08 Jan

My Time in the Jaffa House

I’m 20 years old and before starting Bible college I wanted to go to Israel to Trumpet of Salvation. When I first noticed that the times of big evangelism groups were over, I was a little disappointed, but I still felt I should come. I decided to come to the Jaffa House for a whole month without knowing anybody there and without having a clue what I would be doing there. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to serve God and evangelize. I thought if God is my employer and I’m the employee He will provide a job for me. Nobody hires a person if he doesn’t have a task for the person.
When I arrived at the Jaffa House in the middle of the night, I was so exhausted after almost getting lost in Istanbul and several other problems, but really thankful that God has brought me here safely.
And then a chain of blessings started. I immediately fell in love with the Jaffa House and the people coming and going, also with Elisheva’s food. I met lots of nice people that taught me how to talk to Jewish people about the Messiah and who took me to the streets to evangelize. We had conversations with a great variety of people, and we gave away many books.
During these times I learned a lot about the culture, the people and contemporary Israel. I also won a bunch of new friends from all over the globe. I have invitations to the Netherlands, Kyoto Japan, Los Angeles, Switzerland, Botswana…
One other team member took me to an organization in Tel Aviv that cares for prostitutes and women from the streets addicted to drugs. It’s a beautiful place where women help other women, they treat them with love by giving them food, clean clothes, showers, doing their hair and nails, safe beds and a peaceful atmosphere, I enjoyed helping.
I also enjoyed the congregation that Elisheva and Jacob are going to (Grace and Truth in Gedera). It’s a very welcoming, multicultural fellowship and the sermon is translated into English, Russian and sign language. Especially the Shabbat dinner there was very nice.
After church service we often went to the farm and had guests for lunch. Who hasn’t been there on the farm, has to go visit. It’s the most beautiful place in Israel and I hope and pray that some day there will be the Tabernacle where Jewish people can hear the symbolic meaning of all the items in a Messianic way, just like Jacob and Elisheva were always dreaming. God will provide a person that can organize this huge project.
One of the biggest gifts God gave me during my Jaffa House time was Elisheva’s Ukulele. I really wanted to pack my own, but I figured it wouldn’t fit into my suitcase. And without even being asked God made sure I had one and could go to the beach and play worship songs there and in the Jaffa House.

09 Jan

God is working and moving

Jaffa House – December 2022

What a blessing… again. 

After meeting Jacob and Elisheva in 2000 on a group campaign, I have returned 4 times to visit, fellowship, and serve. This latest time (2022) was possibly the biggest blessing. It seems like a long time coming, but I am reminded that God is not slow. His timing is perfect.

Although I have prayed often for the Lord to gift me with evangelism, He has chosen to not gift me in that way… yet. However, He provides opportunities in other ways for me to be a blessing in the background, to serve, and sometimes surprises me with unexpected and unplanned opportunities to share the Good News about Yeshua with locals. When I expected it the least, He moved.

I was walking 45 minutes north on the beach promenade around 6:00 a.m. as I do each day to pray and thank the Lord (I wish I listened more… I’m still working on that one). After about a week of this routine, I saw a man that I realized I see each morning, sitting on a bench. He is overweight by about 20kg, probably 65 years old, and Israeli. Walking along the promenade at this time each day, one notices that almost everyone is in a hurry to exercise before the day starts. It is a very different vibe than 10:00 a.m. and later, when everyone slows down and just enjoys a stroll. L., the man I saw each day, was typical in some ways (doing strange exercises as many Israelis do), sitting on the same bench each morning, doing arm circles, some “sitting push-ups,” some leg extensions, etc. Yet, in another way, he was very atypical: he made eye contact and returned my Hebrew greeting. So, one morning, after seeing him for several days in a row, I saw him about 50 meters ahead of me doing his usual thing. “Lord, I’m going to say hi and see where You take this. Please go before me and prepare him.” I greeted him in Hebrew, said a few sentences, and asked if he spoke English. “K’zat (a little),” he said. We spoke a bit, and I jumped the gun. I said I had a gift I would like to bring him tomorrow. “Are you a Christian?” he asked me. I said, “I love the God of Israel, I believe the Tanach, and I’m trying to get to know God better every day. I’d love to give you a book written by my friend, Yacob Damkani. He lives just over there, in Jaffa.” L. accepted. I brought the book the next day. The day after that, I saw him, and I asked him if he had read any yet. He said, “No. On Shabbat.” I only saw L. one more time. We briefly chatted, and I told him I was leaving Israel tomorrow. He said, “It was nice meeting you.” I thanked him and left it at that. Missed opportunity. Possibly.

