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Auschwitz Memorial Walk & ICEJ-Germany

An Unusual Commemoration

“Here we are again, one year later: visiting Auschwitz, and then walking these 120 kilometers to commemorate the exceptional act of two Slovak Jews, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler. During the walk, old friends meet again and new friendships are struck up. Remembering those who never escaped from Auschwitz. Deep thoughts, light conversation, laughter and attentive listening to excerpts from books written by the two heroes. Anger, disappointment and reconciliation. New plans and ideas. Whatever you imagine.”

These are the words of a participant of the annual memorial walk from Oswiecim, Poland to Zilina, Slovakia. Since 2014, this walk has been organized by the Czech and Slovak branches of the ICEJ, to commemorate a heroic escape from the death camp in April 1944, motivated by the effort to save Hungarian Jews. The two Slovak escapees, Vrba and Wetzler, are credited with saving up to 200,000 lives; definitely something worth commemorating.

This commemoration is unique because it is not a ceremony or a classroom lecture, but it is action. People walk for six days, following in the footsteps of these heroes; exposed to the elements, sleeping in tents or simple mountain cabins. They spend time together, listen to the story of the escape, discover the authentic places, enjoy beautiful nature and have plenty of time for reflection. And, surprisingly, almost all of them return the next year to repeat this arduous, and yet richly rewarding experience. 

Their feedback might tell you why they return year after year:
“… Thank you for the wonderful week. Great cleansing of mind in the company of nice people. This year has been the best of all. I look forward to seeing you again next year.”

“Dear friends, thank you for your pleasant company of exceptional people during the walk in August. We will certainly see each other again.”

“Thank you for everything. It is wonderful that even after the walk is over, this community lives on. We are looking forward to the next meeting.” 

“Next year in Auschwitz” might sound strange, but actually, it is not a bad idea. Try it out. Check out the project website at www.vrbawetzler.eu where you will also find the application. I hope to see you there.
 

ICEJ-Germany hosts Yair Netanyahu at National Conference
-by ICEJ Staff

ICEJ-Germany held its annual national conference in Stuttgart in August, and invited Yair Netanyahu as a special guest to address the issue of German government funding of anti-Israel causes.

In recent months, German media outlets have been reporting extensively on the Berlin government’s direct and indirect grants to radical left-wing NGOs in Israel that seek to undermine Israeli policies and its democratic processes. The issue came to the fore after Yair Netanyahu, son of Israel’s prime minister, challenged German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a tweet to stop the funding.

In his well-received speech to the gathering of over 1,000 German Christians and Jewish community leaders in Stuttgart, Yair Netanyahu provided more background on the German government’s funding of leftist NGOs in Israel and the Palestinian territories. He asserted that Germany does not provide similar funding to NGOs in any other democratic country except for Israel. He also noted persistent reports of German support of Iran over recent years. In other remarks, Netanyahu gave a review of modern Israel’s rebirth, and spoke of Israel’s favorable treatment of its Christian community in contrast to the plight of Middle East Christians in neighboring Arab countries.

Visit to Haifa Home Impacts Feast Pilgrims From the Nations

A trip to the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors is never easy, but always deeply rewarding. “We are so happy someone travels here to visit us. I love all the people who come to listen to our stories”, Esti Liber, survivor and resident in the facility gratefully told a group of 32 Christians from 13 different nations, many of whom had never before met a Holocaust survivor.

On 16th October, these Feast of Tabernacles pilgrims joined ICEJ AID’s Haifa Home bus tour. What better way to bless Israel than by showing love and care for its most wounded inhabitants? “The home has become a symbol of hope in all of Israel”, Yudit Setz, Deputy Director of ICEJ Aid, and Jannie Tolhoek, ICEJ Aid Administrator, told the group on their way to Haifa. Shimon Sabag, Founder and Director of the Home, warmly welcomed the visitors at the facility. 

