I have never lived farther than five miles of where I live today. As a fifty-year-old man I have watched my home, rural Johnson County, Texas, change from a farming community to a growing suburb south of Dallas/Ft Worth. In all my young days, I had never placed a value on the importance of standing with Israel. It wasn’t a part of our southwestern culture. However, when I became a follower of Jesus, all of that changed. I learned very quickly that I am not just a resident of Texas but a resident of heaven who lives in Texas. If I was going to follow Him, Israel would have to become big in my heart.
That was in 1986 and I was only 19 years old. Nine years later, my young wife and I founded a church we called Open Door. We modeled it after the church of Philadelphia in the Bible, because we were sort of born breach. We started off as a food outreach and then later started church services. Our heart for reaching the lost, feeding the hungry and helping the hurt was a primary emphasis and continues today at Open Door. Our food bank became very successful and before we even realized it, we were responsible for over 1700 orphans in seven different orphanages on 4 different continents—all this from a church of less than 200 people.
Like any breach birth, there was a very scary and painful time. With such a small and poor congregation, we struggled to maintain these ministries and creatively met our financial obstacles. Leanna and I mortgaged our home seven times between 1995 and 2011 in order to grow our food bank and maintain our orphanages. There was no financial victory in our church for over 16 years. We literally were in survival mode and many times without even the basics of electricity. All the while, we fed tens of thousands of people every year and cared for thousands of children throughout the world.
OPEN WINDOWS FOR OPEN DOOR
At the end of 2012, I was approached by a ministry called Johnson County for Israel and asked if I would consider standing with a congregation in the Holy Land. I knew immediately a partnership with a MAOZ congregation was perfect because I had met Shira and Ari Sorko-Ram on a bus driving north to Galilee ten years earlier.
I didn’t want to just send money to Israel. I wanted to stand with the Messianic believers of Israel and it was apparent that God had already miraculously provided a relationship with the Sorko-Rams. So I did. We took our first offering and pledged our monthly partnership with Tiferet Yeshua Congregation—the Glory of Jesus congregation in downtown Tel Aviv. I spoke to Ron Cantor, one of the leaders there, and he prayed with me over the phone.
First of all, that initial offering was miraculous! I couldn’t believe the amount that came in on that mid-week service. Small by big church standards, but miraculous for us. Immediately—and I mean that same week—I began to see God bring our church out of poverty.
Within five days of our partnership, I was offered a 30-minute radio program on a local FM radio station—something that would eventually grow into airplay on three radio networks heard by potentially millions of people every day, all over the world. My radio show, Experiencing Real Life, was given to us within one week of our first real stand with Israel.
In April 2013, just five months after I began to stand with Israel, I was miraculously given a 5.5-million-dollar building with a sanctuary that seats 1000 people. Just like the radio offer, it was completely unsolicited and unexpected. I had never done business or ministry with the Pastor who handed me the keys to this amazing facility.
Since that time, Open Door has grown to be a congregation of several thousand people and all of us are standing with Israel. We had less than 100 people in our congregation for the first 12 years and less than 200 for the first 16 years. Today we reach well over 2000 people every week in attendance and thousands more every month through various events and outreaches.
Just this year we have seen over 2700 people give their hearts to Jesus who actually signed a documented card declaring their salvation. I believe there are many others. We baptized over 600 people at one baptism event and over 400 at another this year. There is legitimate revival and all of it parallels our stand with Israel.
Recently we launched another ministry called TroyBrewer.tv and through it, we have been able to save 61 young girls out of prostitution and sex trafficking. The numbers are rising!
Last month, Leanna and I visited Tiferet Yeshua and had the privilege of encouraging our partner congregation. It was beautiful and we spent Yom Kippur in the old city crying out for the Body of Believers in Israel.
As one who fathers orphans, I can tell you our heavenly Father favors His adopted children who stand with His biological children. When the stars of the heavens and the sands of the sea come together in unity under the Abrahamic Covenant of Yeshua HaMashiach, the windows of heaven are OPENED and everything is upgraded in a supernatural way.
Troy Brewer is the Senior Pastor of Open Door Church. His wife Leanna is Associate Pastor/CEO of SPARK worldwide. They have four children and two grandchildren. www.troybrewer.com
Yehuda with his junior high class.
