“I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” – The Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18, ESV)
The headlines emanating from the Middle East in recent years have been filled with devastating news – wars, revolutions, terrorism, even genocide.
Many in the Epicenter are being shaken as perhaps never before in human history. Syria is imploding. Iraq is convulsing. Lebanon and Jordan have been overrun by millions of refugees. Egypt has undergone multiple revolutions. Israelis and Palestinians, meanwhile, have faced repeated waves of violence.
The Church has also been deeply shaken. Many followers of Jesus Christ throughout the region have been horribly persecuted and targeted by terrorists. Church buildings have been bombed, set ablaze, and riddled with machine gun fire. Christians have been captured, enslaved, tortured, and beheaded. Some have even been crucified.
Yet even amidst such darkness, we can rejoice and give thanks because the Holy Spirit is on the move to advance Christ’s unshakeable kingdom. “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28)
Consider these encouraging facts:
News of such wars, persecution and suffering has unleashed a great movement of prayer by believers around the world for the Church and the lost in the Epicenter.
Followers of Jesus in the Middle East are boldly and creatively communicating the Gospel to their people using satellite television, radio broadcasts, the Internet, Bible distribution, literature distribution, and their own personal witness – indeed, they are reaching more people in the region than ever before.
Millions of Jews and Muslims are now able to hear, read and consider the Gospel message in their own heart languages – just as remarkable, many are open to considering the claims of Jesus for the first time in their lives.
As a result of so much prayer and faithful seed planting, pastors and ministry leaders throughout the Epicenter report signs of hope – after centuries of spiritual drought, the Church in the Middle East is bearing fruit again. Jews and Muslims are coming to faith, and are being baptized and discipled. There is much to do, but real progress is being made.
In some ways, the current environment is evocative of the First Century. Amidst tremendous hardship and persecution, believers are reaping a harvest by God’s grace.
“The news about Him [Jesus] spread throughout all Syria, and….large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.” (Matthew 4:24-25)
“When the Gentiles heard [the Gospel], they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.” (Acts 13:48-49)
“After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many ten thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed….” (Acts 21:17-20)
To be sure, one must be careful with numbers. Some Western ministry leaders and local pastors can, at times, be tempted to exaggerate progress to friends and donors. Likewise, Radical Islamists and Jewish anti-missionaries can report to their compatriots and donors inflated numbers of Jews and Muslims coming to faith in the Lord Jesus in an attempt to exaggerate a perceived “threat” to their communities.
That said, interviews with a wide range of Arab and Messianic pastors and ministry leaders in the region, and a review of relevant articles, books and studies, provide a useful, if imprecise, snapshot of the state of the Church in the Epicenter.
25,000 to 30,000 born again believers attend Messianic congregations in Israel.
4,000 to 5,000 Arab Evangelical Christians openly worship Jesus in Israel.
1,000 to 1,500 Palestinian Evangelicals live in the Palestinian Authority.
There are some 200 to 250 Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) who live in the West Bank and Gaza. However, few of them attend church.
More than 10,000 Palestinian Evangelical Christians live outside of the Palestinian Authority. Some leaders say the number is as high as 30,000, though it is difficult to be precise.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 Evangelical Christians live in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
In addition, an estimated 10,000 Jordanian Evangelical Christians reside outside of the Kingdom, having moved to the U.S., Europe and the Gulf.
While more than 96% of Jordanians are Muslim, a total of some 145,000 Jordanians are self-described Christians. Most of these are Catholic, but they also include Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and other historic denominations.
While more than 86% of Egyptians are Muslim, a total of some 11 million Egyptians are self-described Christians. Most of these are Coptic Orthodox, but they also include Catholics, Protestants and other historic denominations.
Specifically, some 2,000,000 Protestant Christians live in Egypt.
Some 21,000 to 23,000 Syrians are Evangelical Christians, though it is impossible to know the precise number as many have had to flee the country.
While some 90% of Syrians are Muslim, there has always been a sizable Christian minority. As a result of the civil war and the genocide waged by militants loyal to Islamic State, however, many Christians have left the country. Thus, the total number of historic Christians (Syrian Orthodox, Catholic, etc.) living in Syria has dropped from 1.25 million just a few years ago to about 500,000 today.
Between 1,000 and 3,000 Evangelical Christians live in Iraq today.
Altogether, there are an estimated 53,000 Iraqi Evangelical Christians, however due to war, persecution and economic hardships most now live outside of Iraq, many of them in the U.S. and Europe.
While some 96% of Iraqis are Muslim, there has always been a sizable Christian minority. As a result of wars, insurgencies and the genocide waged by militants loyal to Islamic State, however, many Christians have left the country. Indeed, the total number of historic Christians (Catholic, Chaldean Orthodox, etc.) living in Iraq has dropped from about 1.5 million just a few years ago to between 200,000 and 300,000 in 2017.
Between 15,000 and 21,000 Evangelical Christians live in Lebanon.
While about 60% of Lebanese citizens are Muslims, approximately 1.3 million Lebanese describe themselves as Christians, and most of these are Catholic.
Is it possible that there are more Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) in the Epicenter than these numbers reflect? Yes. As a result of satellite TV and radio ministries -- as well as advanced and creative use of Internet evangelism -- Arab ministries in the region are seeing a growing number of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus Christ. That said, the precise numbers of MBBs are difficult to assess and thus only conservative numbers have been presented here.
What is significant is not the precise numbers but the trend lines. We are seeing more prayer by the believers in the Epicenter, more prayer among the nations for the Church in the Mideast, more boldness amongst local believers to share the Gospel, more use of technology to reach more people with the Gospel, unprecedented openness among Jews and Arabs, and more Jews and Arabs actually placing their faith in Christ.
Thus, despite such darkness in the region, we should be encouraged by the clear evidence of God’s faithfulness. The Lord Jesus Christ is building His Church and He is refusing to allow the gates of Hell to prevail against it, just as He promised.
 See Erin Cunningham and Heba Habib, “Video shows purported beheading of Egyptian Christians in Libya,” Washington Post, February 15, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/video-shows-purported-beheading-of-egyptian-christians-in-libya/2015/02/15/b8d0f092-b548-11e4-bc30-a4e75503948a_story.html?utm_term=.fd2b98a2a2cf; “Syrians Beleaguered Christians,” BBC, February 25, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-22270455; Alissa J. Rubin, “ISIS Forces Last Iraqi Christians to Flee Mosul,” New York Times, July 18, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/19/world/middleeast/isis-forces-last-iraqi-christians-to-flee-mosul.html; Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, “John Kerry: ISIS Is Responsible for Genocide Against Christians,” Christianity Today, March 17, 2016, http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2016/march/do-christians-face-genocide-isis-john-kerry-syria-iraq.html.