A few days later, I was at the Jaffa House alone. A pest control expert was coming to remove a… “guest.” There was a rat who was eating a lot from the food pantry and leaving his mark. The pest control expert showed up: M. He was very friendly. After he assessed the situation, he walked out to his motor-scooter. He looked at the house curiously and asked, “So, what kind of place is this?” I said it was a house where people come from all over the world to learn about Israel, the history of Israel, the God of Israel, and Yeshua the Messiah. That woke him up a bit. “Are all of these people Christians?” I said that most were, but there were Jews who come also. He looked interested. I told him I’d love to give him a book by the house owner, who is Jewish and follows Yeshua. I ran inside, grabbed one, and returned. He opened it and noticed many scriptures from the Tanakh. He said, “What is this book about? I see many writings from the Prophets.” I explained again that it was a book about the life story of the author and home owner, who as a Jew, realized that God introduced Himself through Yeshua. He said he could not read such a book because he was Orhodox. “Orthodox?!” I said with a surprised look (because he was not wearing the kippah, the tzit-tzit, black and white, nor did he have a beard. There was nothing that said “Orthodox” about him. Nevertheless, we continued to chat. He said he could not read the B’rit Hadasha (New Testament) either because it was a bad book. I asked him what was bad about it. He didn’t know. I told him it was simply a book about Yeshua’s life and activities… that Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly… all 613 instructions. M. looked shocked. He said he’d be willing to read it then. I ran inside to grab one, but in my panic, and NEVER thinking this was going to happen, I couldn’t find one (in the Jaffa House we have complete Bibles – Old and New Testament, we prefer to give the whole book). It was ok. He was at least willing. He took Jacob’s book AND my phone number. Hopefully we can chat down the road. 

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, God humbled me. That same afternoon, just 3 hours after the Exterminator, God blew the doors open on this non-evangelist. Elisheva had told me an atheist tour guide, Y., who is wonderful, will stop by with a “few” clients to see the grave of Thomas Hodgkins in the backyard. Cool. Normally, Elisheva greets them with her warmth and says something like, “We are glad you’re here; we simply ask that as you leave you would allow us to offer you a book.” They always agree. They don’t always take a book, but they always agree to allow Elisheva to offer. Well, my phone buzzed. It was Y. “Ben! I’ll be there in 5 minutes.” Two minutes later (I thought Israelis were notoriously late?) I see a few people gathered at the end of the alley way that leads to the Jaffa house. I assume this is Y. It is. But, as he approaches, I notice he does not have a few clients. It is a mob… over 40. Oh my. They come in and Y. takes control, “Ben, I think it would be best if I just take them all straight to the graveyard. I’ll talk to them there, then we’ll meet on the back patio, and I’ll clean up the chairs later.” I agreed. But, so many came in so fast that I did not have time to offer them a book. I could only greet and welcome them. Ten minutes passed and I was a bit disappointed that I missed the opportunity. I wondered, “How can I fix this.” Within 2 minutes, God did. Y. came running in the house, “Ben, can you come outside (It wasn’t a question)? I want to interview you and allow my clients to ask you questions about Messianic Judaism.” Although I was shocked and nervous, no was not even an option. “Sure.”  

For almost 40 minutes, mostly in Hebrew, Y. and his clients asked me questions about what Messianic believers believe, read, celebrate, emphasize, etc. They listened intently as I explained that the idea of one God came from Israel, the Messiah is from Israel, the message and knowledge of Yeshua left Israel to go throughout the entire planet, and is returning to Israel to make Jews jealous. The 40+ kibbutz residents were nearly all nodding their heads in a non-verbal “amen.” Y., the atheist tour guide was digging in deeper, defending me and explaining when there were challenges and misunderstandings, and being quiet most of the time (unusual for a veteran Israeli tour guide). After we finished, all came inside to use the bathrooms, sit and rest, and play the piano while Y. played the flute (like an expert). Many had more questions for me. Many thanked me. MANY took books. I could NOT believe it. “Lord, if I could not believe it, does that show lack of faith in who You are?” What a blessing. What an honor. What a sense of humor God has, too. “Ben, you wanted to evangelize? L. was warm up, M. was practice, this latest opportunity was the grand finale… for this time.”  

I asked Y. later in a text how it went. He thanked me and said, “Ben you showed them the “nice face of faith.”

Thank You, Abba. Holy Spirit, You moved through me. Amazing. 

When visible faces and main actors change in ministries, the ministries often die/disappear. Jacob, Trumpet’s main face, is currently not very visible; he is inactive (although he IS visibly listening). People from all over the world, who have heard of Jacob, met Jacob, and/or been blessed by him through his heart and teaching come to visit regularly. Although Jacob cannot speak, he CAN communicate a bit. He smiles, he watches you, he reaches out to you with his left arm if you reach towards him, he “dances” (taps up and down) with his left leg when he gets excited (especially when someone comes into the room), etc. One day, Joey (his gift from God in the form of a 24-7 caretaker) and I took Jacob on a walk to the boardwalk next to the beach… Jacob usually is only able to stay awake and alert for 20-30 minutes due to the medication he is on. Well, this day at the beach, he was watching people go past his field of view for just over an hour! He is taking information in, that is certain. Our prayer and hope is that He is also taking to heart what the Father is teaching him during this time. In addition to the beach excursion, I have seen Jacob interact with Joey during his daily physical therapy (facial expressions of discomfort as well as pleasure), I have watched him while he joined us as we took thousands of newsletters to the post office, and I have seen him make different faces at me and others at different times. They are slight, slow, and barely perceivable sometimes, but they are there. So, my recent experience has convinced me that the ministry has not died or disappeared; it has simply changed for the time being. 