Maoz Israel Ministries, has for years, recognized the importance of Makor HaTikvah (Source of Hope), the only elementary and junior high school in Jerusalem for children of Israeli Messianic Jewish families. Now, more than ever, as a new, ever-increasing wave of American and European Messianic Jews seriously contemplate returning to their homeland, this faith-based school is playing a significant role in the spiritual and educational growth of Messianic children.
Because of that, Maoz has sponsored scholarships for furthering education and certification of all its teachers in order for the school to receive accreditation and funding from the Israeli government with the aim of being a top-rated school which stimulates learning in a safe and calm environment as well as fostering personal growth and godly character, while rewarding hard work, honesty and personal accountability.
Maoz has also financially supported the school for a number of years since some parents of the 85 Messianic Jewish children, many of whom have multiple children at the school, cannot afford to pay tuition.
Within the last couple of years, the school has begun to see increasing enrollment as world events unfold, causing more and more Jews to immigrate to the country they see as a safe place for their family. Of course, with these increased numbers, there is a greater demand for added equipment, teaching staff and other assets in order to give the school a competitive edge.
Spiritually speaking, it is my opinion that this school has a very special mission. It is literally preparing a new generation of Messianic Jewish children to take their place in Israeli society as upstanding citizens who will be a light in this land.
This is a departure from the last generation—the now adult children of pioneering Messianic Jewish families. Oftentimes, these children were the only Messianic kids in their entire school or even in their communities. They lacked the kind of daily spiritual input and accountability that Makor HaTikvah students receive, and of course few had the freedom to share their faith with others or experience spiritual encouragement by their teachers and peers. Consequently, by the time they finished high school and the army, many simply fell away. Some did return to their biblical faith; sadly others have not.
One of the great strengths of Makor HaTikvah is that the school works hand and hand with the parents to insure that these children are taught in both word and deed what it means to follow Yeshua and His example, and living it through their lifestyle choices and values.
There is no doubt that these children will become strong pillars in Israel’s Messianic Jewish community and certainly in the land itself.
Makor Hatikvah is committed to providing an excellent Hebrew education that is both academic and spiritual, with an emphasis on the shared culture, history and values of our people; to promoting a love for God and His Word, to encouraging a personal walk with Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, respect for others and accountability for one’s actions; and finally to equipping our students for higher education, giving them the foundational skills and values necessary to live their lives as successful Jewish believers in the land of their forefathers. ~From Mission Statement
YEHUDA: MATH AND PHYSICS TEACHER
I was born in Hungary, one of 16 children in a strong Bible-believing family of Jewish descent. I had an autistic brother, who is probably the single-most reason I became a teacher since I felt motivated to patiently help him acquire a basic education. It was through these efforts I discovered my love for teaching. As communism started to lose its grip on Eastern Europe, I began to dig into my Jewish roots, and in 1996 twelve of us kids, along with my parents, made aliyah to Israel.
I moved to Tel Aviv and began working as a dishwasher, but eventually I decided to return to Hungary for five years to get a degree in philosophy and anthropology. Following that period, I returned to Israel and began to teach in the public schools. The first year I taught in a poor section of central Israel, and the second year I taught in a very high-end and much-desired school. To my surprise and dismay, I found that in both schools the Israeli environment and atmosphere was very coarse.
The children didn’t respect the teachers at all, because the parents didn’t respect the teachers. In fact, the teachers were actually afraid of the parents, and so the children could pretty much get away with anything. Teachers didn’t have the support of their administrators and it was clear to see that the principals as well as the school board members were also afraid of the parents. Consequently, when problems with children arose, I didn’t have anyone to turn to or support me.
Then I heard about a Messianic Jewish school in Jerusalem. When I came to have a look at Makor HaTikvah, I discovered a new world. The first thing I saw were students meeting at 7:30 a.m. for prayer and worship. I left the class almost in tears. I saw little angels. It was literally as if I was viewing the difference between paradise and hell!
Here there is no rebellion and no violence. This school of 85 children has small classes, so each child gets vital and personal attention. As I look around me, I see that all the teachers work really hard to make sure there is quality on every level in this school. Because of this, I can see great potential for its future.
