Special Reports

From Ethiopia to Israel: The Modern-Day Exodus

The remaining 9,000 Jews in Ethiopia stand “on the edge of water,” waiting for God to part the sea before them and usher them into their promised land of Israel. The Israeli government has agreed to help the remaining Ethiopian Jews, also known as the Falash Mura, make Aliyah over the next five years.

 

Biblical Bond

The Ethiopian Jewish community, which helps make Israel so culturally rich and diverse, traces its roots to the Bible. Some claim the Jewish population spread into Ethiopia under the rule of King Solomon, through his encounter with the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1–13 and 2 Chronicles 9:1–12). Others reach further back, drawing a connection to Moses and his Ethiopian wife, or credit the expansion of the tribe of Dan. Whichever is the case, there is no doubt the Jewish practices and traditions maintained by this community in Gondar, Ethiopia, predate the rabbinical teachings from the first and second century of our era.

The first modern contact with the community came in 1769, when Scottish explorer James Bruce stumbled upon them while searching for the source of the Nile River. His estimates at the time placed the population of Ethiopian Jews, called also Beta Israel, at 100,000.Still relatively unknown to the western world until the 20th century, this small minority was brought to light in 1904 when French-Jewish historian Jacques Faitlovitch visited Ethiopia and realized he shared his Jewish beliefs and traditions with the community. At first, the Ethiopian Jewry were suspicious of Faitlovitch, not believing a Jew could have white skin. Nevertheless, a connection was soon established between Beta Israel and the rest of world Jewry.

Miraculous Journey Home

In 1975 the Israeli government officially recognized Beta Israel as Jews, and granted them the "Law of Return,” an Israeli act permitting Jews to immigrate to Israel. In 1977, the first 120 Ethiopian Jews successfully arrived in Israel only after Prime Minister Menachem Begin agreed to exchange weapons for the Jewish lives in Ethiopia. In the mid-1980s, Ethiopia was struck with famines, corruption escalated, and civil wars broke out. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians lost their lives and many of the survivors fled to neighboring Sudan for refuge.

To rescue this remnant, the Government of Israel made a covert agreement with the president of Sudan to exchange money for these people. The rescue mission, called “Operation Moses,” began on November 21, 1984, and lasted about six weeks. Approximately 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were successfully brought to Israel in 23 secret flights passing through Europe to Israel. Over the next decade, Israeli Intelligence Agency helped an estimated 17,000 Ethiopian Jews immigrate from Africa to Israel.

In May 1991, the second miraculous rescue mission took place. Through an arrangement with the Ethiopian dictatorship, Israel received a 36-hour window to transport as many people as possible. Israel reacted quickly, and “Operation Solomon” set some world records on the first day – an El Al flight carried 1,122 passengers, including five babies which were born aboard. In total, 34 passenger planes were used, with seats removed to maximize capacity; each flight lasted over five hours, with no bathrooms, food or water. This operation brought 14,325 more Ethiopian Jews to Israel and the Beta Israel community was grateful to finally come home.

Land of their Fathers

Once in their promised land, a whole new set of challenges arose for the new immigrants. The Ethiopian Jews have faced many obstacles integrating into the Israeli society. Transitioning from a third world country to a very advanced society, and in most cases also from rural to urban communities, the Ethiopian Jews had to overcome differences in education, language barriers, and racial prejudice. Because the community in Ethiopia was separated from other Jewish communities around the world for centuries, they developed a unique set of religious practices which differ from what is typically considered Jewish. In Israel, they had to adapt to the various common values, which unify the international Jewish community.

Over time, the growing Ethiopian community in Israel has gradually integrated into the Israeli society through religious life, military service, education, and politics. Serving with the Israeli Defense Forces turned out to be pivotal for young Beta Israelis to quickly find common ground with other Israelis – the shared passion to protect the nation they love.

Fulfilling Biblical Prophecy

The remaining Jews in Ethiopia today are endangered by tribal conflicts, severe droughts, floods, and famines. Now is the time to rescue them out of life-threatening conditions and reunite them with family members already in Israel. As a new wave of Ethiopian Jews arrives in Israel this May, we have a unique opportunity to support these descendants of Israel in their Aliyah; their ascent to the land of their fathers.

