Please note: Due to being on tour with Sharon Sanders and other CFI engagements this will be my last report until 12th November 2015. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
On the same day, when evening had come, Yeshua (Jesus) said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was… And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But Yeshua was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Rabbi, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (The Gospel of Mark 4:35- 41) C/R Matthew 14:22-34.
God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him. O LORD God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O LORD? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them. (Psalm 89:7-9)
Pointers for prayer: Once again, as you read through this week’s report please pray in line with the Word of God over these issues. In the first section of the report, we read about how many Iranians are coming to faith in the Messiah Jesus (Yeshua). Amidst the turbulence of the Middle East, it’s always encouraging to receive ‘good news’. May this be so too for all the Middle East. Pray that God would continue to give the people of these nations dreams and visions of Who Yeshua is. As the Messianic community in Israel continues to grow, pray that all Israel too would seek the face of God and as it states in Romans 11 that all Israel would be saved.
Do lift before the Lord these exceptional days that we are living in, specifically regarding the Iran/Syria/Russia deal. With Russia signing a military pact of potentially epic proportions with Iran, could a showdown soon hit the borders of Israel? Please pray into this whole situation.
Pray also regarding the issue of the potential third intifada that Abbas’ PLO is attempting to whip up, with their Arab Palestinian youth becoming ever increasingly violent against Israel. Pray that the truth regarding this whole situation would be exposed – and specifically where the Media is concerned. Pray that the Lord would expose any ‘hidden agendas’ within the way the Media report what is happening.
Keeping our eyes above the waves
As mentioned above, due to being on the UK speaking tour with CFI Jerusalem’s co-founder Sharon Sanders and other CFI engagements, this will be my last report until 12th November 2015. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Last weekend my family and I met up with some dear friends from Elam Ministries. With all the horror stories coming out of the Middle East at present, and the nuclear threat that comes from Iran, it was like a breath of fresh air to hear good news coming out of Iran. Did you know that more than 240 Iranians were baptised in September 2015 in two large celebrations in the Iran region? A further 16 were baptised in a smaller service, and about 200 more will soon be baptised at a fourth celebration. As Elam Ministries state, “we certainly can praise God for every Iranian who has been baptised recently.” I personally can’t think of freedom in any better terms than being rescued from the oppressive chains of radical Islam to freedom in the saving grace of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ). According to Elam, these large baptism services are joyful day-long gatherings, with sessions of worship, preaching, prayer for the nation, the breaking of bread and shared meals. It is very much like how one would have expected the early church in Israel in the first century (AD) to have been like.
The conference we attended with Elam did, for us, have a small drawback, as the entire meeting, barring one or two worship songs, was spoken in Farsi. The Persian language (Farsi) is the most widely spoken member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian languages. It is the language of Iran (formerly Persia) and is also spoken in Afghanistan and, in an archaic form, in Tajikistan and the Pamir Mountain region. Persian is spoken today primarily in the two nations mentioned, but was historically a more widely understood language in an area ranging from the Middle East to India. Looking very much like the Arabic language in written form, we were rather surprised that the ‘harshness’ of the Arabic tongue was missing, and indeed in many ways, it sounded similar to Hebrew.
Putting the language barrier to one side (though we did have a translation from our friend Shieva), one of the songs we sang really spoke to me. It was “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Joel Houston, Matt Crocker and Salomon Ligthelm. I’ve put a link here for you to listen to it. For me, it sums up where we need to be in this battle that we are in with our ministry with Israel and all that is involved. The song starts with, “You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail, and there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand. And I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace, for I am Yours [the LORD’s] and You are mine.” [Above photo left: The Sea of Galilee by D Soakell]
Among the ancient Jews of the Mediterranean area, the danger of seafaring was well known. It was considered a miracle to sail across the open sea and arrive safely at one’s destination. In the gospel of Matthew chapter 14, it records a night full of divine intervention – a procession of miracles that join together to show the divinity of Yeshua. As I explained to a member of the Jehovah Witnesses one day (trying to enable them to see the Godhead), I asked, “who stills the waves in Psalm 89? God! Yet in Mark 4 we see Jesus stilling the waves… so Who is He? In another reading from Matthew 14:22-34 it states that after Yeshua had fed the multitude of five thousand, he dismissed his disciples and prayed alone on a mountaintop. The disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, fighting a storm when Yeshua came to them walking on the sea. Peter himself got out of the boat and walked on the water. Eventually, Yeshua climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. Then “those who were in the boat worshipped him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” In these days of ‘storms’, how we need to keep our eyes upon the Lord and above the waters!