In 22 days at the Jaffa House, I met over 20 people from different nations (Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany, Zimbabwe, United States, Brazil, Uganda, Japan, and a few others… I think). God is working and moving. Elisheva is, too. Prayer, evangelism, teaching, fellowship, worship, brainstorming, etc., are all happening, and all are needed. COME!

06 Dec

Shalom from the Damkanis

Shalom from the Damkanis in Israel
December 2021 
Dearest brothers and sisters,
With a thankful heart we are sending you much love. We want to thank you for your faithfulness in your love and prayer for us. You will never understand what your friendship means to us, how encouraging it is to know you are there and that we are prayed for around the clock.You are such a great help and blessing to us! Thank you! It is also thanks to your prayers that the Lord did so many miracles for us. The doctors had no hope for Jacob to survive, and here he is, doing so well, long out of the coma and improving constantly. Hallelujah!We are praying that the Lord is abundantly blessing you in return!

Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness;
for we do not know what to pray for as we should,
but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is,
because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,
so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters;
and these whom He predestined, He also called;
and these whom He called, He also justified;
and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things?
If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all,
how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died,
but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will tribulation, or trouble, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Just as it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We were regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8

Many have asked how we are doing, how Jacob is doing. We are doing well, praise God!

These three and a half years after that open heart surgery and Jacob not coming back to full consciousness yet, have been a challenge. Still I would not want to miss one day. We are blessed beyond our most daring prayers, we have everything we need and much more, we have a lot of joy, good worship times and fellowship, precious friends, real brothers and sisters, and most important, our Good Lord is always there for us. He promised not to leave us or forsake us and He doesn’t!

Yes, there are times we do not know how to continue, how to deal with all the difficult small and big decisions, at times we are crying together, but the Lord in His great love and faithfulness always knows how to put us back on our feet, to encourage us and to give us new faith and hope. Without Him we would have given up a long time ago. We know better than anyone else that we have not deserved His mercy, but He does not let go of us, He is merciful, and His faithfulness is new every single morning! Hallelujah!

I love the LORD,
because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
Psalm 116:1-2

“Apparent adversity will finally turn out to be the advantage of the right if we are only willing to keep on working and to wait patiently. How steadfastly the great victor souls have kept at their work, dauntless and unafraid! There are blessings which we cannot obtain if we cannot accept and endure suffering. There are joys that can come to us only through sorrow. There are revealings of Divine truth which we can get only when earth’s lights have gone out. There are harvests which can grow only after the plowshare has done its work.”

Jacob is doing so well. I am very thankful to see that he is hanging in there, accepting what God has allowed to happen (or did He even orchestrate everything?), we never see him angry. I can see small steps, we see Jacob trying to communicate with movements of his legs or arms, and mostly with his eyes.

Jacob shows a genuine interest in people and touches their hearts when he watches them carefully and for a long time. With this he is opening up many opportunities for good conversations. People simply love to be around him. The souls we meet out there are so desperate for love, for forgiveness, for hope, for life! The Lord has given us much, we have a lot to share about the hope in our hearts. We pray for more opportunities to do that! And we pray for courage to speak into the hearts of the people we meet.

02 Apr

NEW SPIRIT

A New Spirit is a gripping and inspiring movie based on the autobiography Why Me? by Jacob Damkani.

Jacob’s story illustrates a journey where crime and betrayal, pride and disappointment, bruises and brokenness, do not have the last word. When God steps in, everything changes. Jacob is given a new heart and a new spirit and his life is drastically transformed – to one where faith, hope and love, yield a life of purpose and much excitement.

From a proud and willful young Jew in Israel, to living the American dream, and finally, to a victorious surrender, this is an inspiring account of what it truly means to be a Jew.

A New Spirit is a Hebrew/English movie.

This DVD is subtitled in English, Nederlands, Suomi, Française, Deutsch, Italiano, 한국어, Português, Română, Русский, Español,עברית

Link to order DVD

23 Feb

EVANGELICALS AND ISRAEL

No president in the history of the United States has given as much power and influence to Evangelical Christians than President Donald Trump. The decadent playboy from New York has steadily appointed self-described devout Christians, such as Mike Pence, Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson, to the most influential positions in the US government, almost – some would say – to the complete exclusion of non-Evangelicals.

Many people struggle to understand the relationship between these strange bedfellows. It does not appear the president has undergone some sort of personal religious conversion over the past few years. It is more likely that Trump simply recognizes that these hard-core conservative Christians were some of the only serious leaders who refused to join the “Never Trump” movement within the Republican establishment during the elections. In other words, he may not have had a choice, forced to choose from the only qualified candidates left standing in his pool of potential appointees.