Beta Israel are leaving their “land of Egypt” and embracing a bright future in their promised land of Israel. Stand on the water’s edge with these remaining Ethiopian Jews and witness our miracle-making God do the impossible. Partner with the ICEJ today to see them come home!

Your contribution to the Aliyah work of the ICEJ will be used to cover the costs of the flights to Israel and absorption process in the land for the Ethiopian Jewry. Absorption includes housing and assistance in practical integration: Studies in Hebrew language, immersion in Israeli culture, and more.

Join the ICEJ today and pave the way for more Ethiopian Jews to return to Israel! Send your gift here: 

More Ethiopian Jews Arrive in Israel in May

The ICEJ sponsors another large group of Ethiopian Jews approved by the Israeli government to make Aliyah

The next wave of Aliyah from Ethiopia arrives in Israel this May! The ICEJ is committed to standing with these families every step of the way. Therefore, as soon as they are back in Israel, we will help them settle in their promised land.

Most Ethiopian Jews returned to Israel in the early 1990s. However, some remained in their small community in this poor African country, caring for their elders and waiting for a future opportunity to make Aliyah. They long to come home to Israel. In November 2015, the Israeli government announced its intention to bring up to 9,000 Ethiopian Jews home by 2020. On October 9, 2016, the first wave of 63 of them arrived in Israel, thanks to the Christian support through the ICEJ.

We are grateful for every gift dedicated to this special endeavor! By sponsoring the return of the Ethiopian Jews to Israel, we become part of God’s fulfillment of His promise, recorded in Isaiah 43:5-7. As Christians, we can carry the sons and daughters of God’s chosen nation back to the land of their fathers (Is 49:22). We will be blessed for it in return, according to the spiritual law described in the Bible.

What a joy it is to see these Jewish families make their home in their Promised Land! It is not too late and it is our honor to play a part in their journey!

Join the ICEJ today and pave the way for more Ethiopian Jews to return to Israel! Send your gift here: 

Longing For Zion

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord…”

(Psalm 48:1-2a -NIV)

This is a year of Jubilee celebrations for Jerusalem. In 2017, Israel marks fifty years since the city was reunited in the Six-Day War, as well as one hundred years since the liberation of Jerusalem by British General Sir Edmund Allenby. Yet this year also holds one more important Jubilee salute for Jerusalem: The discovery of the ruins of the ancient City of David by Sir Charles Warren in 1867, exactly 150 years ago.

Warren came to the Holy Land under a commission from the Palestine Exploration Fund, chartered by Queen Victoria, to study the suitability of the land for Jewish settlement. But his time here was most notable for his efforts to uncover the site of the Jewish temples.

Denied permission by the Turks to excavate on the Temple Mount, Warren began digging down several meters away from its retaining walls and then tried to burrow sideways to reach the Mount from below. During this tunneling activity, he inadvertently came upon a circular crevice in the bedrock leading hundreds of feet south and eventually reaching the Gihon Spring. Now known as Warren’s Shaft, it turned out the long tunnel was largely a natural formation. But his digs in the Gihon area soon revealed ancient fortifications and a vertical, man-made shaft leading down to the spring from above, prompting him to conclude that the original City of David lay south of the Temple Mount. David’s actual city had become so lost under centuries of rubble that “Zion” eventually shifted westward to present-day Mt. Zion. Yet Warren’s theory has since been proven correct, and his gritty efforts birthed the new field of biblical archaeology.

WITH THIS unlocking of Jerusalem’s biblical past 150 years ago, the city re-emerged onto the world stage. The discovery seemed to stoke the Jewish longing to return to Zion. In the years following, the first waves of the modern-day Aliyah began arriving from Russia. Israeli president Reuven Rivlin recently recalled how these early pioneers were drawn by their yearning for Jerusalem. They may have settled along the coastal plain in such new towns as Rishion LeZion and Petah Tikvah, but in their hearts they were returning to Jerusalem. Many had just started walking in the direction of Jerusalem, which they knew because their daily prayers had always pointed the way.