The home currently accommodates up to 70 residents, yet a new building under renovation will provide more advanced one-on-one care for 12 elderly survivors. Furthermore, three precious volunteers from Germany joined the ICEJ Haifa Team in September: Debora Wanner, Marlen Degen and Kerstin Hoffmann. “With the little help that we give, we can do a lot of good. That is so exhilarating”, Debora rejoiced. Volunteers face the challenges of adapting to a new culture, building relationships with the survivors and being available around the clock, and the ICEJ is most grateful for these young women. Prayers for them are much appreciated. 

“We only have around ten years left to affect the lives of the remaining survivors who have suffered more than we could ever imagine”, Yudit Setz pointed out. The question is: What will we do with these years? One possibility is to support the work of ICEJ at the Haifa Home.
We also need more volunteers at the Haifa Home, especially for social media. If you desire more information, please contact Yudit Setz at: yudit.setz@icej.org

Join us in supporting and comforting the Jewish people! 

A Happy Jewish New Year From St. Petersburg to Jerusalem

Rosh Hashanah, known as the Jewish New Year, is a time of prayer and celebration. This year it fell on the first days of October, and the weeks before were especially busy for ICEJ’s Homecare. It is traditional to give and receive gifts during this holiday, so a group in the Netherlands with hearts for Holocaust Survivors ensured that 90 elderly Russian Jews, mainly in poor health, would not be forgotten. Therefore, on their behalf, 90 gifts were prepared and 90 extra home visits were made.

The beautiful packages contained handmade soap, a ceramic soap tray and small towel. Each gift included a greeting card with words of encouragement and Scripture for those who may feel lonely and uprooted in the land in which they were not born, but to where they made Aliyah. Each visit was warm and welcoming with various stories shared. There were happy childhood memories of how Rosh Hashanah was celebrated within their family, but also some painful memories of the loss of loved ones. “You bring us always, light and joy,” said an elderly couple with tears in their eyes. “You bring the world into my life,” said a lady who is wheelchair bound and without family, as she stretched her arms wide open to indicate the love she was receiving. 

Meanwhile, back in their former homeland, ICEJ’s Russian Branch Director Howard Flower, was also busy preparing for Rosh Hashanah. He visited a Jewish Community Centre to distribute gifts of clothing, food parcels and pharmacy vouchers. The Holocaust Survivors, war veterans, and invalids who received these gifts of love, struggle economically with inadequate pensions.

Their particular circumstances make it impossible for them to immigrate to Israel, but, “We try to do what we can for them,” says Howard. In the old homeland of St. Petersburg and the new homeland of Jerusalem, hearts were touched on this significant Jewish holiday by the love of Christians from the nations.

Support the life changing work of Homecare!

ICEJ in the Balkans & Holland - ICEJ International

Shaping History through Prayer in the Balkans
Macedonia, a federal state in former Yugoslavia, occupies a small area in the Western Balkans, between Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, the name “Macedonia” became a problem for the Greeks who could not accept that the name, historically associated with Greece, should be used by another country. The impasse lasted for more than two decades until, in 2018, the leaders of Greece and the former Yugoslav republic agreed the country would be called North Macedonia. Local Christians shared with ICEJ a fascinating story behind this breakthrough which does not get reported in secular media. 

A group of intercessors from the Balkan countries had been meeting in different locations throughout the region to pray for healing, reconciliation and forgiveness; something this blood-drenched part of the world really needs. A few months ago, these intercessors met at a small town on the shores of the Prespa Lake and, during the prayer time, sensed spiritual breakthrough. Soon afterwards, the leaders of Greece and Macedonia met in the same town at the very same hotel and announced they had reached an agreement regarding the name of the country. 

When an international team and Mojmir Kallus, ICEJ Vice President of International Affairs, visited the region in September, they met several of the intercessors, and discovered the involvement of several ICEJ national leaders in this group. We rejoice at having found such faithful partners. Against this backdrop, we are full of confidence that the recently established branches in Bulgaria and Albania will continue to prosper. The newest addition is ICEJ-Macedonia, which was opened after a short preparatory work on 10 September 2019. National Director and professional musician, Asparuh Hadji Hristov, is supported by a board of pastors representing the Body of Christ in the country. We wish them much blessing for their work on behalf of Israel.
 

