Teaching, Training, Touching Lives

The One Who Calls You is Completely Dependable

I recently flew from Israel to Ethiopia for a very short trip. Accompanied by MJBI Board member, Rabbi Ari Waldman, we left our families in Jerusalem to fly to Addis Ababa for something special. One of MJBI’s first graduates of our Ethiopia school, Derese, was now graduating with his Master of Divinity from The King’s University Messianic Studies program. Derese is the very first person on the African continent with

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What God Just Did In Odessa Was Powerful

Tabatha and I just returned from Odessa, Ukraine, where 20 years ago the MJBI officially launched our very first school. Valentin and Tatyana Sviontek hosted a large 20-year anniversary conference to celebrate. We were joined by Dr. Wayne and Bonnie Wilks, and Pastor Olen and Syble Griffing. It was a special time to be with these heroes who pioneered this great ministry in the Former Soviet Union! There were hundreds

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May 2017

  Tabatha and I just returned from Odessa, Ukraine, where 20 years ago the MJBI officially launched our very first school. Valentin and Tatyana Sviontek hosted a large 20-year anniversary conference to celebrate. We were joined by Dr. Wayne and Bonnie Wilks, and Pastor Olen and Syble Griffing. It was a special time to be with these heroes who pioneered this great ministry in the Former Soviet Union! There were

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To the Jew First, and then … Japan!

Have you ever actually pinched yourself? I find myself using that phrase quite often lately. Of course, we all know it is not a literal phrase, but one that suggests a state of dreamy bliss. Nonetheless, sometimes I really do pinch myself. I figure I should be a doer of my words, at least from time to time. Right? Recently, I returned from an amazing trip to Tokyo, Japan, with

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“From 0 to 60” in Under Five… Years!

Growing up in a rural farm town in Minnesota, my childhood was filled with cars, trucks, and tractors.  If it had an engine that made noise, I was interested in it.  This was compounded by the fact that my father owned a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS, which he had restored in his younger years.  Needless to say, the expression “from 0 to 60” was quite common in the conversations I

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Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah

As if 2016 has not already been an amazing year, I am actually writing this letter to you as I sit on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. There is a thunderstorm moving across the water toward our hotel, and lightning is lighting up the sky while the waves crash soothingly on the shore. The holiday season is upon us – both Hanukkah and Christmas on the same date

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Our Big News for 2017

I am filled with gratitude for our 20th Anniversary banquet on Nov. 10. Wow, what a night! And wow, what a 20-year ride! To God be the glory. It is hard to believe that we are beginning our 21st year, a “Sabbath” year of sorts. We expect newness from God as we rest in Him. I am so proud of Nic Lesmeister, the young man God called to serve as

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These 8 Scriptures Will Encourage You!

Well, here we are. We’re about one week away from the most controversial and pivotal election our country has faced in many years. The tension is tangible; and as November 8th nears, that tension increases. The political rhetoric from both sides will also magnify and probably grow uglier. Many will feel greater depths of hopelessness as we wonder what the future of our great country will look like.  When I

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An Evening with Three Heroic Texans

Fall is upon us! It seems as though I blinked and summer blew past me this year! With the change of season, I am looking forward to the annual traditions of the fall months – football, cooler weather, pumpkin spiced everything, and the annual MJBI banquet: “FORWARD!” November 10, 2016, at the Arlington Convention Center, 6:30 p.m. This year is unlike any other annual banquet.  As you likely know, we

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Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Isn’t baseball great? I love walking into the ballpark on a warm summer evening. There are people of all kinds walking around with delicious stadium food – foot-long hotdogs, nachos big enough to feed a family of four, and ice cream sundaes toppling out of an upside down baseball helmet. In the 7th inning, everyone stands in unison and sings, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame!” Your team blasts out

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The Persistent Three-Letter Word Surrounding Israel.

I am looking out of the window of my Ethiopian Airlines plane as we cruise somewhere over Egypt en route to Israel. The meandering Nile River provides the only change of color in the sea of golden yellow desert below. Some 35,000 feet above ground, my Boeing 737 is filled with incredible diversity. Japanese, Chinese, Israeli, Russian, Ethiopian, and American passengers, just to name a few. All of them are

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I muffled a scream to silence.

Side-by-side on a rickety and scarred wooden bench, we peeled potatoes together nearly every day for a year. As a young adult, I worked on a kibbutz near Petach Tikvah, Israel. Golda, my co-worker, was a Holocaust survivor. Narrowly escaping from a concentration camp, Golda fled to Israel as a young adult. She never mentioned the war or imprisonment. But I will never forget the day Golda pushed up her

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Loading Up the Baby Blue Datsun

I just returned from Myaki, Ukraine, the place where the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute was birthed nearly 20 years ago in a fishing village 45 minutes outside of Odessa. I revisited nearby apartments and village houses where we lived and retraced the remote Ukrainian roads where my old baby blue Datsun van used to die in the middle of the frigid snowy winter. I repaired it by pulling off the

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Ethiopia and My Four-Year-Old

One of my 4 year-old daughter’s favorite things to do is read. Often on a quiet Shabbat morning, my sweet daughter awakens me by tapping my shoulder with a book in hand. She will climb into bed with me, and I will whisper the story to her as we both do our best to allow mom and baby brother to sleep. I’m sure you can relate to these precious times