 See “Genocide Against Christians in the Middle East: A Report Submitted to Secretary of State John Kerry by The Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians,” March 9, 2016, http://www.stopthechristiangenocide.org/scg/en/resources/Genocide-report.pdf; Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, “Report details ISIS atrocities against Christians, presses State for ‘genocide’ label,” Fox News, March 10, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/03/10/report-details-isis-atrocities-against-christians-presses-state-for-genocide-label.html; Andreas Thonhauser, “Justice for the Persecuted – Building a Future for Iraqi Christians,” Alliance Defending Freedom, October 4, 2016, http://adfinternational.org/detailspages/blog-details/commentary/2016/10/04/justice-for-the-persecuted-building-a-future-for-iraqi-christians; “Christian Workers in Syria Crucified, Beheaded,” Christian Aid Mission, October 1, 2015, http://www.christianaid.org/News/2015/mir20151001.aspx?utm_source=MorningStar+News&utm_campaign=34e2b79b1b-Syria_terrors10_2_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6e3978492c-34e2b79b1b-78080769; Steve Almassy, “Group: ISIS 'crucifies' men in public in Syrian towns,” CNN, June 30, 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/29/world/meast/syria-reported-crucifixions/index.html.
 The 2017 numbers were provided by Dr. Erez Soref, president of Israel College of the Bible, who has been conducting extensive research – including an original survey of Messianic congregations in 2017 – for a forthcoming study, “The Messianic-Jewish Movement In Modern Israel.” The numbers include mostly Jewish believers -- native-born Hebrew-speakers, Russian-speakers who emigrated from the former Soviet Union, Amharic-speakers who emigrated from Ethiopia, and a range of other Jewish believers who have emigrated from the U.S., Great Britain, South Africa, New Zealand and numerous other countries. They also include Gentile believers married to Jewish believers, and some Gentile believers who are working or studying in the Land and choose to attend Messianic congregations. Operation World puts the total number of Evangelical believers in Israel at 31,045. http://www.operationworld.org/isra. These numbers represents important growth. In 1967, for example, there were only a few hundred Jewish followers of Jesus in the Land, according to Messianic Jewish leaders in Israel interviewed in 2005 and 2006. See Epicenter (2006 edition), p. 201.
 Emails with Rev. Munir Kakish, chairman of the Palestinian Evangelical Council of Churches, August 26, 2017. These numbers also represent important growth. In 1967, there were only a few hundred Arab Evangelicals in Israel, according to interviews conducted with Arab pastors in 2008 and 2009. See Inside The Revolution, p. 402.
 Emails with Rev. Munir Kakish, chairman of the Palestinian Evangelical Council of Churches, August 26, 2017. Operation World puts the number of Palestinian Evangelicals at 4,116. However, many Palestinian believers have moved to the U.S., Europe or elsewhere due to the very difficult security, political, economic and social environment in the West Bank and Gaza. http://www.operationworld.org/pale.
 Interviews with Arab pastors and ministry leaders in 2016 and 2017.
 Emails with Rev. Munir Kakish, chairman of the Palestinian Evangelical Council of Churches, August 26, 2017. The good news is that Palestinians are coming to faith in Jesus Christ, though not in large numbers. However, again, however, many are moving out of the Palestinian Authority to live in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Gulf due to the many challenges related to living as a believer in the West Bank and Gaza. Thus, the diaspora community of Palestinian Evangelicals is significantly larger than those living in the P.A. It’s also worth noting that while the vast majority of Palestinians are Muslims, a total of some 45,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are self-described Christians. Most of these are Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and other historic denominations. That said, thousands of historic Christians have moved abroad, as well.
 According to Dr. Imad Shahedeh, President of the Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary, the conservative number is about 10,000 (email correspondence on September 1, 2017). According to Kamal Iskander Khlaif, former Director of Life Agape in Jordan, the number is between 13,000 and 15,000. According to Operation World, the total number of Jordanian believers is 19,116 (though this could include some who have relocated to the West.) http://www.operationworld.org/JORD These numbers suggest important growth. In 2009, Jordanian pastors and ministry leaders indicated there were only 5,000 to 10,000 born again Jordanians. See my 2009 book, Inside The Revolution, p. 403-404.
 Emails with Dr. Imad Shahedeh, President of the Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary, September 1, 2017.
 Operation World reports the total number of all people who describe themselves as Christians in Jordan is 144,982. http://www.operationworld.org/JORD
 This number includes Coptic Orthodox Christians, Protestants, Catholics and other historic denominations. Operation World puts the total number of Egyptians who describe themselves as Christians at 10,838,069. http://www.operationworld.org/EGYP.
 Emails with Dr. Andrea Zaki Stephanous, President of the Protestant Churches of Egypt, August 28, 2017. This appears to be a solid, credible number, though some Egyptian pastors and ministry leaders put the total number of Evangelical Egyptians higher. In Inside The Revolution, I reported the figure of 2.5 million (see p. 395), based on interviews with Egyptian Christian leaders in 2008 and 2009. Operation World puts the total number of Evangelicals at 3.28 million. http://www.operationworld.org/EGYP
 Emails with Arab pastors in Syria who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, August 30, 2017. Operation World puts the overall number of Syrian Evangelicals at 23,663. http://www.operationworld.org/syri. These numbers suggest important growth. In 2009, Syrian pastors and ministry leaders told me there were only 4,000 to 5,000 born again believers in Syria. See Inside The Revolution, p. 403.
 Sophia Kuby, a human rights expert in Germany, wrote, “The number of Christians has dropped from 1.25 million to 500,000 in Syria…in just a few years.” See Sophia Kuby, “Calling ISIS mass killing of Christians what it is: genocide,” Alliance Defending Freedom, January 20, 2016, http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/9844. These numbers includes Syrian Orthodox, Chaldean Orthodox, Catholics, and other historic denominations.
 Emails with three Evangelical Christian pastors in Iraq who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, August 31, 2017.
 Ibid. Operation World indicates the total number of Iraqi Evangelicals is 53,371. http://www.operationworld.org/IRAQ. Some Iraqi pastors and ministry leaders believe the total number of Iraqi Evangelical believers is higher, perhaps 70,000. See Inside The Revolution, p. 400. The 2003 war, subsequent insurgency, and the rise (and demise) of the Islamic State created conditions for many Iraqis both to turn to faith in Christ as well as to flee the country for their safety and well-being. Such dynamics seriously complicate making precise numerical assessments.
 Former Congressman Frank Wolf, a widely respected leader on religious freedom issues, wrote, “In 2003, the Christians in Iraq numbered 1.5 million. Today, that number has decreased to what most estimate is 250,000, although some argue the number is down to 150,000. I believe the number is between 200,000 and 300,000.” See Rep. Frank Wolf, Northern Iraq: 2017, a field report he wrote for the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, August 16, 2017, http://www.21wilberforce.org/am-site/media/iraq-report-2.pdf. Sophia Kuby similarly wrote, “The number of Christians has dropped from…1.4 million to less than 275,000 in Iraq in just a few years.” See Sophia Kuby, “Calling ISIS mass killing of Christians what it is: genocide,” Alliance Defending Freedom, January 20, 2016, http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/9844. These numbers includes Chaldean Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and other historic denominations. Operation World put the total number of historic Iraqi Christians at 500,320, but given the ravages of war and ISIS this number is outdated. http://www.operationworld.org/IRAQ
 Evangelical leaders in Lebanon indicate the current number is about 15,000 (emails with leaders who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, September 7, 2017). Operation World indicates the number is 21,410. http://www.operationworld.org/LEBA These figures represent important growth. In 2009, Lebanon Christian leaders said there were about 10,000 Evangelical Christians in the country. See Inside The Revolution, p. 404.