The effect of Evangelical Christians on President Trump’s Middle East policy cannot be overstated. It is clearly evident that his declaration to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was not due to pressure from American Jewish community or even Israel’s Foreign Ministry. This bold step to break with a 50-year-old status quo is due to one reality alone: the president’s desire to make good on his campaign promise to the crowd of his most staunch supporters.

The support of the Evangelical Christian community has always been helpful to Israel. During the intifada years, when tourism was at its lowest, the Evangelical tour buses kept Israel’s tourism economy alive. They have literally donated billions of dollars over the past decade to social and humanitarian projects, through organizations such as the International Christian Embassy and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. There is no question that the socioeconomic resilience of the State of Israel would be quite weaker without its faithful Christian friends.

It is important to recognize that with the new power enjoyed by Evangelicals on Capitol Hill, they are no longer just helpful for Israel’s economic prosperity. They are essential for its security. From UN ambassador Haley’s insistence on treating Israel with equanimity at the UN, including her willingness to use her veto powers at the Security Council, to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s vigilance in scrutinizing the implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement, Israel is very fortunate its Christian friends are fulfilling such positions today.

Not surprisingly, the strongest allies and best friends of Evangelical Christians in Israel are Israel’s Messianic Jews – Jews who, contrary to popular opinion, insist that one can believe in Jesus and still remain Jewish. In fact, these two communities are virtually inseparable. It would be quite challenging to find any significant business or NGO in Israel that is funded by Christians, which does not have local Messianic Jews in its executive leadership. This would include Christian television networks such as TBN, CBN and GodTV, which broadcast content from Israel every day to billions of viewers worldwide. Go to any large gathering of Evangelical tourists in Israel, and you are likely to find Israeli Messianic Jews both on stage and in the crowd.

It is interesting to note that even in the White House, Messianic Jews have made their way into President Trump’s inner circle along with their Evangelical friends. The president’s personal lawyer and trusted confidant, Jay Sekulow, is a Messianic Jew who became famous in Evangelical circles for defending the freedom of expression of Jews for Jesus before the Supreme Court of the United States.

It would behoove the Israeli government to recognize that the small Messianic Jewish community in Israel, which apparently numbers less than 20,000 people, has become, since the election of Donald Trump, disproportionately influential and important to Israel’s security and diplomatic standing. Unfortunately, it appears that neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, nor anyone in his Cabinet, fully understands this new reality.

Indeed, the Interior Ministry still seems to take pride in preventing Messianic Jews from immigrating to Israel. In the recent well-known case of Rebecca Floer, a Jewish daughter of Holocaust survivors was prevented from immigrating under the Law of Return because the ministry claimed it had reason to believe she was affiliated with the Messianic Jewish community.

In view of the deep relationship between Evangelical Christians and the Messianic community, perhaps the government of Israel should start viewing Messianic Jews as diplomatic assets rather than a religious threat.

When any descendant of Jews submits an immigration request to the Interior Ministry today, assuming that they have provided the basic documents required, including proof of their Jewish heritage, their file is immediately transferred to the Aliya Department of the Jewish Agency. The Jewish Agency then proceeds to carry out an in-depth background search, including investigating the applicant’s Google profile up to its 200th page, and if any connection is found between them and Messianic Judaism or Christianity, their aliya request is summarily denied. This practice has already been noted and critiqued by the annual Freedom of Religion Report of the US State Department. The question is if this procedure is really necessary. Apparently, it is not implemented against any other Jewish immigrants including those who may adhere to Reform Judaism, Atheism, Buddhism, Scientology or Hinduism.

I believe that by embracing the Evangelical community on one hand, and stabbing their Messianic Jewish friends in the back with the other, the Israeli government is playing with fire. Will the discriminatory practice of Israel toward Messianic Jews ever harm its relationship with the Evangelical Christians? Perhaps not, but do we really want to take that chance?

The author is director general of Rav Tikshoret. He was formerly a journalist for Yediot Aharonot and a spokesman of the Labor Party.

ITZHAK RABIHIYA in Jerusalem Post

12 Feb

ISRAEL’S MOST CONTROVERSIAL FILM: “A NEW SPIRIT”

For the first time in the history of modern Israel, a faith-based film on Yeshua the Messiah has been produced and premiered in theaters across Israel. “A New Spirit” tells the true story of Yacov Damkani, once a local gangster from a poverty-stricken town in Israel, who fled to the United States and was introduced to Yeshua as his Messiah.

Damkani was discipled in singer Keith Green’s community in the 70’s and his life was turned completely upside down. He returned home and became Israel’s pioneer messenger on the streets of Israel, boldly preaching the Good News to curious onlookers and furious ultra-Orthodox Jews … and does so to this day.

The movie premiered in December 2017 at the famous Tel Aviv Cinematheque to an audience of hundreds of enthusiastic movie-goers. Many billboards and posters displaying “A New Spirit” were plastered on the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and surrounding cities. In addition, the most popular Israeli evening news program dedicated over 13 minutes of prime time to cover the movie.

The film has already won Best Actor and Cinematography awards in the Boston International Festival and Best Actor in the Madrid Film Festival—each with about 200 film entries. The Israel Press Council gave the film an “inspirational acting” award.