As I mentioned in my last report, with the recent Russian alliance with Syria and Iran, the pressure upon Israel – and potentially upon the rest of the world – could be increasing. This alliance with Russia, Iran and Syria does appear to take the Middle East crisis up another level. With these three nations coming together, are we seeing a new shift towards ‘end days fulfilment of the old Gog and Magog prophesy’? For some, it appears that it is getting hard to deny the fact that what is going on, is Biblically related. Could Gog and Magog be this Russian allegiance? And if so, with Russia signing a military pact of potentially epic proportions with Iran, could a showdown soon hit the borders of Israel?
Up until very recently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu still thought he could derail the Iranian nuclear deal. Where will these current issues leave both the government and the Nation of Israel? The Jewish nation has been on high alert for some time with both the civil war in Syria and the Iranian threats of ‘wanting to wipe Israel off the map’. With Russia, Syria and Iran linked together, could we be seeing the presence of some superpower? And in regards to Syria and the huge wave of refugees, is Europe reaping what it has sown? In the mass panic Europe is facing, is this due to our past actions? In these strange days that we are living in, we do need great wisdom and discernment, but we also need our walk to be close to God, and we need to keep our head above the waves, trusting in God’s protection both for us and Israel.
Pushing for a third intifada.
The Arab Palestinian uprising, which has been instigated by both the Palestinian Authority’s Abbas and the leaders of Hamas increased this week. It has now escalated from knives and stone throwing to guns when two Arab Palestinians on a bus in Jerusalem’s Armon HaNatziv (East Talpiot) neighbourhood began shooting and stabbing passengers, killing two on Tuesday morning.
In a simultaneous attack in Jerusalem’s Geula neighbourhood, a third murder was carried out in the same day. Geula is a neighbourhood in the centre of Jerusalem, populated mainly by Haredi Jews. This area of Jerusalem is next to Zikhron Moshe, Bukharim and the Ultra-Orthodox area of Mea Shearim – close to the Jerusalem city centre on the south. Geula was established in 1927, and was originally a mixed neighbourhood of secular and religious Jews. The British consul to Jerusalem, James Finn, built his home in the area in 1855, employing Jewish labour. It was the third building constructed outside the walls of the Old City, when ‘Palestinians’ were classed as Jews not Arabs [The term “Palestinian” used to refer to Jews in Europe who were regarded as an alien presence, usually as reference to their ancestral origins in the Levant (historical geographical term referring to the Israel/Jordan area). Although re-affirmed by numerous genetic studies on Jews over the past decade, many Palestinian Arabs, and anti-Zionists in general, still reject this designation, usually for political reasons].
It was in this central part of Jerusalem that an Arab Palestinian smashed his car into a bus stop, got out of his vehicle, and began stabbing people. Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevski, aged 60, was killed in that attack. The whole scene was actually captured on a security camera (warning the footage is horrific), yet many are wondering just why this is dismissed by the Western Media, and why nobody appears to be asking questions of the Palestinian Authority.
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) Fatah Officials, Palestinian Social Media, and the Palestinian Authority dailies encourage continued violence. To see the latest report from Memri, click here. So it is important that the truth is told as to why the potentially ‘third intifada’ is happening. This uprising has nothing to do with the diplomatic solution to the Palestinian or Israeli areas and the problems that come from this. Equally, it is not a result of poverty amongst the Arabs living in what the world terms as ‘the West Bank’ or Judea and Samaria – let’s face it – if Abbas used the money correctly that the UN and EU send on a regular basis instead of building his own palace and squandering the money, there would be little poverty amongst the Muslim Arabs. This is an Islamic religious war fomented by Mahmoud Abbas – President of the Palestinian Authority – and the leaders of Hamas in Gaza. Its focal point is the Temple Mount and the lies that are being spoken to the Muslim Arabs of Israel.
[Above photo: the new home of PA leader Mahmud Abbas].