The ancient City of David continues to give up her secrets and to draw Jews back up to Zion. Excavations of the site accelerated following that incredible Jubilee release fifty years ago, when eastern Jerusalem returned to Jewish hands. Since then, archaeologists have located David’s Palace, his likely treasury vault, and the outer walls and towers protecting his fortress city. A number of bulla, or clay seals, have been found in the palace confines with the names in ancient Hebrew of King Hezekiah and several royal advisers to the Judean kings, all mentioned in Scripture. Other proofs have surfaced elsewhere in the land, such as the Tel Dan stele (inscribed stone) referencing the “House of David,” which confirm that David and Solomon ruled over a large kingdom. This has all validated that the Jews are not foreigners who have stolen this land from others, but are a native people who have returned to their ancestral homeland.

WHEN THE Temple envisioned by King David was completed by his son Solomon, Jerusalem became more than just an administrative capital. It was transformed into a majestic center of worship and pilgrimage for Jews and others who revered the Creator God. From Jerusalem, the Jews developed one of the greatest cultures of antiquity, which would have lasting, universal significance.

Inspired by David – their renowned warrior/poet – the Jews began writing songs to express their devotion and awe for Jerusalem, and especially for the courts of the Lord. These hymns not only extolled the Lord God, but also exalted Jerusalem as His resting place. There were even specific psalms to be sung while ascending up to the city and when entering the Temple courts. Jerusalem acquired such a lofty status that even visiting royalty were driven to their knees.

When the Jews were later taken captive, the Babylonians knew how to make the pain of exile really sting, demanding: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” (Psalm 137:3)

And when the Jews returned and built the Second Temple, Jerusalem took on even more allure and grandeur, only to later be sacked by the Romans. For centuries afterwards, the city languished and the Temple lay desolate. But the pull of Jerusalem was always there, as Jews continued to pray towards her and long for what they had lost. Even well into Christian times, Jerusalem was still viewed as the center of the world, as attested by the famous 15th century map by Heinrich Buenting.

TODAY, the incredible finds in the ancient City of David are rekindling the longing for Zion. They are awakening a sense of pride within the Jewish people and deepening their attachment to the land and the city. They realize their ancestral heritage is truly rooted in this land; that they are not intruders, but have come home to Zion. For instance, a brand new poll of Israeli Jews has found that 79% want to retain a unified Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, while 83% oppose transferring the Temple Mount to the Palestinians. In this year of Jubilee for Jerusalem, what will happen next to ignite an even greater longing for the courts of the Lord? Does the City of David hold more secret treasures which it will give up this year?

For Christians, the ongoing discoveries in the City of David also hold great worth. They show our Bible is true and strengthen our hope in the soon return of that remarkable Son of David, to take up his throne in Jerusalem. And as for exalting Jerusalem – the New Testament even presents the city as a bride coming down from heaven

So make sure to come join us in Jerusalem for this Jubilee celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. There is much to see and experience in the City of God.

ICEJ Tribute to Pastor David Davis

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem joins the Body of Christ in Israel and around the world in marking with sadness and yet rejoicing the passing of our dear brother Pastor David Davis. He died on Sunday at age 79, having ran a complete and victorious race for the Lord. He leaves behind a unique and lasting legacy as an able minister of the oneness that can be found in Christ among both Jews, Arabs and Gentiles.

Pastor David Davis has been a pillar of the Messianic Jewish community in Israel over the past generation, most notably as the founding pastor of the Carmel Assembly (Kehilat HaCarmel) on Mount Carmel, near Haifa. He was enjoying a successful acting and teaching career in New York City in the 1980s when the Lord called him into ministry and sent him to Israel under the direction of David Wilkerson and the Times Square Church. Arriving in Israel in 1981, he launched a Bible-based recovery program for Arab and Jewish drug addicts. His early fruits of ministry became the nucleus for the new congregation Carmel Assembly, which soon grew into one of the largest fellowships in the Land.

