While we Jews were celebrating in our sukkahs, a very different spirit and genre of worship descended upon the Jerusalem Convention Center (“Binyanei Ha’Uma”) - compliments of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) and their annual Feast of the Tabernacles.
This year, ICEJ's featured speaker was Reinhard Bonnke, the founder of Christ for all Nations and the seeming king of African evangelism.
For a healer, Bonnke has some pretty godless and disturbing visions
"A blood-washed Africa – a continent washed in the blood of Jesus Christ – that was the vision that God gave Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke more than 30 years ago. Since that day he has been filled with a burning commitment to win Africa for Jesus Christ. "
"Whether I am eating or drinking, awake or asleep, the vision is ever-present, it never leaves me,” he admits openly.
Out of Africa
Evangelicals like Bonnke must instil a great love of Israel in the Nigerian masses. A7 recently reported that some Nigerian Christian pilgrims just didn't want to go home after a holy land tour to holy sites in Judea and Samaria (perhaps because their own country is awash in all that blood). To the Israeli Interior Ministry's dismay, these Nigerian nationals apparently disappeared to greener pastures in the Negev.
The Nigerian government as well as Christian leaders are aware of the problem and have repeatedly urged Nigerian pilgrims to remain loyal and return home.
"When you leave this soil, make sure that you come back. So many of us were embarrassed when we hear that 50 per cent of pilgrims absconded en route or they got to Israel and when it is time to come back they cannot find them." --- remarks by Nigerian Senate President, David Mark
Despite the problem, the Nigerian Observer recently reported that 28,000 Nigerians were expected to participate in the 2010 Christian pilgrimage to Rome and Israel.
It's a Small World
While some folks are scrambling to get out of Africa, young Israeli believers in Jesus are doing all they can to raise funds to get into Nigeria as part of a missionary-training program called the Isaiah 2 Initiative. The Isaiah 2 Initiative is the brainchild of missionary Ron Cantor, the associate pastor of the messianic King of Kings Community, whose offices and facilities occupy several floors of downtown Jerusalem’s Klal Center office building. These on-fire "Israelis for Jesus" learn and practice missionary techniques abroad, so that they can return to Israel all fired-up to deliver the gospel and save the Jews. The Jews in the Ukraine are also being targeted by these "messianic" Israelis. The up- and-coming young missionaries recently received guidance in Kiev from Daniel Kolenda and his partner ICEJ's keynote Feast speaker Reinhard Bonnke. The targeting of Jews for conversion is passionately endorsed by Daniel Kolenda as you can see from this Isaiah 2 Initiative video recently posted by Jewish Israel
The Isaiah 2 Initiative is a project of Messiah's Mandate International which is a part of the messianic and overtly missionary Tikkun Ministries International. Missionaries Robert Stearns, Jack Hayford, Eitan Shishkoff and Ron Cantor are all closely affiliated with Daniel Juster, the founder and director of Tikkun Ministries. Back in May, Stearns of Eagles' Wings and Day of Prayer fame was featured alongside Juster and Shishkoff at the Israel Mandate 2010 IHOP conference. The video promo for the event was startling in its unabashed targeting of the Jewish people for conversion.
Michael Onifer who serves under Stearns as the director of Eagles' Wings Israel Experience Program (also known as "Christian Birthright") – which is endorsed by the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus - can be seen on YouTube interviewing Ron Cantor about his exploits in Nigeria with Bonnke and Kolenda. Onifer and Cantor are also on video announcing a partnership between Eagles' Wings and the very messianic and missionary King of Kings Ministries in Jerusalem.
At this point it's worth noting that prior to heading ICEJ, Malcolm Hedding was, like Ron Cantor, on the pastoral staff of King of Kings – where he still gives the occasional sermon. Onifer is also an occasional preacher at King of Kings and did quite the job overturning the Torah on Purim.
With certain Israeli leaders in denial over the immense missionary network and problem in the Jewish State, it may not be just a coincidence that Charisma Magazine, published by CUFI Regional director Stephen Strang, placed Rabbi Riskin and Benny Begin with Renhart Bonnke's spreading of the gospel in the same paragraph in their Feast coverage:
"Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Rifkin [sic] and Benny Begin, a member of the Knesset and the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, are expected to participate in the ICEJ's anniversary event Friday. Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke will close out the Feast of Tabernacles,also known as Sukkot, Wednesday with a service commissioning Christians to reach the nations with the gospel."
According to Charisma Magazine and CBN, Rabbi Riskin will, once again, be participating in Stearns' annual Christian Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.
As in the past, the event will be televised on the missionary channel GOD TV – which beams the gospel from Jerusalem. Evangelical leader Jane Hansen Hoyt says:
"The biblical mandate to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem' must take on greater priority in our lives as we watch the intensity of warfare increase, both in the natural and spiritual realms, over God's end-time purposes for His people-Israel and the body of Christ."
Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries says on the Day of Prayer endorsement page:
"As Christians and believers in the Word of God, we have a responsibility to pray for the peace of Jerusalem…As the body of Christ we must ask God to bring them not only peace in the natural, but also peace spiritually through relationship with Jesus Christ."
Lest one think that Rabbi Riskin will literally be standing with the "the body of Christ" at this event, Jewish Israel would like to reassure our readership that jesus remains six feet under. However, the term "body of Christ" refers to the church - made up of all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Jewish Israel questions the appropriateness of any Jewish leader, yet alone one with the status of Chief Rabbi, standing with the church on their day of prayer.
Jesus crashes the Revava Party
The end-of-the- building freeze celebration in Revava in Samaria took on an interfaith quality as Jan Willem van der Hoeven, director of the International Christian Zionist Center (ICZC) brought an adorned flock of worshipping, shofar-blowing, flag waving Pentecostals to the event.
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted one Christian Zionist as saying:
''We are here because only when the Jews are free to settle God's land of Israel will Jesus descend from heaven to save humanity.'' The article goes on to note that, "The parallel belief of Christian Zionists that the same Jews must then recognise Jesus as the messiah or be damned to hell does not seem to bother anyone."
ICZC's colourful delegation raised their banners, hands and shofars to Jesus in celebration of the end of the settlement freeze. The Jews may well be blinded to this point due to the glittering, energetic and vibrant display of "charismatic" worship, so it's time we let the cat (or in this case, the lion) out of the bag...
ICZC has a thing about lions. According to Van der Hoeven, and most Christian theologians, Jesus went out like a lamb and comes back like a lion – the lion of Judah.
Van der Hoeven uses the lion/jesus symbolism throughout his promotional material and writings. ICEJ, the Christian Embassy (which was founded under Van der Hoeven), will give you the same spin on the lion symbolism, as will standard Christian sites.
The lion/jesus motif, based on the new testament book of revelation 5:5, is frequently used in Christian art, logo, poster design, and musical videos – often accompanied by a lamb or Jewish symbols like a Star of David or a menorah. It has been the theme for both ICEJ's ICZC's Feast of the Tabernacles.
Having our lion usurped by the church may be easier on the eyes than a wooden cross for many Jews, but the symbolism is the same – and possibly more problematic, due to the confusion it creates.
It's no surprise that ICZC's "surprise visit" enjoyed encouragement and praise from Likud MK Danny Danon, who also serves as the Chairman of World Likud. Danon has openly sought funding from evangelical sources, and has encouraged their influence and involvement in World Likud since 2007.
Jewish Israel feels that a no-holds-barred embrace of devout worshipping Christians may not bode well for the spiritual health of the Jewish settlement enterprise, and we urge Knesset members, rabbis and YESHA community leaders to lay down some ground rules for our gentile friends and for those Jews who choose to enter into alliances with them.
Feast pilgrimage seen as opportunity to target Jews
"The Israel Outreach and Tour" promoted by David Herzog Ministries promised an exciting Feast of the Tabernacles celebration with Reinhard Bonnke, but in addition, Herzog's tour was clearly advertised as an opportunity for "feeding the poor, healing the sick and sharing the gospel" with the Israeli people.
What was termed the Glory Invasion Tour, was chalk-full of "outreach" opportunities.
"Come and join us as we see God invade Israel with the love, power and glory of God as we reach to jewish immigrants and refugees, soldiers, and the Israeli youth along with
glory/miracle meetings in various locations... Spend the day reaching out to the poor in Israel. We will be serving the poor by passing out food and sharing the love of the Messiah with those in Israel."
And the booby prize goes to…
Last year at his time we awarded the holiday wrap-up booby prize to Hebron Jewish community leaders who, after awarding honorary citizenship to the City of Hebron to
Jan Willem Van der Hoeven, proceeded to ceremoniously accept – on camera – a cash envelope from the evangelicals accompanying the good reverend. In addition those leaders encouraged the devout Christians to sing songs of praise and worship.
This year we award the booby prize to the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem who awarded Pat Robertson their Nehemiah Award during this year's Feast.
It was Robertson who spilled the beans on the missionary nature of the ICEJ Feast at the 2004 event and caused embarrassment to the organizers of the Feast as well as to the Israeli officials and guests in attendance. Judy Balint captured the moment as Robertson:
"… turned the auditorium into a church, as he exhorted the throng to get down on their knees in prayer, urging them to, ‘Pray for Jesus to come back again, so the rule of Jesus Christ may descend…Jews need to begin to cry out for their Messiah, he said. I've met wonderful Jews... here in Jerusalem, who are all saying 'Yes, Jesus you are our Messiah.'"
There are active missionaries at ICEJ's Feast of the Tabernacles and there are those in attendance who openly engage in missionary activity which targets the Jewish people for conversion.
The International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem is a well-respected institution among those Jews who are either unaware of, or choose to ignore, the evangelical nature of the organization. ICEJ enjoys endorsement from a number of Israeli leaders and partners with several Jewish organizations, and this lends credence to and empowers the evangelizing network in Israel.
Evangelicals with a theologically-loaded agenda are indeed having a significant impact and influencing Israeli society in the public and private sectors, and this has potentially devastating consequences for Jews living in a Jewish nation.
In light of the facts, which have been made clear and are readily accessible, rabbis, leaders, educators, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and the public at large need to urgently and responsibly reevaluate their approach and establish a clear and effective policy with regards to their dealings with evangelical organizations, leaders and activists.
"And the Lord God called to Adam, and He said to him, 'Where are you?'" (Bereshit 3:9)
Where are we holding?
[note: Jewish Israel extends an open invitation to members of the concerned Jewish community to discuss the issues and information presented here, or in any of our reports, in a public or private forum.]