Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spiritual Warfare in the Israeli Ministries

By Eddie Santoro
Love of Yeshua/Ahavat Yeshua congregation of Jerusalem
Zion's Glory and Tikkun Ministries

The Scripture declares that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherever God's Kingdom is advancing there is a war raging and all of us who believe are on the front line of that battle. Here in Jerusalem, we feel it most intensely. The very powers of hell are set against the reestablishment of the local Body of Messiah in this city, for those same powers know that this great end time event is a necessary precursor to their demise and the return of Yeshua.

We war against this resistance daily and things which might be accomplished easily somewhere else require huge amounts of prayer, perseverance and faith in this final battleground.

Warfare  |  Yeshua is a Jewish name. He is the Jewish Messiah and he came to the Jew first. In the beginning, all of his disciples were Jewish and yet in a calculated and successful strategy of the enemy, this wonderful Jewish Messiah has been made the enemy of his people. Here in Israel the government is against Jesus. Children are indoctrinated in the public schools to believe that Yeshua is not for the Jewish people. Orthodox Jews work full time to be certain that the local community knows that Jewish believers in Yeshua are really "wolves in lamb's clothing" whose secret agenda is the destruction of the Jewish faith.

We are keenly aware that there are often religious spies present when we gather, recording every spoken word so that they can be twisted and used against us in the never ending propaganda war.

Believers receive in the mail very enticing and highly funded glossy magazines telling them why they need to leave the faith. One of the leaders in our congregation who is seeking to advance his position at work is being attacked as a Christian missionary. This national rejection of Yeshua is so great that even his wonderful name, "Yeshua" has been replaced by "Yeshu", which is an acronym whose meaning is; "May his name be blotted out".

It is against this backdrop of national rejection that we work so vigorously to return Yeshua to his people. In a nation that is so primed to reject and hate their Savior, it is not surprising that the simple sharing of the Gospel is often met with anger, hatred and sometimes even violence. The resistance in this nation, especially in the city of Jerusalem is like no other place in the world and yet likewise, the results of this nation coming to faith will be unparalleled.

Even the simple reality of gathering together for our weekly meetings is a battle. Here in Israel there has always been a traditional six day work week. Although today many people do not work on Fridays, it is usually a hectic day of running errands, shopping, cooking, cleaning and preparing for the Shabbat before all the stores close at 3pm. Most children go to school six days a week and many young parents in our congregation not only work full time, but are also pursuing higher education in the evening. It is a true sacrifice to give up their one free day and come to the congregation instead of resting at home. And in addition, there is the constant pressure of a nation at war; facing threats and terror daily. We see this intensity of life here also as a strategy of the enemy to wear people down and to discourage them from being a part of the body.

And Yet the Victory is Ours  |  We want to assure you that in spite of this powerful resistance, we are gaining ground! We praise God that our meetings are filled with the life and presence of God through the Holy Spirit. When we gather, there is often "breakthrough" worship that pushes back the demonic host who have assembled to counteract all that is happening. Often in the midst of this worship, there is a strong prophetic flow that breaks forth which challenges and directs us. We have six Israeli men that share in the ministry of the Word, a thriving teens group and a flourishing Shabbat School and three dynamite worship teams! Our congregation is filled with people who are being drawn to the love and life of Yeshua. And we have confidence that this is just the beginning!   

Every single week after the main service we devote another hour and half to food fellowship. During these times new people are made to feel at home and when unbelievers attend a meeting, there is time to get to know them on a personal level.

This battle is not only being fought and won in our main meeting but the strategies of the enemy are being defeated throughout the week. Over the past month we had a brother's and a sister's "brunch" with sixteen brothers and thirty-four sisters attending their respective events! Nightly small groups of believers gather to share the gift of hospitality or just to pray together.

And finally in what may be our greatest victory, the Good News of Yeshua is not only being confined within the walls of our congregation but it is breaking out onto the streets of Jerusalem. Many of our people are students in Israel's universities. Others work in jobs in the secular work place and all of us live in the midst of a predominately unsaved Israeli society. The opportunities to relate to the "unsaved" are many.

Frequently I find myself in a store or restaurant speaking with the clerk or waiter about our faith. Another precious sister, until she gave birth to beautiful twin daughters last month oversaw dance outreaches on the streets of Jerusalem. Another brother who works in a store in Jerusalem often shares the Gospel with religious Jews who leave with much more than their desired purchase. Last week several of our people shared in depth with a young man who sought them out to answer many of his personal questions about his ultra-orthodox upbringing. Jackie and I have had two recent meetings with a young man who is open and very close to receiving Yeshua as his Lord.

When we consider the mighty battle that we are waging, we would be amiss if we did not take a moment and thank you for the loving, generous and supportive relationship that you have allowed us to share with you. We know that your prayers are effective. We are certain that your intercession on our behalf is making a way for us. We encourage you not to grow weary, as the struggle is ongoing and will intensify with each advance on our part. Every day there are new challenges, but through your prayers, the grace of God will overcome the resistance of the enemy. We are on a triumphant procession and we are certain that God's promise will be fulfilled and "all Israel will be saved".

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