Mission Trip To Israel
Monday, November 17th ” “ Friday, December 5th, 2003
1 Chronicles 29:10-13
Glory to The LORD (YHWH) – thanks be to Him!
I would like to thank all of you in Moriel for your prayers and gifts which enabled me to go and serve in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem); David E Lister, especially was a great friend and encouragement to me in this outreach, and he is to be commended and acknowledged for being so (don”t edit this out, Dave)! The Lord did great things, and be encouraged to know that He used you in many different ways! The gift we were blessed to give to For Zion’s Sake/Calvary Chapel Jerusalem was really appreciated – Pastor Bradley had already stepped out in faith to purchase some extremely needed carpet, and our gift helped them in that regard.
I’ll do my best to funnel two weeks into this short report, but let me assure you that this is rather difficult to do! If anyone would like more detailed information, please feel free to ask.
I spent most of my time serving at For Zion’s Sake, which is a humanitarian aid agency, which helps new immigrants to Israel. Many humanitarian aid groups have signed a “we will not evangelize” contract with Israel’s government – but, praise be to God, For Zion’s Sake/Calvary Chapel Jerusalem has not done so, and they are active in sharing Jesus our Lord. For Zion’s Sake and Calvary Chapel are intertwined ministries, and The Lord is doing great things through them.
They currently help support 60 families, providing furniture, food, medicine, clothing, counseling, and much more. I served there doing a variety of different things: unloaded/moved pianos and furniture, painted, swept/cleaned, helped a new family move, and so on. Every day was different, and it was wonderful to labor with other believers there. Twice a day, Monday through Thursday, we gathered to worship our Lord and learn from His Word. It was also very interesting, and at times downright funny working with people having different levels of fluency in English! At any given time, one can hear Hebrew, Russian, and English being spoken all around them.
The church itself is a wonderful mix of people – 80% of the congregation is Russian. Pastor Bradley teaches in English, and his wife or one of the other translators translates the message into Russian. It was beautiful to hear God’s praises being sung in English, Hebrew, and Russian… this is something that one cannot explain – it’s just beautiful to be with completely different people all united because of their love for Yeshua (Jesus). God also graciously gave me the opportunity to play bass during a few of their services.
For Zion’s Sake is very similar in size to Calvary Chapel Pittsburgh (my church, they have around 60 people or so), and I was immediately and warmly welcomed as part of their family. They, like Calvary Chapel Pittsburgh, are everyday people. They’ve had things stolen (just like Calvary Chapel Pittsburgh has!), and they are also looking for more help with the children’s ministry (specifically praying that our Lord will raise up a Russian/Israeli to handle this ministry).
They are located across the street from an Arab section of town, and you can often hear Muslim prayer broadcast throughout the neighborhood – even at 5:30 AM! They rent almost all of the building they’re located in, and they successfully prayed out some of the former tenants; Russian mobsters running a brothel. The LORD (YHWH) has done great things!
For Zion’s Sake recently took in one of their disabled members after she was released from the hospital. They’re helping her as she recovers, and demonstrating His love in many ways. Many of these ways are quite practical, such as helping her to bathe and helping to carry her up and down several flights of steps so she isn’t excluded from the services and activities. Her name is Claudia, and she’s a young woman that moved to Israel from Russia – our brothers and sisters in Israel would be thrilled if we would keep her in our prayers as she is recovering.
Additionally, we can help them by keeping Israel in our hearts and prayers. Pastor Bradley also shared about two needs that they have, ones which I would also ask for all of us to pray continually for: they desire to have someone/some people to help them reach out to the Ethiopian immigrants, as well as the Gypsy community. Bradley specifically talked about the Ethiopians, and said that this is a basically an untouched ministry. It would require someone to go and become one of them, living among them and deeply committing themselves to sharing Christ with them. May The Lord of The Harvest raise up such workers to bring glory to His Name!
Although I’ve been studying Hebrew for a few years now, my focus has been on the Biblical form. Israelis, however, speak modern Hebrew. Therefore, there were many times where I felt like a foreigner. Our Lord helped me to experience what many of the foreign students I tutor in Pittsburgh do! J I got lost, spent lots of time in the grocery stores trying to figure out what was what, and enjoyed failing miserably in efforts to speak and understand restaurant workers!
Several people have asked about the security in Israel, and so I’d like to briefly address the topic. First of all, The Lord is our Shepherd, and He is Immanuel – God with us. There is total security in His hands. If anyone wants me to promise earthly security in any country, here or there, I’m sorry to say that such a promise is not possible. The Middle East is home to people that could kill you – so is Detroit! Security, generally speaking, is very tight in Israel. There are soldiers everywhere, strapped with large machine guns. There are also some civilians that walk around carrying Uzis’. When entering a store, mall, and the like, you usually must first go through a metal detector. If you’re carrying a bag, they also will probably take a look at what’s inside. But in general, I felt rather safe in Jerusalem. Yes, the threat of terrorism is real, but some aspects of life there seem safer than here. Walking around in Jerusalem at night, for example, is much safer than strolling through parts of Pittsburgh on late Friday or Saturday nights. What can I say? Regardless of where we are, Immanuel is with us, and He is Sovereign.