Doron Eran, who produced and directed the movie, is a well-known Israeli filmmaker in the business for 25 years. He has made some sixty films, including features, TV dramas, and documentaries.

Link to order DVD

FILMMAKER MEETS EVANGELIST

Three years ago, he met Yacov Damkani when asked to do a forty-minute documentary on the Messianic Community in Israel. He interviewed ten Israelis, and one of them was Yacov. The interview lasted only a few minutes, but then Yacov gave him the book of his life story called “Why Me?” When Doron read it, he said to himself, “This is a Hollywood movie!”

Doron admits he did not anticipate the strong backlash he would receive from fellow Israelis. He explains that he has always made films of a controversial nature.

“I am used to dealing with tough subjects. I want to wake up society. One of the most-viewed movies I made was about the circumcision of girls in the Israeli Bedouin community. In fact, most of my films deal with social subjects. Many are afraid to say anything—even when they see blatant injustice.”

But this film about Yacov’s discovery of Yeshua is a plunge into controversy deeper than anything this film producer had ever done. “When people on the street recognize me,” says Doron, “they are extremely critical of this film. They tell me that the film is great—but that’s the problem! It is dangerous for Jewish people to see,” he relates.

OUR NATION HAS BEEN BRAINWASHED BY ULTRA-ORTHODOX RULERS

Doron continues, “They shout at me, ‘You are not a Jew anymore! You are a Christian! You are a missionary! You have betrayed your own people!’ When I answer them that Yeshua was a Jew, they don’t like it at all,” he says.

“This has been the weirdest experience I have ever had.” He explains, “Our present government has been very wise in dealing with all the diplomatic and military traps set to bring our nation down.” “But,” he says, “internally I have watched the government allow the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) to take control of the soul of our nation. I feel the dictatorship of the Haredim.”

“It is a religious dictatorship. They are brainwashing our nation. Now I am called a missionary. I am no longer a Jew. It is scary and I am disappointed. I was born a Jew and I will die a Jew.”

“ISRAEL NEEDS TEN FILMS ABOUT YESHUA!”

Instead of letting the rejection discourage him, he shows his strength of character by looking into the future. “Israel is going to need ten films about Yeshua before they begin to absorb the truth!” he concludes.

“I got a call from someone who saw the film, and he told me, ‘You are before your time,’” Doron remarked. Nevertheless, he believes this movie must be seen by Israelis. “Everyone who views this film will have the opportunity to see things from a completely different point of view. They just have to see it!”

Before he met Yacov, Doron acknowledges he didn’t know anything about Yeshua. In school he did learn Yeshua was born a Jew, but that was it. Doron explains, “I didn’t know that He lived as a Jew and died as a Jew. I was told He was a Christian. We didn’t talk about him as ‘our Yeshua the Jew,’ but ‘their (the gentiles’) Jesus Christ.’”

“It has been for me a three-year process. I am reading the New Testament; I am going deep into the learning process. I’m a student!” Doron confirms.

I reminded him that in Hebrew the word student is talmid. Talmid [pronounced talMEED] is the word Yeshua used for his followers. In the New Testament talmid is the word for disciple.

SOME ULTRA-ORTHODOX BELIEVE THEIR RABBI HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD

Doron related a conversation he encountered the day before in a thirty-minute radio interview: “They asked me, ‘Why did you need to make a film about Yeshua? Why put him in our religious mix?’”

“My answer was this: The Habad movement around the world is very popular. They are ultra-Orthodox Jews who are usually happy and kind, and they offer a lot of humanitarian help to Jews around the world. They are well thought of.

“Yet when their Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, died in 1994, they buried him in a grave in Queens, New York. The site is visited by some 50,000 Jews a year. However, many of his followers absolutely believe he is not in that grave. His body is no longer there. One day, they say, he will come ‘back to Israel and reign as messiah’—even though his feet never touched the Holy Land while he was alive.

“This is a very strange belief for most Israelis, but it’s OK, they think. But when it comes to Yeshua, there is a total double standard. They declare you cannot be a Jew and believe in Yeshua.”

Even the actors in the film have had lengthy conversations with each other and with Doron. They said to him, “Didn’t you know that people would be angry with you?”

The lead actor, Imri Biton, has also found himself in an unusual position. He is often verbally attacked, and queried if he is now a Christian. He responds, “Look what Yeshua did for Yacov. He was a gangster. When he believed in Yeshua, he became a new person. These Messianic Jews are telling their own Truth. As a professional actor, I can join them.”

Imri added that as a professional actor he was ready to do the film because he believed in the integrity of the people he was working with. He believed in Doron his producer, and in Yacov Damkani.

“I BELIEVE FILM CAN CHANGE PEOPLE’S THINKING.”

Doron Eran, Producer and Director of “A New Spirit.”

Doron admits many Israelis see him as naïve. “But,” he responds, “I am a director who deeply believes that film is the most powerful instrument invented in the last 100 years and is able to change the world’s thinking.”

