We’ve concluded Day 3 of a reunion and refresher for those who have attended the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem’s Christian Leadership Conference in Israel. I was blessed to attend in late-2015, and have enjoyed reuniting with classmates and others who attended between 2010-2017.
Yesterday was a day of challenge for us! There we sat, in a room full of staunch Israel supporters, yet I don’t believe any of us went to bed last night with the assurance that we have done all we can do to connect the church to Israel. There is so much to be done, and each of us have our own God-given means of accomplishing His purpose. Mine is to help others come to deeper realization of our role as Christians in understanding God’s purpose for us.
Daryl Hedding, Assistant Director of the US Branch of ICEJ, led off our sessions with “The Role of the Church in Combating Anti-Semitism,” where we were reminded that decisions made impact generations to come. When the Holocaust occurred, people declared, “Never again,” yet support of Israel has shrunk consistently since then. We are losing generations, as each one is making decisions that impact the next.
In Daryl’s work with young people, he illustrates steps he believes (and I agree) lead to that problem in many cases: Rejection of God’s Word (Humanism) leads to things such as Darwinian evolution, which leads to “survival of the fittest,” then racism and, ultimately, rejection of God’s people (anti-Semitism and genocide). Thus, it seems logical that, if one gets the beginning wrong (ie – teachings of Genesis), he will stray in the middle (ie – did God really give His Son to save the entire world?), and will likely miss God’s best in the end (ie – eternal life with Him).
The segway for the next session was Psalm 102, where we see and hear the distress of Israel (verses 1-11), before acknowledging the steadfastness of God and His compassion for His people (verses 12-17). What follows is striking. Verses 18-22 indicate that those things were written for a generation to come, and that the Lord will gaze upon the earth, set His people free, and bring about praise in Jerusalem. The challenge: we ARE that generation. Those living in this time have seen the Lord answer the distress call of the Jews and draw them out of the Holocaust. He is establishing them in their own land, and will one day soon bring praise to Jerusalem!
International Panel: Kenya, Malaysia, Scotland, England, Ghana
Yet anti-Semitism grows. We heard from an international panel of what is going on in their countries. A bright light is Ghana, where 70% are Christians and the country is very pro-Israel (thanks in part to Israeli aid in developing their military and other humanitarian efforts). However, Malaysia is primarily Muslim and is totally closed to any sort of relationship to Israel. In fact, as a whole, they hate Israel and will not allow their people to travel there. England and Scotland are seeing record numbers of anti-Semitic actions (including violence) and attitudes. Not only have evangelical churches become almost extinct, but only about 5% of those remaining are supportive of Israel (according to the panelists).
Following the panel discussion, we ran head-on into a direct challenge issued by Dr Susanna Kokkonen. Those of us in the west live in a “spoiled society” and we are tremendously complacent. Many are content to attend church each week, but how many are active in doing the work of the kingdom? One such work (though not the only work) is taking a stand for Israel. However, as it was pointed out, there are Christians being persecuted around the world and, in large part, we do nothing! We are watching Holocaust-type activity going on against “our own people,” but do not take a stand. Thus, if we take no stand for “our own,” how likely are we to take a stand for Israel and the Jewish people?
Wow…do you feel “hit between the eyes?” So did we…and “we” are a room full of people who absolutely love Israel! Please understand, this is not a guilt trip. God has called us all to something, and if you are doing that “something,” you are within His will. But, let’s diligently seek His will! Let’s petition the God of the universe to direct us. Let’s see what He has in store for those of us who will make Him Lord, not just Savior!
If we are that generation spoken of in Psalm 102, then the Lord is about to act on behalf of His people! Let’s be part of the action!
Blessings my friends!