 Operation World put the total number of Lebanese Christians from all historic denominations at 1,360,190, or nearly 32% of the population.
 Conversations with dozens of Arab pastors and ministry leaders throughout the region in 2016 and 2017.
What Does the Future Hold for Israel and Her Neighbors?
Join Joel C. Rosenberg on Friday evening, October 6 and Saturday, October 7, 2017 at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in Santa Ana, CA for Epicenter Conference 2017: What does the Future Hold for Israel and Her Neighbors? Hosted by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in Santa Ana, CA, this is your chance to hear firsthand from Jewish, Arab and Palestinian pastors and ministry leaders, who will share the story, in real time, of how the Gospel is advancing and is uniquely being shared in Israel and in the neighboring nations. General Admission tickets for Friday evening, a full day Saturday, plus a box lunch Saturday, are $40 per person. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Southern California EpicenterConference 2017 or visit the iTickets site or call 800-965-9324.
We hope to see you there!
Have you Walked Where Jesus Walked?
Join Joel C. Rosenberg and The Joshua Fund for a Prayer and Vision Tour of The Holy Land July 3-15, 2018 and the Epicenter® Prayer Summit will be held July 11-12, 2018. You will learn firsthand how current Middle East events relate to the fulfilment of biblical prophecy and see the Bible come to life as you visit the Garden Tomb, Garden of Gethsemane, sail the Sea of Galilee and so many other sites. Please prayerfully consider joining Joel C. Rosenberg and The Joshua Fund in 2018 in the Land of Israel.
Please join The Joshua Fund in asking the Lord to bring His true peace to people of Egypt. We pray for God’s protection over the people and His comfort to those who have lost loved ones or have suffered injuries in the terrorist attacks yesterday during Palm Sunday services at two churches.
Please also be praying:
That believers in Egypt would be lights and beacons of hope in the darkness.
That His followers would proclaim the Gospel and make disciples despite the terrorist attacks coming against followers of Jesus Christ in Egypt.
For the specific protection of believers who have been called to put themselves in harm’s way during this time of great difficulty and violence.
For the Lord to comfort the people, reveal His Word to them, and draw them to Himself.
Thank you for prayerfully standing with people in Egypt and all of the Middle East during the Easter season, which is a time that believers are targeted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. Psalm 17:8-9
2017 Epicenter Conference - Southern California
Join Joel C. Rosenberg and The Joshua Fund as they share the story, in real time, of how the Gospel is advancing and is uniquely being shared in Israel and in the neighboring nations. In this two-day conference, you will hear from Jewish, Arab and Palestinian pastors and ministry leaders as they bring updates on what the Lord is doing in the region. Joel will also share several stories from our partners in the neighboring nations, on how Jesus is revealing Himself to men and women, boys and girls in the midst of some of the most horrible circumstances. Hear from and pray with these vital ministries from the frontlines bringing the love of Jesus Christ to the people in the Epicenter.
To be added to the list for additional updates please call us 703.860.0166 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equipping the Saints for the Work of the Ministry
Gathering together, greeting each other with the love of Christ and finding a seat in the room, a small group of believers in an Arab nation prepared to meet with God. After praising and worshipping the Lord through music, the group spent extended time with some local and guest teachers who taught from the Bible, each one instructing from a different chapter. Those in the room experienced a broad range of emotions and found themselves reflecting upon all that they heard. Some had feelings of conviction for the way they were living their lives. Others, despite the horrible circumstances they had recently been through, discovered hope and joy. Many more received God’s counsel on how to handle difficulties in a marriage, strife with friends, or how to be light in a dark world. After the gathering, they enjoyed a time of breaking bread, discussing the Scriptures they had just heard, praying for one another and rejoicing, knowing that they all had just met with God. The Lord has opened up opportunities like this across the Middle East for The Joshua Fund to assist local pastors and church leaders by providing solid biblical teaching that brings refreshment to the soul, training in godly living, promoting discipleship, and providing counseling to those who have suffered traumatic life circumstances. Your gifts have made it possible to visit, encourage, and equip the saints for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:12)
Investing in the Next Generation
One of The Joshua Fund’s dearest ministry partners leads conferences and other activities in Israel where young adults can clearly hear the truth of the Gospel. The goal is to help these young adults personally know and understand Christ’s love for them and to help them become like Him. Our partner arranges various activities for young people, such as national conferences, regional youth events, hiking and camping trips and events such as the Walk on Water conference held in August by the Sea of Galilee. The events provide teens with a support group, a sense of belonging and a greater understanding of the Scriptures. Jewish and Arab youth groups from all over Israel are invited, along with their congregational youth leaders, to learn from the Word and gain memorable new experiences. We share our partner’s commitment to keeping youth ministry meaningfully tethered to the life of local congregations. In addition to the youth conferences, our partner organizes training seminars to equip youth leaders and visit congregations – speaking clearly to pastors, parents and youth leaders about the needs of their teens.
Scattered In The Center
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Matthew 9:36
The entire Middle East and the Epicenter is weary from war. In Syria the loss of life has been astronomical, while today inside Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon the scattered are living out their lives as refugees in the worst modern-day humanitarian crisis on the planet.
Directly after Jesus was moved with compassion, He said to His disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He would send out workers into His plentiful harvest. The view Jesus expressed was that these tired and displaced people had no one to protect and care for them, and yet many were ready to be gathered into His fold. Among these crowds of people were a great harvest of souls needing workers to tend and bring them into the Kingdom of God.
Today, The Joshua Fund continues to labor in the fields of harvest found throughout the Middle East. We see through the eyes of Jesus the millions of people who are fatigued and have been exiled from their homes. A region gripped in the bondage of religion and rivalry of blood lines that has cost the countless lives of the innocent and helpless.
Jesus saw the broken multitudes as if they were like sheep without a shepherd. His heart was stirred because people without anyone to care and cover them will end up weary and scattered. The Joshua Fund has been called to some very special and specific ministries in the Middle East as we seek to directly come alongside the contemporary shepherds of His people and workers in His fields.
Through being sent out, our Joshua Fund teams go into the fields of the Middle East and help identify those who are caring and ministering to the hurting and lost. The harvest Jesus spoke about is truly ready and ripe to be brought into the Kingdom. In fact, the harvest fields are as ripe in the Middle East as we have ever seen them. The pastors and leaders who work these fields can, however, themselves grow completely exhausted and pressed from every side.
One of the distinct areas of ministry for The Joshua Fund has been in the care of these shepherds. As an example, we have been able to give the pastors in the Middle East a time of refreshment, retreat and rest from the front-lines of the war both physically and spiritually. These somewhat silent and secret gatherings of church leaders have brought much fruit over the last several years. We have seen these leaders return to the fields of harvest with a fresh sense of the labor before them. In a recent gathering of Middle Eastern pastors, one of them encouraged us after our time together with the following:
“We have so many groups and missionaries coming recently to our region because of the current push of persecution by the religious radicals. The church in the West has responded by sending out people to assist us in the middle of our suffering. The lives of so many are being ministered to because of the church in the USA and other places that have responded. They send in money for humanitarian aid and supplies to help the refugees and other good works.
