israel, then we trust that God will act, even for His people and lead Israel to the conclusion of its God-ordained history." He also stressed that the organizers were committed to awaken an awareness of the Israel mandate among local Christian congregations.

"Interest in the land and the people of Israel is far from being alive in all churches and congregations", noted visitor Elke Sauer. "There are so many Christians who do not understand how important it is for Israel, but everyone counts who prays for Israel. Many are not bold enough to show it. - But Israel is in my heart. As a Christian, it is a duty to pray for Israel and the Jews, that's why I'm here."

Prayer Points

The highlight of the event was Avishalom Tekle's message and the prayer time that followed. Avishalom: "I believe that in our relationship, God put a potential of blessing. God still has a common purpose with our nations and we are aware that this is what we are doing today. That is, to build relationship, to restore the foundations of our relationship back again. Our destiny is to be connected - not separated." And in the context of Isaiah 58:12, Avishalom declared: "From generation to generation God will build a new foundation. We pray that God raises up a new generation and that He shows us how we can serve each other."

After Avishalom's message the conference split into seven well-attended prayer groups in order to interceed for Israel in the context of Avishalom's exhortation. We were encouraged to move forward with this new relationship that the God of Israel is forging between us.

Final Service

Johannes, Avishalom and German-Ethiopian leaders
The event concluded with a worship-service led by Düsseldorf's Jewish-Messianic congregation, "Beit Hesed". Dima L., from Shavei Tsion spoke, "When I received the invitation to visit Germany, I didn't know why I should come to this country, but when I came here and I've seen that fire in you, how you pray for Israel and how important it is for you. When I saw this love, I understood that we are not alone in Israel." Dima Siroy, pastor of the Düsseldorf Beit-Hesed-Congregation petitioned our Heavenly Father: "Bless these young people, and bless us through them!"

We see clearly that the visit of our friends from Israel was a great blessing for us here in North Rhine-Westphalia to deepen and enlarge our existing relations - far beyond the day of prayer. The prayer day was followed by invitations to our Israeli guests from several congregations in the country. We believe this is a sign of the expansion of our relationship with one another. The following day, in the city of Cologne, Avishalom spoke to an Ethiopian congregation and Andrey G. gave a testimony.

"NRW for Israel"

The organizer of the prayer day, "NRW for Israel" is an initiative of committed Christians and Messianic Jews from North Rhine-Westphalia. In the past six years we have come together as a group - working and praying. The role of Messianic Jews within this group has advanced. As a result of true partnership, fear and suspicion has been overcome. Rather, Jews and Christians have experienced joy and gratitude that the Messiah has removed the dividing fence (Eph. 2:14). We can clearly see that theological, national, and cultural differences are fading when we unite in the name of Yeshua to worship the God of Israel and to pray for His land."

A young man of the Jewish-Messianic congregation in Düsseldorf, commented:

"It was great ... Next time - and there must definitely be a next time - we should spend far more time with our guests from Israel. A night of prayer for the youth would be cool, and even more worship and prayer during the morning session."

May the God of Israel answer this young man's request and add His blessing to our "Next Time".

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