Holland Branch Hosts Summer Conference

Recently, ICEJ-Netherlands held its annual Summer Conference at a Christian retreat center in southern Holland which drew nearly five hundred Dutch believers from all over the country. National Director Dr. Jacob Keegstra (right) and his wife Hennie hosted the three-day gathering and David Parsons (left) came from Jerusalem to be the featured speaker.

Supporting Israelis in Times of Crisis

Israeli Security Officials Receive 21 ICEJ First Responder Kits

Sadot Negev security officials came together just outside an army base in the southern region of Israel to receive First Responder kits, donated by the ICEJ. As each officer received a backpack filled with tools and equipment to help them better respond in a crisis, they gave the ICEJ heartfelt thanks. Our ICEJ Aid director Nicole Yoder explained that Christians are providing these emergency response tools to Israeli communities because “We love this nation and we know that you as security officials have a challenging job to protect your communities along the border. We pray for you often, however, we also want to help in a practical way. May these tools help those first on the scene of crisis to respond quickly to save lives.”

The Security Chief of the Sadot Negev Region, Rafi Babian, shared his deep gratitude towards the ICEJ by saying, “Thank you very much for the first responder equipment, but also for all the calls from you to see how we were doing during times of crisis. It warms our hearts that there are people standing with us. We have many trained people, but we needed the right equipment. And now we have it. Thank you very much. Please continue to pray for the peace of the residents and the blessing of God.”

Thank you for your generous gifts to bless the Jewish people, allowing them to better prepare for times of crisis. Help us continue to stand with Israel today: int.icej.org/aid/israel_in_crisis
 

Destroyed by Fire, Yet Revived by Community
Five short kilometers from the Gaza border sits Kfar Aza, a small community regularly targeted by Gaza terrorists. Early September, ICEJ Aid received a grand tour of this strong and humble community Shai Hermesh, 75-year-old Kfar Aza resident. A former Knesset member who served in Israel’s parliament for seven years, Shai is down-to-earth, yet extremely resilient and passionate about people, politics, and the rights for Israelis to live in the land that belongs to Israel. He has been a mighty defender of his community and nation, even in the most life-threatening moments where Gaza continually launched rocket, mortar and fire raids at their homes and land.

As we walked the streets of this beautiful and peaceful area, we realized this place is not always so tranquil. Shai explained, “It is so peaceful, and yet it can be interrupted in a second.” Due to the continual attacks from Gaza, there are shelters every 150 meters throughout the kibbutz. The ICEJ has donated several shelters and a sheltered room, and we have recently donated to the reconstruction of their park which was destroyed by fire kites from Gaza. The people in this community were not willing to let their destroyed piece of land remain desolate; therefore, they asked for help to turn their burnt fields into a beautiful park. The park will serve as a gathering place for the kibbutz and is expected to be completed in February 2020. Thanks to God and your generous gifts for turning what the enemy meant for evil into something great: A beautiful park full of new trees, plants, fruit, and life!

The Gaza Border Region

The Gaza border region: Visiting some of Israel’s most vulnerable communities
 

During the Feast of Tabernacles, 45 delegates toured one of Israel’s most vulnerable regions: Eshkol and Sha’ar HaNegev. Bordering the Gaza strip, these communities are often targeted by terrorists’ fire missiles, mortars and balloons equipped with flammables and explosive devices. Our tour was accompanied by ICEJ-Aid Director Nicole Yoder and Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, Executive Director of Operation Lifeshield, with whom ICEJ cooperates in setting up bomb shelters in vulnerable areas. 

In Kibbutz Magen we visited a karate club where children as young as four learn to defend themselves with their mere bodies. This form of self-defence is insufficient against rockets, so the students now also have access to a bomb shelter located right outside the building, thanks to the generous donation of ICEJ Switzerland. Following demonstration of a firefighting ATV, Ilan Isaacson, Head of Security of the Eshkol region, briefed us on the current security situation. Overlooking Khan Yunis, Gaza’s second largest city, we could sense Ilan’s sympathy towards the people of Gaza, also held hostage by terror organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and his deep hope that one day Israelis and Gazans would freely engage with each other as in the past. As we were listening, a fire balloon was reported near the Kibbutz we had been moments before.