However, I want to tell you that the pastors here notice something different about your team – you care for us and for our families personally. You are looking beyond the projects and relief outreaches – you care for us as people and have a heart to support us in our ministries. Thank you and to all who pray and give money to your work.”
The ministry of The Joshua Fund described through the heart of pastor in the Middle East.
The body of Christ in the Middle East will soon look very different. Given the seemingly endless war, suffering and massive humanitarian needs in the region, it is not surprising that hundreds of thousands of Christians, including some church leaders, have left in recent years. Though many in the church have left, the Lord is bringing in a new crop of workers, including new Believers from a religious background who are boldly sharing their faith and discipling others in the face of tremendous opposition and persecution. Thank you once again for your continued support and prayers as we labor together in the Lord’s harvest. The harvest is plentiful and ripe, the laborers in the field are few and the Lord has called us all to minister to His people. On behalf of the many pastors throughout the weary, worn and scattered fields of the Middle East they say to you “…you care for us as people and have a heart to support us in our ministries - thank you!”
Preserving Life in Israel
It began in the 1980s when an Israeli pastor along with other local believers began a battle against “the shedding of innocent blood” throughout the land of Israel. Anchored on a foundation of regular prayer meetings, the group had opportunities to speak in congregations throughout the land. These dear TJF ministry partners distributed flyers on street corners – teaching and reminding that abortion is a sin against God and against the Israeli people.
This vital ministry has made a significant impact on Israeli society. Today they are assisting 450 mothers and babies and have saved at least 1,500 Israeli lives. Just recently this ministry received an award from the Israeli Knesset for “their significant contribution to the protection of mothers and children.”
In Israel, the decision to have an abortion is often borne out of severe financial need. Our ministry partner often asks women if they would be willing to keep their babies if they knew that the baby stroller, crib, diapers and other critical needs would be provided during the baby’s first year of life - and almost all of these women say that they would! What a simple gesture to enable life!
Social workers and welfare agencies around the country now often refer pregnant mothers to one of their 12 offices. “We offer sensitive and caring assistance in a loving atmosphere,” says our partner. “And we help all mothers, and all babies. Sudanese, Arab and Jewish mothers all come to us. While the largest pro-life organization in Israel will not assist non-Jewish mothers and children, including many Russian immigrants, we help them all.”
The Joshua Fund is honored to partner with this ministry by providing them with diapers and other items to help these mothers and babies. Please join us in continued, fervent prayer for this life-saving work of the Lord!
The Story of Hassan
A 6-year-old Syrian boy, fled with his mother, 2 brothers and grandparents to a safe location. Sadly, his father was a casualty of war.
Hassan’s young life has been overshadowed by a harsh reality - he has lost his home, his father, his country and has come to a new country where life is vastly different. Living his childhood in a small tent with no electricity or water, surviving on very little food and being very cold in an area where winter temperatures can reach 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The difficult conditions are a threat to the family in many ways, one being the difficulty in fighting off sickness.
Hassan wanted to go to school in order to help his family financially as he is the oldest child. Our ministry partners that serve the displaced refugees in the Epicenter operate a school for refugee children that allows them to pursue an education and interact with other children. Hassan had never been in school before and was absent for almost a month when he became ill, but has now returned and is working hard to catch up on his work. Our ministry partners have changed the life of this family by providing them with monthly food and hygiene packages and education for Hassan.
Hassan’s teacher asked him if he was happy at school and he said he said that he was very happy. He went on to say that he loves learning to read and write and wants to stay at school all day to play with the other students who have become like brothers and sisters to him. She also asked him if he knew Jesus Christ and Hassan replied that he had heard about Him at school and Jesus Christ was his friend.
Hassan wants to become a construction engineer when he grows up so that he can take care of his family and provide for them. Our ministry partner’s mission as they faithfully serve the displaced people of the Middle East is to show the love of Jesus Christ to every child and let them know that they are loved and appreciated despite all the problems and difficulties they face.
You Shall be My Witnesses
Over the last several years, there has been an increase in the number of indigenous evangelistic efforts using the internet. Perhaps more importantly, by God’s grace, the effectiveness and fruitfulness of these ministries have grown tremendously. From beginnings that were faithful, but admittedly fairly basic attempts, these ministries now utilize the internet with extreme creativity in seeking to reach all segments of the Israeli population with the Gospel of Jesus, their long promised Messiah.
Thankfully, some of the same aspects that have often made the internet a useful tool of the enemy of our souls, are now making it effective for those advancing the Gospel. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:20
The secure and private nature of internet access works powerfully in helping to deliver the unobstructed truth of the Gospel, especially among Israelis who live in very privatized, intellectually isolated communities, among the very religious, and especially among women. Here, at ministry partner internet websites, these people are now able to find answers to their heart’s cry for fulfillment, purpose and true ‘shalom’ - peace and wholeness in life. So many still have honest, unanswered questions - questions which sadly don’t typically receive thorough, truthful and, more importantly, scriptural answers from those holding positions of religious leadership and authority. In many ways, not much has changed on this front since Jesus walked these streets.
Having observed and partnered with internet ministry efforts over several years, we are rejoicing as we witness an increase in the number of testimonies from those who have had honest questions about the Messiah, and who have now found the truth of Jesus and are able to examine the scriptures for themselves. We are grateful for the answers being put forth by these internet ministries in refuting some of the traditional rabbinic arguments against Jesus as Messiah – arguments that are seen as weak and skewed treatments of the scriptures.
In addition, there are now a greater number of creatively filmed, poignant videos of Israeli testimonies of salvation being made widely available on the internet, both in Hebrew and in English. Some of the more noteworthy ones have already been seen by more than one million people! Nothing is as truly compelling and impactful as hearing the truth of a personal journey of another Israeli Jew who considered Jesus as Messiah and has now placed their full trust in Him for salvation.
“...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The heart expressed in these video testimonies at www. imetmessiah.com helps short circuit the mindset that has historically been cultivated among Israelis by the religious that “Jesus is simply not for the Jews”.
Please know that your continued prayer and financial support have been key factors in enabling advancement of some of these vital ministries’ work within Israel. We have been blessed to be used by the Lord in key moments to help advance and, in some cases, even to help shape the impact of this critical work. We’re so blessed to be able to share with you the progress of such fruitful, Kingdom work!
Miracle on the Mountain
The Joshua Fund (TJF) has been ministering directly inside the neighboring nations of Israel. During the current conflicts within the region, we have been privileged to send in several TJF field teams to help encourage our ministry partners throughout the area. Thank you for helping us send in teams and praying while they travel into the countries of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. (The massive ongoing war has prevented any ministry travels directly into Syria for some time.) This article is based on events that occurred during the most recent TJF trip into the Middle East…
“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. ‘What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?’” Matthew 18:11-12
As the temperatures soared, hope faded and the desperation of a father reached its end. Fleeing in great panic with hundreds and perhaps thousands of other families, they escaped up the mountain to a place he knew that could not sustain all the inhabitants who would soon occupy its summit. His only concern was to feed his now famished baby. The barren mountain was unforgiving and claimed the lives of many of his people during these days. Most of them, children, were tragically taken by the painful death of dehydration. This father was terrified that his baby would soon face the same fate.
