Dear friend in the Messiah,
Shalom! I never thought I would have the joy of writing to you about the incredible discipleship and training opportunities we have today among Israeli young adults! I remember my first trip to Israel in 1976, while still in seminary, and there were only a few hundred Jewish believers in Israel. Well, times have changed and the Lord has worked in great power to touch the lives of thousands of Israelis. In fact, we are now seeing what I call a “second generation” movement of Israeli young people coming to the Lord and dedicating their lives to serving the Lord!
This is why your Mission to the Jewish People has initiated a special training and mentoring program among this new wave of young Israelis, which we call Living Waters.
Let me tell you about our Living Waters mentoring program in Israel!
Jesus spoke of the living water He provides to quench our spiritual thirst in John 7:38:
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”
This proclamation of Jesus took place during the Feast of Tabernacles, which envisions a future kingdom, described by the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 14:16-18), when Jesus Himself tabernacles among us permanently and the rain of His Spirit floods the hearts and souls of His faithful subjects. We understand that this kingdom has already been inaugurated through His death and resurrection and by His sending His Spirit to dwell within us . . . yet, there is so much more to come when He returns!
Those of us who are older believers have a responsibility to teach the new generation what the Lord has taught us by pouring into the lives of these young Israelis!
Living Waters is unique among ministry training programs within Israel, as it includes both individuals serving in full-time ministry as well as those employed in secular jobs, who are deeply engaged in ministry through their local congregations and mission agencies.
We are especially focused upon those in their late twenties and early thirties who are at the start of their family and professional life and need continued care and mentoring. At times, this group is neglected and does not receive needed attention! Yet, these are the deacons, elders, and servant leaders who are in the forefront of the Messianic movement in Israel. They need further training and discipleship as they are in the very heart of the ministry within Israel!
LIVING WATERS MENTORING RETREATS
This is a very busy group and the only way to help them is to enable them to take time away, with their spouses and children, to receive the training and mentoring they need to deepen their walk with the Lord and to maximize their service among their fellow Israelis. We decided to design a program— just for them!
The heart of the program is delivered through our mentoring retreats held once or sometimes twice a year. The most recent retreat was conducted in Herziliyah, which is part of the greater Tel Aviv area, from May 26 -28, 2016, and focused on “Spiritual Formation.” The facilitator was Dr. John Coe, the creator and director of Spiritual Formation programs at Biola University and the Talbot School of Theology. Most seminaries include spiritual formation in their curriculum, but our Living Waters mentees have not been to an American seminary – nor will they have the opportunity to attend! We must bring the training to them!
This vital topic will help the participants become better equipped to evangelize and disciple others as well as to grow in grace themselves. The feedback was excellent!
Our fall retreat also featured well-known author and political consultant Joel Rosenberg, who taught the participants how to better communicate the Gospel in both written and spoken word. This is especially relevant given the importance of social media – and the popularity of Facebook, blogs and websites within Israel, which is known to be one of the most “wired” communities in the world.
The mentoring retreats provide the participants with the biblical knowledge and practical tools they need to serve the Lord in Israel. We also give them the gift of time to build deeper relationships with one another. The mentees represent more than 15 local congregations, as well as some of the ministries that God is powerfully using in Israel today.
These networking opportunities at Living Waters have created greater ministry cooperation and led to more dynamic evangelistic campaigns, better follow up with Israeli contacts and the advancement of the Gospel through the use of social media and video, such as Chosen People Ministries’ cutting-edge Isaiah 53 initiative (www.isaiah53.co.il). Through it, Isaiah 53 Explained (in Hebrew) has been sent to almost 3,000 Israelis who requested the book—the majority of whom are not yet believers—and more than a million Israelis have viewed high-quality online Hebrew language testimony videos developed through a partnership between Chosen People Ministries and One for Israel.
Participants in the Living Waters program come from a range of backgrounds within Israel. They all attend local congregations, where they are committed members and hold some type of leadership role. Many are also involved with parachurch ministries and agencies working within Israel. Again, we intentionally focus on younger leaders, particularly those 25 to 35 years of age, as they are most eager to learn and apply what they are taught to their personal ministries.
We have the joy of training both men and women for lives of service for the King! Some are missionaries and others are nurses, graphic designers, independent businessmen/women and teachers in the Israel school system!
We include spouses as part of the program at Living Waters as the retreats enable us to encourage good marriages and home life as well as foster a co-ministry perspective between husbands and wives. We see these young leaders’ families becoming role models, as they live godly and faithful lives that contribute to the maturation of the church in Israel.
THE IMPACT OF LIVING WATERS
The overall impact of the project can be seen in the cohesiveness of the group, the desire of many to continue with the program even when they are required to rotate out after three years, and the discussions at the retreats that reveal how lives have been deeply affected by the teaching and fellowship. These events are bright spots that often lead to large and small group seasons of prayer.
The deepening of relationships built through Living Waters has naturally deepened relationships among the congregations and ministries where they worship and serve. This is particularly important as Living Waters is a national program engaging leaders from many cities thereby expanding inter-ministry and inter-church cooperation across geographic regions.
The Living Water program began with the generous support of a foundation, which funded us at the start! After eight years of experience, I believe we are ready to continue in earnest to grow and even expand the number of young people we are able to train.
The Living Waters program is sustainable for roughly $30,000 per year or about $600 per person per weekend retreat.
DEVELOPING FUTURE LEADERS IN THE HOLY LAND
In summary, may I share the three simple goals we have for our Living Water retreats? The three goals are as follows:
- To equip emerging Israeli Messianic leaders in Israel, facilitating increased evangelism, discipleship and church planting.
- To encourage networking among younger leaders leading to greater collaboration and cooperation between the participants and between local congregations and ministries within Israel.
- To help participants develop a biblically based worldview to bring Gospel transformation into the participant’s congregations, ministries, workplace, home-life, military and Israeli society.
We now have more young people than ever who would like to be part of the Living Waters retreats than in previous years! We cannot accept every individual who wants to be part of this training, but we do hope to accept a few more this year.
If we receive adequate funding we might even be able to support a few young Israeli interns on a part-time basis to work with Chosen People Ministries in Israel! We are praying that God would also provide funding for some of our mentees to continue serving with Chosen People Ministries and receive further training beyond Living Waters.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read about what God is doing in the Holy Land. Would you join us in the adventure of training and reaching a new generation of Israelis for Jesus?
Thanks so much for caring about the work of the Lord in the Land of His birth!
Your brother in the Messiah,