Our final stop was Hetz Shachor, where the Deputy Head of Security of the Sha’ar HaNegev region explained how the local population stands together in administering trauma treatment and developing programs to build resilience. Their biggest challenge is not the missiles themselves, but the resulting traumatic effects on the residents. Since the first missiles were fired in 2001, an entire generation of children have grown up knowing nothing but a persistent missile barrage. People suffer from sleepless nights, depression and relive their trauma, unable to find closure. Nevertheless, Israelis from all parts of the country are moving to these areas and the population is steadily growing. Many are stirred by a deep love for the land and by the strong sense of community felt throughout these regions. Please support the ICEJ Israel in Crisis fund and help provide life-saving bomb shelters and equipment for Israeli communities who live in the frontline of terrorism.

Petra Winter from Germany explaine, “Most of all I was impressed by the locals’ resilience. They could easily leave the area, but they choose to stay. I was very reluctant to join this trip today. During the morning devotion I suddenly felt an impulse that I had to come and see how the people here live. What caught my attention was that in Gaza, children are being trained to fight and kill, in Israel we saw children being trained in karate to defend themselves. Children on both sides are being deprived of their childhood.” 

ICEJ TV Team in Germany & New office Now Open!

“Encounter Israel” Team Encounters New Stories in Germany
By: Kayla Muchnik

The ICEJ TV Production team, headquartered in Jerusalem, travelled to Germany this summer to report on the dark history of anti-Semitism and how Christians can take a stand again anti-Semitism today! As a German native, ICEJ President Jürgen Bühler personally shared stories about his family helping Jews during the Holocaust. He also interviewed German Christians who saw God move mightily when the city of Berlin was divided by the Berlin Wall. Many new Encounter Israel programs are currently in production highlighting this time in Germany, so subscribe to our YouTube and vimeo channels, as well as our email updates to see these new and powerful videos! Explore videos here: youtube.com/user/ICEJVideos & vimeo.com/icej

Sign up to receive our latest ministry updates and videos: int.icej.org/join
 

New Offices Open for Visitors

The ICEJ has completed renovations at our new offices at 38 Pierre Koenig Street, in Jerusalem’s Talpiyot neighbourhood and we are now ready to receive visitors, including tour groups. If you would like to pay us a visit or bring your tour group, we would be glad to host you! Please write us at icej@icej.org and give us details on your group and when you would like to visit. Or call us at +972-2-539-9700. 

Prayer & New Seminars at Feast 2019

New Language Seminars At the Feast

French Speakers Gather for a New Beginning • By Camille Troc
On the second day of the Feast, around 300 pilgrims from 19 different French-speaking nations gathered for a special French-language seminar in the Pais Arena. The French-speaking world is varied and dispersed, so the goal was to come together and pray for unity. Speakers from Africa, Europe and several island nations shared briefly about the political, economic and spiritual state of their nations, followed by a list of specific prayer points. Then, to engage the whole room in active intercession, we split into small groups to pray for the specific needs.

It was encouraging to see their zeal and fire in prayer, and God’s presence was tangible. For two hours, we were actors in an historic moment and accomplished much through our prayers. Despite major cultural differences, our struggles are the same: We all face a serious attack on our Judeo-Christian values and imminent persecution, whether active or passive. So we came together as brothers and sisters in the Lord and proclaimed healing and salvation over our nations and concluded the meeting with the Aaronic blessing.

This is just the beginning of something greater: New relationships, a growing network of Spirit-filled, pro-Israel, French-speaking believers, and revival for our nations.

Chinese believers rejoice as ‘one new man’ • By Haifa Lu
On Wednesday afternoon, Chinese believers from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, USA, UK and Australia gathered together for the very first Chinese Feast Seminar. Messianic Pastor Ariel Blumenthat shared about the vision of the One New Man. He explained to the attendees that the One New Man is not about taking a photo with a Rabbi, following the Jewish tradition, or having Shabbat meals with a Jewish family. It is about what Jesus accomplished on the Cross, when he broke down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles. Then Ariel brought a profound teaching on Ephesians chapter two. Living in China for two years gave Ariel a heart for the Chinese and a good understanding of their mindset and culture. He mentioned the peace Jesus made is also for the Chinese people: They are as one in Christ. At the end of the meeting, attendees prayed together for the next generation Chinese to fully walk in the unity and promised destiny they have received in Christ Jesus. 