Along with his wife, Karen, a gifted worship leader, Davis led the congregation for over 25 years. During that time, the Carmel Assembly expanded into many multi-faceted outreach programs to the local community while also gaining respect and admiration from Evangelical Christians worldwide. 
 
“Pastor David Davis was one of the great pioneers of the local Body of Christ, particularly in the way he managed to bring Jews and Arabs together in the Messiah,” said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, President of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. “This came about not only because he had a great gift for bringing different people together, but he also had a very purposeful vision to see unity among believers, which he achieved despite the conflicts in the Land. It has been truly amazing to see the fruit of his efforts over the years, as Jews, Arabs and Gentiles have joined to worship the Messiah with one heart.” 
 
There are many pastors and ministry leaders in Israel who were deeply impacted by the life and teaching example of Pastor David Davis, so the fruit of his labours will continue to grow in the years to come. 
 
Davis had spent the last year or so battling cancer and was completely recovered, but he fell ill last week and passed away on Sunday. He is survived by his wife Karen and their two adopted sons.

ICEJ Warmly Remembers MK Rabbi Benny Elon

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem notes with sadness the passing of Rabbi Benny Elon this past Friday. He will always be remembered by the pro-Israel Christian community worldwide as one of our truest and dearest friends within Israel’s national leadership.


During his career as a spiritual leader, educator and government official, Rabbi Benny Elon was an exceptional representative of the Jewish people and a passionate defender of the entire Land of Israel. He had a special rapport with Christian audiences, weaving together Israel’s biblical and modern history in ways that few can. Rabbi Elon especially stood out for his keen insights into the Hebrew Scriptures, his warm, folksy speaking style, and his visionary pursuit of closer Jewish-Christian relations.

A leader of the national religious camp, Elon was a pioneer of the hesder yeshivas which combine army service with Torah studies. He was a Member of the Knesset from 1996 until 2009, and twice served as Minister of Tourism. It was during the height of the Second Intifada in 2002, when tourism to Israel was sharply down, that Elon noticed Evangelical Christians continued to visit the country to not only tour the biblical sites but also to stand in solidarity with the Jewish state. Moved by their genuine support for his nation, Elon spent the latter part of his professional career reaching out to Christians and forming alliances that will continue to build on his legacy in the decades to come.

While still in parliament, Rabbi Elon became the second chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies’ Caucus, which serves as the primary channel for Christian leaders and organizations to formally engage with Israel’s elected officials. He also launched the Israel Allies Foundation, a global network of Christian parliamentarians who seek to coordinate their stands in defense of Israel and to promote Judeo-Christian values. Today, the IAF has established sister caucuses in more than 30 parliaments around the world.

Rabbi Elon had been battling health concerns since he was first diagnosed with throat cancer some ten years ago, yet he courageously continued his activities to build support for Israel among Christians and others. He is survived by his wife, Emuna (a journalist and author), and their six children.

"Jesus, help me get out of here!"

In January this year I flew to India to minister in four different states of this huge country. I was hosted as usual by our ICEJ India Director Pastor ‘Dany’ Meka Padma Rao with whom I have traveled and ministered together many times before. But this time was radically different and very special, since the Lord Jesus had just saved him from death and miraculously healed him.

In early November, Pastor Dany’s life should have ended on earth, but instead God used this tragic incident to display His saving love and miraculous power in His servant for all to see and hear!

Pastor Dany’s miraculous survival and healing

Early one morning, at the beginning of November 2016, Pastor Dany woke up at home in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, to pray and to work on his computer. He quietly went to the kitchen and closed the door behind him. While in the kitchen he suddenly noticed the smell of gas, so he checked for a leak. Everything seemed fine, so he proceeded to switch on his computer. Instantly the gas cylinder exploded in the kitchen, right where he was; the room erupted in flames and the building started to collapse.

Pastor Dany cried out to the Lord with one single prayer: “Jesus, help me get out of here!” Protecting his face with his arms, he somehow stumbled through the raging fire, over rubble and into the street, where many neighbors had gathered, having heard the explosion. He was immediately taken to a clinic, but due to extensive burns on his arms, face and legs, they could not treat him. Thankfully the second clinic received him and he was admitted to the hospital.