“Hollywood changed everything,” he says. “They can sell anything. I want to utilize this medium to change peoples’ thinking.” He continues, “One day I was walking down Dizzengoff Street (in Tel Aviv) and a couple of owners of a coffee house came out and said, ‘We have been talking about this film for three days!’ This is what I want to hear!”

“I have followed the fights on Facebook as a result of this movie. I estimate 70% of the posts are negative and 30% positive. Again, my aim is to convince people to think.”

YESHUA CHALLENGED CORRUPTION

Doron truly laments the corruption and greed for power that he sees everywhere. “As I study the New Testament, I think about the Jerusalem of Yeshua’s time on earth. The politicians were corrupt. The religious leaders were corrupt. Yeshua was determined to challenge that corruption.

“Today it is the same. If Yeshua were in Jerusalem today, he would be confronting the evil that exists with our leaders.”

Doron speaks of the original goals of the early pioneers who came to Israel to build an honest and principled new nation. “My father was one of two people who established Kibbutz Manara on the Lebanese border. He would never have dreamed that in this new state for Jewish people, the Prime Minister would one day be imprisoned for corruption. A President would be imprisoned for rape. The Minister of Finance would go to jail for stealing money that belonged to Holocaust survivors. The Communications Minister would also be put in jail for thievery.

“Even today,” this film maker says softly, “our government is buried in corruption investigations. It’s the same as it was in Yeshua’s time on earth.”

There is no mistake in acknowledging that Doron Eran is Israel’s most unusual film producer/director in Israel today. And he is certainly the most courageous voice among those in the Israeli film industry—by far.

maozisrael.org

Link to order DVD

04 Feb

THE COST OF FOLLOWING YESHUA IN ISRAEL

THE COST OF FOLLOWING YESHUA IN ISRAEL AND AROUND THE WORLD

Yes, it is not a path of roses to believe in the Jewish Messiah here in Israel, but we can only praise God for doing mighty things in our midst, giving us opportunities to share His glorious Gospel in ways we could not even dream of a few years ago, opening the eyes of many, revealing Himself to the elect and giving His disciples the strength and courage to endure. Please pray for more boldness, more courage… more genuine love for our Lord and Saviour, King of Kings – Yeshua!

The now internationally recognized “World Watch List” calls out the worst 50 countries for persecuting followers of Jesus each year. It should be no surprise that the top spot is held by North Korea, the same as it has been for the last seventeen years. Open Doors, the organization that compiles the list, says,

“Each year, the World Watch List provides a searing glimpse into the 50 places around the world where it costs the most to be a Christian. In some countries, familial and social pressure make it terribly difficult to follow Jesus, while in other places, faith in Christ is threatened by daily risk of violence and physical oppression.”

Israel is barely visible on the World Watch List map of persecution, which marks countries from yellow to red indicating increasing levels of severity and danger.

Zooming into the Middle East, you can just make out a thin, grey strip surrounded by a sea of orange. As the only democracy with freedom of religion and freedom of speech, Israel is, by and large, a safe place for the disciples of Yeshua. However, this is only in comparison to nations where Christians are regularly experiencing violence and death for their faith. But it would be wrong to think that there is no cost to following Yeshua in Israel. There certainly is.

Though we are not killed for our faith in Israel, and very rarely physically hurt, opposition through social, political, judicial and economic means puts believers under great pressure.

The religious leaders of Israel are just as threatened by Yeshua today as they were when He walked among them two thousand years ago.

We received a message from believers who have recently opened a “Walk-In House” ministry center in the south of Israel. This is a first-hand account of what persecution in Israel looks like:

“From the first day we felt the tension, which increased every day. This week a group of demonstrators gathered in front of our “ Walk-in House”, summoned by the rabbis.

Our windows were smeared, we were photographed and filmed. The rabbis screamed, “You are Amalek! Haman! And they must be killed!”  We were called the representative of satan… and much more. We were provoked and the name of Jesus was blasphemed. The rabbis incited the people against us. One rabbi started a slander campaign. Yesterday, someone from an anti-missionary organization stood in front of the door, trying to intimidate us the whole time.

The police were called by bystanders who were supporting us. The police officers told us that we had to follow them to the police station to write a statement. They escorted us to their police car. We have been four times at the police station this week, and every time we had to tell the whole story to a different police officer. This coming Sunday we will have a meeting with the head officer of the police station.

Some shop owners went to the mayor to asked him to stop this ‘’stupid’’ behaviour of those rabbis, but they told them that’s it’s now a case between the rabbinate of Dimona and the police.”

Sadly, these believers are not the only ones to experience this kind of harassment. The situation today is far better than it has been in previous decades, but believers especially in southern cities have experienced considerable trouble. I know of one couple who are surrounded by crowds of Orthodox Jews every week when they walk to their Messianic congregation. They are shouted at, cursed and spat upon. Their infant daughter was called a rat by a shrieking protester, yelling into her buggy. There have been break ins and vandalism, and the judicial system will rarely decide in favor of the Messianic Jews, who tend to come out of the ordeal with huge bills to pay and no compensation or redress.