In public schools, they teach the Bible as history and legend; many Israeli teachers don’t even believe the Bible is actually true. When we were in public schools; there was no discipline and the classes were huge. ~Student
I was raised in Texas in a family who loved Israel and the Jewish people. On a tour to Israel, I met Yaron, a Messianic Jewish guide, and soon we were married! We set up our home in Haifa where Yaron’s family lived. Today we have five children and Yaron has his own successful tour company.
I am a teacher by profession and was very hesitant to put our first child in Israel’s public school system, but the law required us to put our five-year-old in the mandatory kindergarten. She seemed to do well, making friends with other Israeli children that year.
However, when she began first grade—even though she was attending what was considered to be the best school in Haifa—we immediately saw a change in her behavior. She became mouthy, disrespectful and obedience became a challenge.
We visited her class and found the teacher to be very nice. But we also felt that a classroom of 38 kids was beyond the ability of any teacher to really educate well. And then we also learned that first graders were shown movies of which we did not approve. Furthermore, the school was bringing in entertainment such as a professional DJ who played hip-hop music—for first graders! It was clear that the combination of these things were deeply affecting our daughter’s attitudes.
Someone told us about Makor HaTikvah Messianic School. We visited and immediately saw the difference was like light from darkness. It was there and then that we decided to move to Jerusalem for our children’s sake. Almost immediately, our daughter Hannah had a heart change. Now, three of our children are in school and we couldn’t be happier!
Here they are taught values and behavior according to the Word of God. So there’s no inappropriate speech. The kids understand why they can’t be mean. In this safe environment they can really concentrate on excelling in their studies. I know that some parents make a great sacrifice to drive their children to this school from far distances and pay tuition rather than putting them in neighborhood, public schools which are free.
I am convinced this school will make a tremendous impact in causing our children to stay on track with their faith and become strong young people, committed to a personal relationship with the God of Israel and His Son, Yeshua along with being well-educated roll models who are successful and responsible citizens of Israel.
Here we have prayer and worship. We really study the Bible here. And we have great friends who believe as we do!
Children of Makor HaTikvah
Note: One of the reasons for low-quality secular education is that the Israeli state doesn’t have the financial resources needed to give its children a high-quality education. According to the press, average pay in Israel for teachers is $2750 per month. As a result, few talented Israelis choose to be educators. Professors and educators have been bemoaning the fact that we are losing ground with the reputation that Israel has for her innovative culture.
Perhaps the only mitigating factor for these young people is Israel’s army. Here, when it is a matter of life and death, discipline and order must be taught and must be obeyed. But unfortunately, when Israeli children are small, although Bible is a required school subject, they are not taught how to daily incorporate or internalize those Biblical standards and love of neighbor.
As far as morality and principles are concerned, every “free” nation’s children have filth flowing into their lives by TV, social networks, rap music, violent games, explicit movies and porn on their mobile phones. Israel is no exception. The unthinkable has become a tragic norm for our nation’s children.
Since this problem exists in every part of the West, it is surely the reason many faithbased schools have taken root—spiritual shelters where parents can send their children to grow up under the standards and benefits of the Bible. But in Israel, there are only two Messianic Jewish schools—one in Tiberius and this one in Jerusalem.
(There are two more teachers and an administrator who must finish courses each costing $2,900 for the year.)
Newlyweds: Emanuel and Natasha.
IstandwithIsrael helps the widow and the orphan though we don’t always understand….
Natasha was born in the Ukraine into a Messianic Jewish family. She was sent by her parents to Jerusalem at the age of 12 to a Habad (ultra-Orthodox) boarding school in Israel. At that time there were such religious schools in Israel that were taught completely in Russian because of the great flood of Soviet Jews immigrating over the last decade and a half.
The young girl spent a total of two years alone in Israel before her mother and extended family also made aliyah (immigration) to Israel. But now there were a number of mouths to feed—all of whom only spoke Russian.
Natasha didn’t finish school because she was needed to help make ends meet. She went to work at Café Jo—a very popular restaurant chain in Israel.
Working in another restaurant close by was a young man by the name of Emanuel—with a smile that lit up his surroundings. Some of his friends told Natasha about Emanuel—and they soon became close friends.