On Monday evening, I switched on the TV to see how the BBC were covering the latest uprising and was rather shocked to see the BBC’s Orla Guerin back on her mission in what she calls the so-called ‘West Bank’. Back in 2004, the Israeli government wrote to the BBC accusing its Middle East correspondent, Orla Guerin, of “anti-Semitism and total identification with the goals and methods of the Palestinian terror groups” (source). Following this, for six years, Steven Sugar pursued a one-man legal battle against the BBC in an attempt to force it to disclose a secret report. He was trying to get the corporation to publish an internal assessment of its coverage of the Middle East conflict, which he believed would reveal bias against Israel. Sadly, Mr Sugar died of cancer at the age of 61, however his widow, Fiona Paveley continued on with the battle. The BBC spent more than £270,000 on legal fees (and who pays the BBC licence fee?) to prevent the public from seeing the report written in 2004 by Malcolm Balen, a senior journalist, for Richard Sambrook, then BBC director of news. Mrs Paveley said that she and her late husband saw an anti-Israeli bias in the reporting of Orla Guerin, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent. More recently, Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor, was also found to have breached rules on accuracy and impartiality in two reports about the Arab-Israeli conflict (source).
On August 26, 2014, Orla Guerin made the claim that there was ‘no evidence’ that Hamas was, and are still using human shields. Yet there is overwhelming evidence that Hamas uses schools, hospitals, and residential areas as launching grounds for rockets aimed at Israel, as can be seen by this Honest Reporting film clip here.
Well, sadly her reports have not improved. Considering the BBC actually have a website stating that [quote] “A news reporter may express a professional, journalistic judgement but not a personal opinion” caused me to wonder how they get away with their shocking reporting? The BBC state, “The audience should not be able to gauge from programmes the personal views of presenters and reporters on controversial issues.”
Regarding the ‘Conflict in the Middle East – by Orla Guerin, Middle East correspondent for the BBC’, it states, “In the Middle East, perhaps more than anywhere else, there is no single truth”. Really? It goes on to state, “Our role here is to move from one side to the other, crossing front lines, side stepping checkpoints, finding back roads into closed military zones. We aim to give the communities on both sides a chance to tell their own stories.” [Source]. It is wise for me to refrain from comment at this point.
This week however, Orla Guerin reported from Gaza, and stated, “Dawn in Gaza. A new day of conflict. This was what was left after an Israeli airstrike flattened a house. A pregnant mother died here with her two year-old daughter. Israel says it was targeting weapons facilities after militants fired two rockets.” However, Guerin provided no source or evidence of independent verification for her claim that “an Israeli airstrike flattened the house”. The BBC’s Rushdi Abualouf who – unlike Guerin – is located in the Gaza Strip, had already Tweeted a different version of events and according to other media outlets, the house collapsed due to what appears to be a secondary explosion. Another report stated, “Gaza officials said a woman, 30, and her two-year-old daughter were killed when an explosion from a targeted Hamas site caused the collapse of a nearby home. Three others, including a 15-year-old youth, were wounded. ” (Reuters). Predictably, Orla Guerin appeared to show little interest in helping viewers understand why a Hamas weapons manufacturing facility was located in a residential area.
Having been exasperated yet again with the BBC, I wondered, had Ms Guerin been in Hebron on Tuesday, how she would have reported the story of an Arab Palestinian rioter who accidentally set himself on fire after attempting to throw a Molotov cocktail at IDF soldiers during clashes in Hebron? The would-be terrorist, who according to sources is a student at Hebron University, suffered light to moderate injuries. Clashes began after protesters blocked the main north entrance of the town of Hebron with stones and tires. [Above Right: A Palestinian accidentally sets himself on fire after throwing a Molotov cocktail. Photo credit HAZEM BADER AFP]
Needless to say, the whole ‘numbers game’ has started to creep into the Western Media’s reporting. In one Arab report I read, it stated, “1,000 Palestinians wounded with 24 killed, and 3 Israeli’s killed yet Hillary Clinton laments only Israeli deaths”. For a start, the numbers of Arab Palestinians wounded is hugely exaggerated, and isn’t this whole way of reporting the news rather odd, never mind hypocritical? If the Palestinian leaders are calling on their youth to be Martyrs they can’t complain when they get killed after trying to kill Israelis. The truth is, that since October 1st, seven Israelis have been killed and dozens more have been injured in 26 separate attacks across Israel and the ‘Palestinian territories’. Deaths on both sides are a tragedy, but one needs to look at the reason why these situations are happening before pointing the finger of blame.