In addition to serving For Zion’s Sake, The Lord also blessed me to make friendships with unbelievers. If our Lord is willing to allow me to return, I look forward to building upon these relationships. There’s a small Arab pizza shop across the street from For Zion’s Sake, called ” ˜Pizza 2 Love,’ and many of the local guys hang out there at night. I was able to be accepted as their friend, and they both laughed at and enjoyed the little bit of Arabic I was trying to speak! One night, a young guy named Tarak spoke with me, and he shared how he believed in God, but didn’t like religions. Why? Because people use them to control other people! Hmmmm… I think he’s realized what many of us also have seen. May The Lord build upon that realization and show Tarak how he needs a Redeemer and not a religion!
Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) is a city of stark contrasts. There’s the new downtown area, which is quite modern and metropolitan. And then there’s the Old City – which, for me, is the highlight of Jerusalem. Inside her protective walls, one can experience so many different things. The Western Wall is located in the Old City, and I went there several different times during this trip. This is the wall most everyone has seen in photos, where Jews come together to pray, read, sing, and mourn. I observed many Jews praying with dedication and passion, but was reminded of Romans 10:2 ” “ “they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (NASB). I read Romans chapters 9-11 a few times while spending time at The Western Wall. Though it’s tragic to realize their ignorance of Yeshua HaMashiakh (Jesus The Messiah), it’s encouraging to know that God has not forgotten them.
I was at The Wall one morning, and there was a Jewish man next to me praying passionately. All of a sudden, the Muslim prayer rang out from behind The Western Wall (there are two mosques on the other side). The man next to me wept as he prayed. As I walked away a minute or so later, I observed another Jewish man praying – he was holding his fingers in his ears so as to not hear the Muslim prayer as he offered his own. Many Jews walk up to The Wall and kiss it, and as they walk away, they walk backwards so they won’t ‘turn their backs on God.’ The Western Wall is a great place for The Lord to help give you a greater love for the Jews.
I also went to the Muslim/Arab section of the Old City several times, as I also have a lot of love for them. The Arab market place is amazing – it’s like the Strip District (a small area of Pittsburgh that has lots of ethnic food stores, restaurants, street vendors, and so on) x 100! It’s packed with people, it’s vibrant and loud, and it’s a great place to be! And it is there that our Lord gave me the greatest opportunity to witness that I had during this entire trip.
I went to a small Arab restaurant for lunch one day, and there was a young guy named Ali working there by himself. I ordered my felafel, after bargaining on the price, and we started to talk. He practiced his English, and I attempted my Arabic! We were talking for a while, and then Ali’s friend Sayed dropped by and also started chatting with us. Sayed, in a nice way, asked me why I wasn’t Muslim. The Lord gave me the opportunity to mention how in Islam, a person hopes to be forgiven, but they have no assurance. Similarly, I shared how he has no assurance of going to Heaven. But Jesus promises these things in the Bible! I mentioned that many of our beliefs about God are similar (there’s only One God, He’s Good, He’s Holy, etc.) – but when it comes to Jesus, we are very different. In Islam, Jesus is merely a holy prophet. However, The Bible says that He is Lord. Sayed didn’t believe that The Bible said that, so – glory to The Lord – I pulled out the Arabic/English New Testament that just happened to be with me and I showed him Romans 10:9 (about confessing Jesus as Lord). To my surprise, Sayed read much more than I expected – he intently read several verses! When he finished, there was no denial, anger, or defense. That may have been the first time he ever read The Bible.
And when discussing how he had no assurance of forgiveness, by the look in his eyes, he really appeared to understand and be touched. Please pray for Sayed and Ali – may God help them to believe in Jesus, His Son! All in all, The Lord enabled me to spend about 3 ‚ ½ hours with Ali. He also took me to his house and introduced me to his mother and two of his siblings. They made me coffee, and we talked a bit. Praise The LORD (YHWH)!
Well, as I said before, how can one funnel two weeks into a short report? So much more could be said. God built great relationships with Calvary Chapel Jerusalem/For Zion’s Sake, and I was welcomed back on several occasions. They’re also eager to have more missionaries serve with them. The Lord also taught me some things while in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem): be careful to give HIM the glory for blessings/successes in life… love more when in a difficult situation, not less… and be a servant.
He also has greatly inspired me for reaching out to Pittsburgh. Please pray for me, as I’m yearning to do full time mission work. This has been a desire for a long time, and I truly believe it’s from our Lord. Please pray that He will guide me and give me wisdom and instruction, and that He will do what He wills to be done. May God bless us all to go to Jerusalem, and just the same, may He use us in our current cities for His glory and praise!
Remember; please feel free to ask about any questions that you may have you can write me through Moriel. I would love to share more about the trip, for I want you to be encouraged in seeing how God used your prayers and support. You prayed, you gave, and The LORD (YHWH) has blessed and done great things. I thank you all for your love and support, and even more so, I thank God for blessing me to go.
Thanks, glory, and praise be to The LORD (YHWH),
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
The God that sent and raised His Son Jesus from the dead! Rev 7:12
by Jason Catizone