Then, from amidst the clouds of dust and the thickets that dotted the mountainside, a goat miraculously strayed into his path. This became his family’s salvation. He couldn’t explain where the animal had come from. He only knew that God had answered his prayers and saved his family.
Our Joshua Fund team recently knelt with this man and his friend, both of whom had been saved from the slaughter at Sinjar. The day our team arrived, the Lord moved upon his heart to surrender to the One who had sent the goat on the mountain and would become his true salvation. He knew Jesus had sought him out and used the most dreadful situations to reveal to him that the Son of Man had come to save the lost – himself.
S AV I N G O F S I N JA R
The enemy sought to destroy all who were of Yazidi descent. Still today, the black flag-waving radicals desire to erase and “purify” the land of any who do not conform to their strict ideology. Thousands of poorly armed Yazidis trudged the face of the 62-mile mountain range in the brutal August temperatures to wait out what appeared would be a certain genocide of their people group. A mixture or syncretic religion qualified them, and the Christians living in this remote corner of northwestern Iraq and Syria, for certain extermination.
Thankfully, the international community pushed back the masked terrorists and mass genocide was avoided, although reports still cite the loss of life to be in the hundreds. Entire ancient Christian villages have been abandoned, and even now the second largest city in all of Iraq is being occupied by those who call themselves “purists.”
Today, The Joshua Fund is partnering and praying with local Believers who are ministering to the needs of those who have fled their homes throughout Iraq and Syria. Those who have been displaced and driven from the comfort of their homesteads now find themselves in the arms of desperation and are truly lost. In a physical sense, food, clothing and other basic necessities are being provided, and the message that the Lord was communicating that day to His disciples in Matthew 18 is still being heard: that the Son of Man has come to save those lost and astray in the mountain.
We so appreciate all your prayers and support and would ask you to continue to go before the Lord on behalf of our brothers and sisters from all over the Middle East:
/1/ Ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on the Yazidi people of Northern Iraq, especially for these two brothers who gave their lives to the Lord during our recent visit.
/2/ Pray for the TJF teams that are scheduled to be sent out into the region, for wisdom, protection, health and effectiveness.
/3/ The church in the Middle East is under great attack in certain regions – ask the Lord to send boldness to speak His Word to the body of Christ as his disciples did in Acts 4:29.
Prayer & Vision Tour of the Holy Land - Hosted by Joel C. Rosenberg October 14-25, 2015
It is with excitement about God’s love for the people of Israel that I cordially invite you to join us for The Joshua Fund’s next “Prayer and Vision Tour to Israel.” It will be held October 14-25, 2015 with an optional Jordan extension from October 25-29, 2015.
This trip will be a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of how powerfully the Lord is moving in Israel. And this tour is like no other. You will visit The Joshua Fund’s Warehouse and participate in a practical ministry project to bless the poor and needy. You will have the opportunity to meet with and pray for local pastors and ministry leaders on the frontlines of the faith. I will also teach at key locations and answer your questions about the future of the Epicenter.
Please prayerfully consider joining us. I would love to see you there!
Yours to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus,
Saving Children In The Epicenter, One Heart at a Time
One of the ministries The Joshua Fund invests in is deeply dedicated to saving the lives of children in the Middle East who suffer from congenital heart defects. If treated early, children with these defects can often live a healthy life. But such medical care is not readily available in many Middle Eastern countries, or is prohibitively expensive.
These dear ministry allies have developed a remarkable system of helping children from Arab nations receive lifesaving heart surgeries in Israel of all places! They work with Arab physicians who refer children for surgery. The ministry undertakes all transportation, documentation, housing, and financial needs for the patient and his or her family members during the treatment process and the time of recovery. They also provide a loving, Christ-centered environment, prayer and true spiritual encouragement to the families. In 2014 alone, because of your help, The Joshua Fund provided the resources to pay for more than 30 children — all from Arab families — to receive life-saving medical care and life-transforming personal attention. What a joy to be able do such important work together.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. Isaiah 9:2.
Pray with us . . . An urgent prayer request for believers in Iraq
Please join The Joshua Fund in an urgent prayer request for the followers of Jesus Christ in Iraq. As the invading terrorist forces move northward, they have overtaken cities that are mainly Christian, attacking churches, threatening believers and driving many from their homes and communities. Currently, there is a massive exodus underway, as people flee these areas to seek safety. In their haste, they are leaving all their possessions and the necessities of daily life behind.
Please join us in praying for:
Safe shelter for all who are fleeing the violence.
The provision of food, water, clothing, medications and daily necessities.
We ask the Lord to move powerfully to protect and shelter His people, that His name would be magnified in Iraq.
Please pray for the believers in the areas where many of the refugees are finding safety and shelter, that they will know how to provide comfort and encouragement as well as how best to handle the large influx of individuals and families.
Please pray for wisdom for Christian organizations, including The Joshua Fund and our allies, that seek to help in this crisis, that they will be guided by the Lord as how best to come alongside to support and provide for those most in need.
Thank you for prayerfully standing with our brothers and sisters in Iraq in this critical moment.
May God bless you.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. Psalm 17:8-9
Pray with us . . . As we ask the Lord to bring an end to the conflict
Please join The Joshua Fund in asking the Lord to bring an end to the fighting in Israel and Gaza. We seek the Lord for the following prayer requests:
Pray the Lord pours out His Holy Spirit upon His children in the region – that our brothers and sisters boldly share the hope that lies within them, and continue to bring forth the fragrance of Christ in such difficult times.
Pray that both Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza are liberated from the terror imposed by Hamas.
Pray for the wisdom of regional leaders, and U.S and other leaders, to know how best to resolve this crisis.
Pray for the Lord to comfort and heal those on both sides of the conflict who have been injured and/or traumatized by these events.
Pray that Israel's spiritual leaders will call the nation to prayer and fasting and reading of the Bible, as all wise kings of Israel and Judah did in ancient times.
Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord And rely upon his God. Isaiah 50: 10
You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
Four Ways Christians Can Make A Difference During the Syria & Egypt Crises
Joel C. Rosenberg
When it comes to the crises in Syria and Egypt, Christians should not sit idly by on the sidelines and watch others make moves we agree or disagree with. The Scriptures indicate we can and should play an active role in times of trouble — our top priorities should be to learn, pray, give and go.
1. LEARN — “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,” we read in Proverbs 1:5. It is important that we learn all we can about what is happening in Syria and throughout the Middle East through the lens of geopolitics and economics. But it’s also vital that we learn to see the region through what I call the “third lens,” the lens of Scripture. Only then can we truly begin to understand what the enemy is doing, what God is doing, and what we should be doing as followers of Jesus Christ.