Through Pastor Ariel’s message and the time of corporate prayer, the Holy Spirit released great freedom and joy in the attendees’ hearts! All praise to Jesus for the peace He made on the Cross, for Jews and Gentiles, for the Chinese, and for all nations! All glory to Jesus!

Prayer for the Nations in the Succah 
By: Twyla Ayton, Prayer Feast Team, Canada

As a first-time prayer team member and Feast attendee, I was totally stunned at the fresh perspective God gave me on Zechariah 14:16-19. Although already underlined in my Bible, the passage came to life this week as if I were hearing it for the first time. Here I was, praying in a Succah alongside delegates from over 100 nations – including Egypt – in the heart of Jerusalem. Something extra special happened when people from many nations came each morning before the Lord in the Prayer Succah and presented themselves on behalf of their country in prayer and petition. I loved the prayer tent! Whether or not you understood the language being spoken, it was so natural to agree in Spirit. A fellow team member told me that because of knowing me, it gave her a heart for my country and enlarged her tent pegs.

One morning I arrived at the Prayer Succah totally exhausted and unsure how I was going to carry on. I petitioned God and asked a team member to pray for me. But when the first person began to pray in a completely different language than my own, it felt as though a lightning bolt went right through me, and I felt a heaviness break off me! I knew from that moment on, I was going to be okay and my perspective totally changed. Praise God! I would encourage you to come to the Feast of Tabernacles to represent your nation and when you are here, join us in the Prayer Succah to stand in the gap for your country and others! 

"And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." (Zechariah 14:16-19)

ICEJ Aid Gifts At Feast Booth

Every year at the Feast of Tabernacles, the ICEJ AID has a booth in the Pais Arena and many pilgrims bring gifts for the Jewish people. Items are often homemade, and from locations around the world, bringing a wonderful intercultural flavour. When Israelis receive these gifts, they are greatly touched to know that Christians from all around the world are standing with them. This year there were several gifts donated, and thus the ICEJ AID team was able to create care packages with these donated items and give them to the new Olim who were guests at the Feast on Israeli Guest Night.

Final Day of the Feast 2019

The Spirit of Prayer Descends on Jerusalem
By: Kayla Muchnik

The closing session at the Tower of David opened with songs of praise echoing off the Old City walls of Jerusalem, and powerfully sealed all that God had done throughout the Feast. “This could be the most important session of the Feast, because we are going to pray”, ICEJ President Jürgen Bühler said in his welcome. “The basis of everything in our lives is the Word of God”, Jürgen stated. “Jesus fought the enemy by saying, ‘It is written.’” As the crowd prayed in the Tower of David, near the very place where Jesus was tried before Pilate in Herod’s Palace, Jürgen declared: “I believe we will make decisions today that will change our lives and nations.” Rev. Juha Ketola petitioned for God to pour out the spirit of prayer, enabling us to pray in agreement with God’s heart. “I want him to roll off the shame of Egypt in my life”, Juha explained. “I want to walk in the supernatural power of prayer and His word.” 

David Parsons led a time of prayer for Succot joy and laughter in the Holy Spirit, and Mojmir Kallus oversaw a series of prayers for the nations. During this time of prayer, an Egyptian brother approached Jürgen and said, “Put your glasses on and look into the sky. Do you see the double rainbow?” A God-given sign He truly was with us. Through each day of the Feast, the Holy Spirit wove a common thread of truth: We must go back to the Beginning; we must go back to the Word of God! God spoke and created; everything foundational in our faith is revealed to us in His Word, the Bible. We pray God will bring you back to the great Beginnings in His Word, and launch you into a grand, new beginning with Him! 