There are Israeli believers who have been fired from their jobs, Messianic businesses shut down, and on extremely rare occasions, there have been firebombs thrown into buildings. I know a man who was thrown down stone stairs for talking about Yeshua, and of course if an Orthodox Jew comes to faith they will more than likely be cut off completely from their family, and ostracized from their community. A funeral is held for them, and they are considered dead.

It is against this reality that it is all the more remarkable that the body of Messiah just continues to grow and grow in Israel, and that more and more people are coming out in support of believers.

Messianic believers have hit the mainstream media several times in the last couple of years, with varying degrees of acceptance. News channels have done media segments about our faith, before being unceremoniously pulled due to threats from religious leaders. The other year we were approached by the largest news channel in Israel who produced a short series about Messianic Jews with Erez and Eitan. When these videos and adjoining articles were published weekly, a huge uproar came about from the ‘anti-missionaries’, and eventually the news company crumbled to the pressure and removed the videos. There have been a number of very gifted Messianic singers on national talent spotting television shows being quite open about their faith, and recently a Messianic wedding was covered in an Israeli website, including details about what the couple believed. The article explained in a positive way how their wedding ceremony combined elements of traditional Jewish wedding along with their faith in Yeshua. Generally speaking, society is still quite hostile to the idea that a Jew can believe in Yeshua, but the news is spreading more and more all the time, that whether they are accepted or not, tens of thousands of Israeli Jews do, in fact, follow Yeshua as their Messiah.

The brother serving in the south added in his report,

“All the negative attention and riots cause people to come and ask questions and they are so brave to come in and show their solidarity towards us! The wall painting with the text from Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God”, attracts the attention of many, both friends and foes!

We would like to ask you to struggle with us in praying for a breakthrough. It is a battle of lies and truth, darkness and light. The love of God overcomes the darkness! Please pray that the Kingdom of God will become visible here in south Israel. May all of us be able to stand firm in His victorious power! Praise the Lord for He is good, His goodness endures forever!

”Righteousness lifts up a nation, but sin is a disgrace in any society”. (Proverbs 14:34)

Righteousness… That is we want to see this in our society.”

Amen to that.
www.oneforisrael.org

26 Jan

REJOICE WITH TRUMPET

Shalom and Welcome!
This is the work, and these are the people behind ‘Trumpet of Salvation to Israel’.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
For 35 years, Jacob Damkani has been drawing our Jewish brothers and sisters to the knowledge of Yeshua haMashiach. Through his unique, God-given imagination, many and diverse methods continue to be used to achieve this.
In this clip, we open a small window into the Trumpet experience.

From passing flyers on the streets of Tel-Aviv, to epic-film productions, the Gospel moves out, as the Lord leads. The clip shows our journey, all this and everything in between.

We hope you will be encouraged. We ask for your prayers. We thank you for your love.

11 Jan

WILL THE FILM, A NEW SPIRIT, HELP BRING A NEW SPIRIT TO ISRAEL?

There is perhaps no more cherished theme among men than renewal, the hope that someday, whether by triumph of the human spirit, or Holy Spirit, each of us might rise above his or her failings and become a better person.

A New Spirit, a motion picture recently released in Israel based on the life of Israeli sabra and Messianic evangelist, Jacob Damkani, dramatizes a remarkable example of that process: how Damkani, once lost, found himself and his life’s work upon discovering the Jewish Messiah.

But like most everything in Israel, even redemption can spark controversy. A recent review of A New Spirit appearing in Israel’s Channel Seven’s online news charged that the film presents “the point of view of traditional Christianity that Judaism is an ignorant, violent and uncompassionate religion filled with lust for power while Christianity is a religion of love and compassion.”

A New Spirit’s universally appealing theme of supernatural salvation — the reason one might innocently guess that almost everyone would like it — is, in and of itself, neither secular nor religious. It is what Joseph Campbell, author of the classic, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, describes as the monomyth:If one were unfamiliar with religious conflict in Israel it might be difficult to understand how a reviewer might conclude that A New Spirit is about either Christianity or Orthodox Judaism. The film’s depictions of events are not generalizations about belief systems but dramatizations of Damkani’s personal journey.

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

A New Spirit is Campbell’s hero’s story. Damkani’s common day was his former life as a confused, directionless young man and sometimes gangster. His region of supernatural wonder and the fabulous forces he encountered were the Tanach and the glory of God. Once hopelessly on the run in the United States, Damkani literally returned from a mysterious adventure to bestow boons — a personal message of the Jewish Messiah — upon his fellow Israelis.

The film’s storyline is no different than that of Homer’s Odyssey, George Lucas’s Star Wars or thousands of other “hero stories” man has embraced since he first began to tell tales. And while it’s been said that everyone loves a hero, not everyone loves A New Spirit or its hero despite its uplifting message.

The reasons why this is so are complex; that is, they are religious and political.

