Thursday, April 12, 2007



Email from an Iranian Shiite Muslim who converted to faith in Jesus Christ and was on our prayer & vision trip to Israel: "I just wanted to thank both of you again and again for an amazing experience in Israel. There are no words to describe what we saw, experienced and learned. I'm so thankful for the friendships we established and all the wonderful people we met. As for me, I truly feel that I left a big piece of my heart there in Israel. My heart longs for that land and for her people. I don't know why. Is this longing normal for all believers who visit Israel?....I believe that for both [my spouse] and I the highlight of the trip was worshiping Yeshua with Messianic Jewish believers....I really believe that the Lord is preparing [us] for something. We just don't know what. Meanwhile, we will be still and wait for our Lord to speak to us in a quiet breeze as He spoke to Elijah on Mount Horeb."
Good morning from Washington and thanks so much for your faithful prayers for us. Words cannot express what an amazing time we just had with our team in Israel. A few highlights of God’s gracious answers to your prayers:
* HUMANITARIAN RELIEF -- In March, The Joshua Fund shipped $200,000 worth of humanitarian relief supplies to Israel to bless the poor and needy....another $200,000 worth of relief supplies are currently on their way to Israel....please pray that the Lord would continue to provide the finances necessary for this "bless Israel" project and that He would provide $300,000 to rent and fully outfit and staff a new 15,000 square foot warehouse in Israel for more aid distribution.

* HEALTH -- Edward Hunt, The Joshua Fund's Director of Operations, got very sick the week before we left for Israel. But his health improved enough just in time for him to come with us, and he improved steadily over the course of the next 10 days. Several others battled illnesses (including two ear infections) on the trip, but God was very kind and everyone had a life-changing experience.

* BAPTISMS -- I had the humbling privilege of baptizing seven team members in the Jordan River, including an Iranian Shiite convert to Christianity, several children, and my mother-in-law. Please pray for each of these believers to grow strong in the Lord and develop a passion for blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.

* PASSOVER AND PERSECUTION -- We celebrated Passover with a very dear group of Israelis in Jerusalem. For most of our team it was their first time celebrating “Pesach.” We also learned first hand of the very real persecution the believers in Beersheba (a city in southern Israel) have faced the from ultra-Orthodox Jews over the past year. What a special time to get to know them and celebrate God’s faithfulness together with them. Please pray for Israeli believers to be strong and courageous in the face of physical and verbal threats and intimidation.

* 25 NEW ISRAELI BELIEVERS -- We had private briefings with leaders of the Israeli Messianic movement, including a fourth-generation Israeli believer. We worshipped on Shabbat at a thriving Messianic congregation in Jerusalem called “Shemen Sasson” (oil of gladness). Three years ago, they had 60 people coming to their service. Today, they have more than 250, and many are new believers in Yeshua. The Joshua Fund partnered with Shemen Sasson to do a food distribution project to bless 620 poor and needy families in Jerusalem over Passover. The congregation is also involved in an outreach to young people who attend the New Age festivals that occur in Israel on the high holidays. Praise God, at least 25 Israeli Jews prayed to receive Yeshua as their Messiah during Passover week. Please pray that God would continue to bless these new believers and help them to grow strong in their faith. Please pray that the Lord would bless Shemen Sasson and the more than 120 Messianic congregations now operating throughout Israel. Please also pray that that He would raise up more Hebrew speaking harvesters and disciplemakers – the fields are truly white for harvest but the laborers are too few.

* PALESTINIAN BELIEVERS -- We also had a private briefing with four Arab evangelical leaders who are reaching Palestinians for Jesus. Two Palestinian Christian leaders in Gaza were able to get special passes from the Israeli military allowing them to come to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter. They came straight from the Erez Checkpoint to our hotel for the briefing. What heroes these folks are, facing persecution and death from Islamic radicals to advance God’s kingdom in the most depressing and desolate stretch of territory on the face of the earth. They told us that in 2001, there were only 20 known true followers of Jesus Christ in all of Gaza. Today, there are 60. More have come to faith but left for Europe and the U.S. Please pray for the dear saints in Gaza and the West Bank as they trust Jesus to build His church and not let the gates of hell prevail against them.

* EASTER IN JERUSALEM -- We celebrated the resurrection at a sunrise Easter service at the (most definitely empty!) Garden Tomb in Jerusalem with 1,400 believers from many nations. CNN was there to cover it and images of Edward and his wife, Kailea, worshipping our Risen Savior were broadcast all over the world.

* SO MUCH MORE TO PROCESS -- As you might imagine, there too much more to tell you – studying End Times prophecy at Armageddon (and eating lunch at the new McDonald’s that just opened there)….studying Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones in the ancient synagogue on the top of Masada where they actually found scroll fragments with Ezekiel 37 dating back some 2,000 years….singing worship songs and having quiet times of Bible reading and prayer on a wooden boat crossing the Sea of Galilee at sunset….walking the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday….floating on the Dead Sea….riding camels in the Judean wilderness….taking the kids to the Valley of Elah where David killed Goliath….and so much more….it was a very emotional time for all of us....please pray that everyone that came on the trip could process what they saw and heard and is able to distill the unique lessons God has for each of them.

** We are developing a Prayer & Vision Trip to Israel for next April. More details coming soon **