2. PRAY — “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” we read in Philippians 4:6-7. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” How are you doing in terms of praying during these Syrian and Egyptian crises? We need to be praying daily — indeed, several times a day — knowing that our God is a prayer-hearing, and prayer-answering God, a wonder-working God. Let’s look to Him and trust Him more, especially in such dark times. Specifically, we need to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Syria that God would give them great courage and boldness in the midst of war and persecution. We need to pray that God would have mercy on all the people of Syria and Egypt, comforting them in their sorrow, healing their physical and emotional wounds, and giving them wisdom to know where to go to be safe from harm and to receive the food, clothing, shelter, and medical care their need. We need to pray that the Gospel of Jesus Christ be communicated clearly, powerfully, compassionately and consistently to all the people of Syria and Egypt, and praying that all Arabs would turn away from Islam to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can and will forgive them, protect them, heal them, comfort them, encourage them, and provide for their every need. We need to pray for our leaders to have wisdom to know the right course of action. Whether we agree with them or not — whether we like them are not — we are to pray for wisdom and discernment so our leaders can distinguish truth from error, fact from fiction. We are to pray for patience and for courage for our leaders, so they don’t act rashly, but that they act with determination when the time is right. We are to pray that they govern well, protecting life and liberty, above all. We should also pray that they turn to the God of the Bible in prayer, as well, to receive “wisdom from above” and not earthly wisdom (see James chapter three).
3. GIVE — Jesus said, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21). As we look at the traumas in Syria and Egypt — but also in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq – it is important we Christians who have means seek opportunities to give to others. We should give to ministries that are caring for the poor and needy in the Middle East, feeding widows and orphans and refugees and war survivors, sharing the Gospel with them, teaching the Word of the God, encouraging Arab pastors, providing Bibles and other evangelistic literature and DVDs, assisting with Arab Christian conferences, and standing with the Arab Church in a variety of other ways. The Joshua Fund is one such organization. Our mandate is to mobilize Christians around the world to bless Israel and her neighbors — including Syria and Egypt — in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3. For security reasons, we can’t often describe exactly the projects we’re investing in, but everything I have just mentioned are efforts The Joshua Fund is involved with — if you would like to give a secure, online, tax-deductible financial contribution to such work via The Joshua Fund, you can click here and learn more.
4. GO — “Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded…” (Matthew 28:19-20) At the moment, of course, it is too dangerous for the average Christian to go to Syria to help proclaim the Gospel, make disciples and encourage the Church. For that we need to depend on the local Church in the region and ministries that serve the local Church. But you and I can go to our friends and neighbors and small group Bible studies and home fellowship groups and Sunday School classes and other groups. We can go and share this material with others. We can go and tell them that Christ loves the people of Syria and Egypt, and all the people of the Middle East, and that we must, too. You can go and lead them in prayer, and encourage them to invest financially in God’s work in the epicenter.
The point is: Christians are not to be passive. We are to be engaged in God’s work, especially in times of wars and rumors of war. We are to learn, pray, give and go — and to lift up the name of Jesus in everything we do. May God bless you as you serve him at this critical time.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:6)
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity,” the Apostle Paul wrote in I Timothy 2:1-3. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-3)
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:5-8).
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”‘” (Luke 18:9-14).
“‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins’” (Mark 11:22-25).
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
“The Power of the Word,” was the theme of the 2013 Epicenter Conference. Joel and the guest speakers explored how God’s Word can dramatically transform individuals, leaders and nations by studying the lives of Ezra, Nehemiah, King Josiah and the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Please watch and allow “The Power of the Word” to transform your life.
Text as prepared for delivery for the 2012 Epicenter Conference
Albuquerque, New Mexico
September 12, 2012
Good evening, and thank you, Skip. It is an honor to be here, and I am grateful to call you my friend. Pastor Skip Heitzig has a great love for the people of the Middle East, both Jews and Arabs. He has traveled extensively in the region and preached the Word of God in Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon. He’s also led more than 30 tours to Israel.
On behalf of The Joshua Fund board and staff, welcome to the 2012 Epicenter Conference….welcome to those of you here with us in Albuquerque, New Mexico….and to those watching this webcast from Israel and around the world. We are deeply honored that you would join us.
Over the next few days, you’re going to hear from Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian pastors and ministry leaders – Jews and Arabs – about how they see enormous threats and challenges….what they see God doing in the Middle East today….and what they think the future holds.
You’re going to hear from some of the world’s leading Biblical scholars on some of the most controversial and sensitive issues concerning the theology of the Land of Israel….the worldwide movement inside the Church known as “Replacement Theology.” What does it mean? How much of the Church believes it? Why does it matter?
What’s more, you’re going to learn about Biblical prophecies that speak to the future of the epicenter….and practical ways you can make a positive difference to the lives of real people in the region – Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Tonight, I have two objectives:
First, to define the “epicenter.”
Second, to describe the current “State of the Epicenter.”
Defining The Epicenter
What do we mean by using the term “epicenter”? It is a geological term. But I think it aptly describes the Scriptural place of Jerusalem, Israel and the Middle East.
Ezekiel 5:5 – “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her.”
Ezekiel 38:8,12 – “In the latter days, you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely all of them….at the center of the world.”
Acts 1:8 – The Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “[Y]ou will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Revelation 21:2 – “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”
The Bible is clear:
Israel and its capital, Jerusalem, is the geographic center of the world from God’s perspective.
Jerusalem is the birthplace of the Church, and thus the spiritual center of the world.
Jerusalem is also the last city ever mentioned in the Bible, and the focal point of all human attention as we approach the end of history.
This is why the eyes of the nations are increasingly riveted on Israel and her neighbors, the epicenter of the momentous events that are shaking our world and shaping our future.
State of The Epicenter
Now, what is the State of the Epicenter in 2012?
It pains me to report tonight that great darkness is descending on the people of the epicenter. Radical Islamic militants – both Sunni and Shia – are rising to power in one country after another….lawlessness is spreading….violence against Christians and Jews and Americans is intensifying….the global economic crisis is pushing millions of people in the Mideast further into poverty and causing them to struggle even more to make ends meet…..and the evidence suggests the most devastating war in the modern history of the epicenter could be just days or weeks away.
At the same time, amidst this darkness, there is hope.
First, the Lord God is still on His throne. Still sovereign. Always a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God, a wonder-working God. That’s why we have hope.
We saw two big answers to prayer this year:
For one, Gilad Shalit came home – Shalit is the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas 0n June 25, 2006. But God heard the prayers of His people. He showed mercy to Gilad and his family. He was released on October 18, 2011 after 1,940 days in captivity.
For another, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was released from an Iranian prison – Nadarkhani is an Iranian Muslim convert to Christianity. He faced a death sentence in Iran on charges of apostasy. But God heard the prayers of His people. He showed mercy to Pastor Youcef and his family. Youcef was acquitted on the apostasy charges. He was found guilty of sharing the Gospel with Muslims and sentenced to three years in prison. But was released in the last few days, having already served his time.
Many of you prayed for these men. Thank you. Keep praying for them. And let us take a lesson from Pastor Youcef’s example.
If you were arrested and charged with sharing the Gospel with a Muslim – or anyone in or from the epicenter – would there be enough evidence to find you guilty?
Second, in Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” What’s more, Christ is coming back soon and all of us who are born again by faith can rest assured that we are going to spend eternity in heaven with the Lord. That, too, is why we have hope.
The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully in the epicenter. More Jews and more Arabs and more Iranians are coming to faith than any other time in the history of the world. As the darkness grows darker, Christ is shining more brightly, and many are being drawn to the Lord.
Watchmen On The Wall
Please turn in your Bibles to Ezekiel 33:1-6.
“And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, “If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.”’”
Two important questions emerge from this passage:
Will you and I be watchmen on the wall able and willing to see the threats rising, or will we turn a blind eye?
