Thursday, August 15, 2019

Learning Curve: 18th Anniversary | Arrows from Zion 8/14/2019

If I ever get around to writing my book on the believers in Israel, I think it is going to have to be titled, Learning Curve. Just looking at the photo file of my first visit to Israel in 2003, two years after starting the Israelprayer mailing list highlighted to me the early stages of that learning curve. It's a learning curve that awaits the international church to transition through. In God's due time, of course which I believe is now.

Coming alongside the believers in Israel is not only a sign of the final maturing of the church, but it will cause even greater maturing of the whole body of the LORD in the earth as it begins to unfold as God has planned in "one new man".

18th Anniversary Issue: Learning Curve
Several years ago I wrote: Israel Prayer ministry was born only month before the Islamist attack on America on 9/11. The Spring and Summer of 2001 I was working with Zola Levitt on a project to urge the Dallas Morning News not to back off of their investigative probing into the Hamas charity, the Holy Land Foundation, because of the intimidation of CAIR and local Islamist groups accusing the newspaper of religious bias.

If it had not been for my long time 'Israel watching' I wouldn't have had a clue how Middle Eastern terror groups used charities to gain support and to boost their street credibility. But I did know how Palestinian terror groups operated, and the discovery of their operation in my backyard - or even in my nation - was nothing that I could ever be silent on again.

When the attacks on America took place that Tuesday in September, Israel was in the middle of the Second Intifada. We came together with a strong sense of God's calling to learn how to pray in faith even under a constant barrage of real bombs and bullets threatening those you know and love.

We came together aware that because America chose to allow several Islamist terror groups to network in the United States, to raise "charity" funds to aid terrorism against Israel, that America would surely have to ultimately deal with terrorism against her own citizens. Appeasement never works. Only rising to the challenge of the fight before us works.

My personal stand is with Israel against the enemy of radical Islam and even though the United States has often made bad choices regarding how it attempts to juggle its own interests against radical Islam and Israel, I'm also fully dedicated to our own struggle in the war on terror.

September 11th will always be about Israel Prayer to me. It is as if history has entwined us together forever. 9/11 will always be about the call of God to war for Israel and America against a devious and treacherous foe - radical Islam.

Learning Curve #1
The Priority is not Primarily Defensive Prayers, but Advancing the Kingdom Prayers  

We spent the first three years or so, from 2001 to 2003 praying defensive prayers for Israel and for the Israeli Ministries, and we did see many miraculous times God protected believers in the Second Intifada. When I went to Israel for the first time in 2003, we made a point of going to the sites of recent suicide bomb attacks, a way of saying we would not be scared off by terrorism. That's why we went to the Sabarro Pizza that was suicide bombed in August 2001 with 15 civilians killed including 7 children and a pregnant woman. 130 were wounded in the attack.

We went to several such terror attack sites including the Café Hillel that had been bombed only a few weeks prior to our trip. 50 were injured in that attack and 7 killed including an ER doctor who had treated many terrorism victims. We met a young man who lived in that German Colony neighborhood who said he was still very shaken up by the terror attack. We told him we were Christians who love Israel. He responded that mostly what he encountered were Christians who loved the Palestinians and not the Israelis, but that he was comforted by our love for Israelis.

I still believe we are to be aware of the battle for ourselves and for Israel regarding the dangerous foe of radical Islam, but this was one of the earliest transitions that the Lord led me in my learning curve of praying for Israel: We are to pray for defense of Israel against enemies, but God's first priority for us is to pray for the believers in Israel who are advancing the kingdom of our LORD one salvation at a time. 

We didn't only visit terror attack sites in my first Israel visit. The major goal was to meet with as many of the Israeli ministries we could. This was the first time I met Eddie and Jackie Santoro, also Howard Bass. We went to the Mizrachi's Dugit Ministries outreach and there we met a Palestinian Christian "by chance" who we had prayed for as he was imprisoned the in last city that Israeli soldiers liberated from jail where prisoners of faith were being held, some killed and many tortured in 2002. The prayer requests for those Christian prisoners in Palestinian jails came from Jewish pastors in Ariel. We visited Eitan Shishkoff at Tents of Mercy in their new building, bigger and better than their facility which was firebombed by religious opposition.

We made the Beit Immanuel hotel in Jaffa our hub entering and departing Israel, getting to attend the services then led by David and Michaella Lazarus.

We made Netanya another hub where we met many of the ministries at a TJC2 meeting in the Beit Asaph congregation led by Evan Thomas. 

Later, in the north we went to the annual fellowship picnic for the Jewish and Christian Arab believers in the Lavi Forest outside Tiberias. I got goosebumps even in the Israeli heat as we walked into that campground. It was like prophetic history to me.

Being able to connect with ministries and meeting so many of the ministry leaders on that first trip moved me to the next level of focus for this prayer list. This is why I so encourage every Christian who goes to Israel not to just sightsee, but go to meet a few of the ministries there. If you can, lend a hand in helping them in what they are doing.

In 1948 there were only 29 documented Jews believers in Yeshua in Israel. Today the estimated number is more like 20,000 and growing day by day. Even in the past eighteen years of Israel prayer, mighty changes are everywhere. We see reports more and more about positive media coverage of Messianics in Israel and new openness among Israelis to learn more about the faith than ever before. That is why this prayer list focuses primarily on communicating the prayer needs of the Israeli ministries who are reaching the Israeli people with the Gospel.

That was a lesson we began to learn about three years into the prayer list, to shift the focus from defensive prayers to advancing the kingdom prayers. For example the following was written at the 3rd anniversary of the weekly summary:

     "We have learned many lessons over the past three years of weekly praying in agreement with the ministries in Israel.  By staying within that container of agreement with those on the front lines of the battle, the Lord has taught us much about how to intercede even for an embattled remnant within the most embattled nation in the world.

     "He imparts dreams and visions to His ministry leaders in Israel, they translate their visions to the congregations and to the intercessors, and together we labor for what God wills to release for His people.  (While we began thinking we would be praying primarily over the politics and the terrorists, we have found that God has a much longer list of priorities to speak to than just those things!)

     "Those on the battlefront have considerably more pertinent input than those with less invested who are viewing the war from faraway places.

     "The important thing is not things, it is people. What makes for a decrease in the ability to share the gospel is not what God asks us to pray for. We pray for the things that make sharing the gospel more possible.

     "Terrorists do not scare God. They scare people, but not God who over the past three years has demonstrated to us ten times over how able He is to answer our prayers for Israel's protection against enemies.  (When you have weekly contact with the Israeli ministries, you have a steady stream of praise reports of answered prayers of protection against terrorists.)"

I think we can apply that last statement to religious persecutors too. We pray from the place of trusting God, just like we prayed from that place during the Second Intifada.

It looks like I really do need to write Learning Curve because there is no way to share in one short article about all we have learned in the past 18 years of reading the week-in, week-out ministry letters from the Israeli ministries.

This is one thing I know: God's will for the international Church is to pray for and materially support the BELIEVERS of Israel who are advancing the Kingdom of our Lord among Israelis until "all Israel is saved." Like all of God's mandates for us, doing it will multiply blessing back to the international church beyond what we imagine. 
— Donna Diorio

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