Love Above All Else
By: Ryan Tsuen, ICEJ Graphic Designer

Love above all else. These were the first words that came to mind as I looked at the many people gathered around me on the final morning of ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles 2019. In this historic, iconic landmark of the Old City of Jerusalem – the Museum of the Tower of David – pilgrims entered into a powerful time of worship and prayer. This closing session of the week-long festivities is always a cherished and precious time: To pray and reflect on what God had done throughout the week; to contemplate things He had spoken to us individually, and as a Body; and to “pray it forward” as we interceded on behalf of our own nations and the Body of Christ around the world. 

As leaders and representatives stepped forward to pray, the Lord ignited a fresh fire of passion and a deeper desire for His Word. Jürgen Bühler released an exhortation to the Feast pilgrims “to be a people who treasure the Word of God…[because] the basis of everything in our lives is the Word of God”. It is this Word that existed in the Beginning; this Word that became flesh and atoned for the sins of the world; this Word that is God’s love letter to His people.
What a unique and memorable time to be standing side-by-side among the many people of the nations gathered here in Jerusalem, the city so dear to the Father’s heart.

Learning Together in the Succah
Each year, in preparation for the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles, an outdoor Succah is erected on the grounds of Jerusalem’s Pais Arena. The Succah is a “hidden gem” of the Feast, serving as a gathering place for pilgrims to intercede for their nations and each other, experience the festive atmosphere of this annual Jewish tradition of “sitting together in the Succah”, and gain greater perspective of the Feasts of the Lord through daily seminars. Dr Jacob Keegstra, ICEJ-Netherlands National Director and author of “God’s Prophetic Feasts”, provided an excellent introduction to Succot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. Keegstra discussed the biblical background, what Jesus did, and the prophetic significance of this particular Feast of the Lord. Rabbi Shmuel Bowman, Executive Director of Operation Lifeshield and Torah Scribe (Sofer STaM) spoke on the mystery of the Hebrew “Alefbet”, the significance of how the Torah begins, and tied it together with the Hebrew Torah’s final word: Israel. Daniel Goldstein, founder of Jerusalem-based Jewels of Judaism, walked through the various biblical and Jewish calendars and helped attendees begin to decipher – and embrace – the mystery of the biblical calendar, the Hebrew months, and the annual Feasts of the Lord. All three seminars are available as MP3 downloads at ICEJstore.com, and come highly recommended.

New in 2019
Thank you to Chris Mitchell, CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief, for serving as MC for the Feast’s evening celebrations in the Pais Arena.

Jerusalem March & Israeli Night - Feast 2019

Winds of Change in the Middle East
Pilgrims arrived early Thursday morning for prayer and worship ahead of the day’s rich and thought-provoking seminars. Rev. Mats-Ola Iskhoel oversees a network of 400 churches in Russia and brought a hope-filled challenge: “Sometimes, we start off in life with a dream and it doesn’t work out, but God takes the clay and starts over and He makes something beautiful. This is the story of Israel… If the clay of your life is marred, He can take it and start over and make something beautiful despite what came before.” In Breakthrough in Saudi Arabia, CBN’s Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell discussed Saudi Arabia’s incredible transformation, such as the Saudi Crown Prince’s recent meeting with Evangelical Christian leaders, and ‘Vision 2030’, the government’s initiative to diversify their economy and attract Christian tourism. Chris’ interview with three young Saudis highlighted the impact of these sweeping reforms, especially for women. Then in a dramatic moment, author Joel Richardson addressed the audience from the possible site of Mt. Sinai in the Saudi desert via a live Skype call and openly displayed a Bible, reading from Isaiah 60. Richardson led this first-ever tour for Christian tourists to the Saudi Kingdom. 

Ingolf Ellssel, ICEJ Board chairman, gave a prophetic perspective on current events, stressing: “If God is doing something new, He first reveals it to His prophets.” Ellssel pointed to Deuteronomy 30:3, explaining God will first gather His people and then redeem them. Christian involvement is so crucial, since every revival requires prayer beforehand. Despite dark times, Ellssel encouraged prayer and time in God’s Word as our highest priority, adding: “God is still sovereign; these difficulties will not destroy us, they will bring us back to God.”