In light of such rising threats, will you and I act with love and honor and compassion and courage, or will we keep silent?
Since the last Epicenter Conference last summer, I’ve taken two trips that moved me deeply. Last November, I traveled with several pastors to Poland to visit the death camps in Auschwitz. A few weeks ago, Lynn and I took our boys to visit the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor. I went to these places to remember what happens when people ignore emerging threats and don’t take decisive action.
To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.
We didn’t understand the threat posed by Adolf Hitler and the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s, and we were blindsided by the invasion of Europe and the death camps of the Holocaust.
We didn’t understand the threat posed by Imperial Japan in 1941, and we were blindsided by the attack at Pearl Harbor.
We didn’t understand the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in 2001, and we were blindsided by the attacks of September 11th.
Today, too many in governments around the world – and too many in the Church – either don’t see the evil rising in Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and throughout the epicenter, or refuse to take action.
Tragically, the Arab Spring has been a catastrophic failure. All hope of the rise of free nations with free elections and free economies and freedom of speech and worship have been dashed. What are rising instead are dangerous Radical Islamic regimes that will oppress millions of people and foment violence and war.
The new leaders of Libya are Radical Islamists – members or allies of the Muslim Brotherhood.
They are committed to creating an Islamic republic and imposing Sharia law on the people of Libya as part of the Islamic caliphate.
They have a deep hatred for Israel and the United States.
Yesterday, Islamic militants attacked the American consulate in the city of Benghazi. They murdered U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. They murdered three other U.S. diplomatic staff.
The Libyan government did precious little to defend the lives of Americans.
The new President of Egypt – Mohammed Morsi – is a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
He hates Israel, despises the United States, is committed to holy war against all infidels, and has stated clearly he’s going to turn Egypt into an Islamic republic under Sharia law.
Morsi gave a speech at Cairo University in May: “The Qur’an is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path, and death in the name of Allah is our goal.”
Last month, Morsi became the first Egyptian leader in a generation to visit Iran and begin rebuilding ties to the radical mullahs in Tehran.
Yesterday, some 2,000 radical Muslim militants stormed the U.S. embassy grounds, tore down the American flag, and raised the flag of Islam.
The Egyptian security forces did precious little to stop them.
This is a country to which the U.S. provides $1.5 billion in foreign aid annually.
As of December 2011, some 3,500 Syrians had been killed in the revolution.
Today, more than 25,000 Syrian Arabs have been killed. A number of those are Syrian military forces. But most are civilians, many of whom have been massacred – slaughtered, even – by the Assad regime.
Today, there is growing concern that the Assad regime may use its stockpiles of chemical weapons against its own people, or allow its WMD to be transferred to terrorists groups, or lose control of its WMD and see those stockpiles fall into the hands of Israel’s enemies.
And then there is Iran.
In the summer of 2009, millions of Iranians turned out on the streets to protest their wicked government and seek a peaceful, moderate democracy. Sadly, the U.S. government did nothing to help them, and their movement was crushed.
Meanwhile, the mullahs are on a steady march to building the Islamic Bomb. The latest IAEA report provides more evidence that Iran is developing nuclear warheads.
Iran has enough enriched uranium for at least five nuclear warheads.
Iran has doubled its uranium enrichment capacity at its most secure, hardened, underground nuclear facility at Fordow, near the religious city of Qom, despite all of the economic sanctions.
The stakes are high. If the Ayatollah acquires nuclear warheads and the high-speed ballistic missiles to deliver them, he could do in about six minutes what it took Adolf Hitler six years to do, and that is kill six million Jews.
Keep in mind, it’s not just Israeli Jews at risk. Israeli Arabs are at risk. Palestinian Arabs are at risk. Jewish and Arab believers in Jesus are at risk.
The most dangerous corridor on the planet right now is the corridor between Tel Aviv and Tehran. Everyone who lives in this corridor is currently in grave danger.
That said, Iran does not seem to be taking seriously the prospect of an Israeli preemptive strike. Indeed, many in Israel and throughout the epicenter think all the talk of war is just bluster and “saber-rattling.”
Like you and millions of other Christians around the world, I’m praying for the peace of Jerusalem. And I know that we serve a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God, a wonder-working God.
God has heard our prayers, and I’m grateful that an Israel-Iranian war that seemed like it might break out any time in the past few years has not yet happened. This is an answer to our prayers, and we should keep praying.
But the Bible is clear:
Sometimes God allows wars to happen.
In Matthew 24, the Lord Jesus taught us that in the last days, we will see a rise of wars, rumors of wars, revolutions, violence, and lawlessness.
Yet He also promised that amidst all this bad news, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world, as a testimony to all nations, and then the end shall come.”
War and revolution can create the conditions by which hearts are more ready to hear the Gospel and receive Jesus as Messiah.
We don’t want war. We are commanded in Scripture in Psalm 122 to pray for peace. But sometimes God says “no.” Sometimes He allows war. What man plans for evil, God can turn for good.
In this context, I must report you tonight that I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu could be just days away from ordering a full scale attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
I pray there is another way. Events can change things suddenly. Nothing is impossible with God.
But evidence is rapidly mounting that Israel is going to war with Iran.
Israel’s Security Cabinet met last week for a 10-hour meeting to discuss the latest intelligence on the Iran nuclear threat and consider Israel’s military options. The Jerusalem
Post noted that this was the first time the full Security Cabinet has met for such an in-depth discussion of Iran in several months.
A senior advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu said last week: “We are entering the most fateful 50 days Israel has faced since, perhaps, the similarly fateful days prior to the Yom Kippur War.”
Troubling is that relations between the U.S. and Israel are deteriorating rapidly. Indeed, we have reached, in my view, an all-time low in this once solid alliance.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly announced the U.S. is “not setting deadlines” for Iran to stop illegally enriching uranium in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and to stop developing nuclear weapons.
President Obama and his senior aides have – thus far – refused to establish “red lines.”
Now, we learn that the President has turned down requests by Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet either in New York City during the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, or in Washington. The White House said there simply wasn’t time on the President’s busy schedule.
The President is, however, making time to appear on “The Late Show” with David Letterman while he’s in NYC.
This is very disturbing behavior for an American President who says that America “will always have Israel’s back” and claims Israel is one of America’s “greatest allies.” The President should always make time for an ally facing the growing threat of a nuclear holocaust. A Wall Street Journal editorial on Wednesday morning said the White House message to Israel seems to be, “You’re on your own, pal.”
Netanyahu’s response: “‘The world tells Israel: ‘Wait. There’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
How Should Christians Respond?
How, then, should Christians respond?
We must pray for peace, but prepare for war.
I want to take a few minutes now before we close this first session of the conference to share a video of what The Joshua Fund has been doing to prepare.
A few other points on how The Joshua Fund is preparing. Over the past few years we have:
Established and are assisting 12 relief distribution centers throughout Israel.
Providing humanitarian relief to both Jews and Arabs.
Equipping local believers to show God’s love and compassion in a practical way.
Purchasing trucks and vans for local believers to help them minister to the poor and needy.
The Joshua Fund warehouse staff in Israel purchases and ships/distributes approximately 45 tons per month of food and relief supplies to the poor and needy.
From inception, TJF has shipped 989 tons through our warehouse. By the end of October, we will hit over 1,000 tons.