In the midst of his suffering from extreme physical pain and also great emotional sense of loss, his one comforting thought was: His family was safe. Had he not closed the kitchen door, that would not have been the case.

For three days Pastor Dany laid in bed with excruciating pain; his arms and legs covered with bandages, his face badly burned by the flames. During those three long days he thought surely his life was over. He feared he would never move his arms again, be able to continue his ministry, or look after his family. He felt completely crushed.

However, after those three days, early in the morning something miraculous and supernatural happened. Pastor Dany had a vision. In his vision a man came to him saying: “Why are you crying? Why are you in pain?” With bewilderment, Pastor Dany answered: “I cannot move my arms, I cannot even move my fingers. Isn’t it obvious? My whole life is over.” And he added: “Who are you?” The man in the vision replied: “I know who you are. I have met you in Jerusalem. Now start moving your fingers.”

In this vision, the man asked Pastor Dany to do exactly the thing he had been unable to do. By faith, Pastor Dany listened, and his fingers started to move! “Now move your arms,” he was told. He did, and his arms started working again! Experiencing this amazing healing in his arms, by his own initiative Pastor Dany proceeded to get up from the bed, and was able to walk on his own to the bathroom! His mother, who had been in his hospital room with him for three days, was awestruck asking him what he was doing. Soon other patients would come around to see how “the Pastor is now walking!”

On the fourth day, Pastor Dany requested his bandages with burnt skin be peeled off, reassuring the hospital staff he was ready to endure the pain. That day they removed two kilos of skin off of his frail body. The doctors had advised it would take two to three months before he would be ready to leave the hospital. But lo and behold, Pastor Dany was able to walk out of the hospital on the ninth day, and was preaching at his local church the very next day! No one could believe it!

His colleagues confessed they had lost all hope for him. And here he was, alive and well! His doctors requested Pastor Dany’s permission to use pictures of his healed arms; his neighbors had been amazed when he walked out from a collapsing building to begin with, and now that he was back with his burns completely healed, they all were giving glory to God for saving his life and healing him! It was so clear that only the one true God could do this.                  

Ministering together again

This glorious and supernatural healing testimony became our theme as we joyously traveled together with Pastor Dany through his country. We ministered at local churches, led seminars for pastors and leaders, and so much more throughout India: In Mumbai in Maharashtra state; in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state; in Bangalore in Karnataka state; and in Chennai in Tamil Nadu state. Hundreds from across the denominations came to the ICEJ seminars, and it was also a great privilege to minister in Chennai at a church of 3000 members.  

During this remarkable visit to India, I felt led in my heart to deliver a message to our Indian brothers and sisters of how God used the nation of Israel to bring Jesus into this world. Joyfully we spoke of our Savior Jesus, whom virgin Mary carried in her womb, and who after His resurrection and glorification lives today in our spirits and our hearts! Combined with Pastor Dany’s powerful testimony, the impact of this message was strong and encouraging to all who came to listen.

Niger and Azerbaijan Connect with Israel

At the beginning of February Dr. Jürgen Bühler, the ICEJ President, and Rev. Juha Ketola, ICEJ Vice President – International Affairs, along with Israeli former Minister and Knesset member Moody Sandberg, now the Chairman of Keren Hayesod, paid a visit to Niamey, the capital of Niger. The ground work for the visit was done by the ICEJ West-Africa Representative Dr. Abdou Maiga, who together with the ICEJ Niger National Director Pastor Moctar Soumana hosted the visitors from Israel. The delegation was warmly received by high-ranking officials in the country and visited some of the governmental offices in the Niger capital.

The ICEJ has had a branch in Niger for a few years, and though officially the Christian minority is said to be less than 10% of the population, the churches are seeing an increase in numbers and the representation continues to grow. Nevertheless, this mostly Muslim nation, enclosed by the Saharan desert, is one of thepoorest countries in the world. One third of babies born in Niger are malnourished and half of the nation’s children under the age of 14 are forced into labor. About 80% of the country is illiterate.