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Imagine an Entire City Rejoicing Over God’s Word

  Early last October, my wife, daughter, and I had just arrived in Jerusalem for one year. On our first day in the Eternal City, we enjoyed meandering around the confusing corridors and narrow cobbled streets of the Old City. We took time to explore and soak in the beauty of the ancient heart of Israel. All of a sudden, we found ourselves directly in the pathway of a lively,

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Sukkot 5776: God’s Big Party

  by Dr. Greg Stone, Associate Pastor of Jewish Ministries at Gateway Church What’s the biggest holiday of your year? Your anniversary? A birthday? In the Bible, it is Tabernacles (Sukkot) which is often just called “The Feast.” How big is it? More animals were sacrificed on Sukkot than on all the other Feasts combined and tripled! Sukkot is the Feast that joyfully celebrates Israel’s humble beginnings with the promise of a glorious

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This Ancient Promise is Happening in Ethiopia Today

  The LORD your God will make you the head and not the tail—placing you above and not beneath—if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I’m giving you today to keep and observe” (Deuteronomy 28:13). This ancient promise to the Jewish people is happening today in Ethiopia as the God of Israel redeems His seed. The Jewish community in that country has been the lowest of the low for centuries, but with the recent outreaches of Jewish Voice and the training of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, the esteem of these communities continues to grow by God’s grace. The Beta Israel, Gafat, and Beta Abraham Jewish communities are now forming a Messianic Congregational Alliance that will also be recognized by the Evangelical Alliance of Ethiopia (EAE),

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Shavuot 5775: Serve With Milk!

  By Bonnie Saul Wilks, Senior Writer A Messianic Study of the Jewish Feasts and Holidays “In addition to the Sabbath, these are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the official days for holy assembly that are to be celebrated at their proper times each year” (Leviticus 23:4 NLT). Feast – Shavuot or Pentecost Summary – Shavuot falls on the Jewish calendar fifty days after Passover Sabbath. It is the second of three major feasts unto the Lord and holds both great agricultural and historical significance. Sandwiched in between Passover and Sukkot (or Feast of Booths), its historical background commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. On Passover, the Jewish people were delivered from Egyptian slavery, and on Shavuot they received the Torah. Shavuot’s agricultural significance is connected with the harvesting of the first fruits that were brought to

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A Bombing on Purim

  On the morning of Purim, March 5 in Odessa, Ukraine, a Russian radical group bombed a Ukrainian nationalistic volunteer office. It was the biggest bombing yet by radicals in Odessa. The targeted volunteer office was actually upstairs, but the dissidents bombed the downstairs apartment by mistake. Currently it is used by members of Or Hamashiah (Light of Messiah) Congregation, led by Valentin Sviontek, who oversees the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute in Ukraine. This ministry reaches out to street children, which are many in Odessa. About 20 kids are being touched through their efforts. A Canadian woman who attends Or Hamashiah is leading this children’s ministry with much help from eager volunteers from the congregation. Many of the kids they reach have mental problems. They are brought to the congregation regularly for services and

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Passover 5775: First Mercy, then Miracles

Jewish Days of Distinction A Messianic Study of the Jewish Feasts and Holidays “In addition to the Sabbath, these are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the official days for holy assembly that are to be celebrated at their proper times each year” (Lev. 23:4 NLT). Feast – Passover or Pesach Summary – Passover or Pesach in Modern Hebrew is the Jewish festival of redemption that celebrates the miraculous historical story of the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. This is the watershed event for the Jewish people, which freed them from slavery. Passover begins on Nisan 14th – 22nd on the Jewish calendar or falls this year, according to the Gregorian calendar, on April 3rd – 11th. Pesach is not the holiest of the feast days, but possibly the most widely observed among both secular and

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It All Started with $15

  I am excited for you to hear this good news first—that Nic Lesmeister will be joining our staff in the fall as my right-hand man and Executive Vice President of the MJBI. It is truly a work of the Holy Spirit how God connected Nic with me and the MJBI. I am very proud of him and asked him to express something from his heart in the newsletter this month. ~ Wayne Wilks Jr., Ph.D., President MJBI   It all started with $15. Sometime during the year 2004, the Lord asked me to start sacrificing $15 of my monthly income to a ministry unknown to me at the time – the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute. I was a jobless Bible college student, and $15 per month was a chunk of

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Purim 5775: Clues that lead to Deliverance

Jewish Days of Distinction Devotionals on the Jewish Feasts and Holidays Purim The Jewish holiday of Purim is commemorated annually on the 14th day of Adar on the Hebrew calendar, the Jewish holiday of Purim will fall on our calendar this year on March 5th and according to tradition celebrations will commence the evening of the 4th. The Scroll of Esther details the poignant yet ironic Purim story of rescue through an engaging tale of secrets and revelations. Hiddenness is a prevailing theme as evil plots and the redemptive plans of God come to light. Haman, an evil advisor of King Ahasueras of Persia, cast lots to set a date when all the Jews of the kingdom would be killed. Mordecai discovered his plans and persuaded his adopted daughter, Queen

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