In addition, we have helped another Christian organization in Israel purchase and distribute more than 500 tons of food and relief supplies in recent years.
Is this enough? No.
Is it more than was happening in the Land six years ago before TJF began? Yes.
Do we take any credit for the progress made? Not at all.
We are servants of a great and mighty God. We are trying to be faithful in a few things and if we are faithful, perhaps He will put us in charge of being more helpful.
The key is that God is sovereign. He is holy. He is moving powerfully. He is remembering the Jews and Palestinians that are poor and needy….and living in harm’s way….and in need of the prayers and encouragement and equipping of Christians from all over the world.
The Lord is raising up a movement of Christ-followers around the world – including many of you – who are committed to loving Israelis, because Jesus loves Israelis….and loving Palestinians because Jesus loves Palestinians….and loving Arabs and Persians throughout the epicenter because of Christ’s love for them.
This is how the Body of Christ is supposed to work – those who have praying, caring, serving those in need, and doing so in the name of Jesus Christ with unconditional love….and unwavering support.
We are to be watchmen on the walls. When we see threats, we need to warn people. We need to stand up and speak out. We need to act in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Christians may have very little geopolitical influence, but we are not powerless.
We can pray. We can preach the Word. We can proclaim the Gospel. We can encourage and equip our brothers and sisters in the epicenter. We can show Christ’s love and compassion to all in the epicenter.
Jesus commands us: Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. And love one another. At its core, that is what this conference is all about.
If we don’t obey the Lord, and love the Jews and Arabs and others in the epicenter, and shine as a light in the darkness, who will?
Leadership Conference held in Siegen Germany
One of the most exciting phrases we ﬁnd in the Bible is ‘Then they shall know that I am the LORD’. It often follows some incredible promise of God or precedes prophetically some powerful work that can only be credited to His hand.
This is what we ﬁnd at the end of Ezekiel 36 as God improbably promises to bring the broken nation of Israel back into the land. It precedes one of the most incredible passages in the Bible, found in Ezekiel 37, as God asks the prophets, “Can these dry bones live?” God then goes on to give Ezekiel a vision of the nation of Israel being resurrected, a promise which sustained hope over thousands of years of scattering and persecution of His chosen people. Over those centuries, this promise of God must have seemed not only improbable, but impossible. Yet, in this century, we have witnessed the beginning of God’s fulﬁllment of His promise.
In much the same way, God has made incredible—some might say impossible—promises to His Church. But, as the centuries have gone by and the years have taken their toll, many of His people have lost hope and see the fulﬁllment of God’s predictions about the future as true in theory, but having little practical application in their lives.
Joel C. Rosenberg is joined at the Pastors & Leadership Conference in Siegen, Germany by pastors Ray Bentley, Bob Botsford, Nick Long, David Guzik and Lance Ralston as we dig deeply into God’s Word. We will focus on Ezekiel 36-39 to see how God has been faithful to His promises in history past and will continue to be faithful in the future. The promises He has made to Israel and to us, His Church, are true and have powerful, practical application in our lives and ministries today.
This diverse group of theological experts will discuss several vital topics throughout the Epicenter Conference, including:
The Theology of the Holy Land: Understanding both Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures Concerning Israel
The Theological Debate Over the Holy Land: Understanding Replacement Theology, Why So Much of the Church Believes It, and Why It Matters
The Modern History of the Holy Land: Understanding the Dispute Over Territory
The Current Dynamic in the Holy Land: Understanding the Spiritual Condition of the Jewish and Palestinian People and How The Church Should Pray For and Bless Both of Them
The Future of the Holy Land: Understanding Bible Prophecies About God’s Plan for Israel and Her Neighbors
Special Music by Brenton Brown
A South African native and acclaimed worship leader, Brenton Brown’s journey changed when he moved to England and joined the Oxford Vineyard. Learning from Brian Doerksen, Brenton - though still young - wrote some of the church’s best-loved songs; Your Love Is Amazing, Lord Reign In Me and Holy Holy Holy.
After contracting M.E., the debilitating medical condition, Brenton returned home to South Africa, thinking his days at the front of church were over. Then, a breakthrough; a dramatic revelation of God’s sustaining power transformed everything. Out of this came the modern-day classic anthem ‘Everlasting God’. Having moved to America, Brenton has recently been writing with other artists like Paul Baloche and Matt Maher.
New songs have emerged - Adoration, Hosanna and Our God Is Mercy - and with them a new stage of the journey has begun to emerge. With this new collection of songs this is an ideal time to meet Brenton Brown.
The 2013 Epicenter Conference is scheduled to be held in Jerusalem on July 3-4th and will feature noted best-selling author and President of The Joshua Fund, Joel C. Rosenberg, as well as several special guest speakers. This two-day conference will feature in-depth Bible teaching, as well as relevant and timely panel discussions focusing on current events in the Middle East and God’s work continuing in the epicenter.
Plan now to join us for this significant conference event! You will also have the opportunity to join The Joshua Fund for our tour of Israel scheduled for June 25 through July 7, 2013. Walk where Jesus walked, pray where Jesus and the apostles prayed, learn Israel’s history, discover Israel’s prophetic future, meet the people of the epicenter and draw closer to the Lord. In addition to participation in the two-day Epicenter Conference, we will engage in a unique day of service, providing a rare opportunity to meet and serve the poor and needy communities in Israel.
With varying views and beliefs on Israel taught within the Church presently, what does the Bible say about the past, present, and future of Israel and the Palestinians? This is one of the critical questions facing Christians today, and one that has recently generated debate among Church leaders across the country.
Join us September 12-16th in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the 2012 Epicenter Conference. New York Times best-selling author, Joel C. Rosenberg, will be joined by several highly regarded theological experts to discuss in detail several essential issues relevant to the Church’s view of Israel and the epicenter region as a whole.
The three-fold mission of this year’s Epicenter Conference is to help pastors,
ministry leaders and lay people:
Develop a solid theological understanding of God’s love and plan for Israel and her neighbors;
Develop an accurate overview of Israel’s past, present and prophetic future, including an up-to-date understanding of the current spiritual climate in the epicenter for Israelis and Palestinians; and
Develop an effective way of communicating these truths to current and future generations of Christians.
Several vital topics will be covered throughout the conference:
The Theology of the Holy Land: Understanding both Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures Concerning Israel
The Theological Debate Over the Holy Land: Understanding Replacement Theology, Why So Much of the Church Believes It, and Why It Matters
The Modern History of the Holy Land: Understanding the Dispute Over Territory
The Current Dynamic in the Holy Land: Understanding the Spiritual Condition of the Jewish and Palestinian People and How The Church Should Pray For and Bless Both of Them
The Future of the Holy Land: Understanding Bible Prophecies About God’s Plan for Israel and Her Neighbors
Schedule and Venue Information
This is a non-ticketed, free of charge event. All seating will be open based on availability.
Wednesday, September 12th: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Friday, September 14th: 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Saturday, September 15th: 8:30am – 5:00pm & 6:30pm* – 8:30pm
Sunday, September 16th: 8:00am* – 9:00am, 9:30am* – 10:30am & 11:15am* – 12:15pm
*The Saturday evening message will be the same message as the three Sunday morning messages.
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