When the Israeli delegation met with the head Imam of the Islamic Community in Niger, Sheikh Omar Ismael, he described his country as “a sick man.” This provided Dr. Bühler an opportunity to share his testimony of healing through the power of Jesus, and the ICEJ President assured the leaders in Niger that, as Christians, we will pray for their nation.

The ICEJ strongly believes as a ministry we can help improve the social and economic well-being of the Niger people in the future, and thus a visit like this is of great importance. We invite Christians around the world to pray with us for the people of Niger – may we become witnesses of their healing as a nation!

 

Azerbaijan Blesses Israel

By Serguei Popov

Located in the South Caucasus region, at the crossroads of Southwest Asia and Southeastern Europe, Azerbaijan is historically a Muslim country. Bordering Iran, Russia, Georgia and Armenia, this former soviet country has been involved in many conflicts and to this day reaps the fruit of an extended war with Armenia. The Republic of Azerbaijan has the second highest population percentage-wise of Shia Muslims in the world. For that reason, there is a special relationship between Azerbaijan and Iran, where citizens of Azerbaijan can freely travel to Iran without a visa. The small Jewish population, currently estimated between 10 to 20 thousand, has a long history in the land, reaching as far back as 2,500 years.

The leadership of the ICEJ took a bold step to enlarge itsinfluence in the region and recently appointed an official representation in the Republic of Azerbaijan.On Sunday, the 5th of February, the Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in the country opened its doors for us, and expressed a sincere desire to form a lasting relationship with the ICEJ, in order to bless Israel. The president of the Bible Society of Azerbaijan, Rev. Rasim Khalilov and another spiritual leader in the country, Rev. Aleksander Neretin, agreed to make the ICEJ representation in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, go public this spring.

We ask you to pray with us for Azerbaijan today! Lift your prayers for God to open all the right doors in this country, and wisdom for ICEJ to operate effectively in this unique environment at this time in history.

 

Remembering the Perished, Caring for the Survivors

Two days each year are set aside to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, an important reminder to the world to never turn a blind eye to hatred. European Jews that survived Nazi atrocities are now in our care, but not for much longer.

The first Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed internationally on the 27th of January, when the concentration camp in Auschwitz was liberated by Allied forces. The second memorial day, observed in Israel and known as Yom HaShoah, usually falls in April or early May and is linked to the Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, representing the global family of Christians while being located in the land of Israel, is mindful of both commemorations. 

In January, the ICEJ marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day by laying a wreath at Yad Vashem and then participating in a ceremony with Israeli Knesset members and hundreds of guests at our Home for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa. Holocaust survivors Mordechai Lieber and Shalom Sztamberg shared personal stories of their horrible experiences during the Holocaust, remembering the many family members of attendees who perished.

Haifa Home resident Shoshanna Kolmer together with Haifa Home director Shimon Sabag and ICEJ senior spokesman David Parsons ignited a flame of commemoration. “We are here today to remember and we will not cease to do so, and we will never forget what happened during the Holocaust,” Yudit Setz from the ICEJ assured the crowd, specially addressing the Survivors present. “We love you and care for you and we will stand with you always.”

This year on Yom HaShoah, all Israelis will once again stop in their tracks and remain silent for a minute to remember the ones they lost to human hatred and ignorance during World War II. The ICEJ will stand together with the people of Israel in their moment of mourning and reflection. On that day we will also continue making our love known to the Holocaust Survivors in our care.

YOUR SUPPORT IS VITAL in making sure the Holocaust Survivors KNOW LOVE in their latter days. Your gift to the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors ensures that the elderly in our care live the remainder of their days in dignity.

Our mandate is to carry the truth

We encourage everyone to visit Israel and study the richness of history encompassed in this land and its people. More importantly, we encourage every believer to go much deeper in their journey of discovery, all the while holding the Word of God tightly in their hand.

To provide Christian leaders an opportunity to go far beyond what any tour can offer, the ICEJ initiated the annual Envision Conference for Pastors, held at the beginning of each year. This January, leaders of churches and ministries from around the world once again gathered in Jerusalem for an intensive and inspiring time of growth.