Local Believers and their challenges were addressed by a panel of Jewish and Arab pastors living in the Holy Land.
• Messianic pastor Berlie Belay described the Ethiopian community in Israel’s unique situation: “God is using the Ethiopian Jews for a new revival” and thanked the attendees “for what you are doing [through the ICEJ] in bringing the Ethiopian Jews back to Israel.”
• Ashdod pastor Israel Pochtar said, “When I share with my neighbors about the love of Christians… my neighbors have a hard time believing me.”
• Discussing the spiritual life of the local Christian Arab community, Jerusalem pastor Basaam Adranley reported “seven Arabs were baptised last month and many are coming to know the Lord… There is a big struggle against what God is about to do” but they continue to persevere: “When we feel like we have lost our vision, God tells us to stand because He is faithful. 

Jerusalem March
Each year, the festive Jerusalem March is a highlight for both our Feast pilgrims who march and the tens of thousands of Israelis who line the streets of Jerusalem to greet them. This year, thousands of Christians from over 100 nations, attired in national costumes and waving their flags, paraded once more through the streets of Jerusalem to express solidarity and love to the people of Israel. As the nations lined up in Sacher Park, Chayapat from Thailand, dressed in his traditional Thai costume, said: “We appreciate so much to walk and see all the nations as one family, and to show all of the Jewish people that we love them because of Yeshua.”

The Jerusalem March is an event that must be experienced to fully understand the impact, both on the Israeli spectators and Christian marchers. Petra Gorny, a Feast volunteer from Germany, shared: “The March was awesome because it was a witness of just how many people from the nations love Israel. One could see how the local Israelis were touched by this, and sense how much they desired to be accepted both by their neighbours and other nationalities, and the Jerusalem March is proof this can be achieved.” Rene from the Cook Islands was the youngest in her group: “This is my first year at the Feast and I am 14 years old. It is really nice and I want to come back next year. It has been fun to interact with other people. God has a new beginning for me. I am not sure yet what it is, but I am excited.” Moises Vasquez from Australia (pictured above) marched with other Aussies while using his phone to live-stream through ICEJ’s official Facebook page, allowing our friends and followers from around the world to virtually walk amongst the pilgrims. “The waves of people from every tongue, tribe and nation set the city abuzz, and smiling faces of all ages lined both sides of the streets”, recalled Moises. “It’s become one of my best highlights and why wouldn’t it when I get to yell out ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ in Jerusalem and hear back the response ‘Oi, Oi, Oi’!” 

As thousands of Christians declared God’s love for the Jewish people and Israel, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to receive this “hug” from the nations. As one family expressed it, “It’s beautiful and they come here every year. They come only because they love Israel. It is amazing!” 

Historic Skype call: Saudi Arabia to Jerusalem’s Main Stage
History was made when Feast pilgrims witnessed a live Skype call between Dr Bühler from the main stage of the Pais Arena in Jerusalem to Christian author Joel Richardson speaking LIVE from Al Bayad, Saudi Arabia, believed to be the actual site of Mt. Sinai. During the Special Presentation: Breakthrough in Saudi Arabia, Feast pilgrims watched in amazement at the big screens as Joel pointed out the possible Altar to the Golden Calf behind him, then turned 180 degrees to show Mt. Sinai – where Moses would have received the law directly from God’s hand – with the split rock clearly visible in the foreground. During the call, Joel openly held up his Bible and read from it, something which would have been unthinkable until now.

The Nations Celebrate With Israeli Guests
After an exciting afternoon of enthusiastic marching through Jerusalem, pilgrims filled the Arena for a spectacular evening with our Israeli friends. Ray Sidney and his international choir knocked it out of the park with their explosive worship to the King of Kings. Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency spoke of the Christian Embassy’s vital role in bringing the Jewish people back to Israel: “We are following in the footsteps of the Bible and the prophets in the redemption of the Jewish people, and therefore we are doing it with partners. And one of our most important strategic partners is the ICEJ”, he said. “It’s an incredible organisation that works with us, and personally, since I started my long political and public career I have found the ICEJ in many spheres of life in Israel.” Herzog then presented Dr Jürgen Bühler with an award on behalf of the Jewish Agency for Israel. On the award was inscribed Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” 