Emanuel’s story began in another part of the world. He was born in Eritrea, a small war-torn nation in Africa squeezed in between Sudan and Ethiopia. Half of the 6,000,000 Eritreans are Christian, and he was one of them. Since Emanuel’s birth, an on-going war ensued in Eritrea, which had declared independence from Ethiopia. Emanuel was forcibly conscripted into the Eritrean army at age 13. In that sad land, forced military conscription can last decades, and even today, the UN says some 5,000 young men risk their lives to escape the life of virtual bondage every single month.
After 11 years of forced military service, he found himself stationed near the Sudanese border and decided to make a run for the border. Safely in Sudan, he called his parents to send him money. He had heard that Israel was a good place to which refugees were fleeing. His parents’ anguish was great, but they gathered up what they could and sent it to him. He succeeded to make his way into Egypt.
From there, Bedouin human traffickers agreed to take him to the Israeli border—for $2,000. Eight people were loaded into a vehicle and they traveled for several days. They were given no food or water; one man died.
Near the border of Israel, the Bedouin unloaded their human charges and pointed them towards the Israeli border. The seven refugees knew they were in danger of their lives because if Egyptian soldiers spotted them, they would shoot them dead.
When the refugees reached the Israeli border, Israeli soldiers gave them water, food and clothes. Then they were put in an Israeli holding camp for several months. This was a period when Israel (before they built a fence) was being overwhelmed with thousands of African refugees brought across the Sinai desert by Bedouin and the government hadn’t yet figured out what to do with them.
After several months, the Israeli military let the refugees out of the holding camp and gave them a one-way ticket to Tel Aviv!
Emanuel found a job in a restaurant. He and Natasha began to write each other on Facebook. What was their common language? They each wrote in simple Hebrew using the English alphabet!
They fell in love—and married, with the blessing of a local Messianic Jewish congregation. And they gave birth to a beautiful little girl. She was the pride and joy of this happy couple—despite all the physical and economic difficulties.
But then Emanuel fell ill. The doctors discovered he had liver failure and worked with all their might to obtain a transplant even though Emanuel was still a refugee without papers.
Believers throughout the country were praying for their brother, but in the end, the transplant failed and Emanuel died last April.
Natasha, now 19 years old, was left with the baby, without income. She had debts of municipality taxes, water and electricity payments, and moved into her mother’s tiny apartment.
IstandwithIsrael paid her debts and helped her rent an apartment. Her plan is to sell products by Internet made in China. She hopes to earn a living at home as she has no possibility of paying for childcare in order to work outside.
The life of immigrants coming from the Former Soviet Union is often especially difficult with many tragic stories. It is our privilege to provide help from our IstandwithIsrael partners to these believing brothers and sisters from the FSU.
As the Bible foretold, the Jewish people from the “North Country” have streamed to Israel. But they work to overcome their difficulties for the sake of their children and their children’s children—to raise them in a free country as Jews with possibilities they could never have under an authoritarian regime.
We at Nachlat Elokim Amo (The Lord’s Inheritance, His People) congregation, thank you very much for your help and financial support to purchase a van for our congregational needs. The God of the universe gave you this vision, may His name be blessed.
We had great difficulty to begin our services on time because of lack of public transportation on the Sabbath. (There are no buses from Friday evening to Saturday evening.) Part of the people are weak, and there are youth who have no means of transportation; most of our brothers and sisters do not have cars and therefore cannot get to the meetings.
Because of this we started praying and fasting to purchase a van to bring people to our meetings.
We wholeheartedly thank IstandwithIsrael for donating to us the major part of finances for a van that suits our congregational needs.
Thank you, may our Lord Yeshua bless you,
Pastor Rivka Ayelin
I want to thank Ari and Shira, and the IstandwithIsrael Fund, for the financial help that they’ve sent to us. With this donation we have managed to equip our new congregational premises.
For the past 12 years we rented the premises of another Russian-speaking congregation three times a week. After so many years, our congregation has grown and we needed to have our own congregational meeting place in order to have more activities.
We now have rehearsals of the worship team, a music school, and Hebrew classes for new immigrants—those sisters and brothers in the Lord who are just integrating into Israeli society. We also have discipleship classes, women’s meetings, men’s meetings, youth meetings, and prayer meetings. This new facility greatly helps us build a close community of believers whose goal is to be a light to our city.
We are very happy and appreciate your financial support very much!