Dr. Jürgen Bühler, the President of the ICEJ, welcomed the attendees with a powerful message of hope, pointing to the goodness and sovereignty of God through his testimony of healing. Each day brought together an array of speakers, including local pastors of both Jewish and Arab backgrounds, to teach, answer questions and connect with attendees from around the world.

“We have been so blessed by the sound Biblical teachings delivered here,” said Jon Smith, a pastor from New Orleans in the USA, who came to Envision with his wife Elizabeth and seven leaders from their church. “We are bombarded with so much confusion in the media. Here in Jerusalem, we gained a whole new perspective.”

“Now we can put faces to the stories we’ve heard,” added Elizabeth, also a pastor. “So we ask, God, how can we help? What do You want us to do? People are eager to give support to what they understand. So, we want to bring these teachings back to our church!”

Pastor Anna Chen was very encouraged by the conference and was looking forward to sharing what she learned with other Chinese believers who, as she mentioned, share the same vision as the ICEJ. “We want to bring unity among believers, also in their support of Israel. We need [this conference] to take this vision further! Whatever we learn, will return to this land with blessing.”

The leaders were excited to network with likeminded individuals from other countries in attendance, and share valuable insight with one another following some unique features of the program. One of these activities was a visit to the Knesset – the Israeli Parliament – where Envision attendees were greeted by Knesset Member Robert Ilatov and Director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus Josh Reinstein.

“I was so honored to have been in that room,” said Shannon from the USA group. “It helped me understand how I can stand with Israel in my own community. I appreciated the mandate we were given, to carry the truth.”

The conference concluded with a gala banquet, featuring special guests Robert Stearns of Eagles Wings and his good friend, a Jewish Rabbi, who encouraged everyone present to walk in integrity and serve as ambassadors of truth about Israel and the Middle East.

The ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler, along with our partnering Israeli pastors, invite you to join the Envision Conference 2018. Experience a time of refreshment in the presence of the Holy Spirit, while standing in the chosen land of Israel. 

PM Netanyahu visits Christian Embassy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a visit to the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem on December 21st to deliver his annual Christmas and New Year’s Greeting to the Christian world. Netanyahu’s traditional Christmas greeting was filmed on the grounds of the Embassy and the video posted on the prime minister’s official YouTube and Facebook pages. Within ten days, the video had received more than seven million views on Facebook alone, and also was posted on Fox News and numerous other major news sites. In his greeting, Netanyahu stated:

“To all of our Christian friends around the world, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I send you these greetings from Jerusalem. I'm standing in the courtyard of this magnificent International Christian Embassy. I'm so proud of our relations with our Christian brothers and sisters. I wonder for many of you if you remember the experience you had when you first visited Israel, when you saw the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or the Via Dolorosa or the Sea of Galilee or Nazareth. I'm sure it moved you deeply. And it moves us deeply to have this bond with you because we all know that this land of Israel is the land of our common heritage. It changed the story of humanity, it changed civilization. What a magnificent heritage it is. Yet, we also know that it is under attack these days, that the forces of intolerance, of barbarism that attack all religions attack Christians with particular vehemence. We stand with you and I'm proud of the fact that in Israel, this is the one place in the Middle East that the Christian community not only survives but thrives and it's no accident. It’s because of our commitment to religious freedom; it's because of our embrace of our heritage; it's because of our embrace of our common future. So please come to Israel. Come and visit me, I'm waiting for you. It will be a great experience for you. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.”

With Christmas falling on the same day as the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Jürgen Bühler responded by wishing the prime minister a “Happy Hanukkah,” and giving him a silver Hanukkah dreidel as a gift.

“It was a great honour to host the Prime Minister at our Embassy headquarters and to receive his good holiday wishes for Christmas,” said Bühler. “We know his warm, sincere remarks were greatly appreciated by Christians in lands far and wide. It also was a thrill to respond with our own ‘Happy Hanukkah’ wishes for him, his family and all the Jewish people. This indeed was a season when both communities could celebrate the triumph of light over darkness. And this timely display of solidarity shows once more that Israel is a country where religious freedoms are not only safeguarded but even encouraged.”

 

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