And now it’s the turn of the Scottish Greens…
The Scottish Green Party has voted overwhelmingly in favour of South of Scotland Holyrood candidate Eurig Scandrett’s motion accusing Israel of “systematic infringements of international law” and of perpetuating “the racist ideology of modern day Zionism”. In a further disgraceful act, the ‘Greens’ are also calling for Hamas to be taken off international terrorist lists, despite a last-minute attempt to have this section removed. Delegate David McDowell, whose call for an amendment was defeated, said: “This is unnecessarily opening us to ridicule. Hamas is a terrorist organisation, and that has got nothing to do with whether it is justified or not. It just is a terrorist organisation as it commits terrorist acts.” The approved motion states that Israel was created through “colonisation and ethnic cleansing”, turning what was once “a safe home for many Jews who survived the Nazi holocaust” into a state which claims to be “the home of all Jews in which non-Jews have inferior rights (which) constitutes apartheid and is unacceptable”.
It calls for Palestinian self-determination by those who “have a legitimate stake in the future of Palestine” – including “the residents of the current West Bank, Gaza, Israel, refugees and the Palestinian diaspora but not including Jewish citizens of other countries”. It states: “Israel is in violation of over 60 UN resolutions and its occupation policies violate several articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a range of international human rights and humanitarian laws”. The party is holding its biggest ever conference at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, after seeing its membership surge from 1,200 to over 9,000 following the No vote in September 2014. So, the Scottish Green Party calls for economic boycott of ‘racist apartheid’ state of Israel? Now you might be thinking that I’m sat here in a rage? Well, as it happens I’m not. I actually don’t mind anyone boycotting Israel, if that’s what they feel so strongly about. But what really ‘grinds my gears’ is that no one has the guts to do it properly. To find out more on this, and my personal response, go to my blog page at davidsoakell.com here. Please note that my blog is my own personal site and completely independent of CFI. Any views or opinions presented on this blog are solely my own and do not necessarily represent those of any other organisation including CFI.
Finally… Sharon Sanders on Tour in the UK
As many of you will be aware, 2015 is the 30th anniversary of Christian Friends of Israel. So far CFI have had the Anniversary International Conference in Jerusalem followed by the Israel tour. Then at the beginning of September,they celebrated the anniversary with the CFI UK annual conference in Eastbourne. Next up, CFI UK will be on the road with CFI Jerusalem’s Sharon Sanders for a Speaking Tour. The theme of the tour is, ‘Israel and the Coming Kingdom: The Holy Spirit in the Land Today’ and is on from the 16th to the 28th October 2015.
Sharon Sanders is the co-founder of Christian Friends of Israel – Jerusalem, and Sharon and her husband Ray are celebrating 30 years of ministry in Jerusalem. Sharon received her early Christian education in a the Methodist church. Theological studies began with 2½ years at the Good News Teaching Centre, followed by 2 years of schooling at Christ for the Nations Bible College where she obtained a Ministerial Ordination. She continued her studies as a student of Derek Prince and Lance Lambert for nearly 20 years, then worked together as a research partner with an Orthodox Rabbi for 18 years. She is presently enrolled at Hebrew University studying the ‘Jewish Background of the New Testament’. Sharon has been a frequent speaker in 55 nations and has a unique ability to help Christians understand the complex history and modern life of the Jewish nation of Israel. Living among the Jewish people for a lengthy time has given her many insights into Jewish relations having gone “beneath the soil” in Jewish life. We would love to meet you on the tour and have you ‘tabernacle’ with us a while.
Sharon Sanders will be speaking at Welcome Baptist Church, Heathfield (TN21 8EQ) on Friday 16th October, then on 17th October at Tuckton Christian Centre, Bournemouth (BH6 5NG); Sunday 18th: New Life Church, Old Woking (GU22 9BX); Monday 19th: St Mary’s Church Hall, Luton (LU1 3JF); Tuesday 20th: Central Methodist Church, Blackheath (B65 0EH); Wednesday 21st: St.Martins Hall, Preston (PR2 9TP); Thursday 22nd: Dewsbury Revival Centre, Dewsbury (WF13 4LA); Saturday 24th: Beit Yeshua Conference, Gateshead (NE11 0AN – full day conference 10:00 am–5:00 pm); Sunday 25th: morning – One Life Church, Middlesbrough (TS6 9AE); then on the evening at Kirkhill, Chirnside, Scottish Borders (TD11 3XH); Tuesday 27th: House of Prayer, Fishergate, Norwich (NR3 1SE); Wednesday 28th: Vineyard Church, Brentwood, Essex (CM15 9SE). Full details can be obtained via Christian Friends of Israel on 01323 410810. I look forward to seeing you on one of the above dates as I will also be on tour with Sharon.
Middle East News Correspondent) Tweet me @David_CFI
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio