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Monthly Report: November 2012
Cheshvan - Kislev 5773
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By Shani Sorko-Ram Ferguson
I must admit, this Iran thing has me stumped. Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has spent years pursuing nuclear capabilities for his stated purpose of “creating cheaper electricity for the people of Iran.” No one really believes him and many attempts have been made by Western countries to “discourage” Iran’s obvious pursuit of nuclear weapons. All along, although Iran has stalwartly denied its intention to use the nuclear power for weapons, it has repeatedly called for the destruction of the “cancerous” Jewish state.
Iranian Ayatollah Rafsanjani was quoted as saying, “The use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything; however it would only [slightly] harm the Islamic world.” This is an interesting observation since no other Muslim country in the Near East currently has a nuclear weapon they could use against Israel.
With such musings coming from a nation obviously striving to become a nuclear power, the question we are left with is, “Should Israel attempt to take out Iran’s nuclear plants while there is still a chance for success or should she wait for a possible diplomatic breakthrough as the result of sanctions and economic pressure?”
War with radical Islam is always fascinating when it comes to the rhetoric. I’m guessing it’s the influence of the poetic grandiloquence of the Quran, but no one describes how they are going to kill you in more beautiful oratory than Muslim terrorists.
Israel (and America) has been described as “a cancer that must be purged,” “an infectious disease that will be eradicated,” “a regime to be eliminated from the pages of history” “a snake that will be cut into pieces” and my personal favorite: “rats that will die in the tunnels (military bunkers) we dig.”
Should Israel attack preemptively in self-defense, Iran has promised that Israel will “meet her death swiftly.” Should Israel not strike Iran, Iran has promised to pursue its goal of wiping Israel off the map, presumably using a slower method.
WHAT IF ISRAEL DOES NOT STRIKE?
In an article written two years ago (little has changed) in The Atlantic magazine, Jeffery Goldberg offers disturbing insight into the repercussions of an unopposed nuclear Iran.
He said while many might assume the day Iran gets a nuclear bomb they would launch it towards Israel, it is more likely they will first use it to solidify their dominance in the Middle East. This would create two dynamics that would change the face of the Middle East forever.
For the larger Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and Syria, a nuclear Iran would spur a catastrophic arms race. Building their own nuclear capabilities would serve as a critical self-defense mechanism against the bully Iran. However, given the instability of leadership in the Middle East those nukes would always be one coup away from falling into the hands of terrorist organizations. And even in “safe” hands they could just as well be used against Israel.
However, smaller Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar would not have the capabilities of creating such weaponry. The ambassador of the UAE, Yousef al-Otaiba explains, “If America allows Iran to cross the nuclear threshold, these countries would have no choice but to leave the American orbit and ally themselves with Iran, out of self-protection.” Arab leaders have not so quietly warned that America’s standing in the Middle East will depend on whether it confronts Iran or not on this issue.
Israeli leaders fear that even if Iran did not bomb Israel right away, the beleaguered nation would no longer be perceived as a safe haven for the Jewish people. Israeli universities are already expressing alarm that Israel’s greatest assets - its human resources such as scientists, researchers and hi-tech engineers who could easily find work abroad - would simply begin to disappear. Israel’s entrepreneurs would look for greener pastures as global investors became less generous. The fact is that last week a poll in Israel reported that half of all Israelis are fearful or very fearful that a war with Iran could eradicate the nation. Half of Israel is that afraid.
For the whole world, the price of oil could easily double or triple with an Iran in control of the Persian Gulf - affecting everything that is transported by truck, plane or ship, not to speak of your personal gas tank. Experts fear such a spike in the cost of living could plunge America into a bottomless depression.
So if Israel does NOT strike Iran, Iran wins. After all, the bringing down of America is the ultimate vision of Iran. Israel is geographically more accessible to Iran, and thus an easier initial target but it is not the end goal. America, affectionately referred to as the Great Satan by radical Islam, is the prized Jewel of the West.
WHAT IF ISRAEL DOES STRIKE?
On the other hand, should Israel decide to take the path of a preemptive strike on Iran, things are also dreadfully complex. Picture some 100 Israeli fighter jets of various types (about all we could put in the air) flying to Iran over Saudi Arabian or Azerbaijani airspace (who might secretly allow a flyover). The jets would fire on their targets, refuel (somehow) and quickly return to Israel to defend against the tens of thousands of rockets Hezbollah (Iran’s proxy) would be expected to immediately fire on Israeli cities from Lebanon. Egypt has also promised to join Iran in the counterattack.
Israel would only get one chance. If by some miracle Saudi Arabia risked Iran’s wrath and allowed Israel to fly over its airspace, its government could never allow Israel a second time without risking almost certain ferocious attacks from Iran.
The UN with its Arab and Muslim majority would be churning out mountains of resolutions demanding sanctions to cut Israel off from every possible economic and military source. Israel would be left standing alone - a leper - both diplomatically and militarily.
With that firestorm, Israel would also have to deal with a possible backlash from Washington. If Ahmadinejad keeps his promise to drag America into the conflict and American assets come under attack she would have the choice to do nothing and look utterly weak or respond and risk being dragged into World War III.
Some have argued that should Iran obtain nuclear weapons they could still be restrained from using them as was true of the USSR during the Cold War. People who believe this simply do not understand the ideology behind Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The former Soviet Union may have wanted to be the dominant power in the world, but they also wanted to be alive to enjoy it. And if they couldn’t live to enjoy it, it wasn’t worth attaining. In other words, the idea of mutually assured destruction of the USSR in a nuclear war with the United States was the deterrent that kept everyone’s nukes at bay.
Not so with Iran. (See Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech) Iran’s leaders believe that in order to bring about the return of the Mahdi - a sort of Muslim messiah - the world must be washed in blood. This means the thought of mass chaos and destruction only adds appeal to the initial goal of destroying Israel - and the ultimate goal of destroying the West (which likely includes your home).
The subject of Israel’s survival is a complex topic to discuss with people who don’t live here because you often get either the optimists who promise you, “God will not let anything happen to the Jewish people,” or the eschatology buff’s approach of, “Well, it’s part of prophecy that Israel is going to suffer the loss of millions. Not much you can do about it.”
To the optimists I say - I lived through more than half a dozen wars in Israel including the first and second Intifada. I can attest that even in the wars where Israel miraculously won - Jews died. And to the eschatology people I say, “If the police in your neighborhood told you, “The Bible says in the last days lawlessness will rule the world so why bother trying to protect your family,” you would be outraged. It is unreasonable for any Christian to sit back and claim ‘absolute protection’ or ‘inevitable destruction’ as an excuse not to get on his or her knees and intercede for God to intervene.
I am confident the Jewish people will ultimately survive. But how many Jews will survive is still up for grabs in my mind. Biblically, the amount of protection Israel enjoys is directly affected by the amount of prayer that is sent up to heaven by believers worldwide on her behalf (See Ezekiel 22:30 and the Book of Esther).
So on behalf of all of us whose lives and homes depend on how all this unfolds, we covet your prayers for God to intervene. Outside of an enormous miracle on the scope of the Six Day War when Israel pushed back the attacking Muslim nations and captured the ancient city of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, Gaza and the Sinai Desert in six days, tiny Israel will be severely attacked and battered by literally thousands of rockets.
In the natural, Iran has us in checkmate. But God’s wisdom always surpasses even the most intricate of enemy plans. The Scriptures recount a number of times when the city of Jerusalem or the nation of Israel lay besieged by armies many times her size. The people of Israel cried out to God and out of nowhere the enemy camps were filled with confusion and began to fight among themselves. On some level, we see that very dynamic unfolding in the Middle East today as many Arab nations, including Israel’s sworn enemy Syria, are consumed with infighting.
As people who love God and the life He gives, we do not wish demise for any. We pray for the salvation of the Arab nations and the protection of those who already worship the Living God in their midst. However, we realize that in reality there are those who choose the path of sin and destruction. And when entire societies embrace a religion that glorifies death, it should be no surprise when violence overtakes them. Remember, ultimately this conundrum in the Middle East is not about Iran’s dominance over Israel but about Allah’s dominance over Yahweh, the God of Israel. Allah loses.
Iran's Ambitions and Israel's Red Line
Excerpts from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
Pastor Umar and Evelyn Mulinde from Uganda, now residing in Israel for medical care.
The mask which Umar has worn for months, helps to smooth the skin that has been grafted to his face.
When I was in the seventh grade, I met Rosa Parks. Yes, ‘the’ Rosa Parks, as in the woman who is credited with being the “mother of the American Civil Rights Movement.”
I met her at the Bar Mitzvah of my best friend. As part of the Bar Mitzvah service he had to write some sort of “book report.” He chose to write his report on Mrs. Parks.
I grew up in Detroit, Michigan where Mrs. Parks lived in her latter years. Somehow my friend’s family got word to her about the event and invited her to attend. When my friend finished reading his essay, honoring the achievements of Mrs. Parks, he then recognized her in the audience and asked her to stand.
All of us sitting in that synagogue were stunned that she was in attendance. Not only did I not know she was there, that evening, I didn’t even know she was still alive! I had learned about her in Social Studies/History class. I just assumed that everyone in my history books, was…HISTORY! George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks…long gone, from another era.
But there she was, alive and well, at my friend’s Bar Mitzvah! And so it was this past week, when I met another figure that could easily be assumed to live in the “history books”, a man by the name of Pastor Umar Mulinde.
Fruma and Bob Knight, hosting the Mulinde family while in Israel.
Many of us believe that the “heroes” of the faith are confined to the elegant words of Hebrews 11 and other fantastical chapters in the Bible. Abraham, Moses, David, Paul…they weren’t like us. They were “super-human,” with super-hero abilities. We read about the highs and lows of their lives, and the way they changed history. And deep down we think of them as almost legendary in their lifestyle and perseverance for God.
But in actuality, they weren’t so different from us. They were flesh and blood human beings, who woke up every day and had a choice to make; will I live my life for God today, no matter the challenges…or will I live for myself according to the ways of the world? On the days they chose the former… God used them to change the world.
And so it is with us today. The same two options and the same possibility for worldaltering “greatness.”
Umar Mulinde had much of his fate seemingly mapped out by birth and geography. He was born in the 20th century, in Uganda, Africa. That should have been the end of the story. Africa, poverty, disease, early death. It’s the pattern countless millions find themselves trapped in, each day. But that was not to be Umar’s path.
Umar was a Muslim. Life for a Muslim in Uganda is easier. Go along, get along, don’t make waves and you can live mostly without hassle. But then something unexpected and perhaps unwanted happened to Umar. He heard the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah and his life was forever changed.
Soon Umar grew in his faith and at some point he was not only a “believer” but he became a pastor/teacher, leading a congregation and even appearing on television in Uganda. God used his testimony and his teachings to touch the hearts of many including Muslims. Countless Ugandans began renouncing Islam and embracing Yeshua. It was a miraculous revival causing the heavens to rejoice and Satan to panic.
Not only did Umar’s heart turn away from the darkness of Islam, it also turned away from the blind hatred of Israel. The more Umar learned of God’s love for the Jewish nation, the more his own love for Israel grew. In Umar’s church hang two flags; the flag of Uganda and the flag of Israel. And he shared that love with his congregation and in large campaigns, encouraging them to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Umar was becoming a force for Christianity in Uganda. And the Muslims knew they had to do something to stop him. They plotted and planned and when they had the opportunity, they pounced. In a flash, in an instant, Umar was attacked. Not with a gun or even a knife. Umar was attacked with liquid acid. A quick death was not to be his fate. No, the plan was to torture. To disfigure and ultimately to silence.
That was their plan, but God had a very different idea. Instead of silencing Umar, the attack only relocated him. Today Umar is in Israel.
When the Israeli government together with Orthodox Jewish organizations heard about what this Christian pastor and Lover of Israel had suffered, they immediately arranged to bring him to Israel where he has received 100% free hospitalization and the finest medical care possible. (Israel has very advanced medical technology and experience in its burn units because of the reoccurring wars.)
After a number of months in the hospital with numerous skin operations, he was deemed strong enough to be an outpatient. He would continue the numerous operations on his body at no cost. But he would have to pay for his living expenses.
That is where Maoz partners came to the rescue. After writing about Umar’s story in the Maoz Israel Report, funds came pouring in - enough that we have been able to support him for the last six months and also bring his wife and four-year-old twins from Uganda to be with him. And we have enough funds designated for him that will supply their needs for several more months. We want to thank every single one of you who helped this family that has endured the most terrible persecution imaginable.
Furthermore, Bob and Fruma Knight, long time active members of our Congregation Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv, invited this family with their two active four-year-olds to live with them as long as Umar needs medical care. The twins are actually in kindergarten learning Hebrew!
Yes, Umar is currently disfigured. But silent he is not. Despite the terrible physical pain he’s in, Umar continues to preach the Gospel. Only now he does so in Israeli Messianic Jewish congregations. In between excruciating procedures to re-build his eye-lid, eye-socket, nose and ear, he shares the love of Yeshua with his Israeli doctors. Yes, what the devil meant for evil, God is using for good. Umar’s story has been well publicized throughout Israel - a Muslim who became a Christian who now loves Israel and teaches his nation to do the same.
By now some Israelis are perhaps seeing a pattern. Mosab Hassan Yousef was the son of one of the founders of Hamas. He is now a born-again Christian, and has even worked with Israeli intelligence to help thwart terror attacks. Taysir Abu Saada was the personal driver for Yasser Arafat, and an admitted terrorist himself. Today he is a born-again believer in Yeshua, who preaches around the world about his love for the God of Israel and the people of Israel.
And so it is with Umar. Not content just to have a private faith in God, he speaks out to everyone and anyone who will listen. It’s because of that he was attacked. And it’s because of that, he joins the list of saints worthy of entry into the history books.
Chaim Goldberg is director of Maoz Media
What an exciting new chapter we are beginning in the history of Maoz Israel Ministries.
Most of you know about our awesome congregation in Tel Aviv (Tiferet Yeshua), our humanitarian aid work through “istandwithisrael.com” and of course our translating and publishing of books of faith into Hebrew.
Well, by the grace of God, Maoz Israel now has an Internet website channel. (And we’ve just begun!) It’s called “ViewThis.com” and is the brainchild of a talented Israeli media team.
Over a year ago, we began work on producing original video content by Israelis for Israelis.
Up until now, the focus of Maoz’ video efforts have been short-films in English for our friends and supporters around the world. It’s our desire to educate and inform Christians about news from Israel and updates of the work of Maoz.
But it has always been our prayer to produce videos in Hebrew, to reach Israelis with the Gospel of Yeshua. This last year, our prayers began to bear fruit.
Our team has toiled to come up with “show” ideas, to write scripts and to try to produce content on a shoe-string budget with a very small staff.
At the same time, we also had to develop the website that would in the future act as the “virtual TV channel” to host or stream the content.
As the months went by, the staff grew. Slowly as the resources allowed, the website got closer to completion and the finished episodes began to pile up. We soon felt this long-held dream would finally come to life.
One of Israel’s most gifted Messianic Jewish scholars by the name of Leehee Anav is doing a special weekly series for ViewThis.com, sharing the weekly Torah portion from a Messianic Jewish perspective.
And this is just one of the great new shows we’re excited to launch.
We’ll have a video daily devotional series. Great teachings from native Israeli believers sharing God’s word. We’ll have music videos with Israeli Messianic Jewish artists sharing their original songs. And that’s just the start.
Our prayer is that ViewThis.com will reach Israelis, in their language, on every computer, smart-phone and tablet across this beautiful country. That it will reach those seeking to know God and those searching for answers to life’s most important questions.
Please pray for our team, that God will inspire us with more and more fantastic creative ideas and that every Israeli will be telling their friends to: “View This” new site!
And by the way, even if you don’t read Hebrew, take a look at our new website: “www.viewthis.com”!
Dear Maoz Partner,
Our lives have changed forever. Especially this last decade.
When we work with our three graphic artists, we have multiple ways of contacting them - even though they are in Tel Aviv, Peru and Florida - by Skype, Viber, Internet telephone etc.
In Israel 3.5 million mobile phones are sold - every year! And that’s with a population of only seven million people, including babies.
The iPad is everywhere. Even the Talmud and other rabbinical books are now ebooks!
And Israel is the second highest user of Internet in the world! (Only Canada is higher.) 85% of Israeli households own computers.
This is a whole new harvest field that has opened up to us in the last number of years. The devil is so aware of this field - with his porn, violence and blasphemy flooding the Internet.
But the Internet has also opened to us, the Messianic Jews of Israel, a whole new way of reaching multitudes of Israelis with the Way to Eternal life. And with this tool no one can stop us!
In utilizing Internet, however, we must use professional people - video photographers, scriptwriters, designers, directors, producers, etc. But the results can be phenomenal.
For some of the older generation, Internet may not be a huge attraction. But for the 21st century generation of Israelis - many who are seeking and searching - Internet and social networking are the center of their lives.
We want to use these fantastic tools to our fullest capacity.
We believe that God allowed this technology to come into existence to help bring the Gospel to every creature. And with this Hebrew website we want to ultimately reach our nation. If you feel the same, then we invite you to partner with us in investing in this awesome tool for Israel.
And we do need your prayers that our quality will far surpass our natural abilities!
Since the Word of God says, “All Israel shall be saved,” and “their acceptance [will be] life from the dead” [for the world], what can each one of us say but, “Lord! Send me!”
Yes, when we see an open door here in Israel to reach our people, we say, "Lord, Open It Wide! We’re coming through!"
For Israel’s salvation,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. When you help our Internet outreach team bring the gospel in Hebrew, you will be part of taking the gospel to the Jew first!
P.P.S. Check out our new Hebrew site www.viewthis.com even if you don’t read Hebrew!