Pastors Daniel & Betty Borenstejn
Shekina Ashkelon Ministry
Oleg Vilinsky (left) discipling new believers freed from alcohol and drugs in the Jerusalem Messianic Rehabilitation Center.
Oleg Vilinsky is the director of a Messianic Rehabilitation Center in Jerusalem. Here is his story.
I grew up in a rough neighborhood in Khabarovsk, Russia. By age seven, I was hanging out in the street with the bad kids. I grew up with the Russian Mafia and lived a life of total immorality and depravity in and out of jail.
My father was Jewish, but I was never told that until I was an adult. Along the way, someone gave me a New Testament and told me, “Yeshua loves you.” I actually spent time reading parts of it, but at that time nothing changed in my life.
I did read the Book of Revelation and saw that it said the end of the world is coming! In my confused mind, I decided I would immigrate to Israel and become a devout Jew. Then when everything blew up, maybe I would go to heaven.
I moved to Haifa, not a city known for criminality. But Israel didn’t help me. I went deeper into drugs and into depression. I began to think: Who am I? What am I here on earth for? I joined a New Age group, and then studied Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.
Finally one day, someone found me in the woods naked, with a handmade idol—a piece of cardboard with a great big “I” printed on it. I was praying mantras to it. I was placed in an institution for the clinically insane and eventually released.
My health began to go downhill drastically and I made my way to a clinic. There I was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis. I also had epilepsy from the drugs. The doctors told me I had two months to live.
Some time before I had visited a Messianic congregation in Haifa. So having no other course to take, I went back there on a Saturday. Connected to the congregation was a small rehab ministry called Beit HaNitzahon (The House of Victory).
I asked to be accepted to the center, but the director told me I had to be checked for HIV. And then when he realized I had tuberculosis, he explained that by law, he was not allowed to admit me. But he said to me, “Let’s pray.”
As we were praying, I recalled the story of the woman with the issue of blood which I had read in the New Testament. I said to God, “Forgive me. I haven’t ever done anything good.” A voice inside of me said, “Your problem is pride.” I wasn’t ready to let go of the “I” so I left.
The next day I went back to the clinic to take an MRI for my lungs. Following the procedure, I waited outside. After a long while a doctor came and told me the MRI equipment didn’t register correctly, and I would have to do the procedure again. Grumbling, I went for the second examination, and then waited. After a very long time, they came to me and said, “We are so sorry. We have to do this procedure one more time. Something is wrong with the readings. By this time I was angry and fuming. Much later, this time three doctors appeared and told me, “We don’t understand, but the MRI shows you have no tuberculosis. Something must be wrong with the MRI. We need to send you to another clinic.”
Suddenly a movie flashed through my mind where someone had gotten healed by Yeshua. I said to myself, “Maybe God healed me!”
I ran out of the clinic back up to Beit HaNitzahon and told the director what happened. I said, “I want to be accepted to your rehab program. I’m ready to give my life to Yeshua.” The director, a little bit afraid that maybe I wasn’t totally healed, told me there was another Messianic rehab place in Jerusalem and sent me there!
I was one of the first three people who God saved at this rehab center called Beit HaYeshuah. That was 12 years ago.
I entered the program which included three Bible studies and prayer meetings each day. It was here that I gave my all to Yeshua, and soon I was taking groups who too had been healed and delivered, out to the streets of Tel Aviv on a regular basis.
I then had tests on my liver, and I can report that I have received from Yeshua a brand new liver. I married Tina, a wonderful believer and co-worker, and we have a baby girl.
I am now director here. Last year eleven people were saved and successfully broke away from the chains of alcohol and drugs. We have also opened up a second center here in Jerusalem. When new believers are ready, we send them out to work in construction. We want to see them healed spirit, soul and body!
Thank you for the wonderful vehicle we purchased through your IstandwithIsrael partners. We so appreciate your standing with us in this labor our Lord Yeshua has called us to… ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed, and the lame, and the blind.’” (Luke 14:21)
(Beit HaYeshuah has four employees, including Oleg and his wife Tina, who, among other duties, is the bookkeeper. The couple’s total salary is $1550. per month. Altogether, the rent, taxes, food, gasoline and upkeep of the ministry comes to approximately $13,200 per month—an amount they don’t always receive. The men working in construction share their salaries with their adopted family.)