Nehemiah Award honors lifetime achievement
The ICEJ also presented its annual Nehemiah Award to Rev. Michael Utterback, a Christian leader with a lifetime of achievements in building support for Israel and the Jewish people. An ordained minister with the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee, Rev. Utterback first established Ministry to Israel (MTI) in 1988 in response to a unique vision to become engaged in the great Ingathering of the Jewish people back to their ancient homeland in Israel. In 1991, Utterback’s MTI began partnering with ICEJ and other organisations to assist Jewish families in making the journey home to Israel. Over the next 30-plus years, he thrust himself into facilitating Aliyah: From fishing activities across vast expanses of Russia, to sponsoring transport operations and airline flights, to planting new immigrants securely in the Land of Israel. Including Aliyah efforts of the ICEJ, Ezra International, and his own MTI, Michael Utterback assisted tens of thousands of Jewish people to return to Israel. In receiving the award, Michael shared, “I am very honoured. The ICEJ has been in my heart for many years.” He also observed, “There is no other nation like the nation of Israel. This is a land of miracles. It is in the DNA of every Jew. Miracles are not a strange thing for Jewish people… The fact that Israel exists is a modern-day miracle. There is a good reason why.”

“Our dear Jewish friends that are here tonight, many of you have made Aliyah to this land. I want to tell you that YOU are a miracle. You are witnesses to the nations of the earth that the God of Israel keeps His promises. You had to come back to this land, so that the nations could know that the God of Israel is truly God.” Quoting the prophet Jeremiah, he underscored the prophetic significance of Gentile involvement in Aliyah. “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and tell it to the isles far off, He who scattered Israel will gather them.” Addressing Israeli guests, he added: “You are here tonight because it is God Himself who brought you. He brought you to Himself so He could embrace you and show you how much He loves you... Your God is watching over Israel tonight and He cares about you. I want you to know that I love you too.” 

For over 30 years, Rev. Michael Utterback has travelled worldwide and spoken as an advocate for Israel. His roles with the ICEJ included Liaison to Churches, International Director, and member of the ICEJ’s international Board of Trustees. Today, Michael remains active in Aliyah and absorption efforts with MTI and as International Director for Ezra International. Michael and his wife Gina live in Jerusalem and have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

Renowned violinist Serguei Popov came to the stage for his traditional Feast solo performance, yet this year he was accompanied on the piano by an old friend from musical college days. This was no ordinary “old friend”, but Roman Polanski, Director of Russian Aliyah for the Jewish Agency.
This past spring, Roman was a guest speaker at an ICEJ reception in Jerusalem, where he reconnected with Serguei after 35 years apart, only to find both were now fully involved in Aliyah work, with Serguei serving as ICEJ’s Coordinator for the Central Asian Republics.

A troupe of Taiwanese dancers brought excitement and cultural flavour to Israeli Guest Night. With exotic, colourful costumes, skilled dancers performed tribal dances of worship to the Lord, involving long bamboo sticks which fellow dancers moved in unison under their feet with speed and precision. It was truly a flawless performance which left the audience in awe of this unique Chinese tradition.

New in 2019 International Gospel Choir Debuts for Israeli Guests
By Fiona Chow, Media Feast Team, Finland

Months ago, Feast Executive Producer Michael Mann reached out to Feast worship alum Ray Sidney with this request: “I would love to have a Holy Ghost party on Israeli night with a large gospel choir on stage worshipping our King. Is this at all possible?” In faith, Ray responded with an enthusiastic, ¨Yes!¨ Ray, an American Gospel singer who has served on the Feast worship team, immediately shared the idea with two long-time Feast singers from Finland, Linda Laukkkonen and Fiona Chow, who he was visiting. Within a few months, thirty singers had committed to sing, and the ICEJ’s first-ever International Gospel Choir was born. Compromised of singers from six nations (Finland, Canada, Fiji, Norway, the Philippines and the USA), the choir’s energy, unity and strong message of hope had the audience dancing and praising through every song. Everyone agreed this was an historic moment at the Feast that should become an annual feature of Israeli Guest Night.

 

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