“When we say ‘Christian’ we think of another religion,” Damkani said in an interview with journalist, Leslie Criss, while in the U.S. to promote the film. “But the idea that Jesus came to establish a new religion is far from the truth. Jesus never intended to bring a new religion and the church has to understand that [he] is the natural continuation of God’s promises made to Israel… I didn’t become a Christian if that means following a new religion. If it means a follower of Messiah, then okay, I’m a Christian.”

In Israel, the word “Christian” is charged with more meaning than it may, at first, appear. In 1992, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that a Messianic Jewish couple living in the U.S. were ineligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return because they had converted to a new religion. Officially, Jews who believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Jewish Messiah are considered Christians, not Jews.

In August of 2017, the Rabbinical Court of Tel Aviv cited the high court’s 1992 opinion when it forbade Messianic Jews living in Israel — Jews in every way according to halacha — to be married as Jews in Israel because, again, it held that all those who believe in Yeshua are not Jews, but Christians.

Given A New Spirit’s messianic message and Israel’s long history of opposition, the film’s appearance in Israeli theaters is nothing short of remarkable. Damkani is a well-known man in the land. As the founder of Trumpet of Salvation to Israel, a non-profit organization whose vision includes proclaiming “the Gospel in its Jewish context” and making “disciples, real followers of the God of Israel through studying his Word,” he has accrued many friends and enemies during a ministry now approaching forty years in duration.

One of Messianic Judaism’s most vocal opponents in Israel is Yad L’Achim, an Orthodox organization established in Israel in 1950 “to help new immigrants adjust to [life in Israel] and to help them find a suitable religious framework… Over the years, its attention has turned to more complex problems, including how to counter the missionary threat… Fighting the missionaries… has long been one of Yad L’Achim’s top priorities.” (For an example, see “My Coffee Talks with Anti-Missionaries from Yad L’Achim,” by Hannah Weiss.)

Jacob Damkani

But opposition to Messianic Judaism in Israel seems to be coming under scrutiny thanks to the courage of passionate men and women like Damkani. For example:

  • In March of 2011 in Israel Today, Ryan Jones wrote an article entitled, “Israel media stands up for Messianic Jews, noting in one example that, “in addition to wondering why Yad L’Achim has such influence over the Ministry of the Interior, Channel One questioned why it is such a problem for Jews to believe in Yeshua.” He concludes, “The message was clear: Messianic Jews are not a threat to Israel or the spirit of the Jewish nation, but Yad L’Achim just might be.”
  • In February of 2017, the Israeli National Museum in Jerusalem not only produced the exhibition, “Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art,” it was well-received.
  • In November of 2017, a Jerusalem Post editorial entitled Righteous Aliya took exception to the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority’s summary rejection of psychologist Rebecca Floer’s application for Israeli citizenship. Fleur, a Swedish daughter of a Holocaust survivor, stood accused of having “ties to a Messianic organization.” Upon her appeal of the authority’s ruling, “her tourist visa [was] revoked and [she was] ordered to leave the country.” The editorial cited the Authority’s statement to the Post regarding their decision to deport Fleur as “an egregious denial of the facts.”

“Israel does not yet have the capacity, desire or courage to distinguish between who Yeshua really is and what the Church has made of him,” Damkani told Kehila News. “The joy and light of salvation hit me when I became able to distinguish who Yeshua really is in the light of the prophets of Israel. But too many Israelis refuse to examine the prophets.

“Secular Israel is filled with courageous men and women who accomplish miraculous things in times of war but, when it comes to spiritual matters, they lack confidence in themselves and get their understanding from the religious,” Damkani continued.

Channel Seven’s review of A New Spirit concluded by implying that all those in Israel with a testimony of renewal, whether Jew or Gentile, are missionaries, branding the film as possessing “perhaps the same anti-Jewish missionary spirit that the Church has taken against Judaism since time immemorial.”

A New Spirit is an inspiring film based on the extraordinary life of one of Israel’s evangelical pioneers. Whether it presents an anti-Jewish message, as some of its critics claim, or provides further revelation of the blessings in belief in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, should be left to its audience to decide.

Cliff Keller  

To order NEW SPIRIT

03 Jan

A NEW SPIRIT, A MOVIE ABOUT JACOB DAMKANI

“A New Spirit,” a movie by Doron Eran based on the life of Israeli Messianic leader and evangelist Jacob Damkani is now showing in movie theaters across Israel. The movie premiered in December 2017 at the famous Tel Aviv Cinematheque to an audience of hundreds of spectators.

There are now many billboard signs displaying “A New Spirit” on the streets of Israel.

In addition, the most popular Israeli evening news program dedicated over 13 minutes of prime-time airtime to covering the movie “A New Spirit”. See video clip  from Channel 12 News.

“A New Spirit” is currently being shown in the following cities: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva, Ramat Gan, Ramat HaSharon, Rishon L’Zion, Kfar Saba, Netanya, Kriyot, Modi’in, Petach Tikva, Rehovot, Zichron Yaakov, and Carmiel.

[edit:] Click here to watch the movie online.

This is a significant event as it’s the first-time that a faith-based movie is being shown to the general public in Israel. [in Hebrew with English CC]

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