Showing posts by: David Sviontek

About David Sviontek

You Made a “Messiah-Shaped” Impact on Houston!

By on October 30th, 2017
Posted in Featured Articles

We appreciate how many of you turned your concern into action by helping us send financial relief to the hard hit Houston Messianic community in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Here’s an update with specifics on how your donations have made a difference.

Beth Messiah and Beth Yeshua HaMashiach congregations received overwhelming assistance at a crucial time due to several Messianic ministries banding together for a united appeal. We are thrilled to report that at least $70,000 was raised to help these congregations get back on their feet–and $10,000 of that total was donated directly through MJBI! Your generosity is amazing!

We have received heartwarming stories from both congregations describing the outpouring of love they experienced. Faithful congregational members, newlyweds, small business owners, and widows were among those you blessed with funds to help rebuild their homes, businesses, and lives.

One woman had been experiencing pressure by nonbelieving family to leave the congregation, and was questioning her faith in Messiah. When flooding devastated her home, she was given a substantial gift out of the collected funds. This show of concern so moved her that she returned to the congregation during the High Holidays with tears and a thankful heart. What the enemy meant for evil, God turned for good!

Beth Messiah Rabbi Michael Vowell stated that this display of kindness has “made a permanent and Messiah-shaped impact on the families here in Houston…words are not enough to convey our thanks to you for all of your financial support and generosity to help our families recover from Hurricane Harvey.”

In fact, your response was so astounding that once the community needs in Houston were covered, Rabbi Vowell said they had plenty to send weeks later to the Messianic community in Florida effected by Hurricane Irma!
MJBI thanks you again for responding in such a compassionate and powerful way to help assist our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters in need. You have planted good seed!

“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” Proverbs 23:11 (TM)

Grateful for you,

Tara Kieschnick
MJBI Media and Communications Manager


Big and Bold: Our 2020 Vision

By on October 24th, 2017
Posted in Newsletter

I was reading about the worldwide Body of Messiah a few weeks ago when I came across a very startling statistic. Of all the churches and congregations in the world, 85% are led by someone with no formal Bible training. Wow!

In America, we have some amazing Bible teachers and pastors, and most of the finest seminaries in the world. Students fly in from all over the world to attend these seminaries, then return to their home countries to further advance God’s Kingdom.

But what about those who cannot afford such a privilege, yet are similarly called of God? And more specifically, what about those who are called to reach our Jewish brothers and sisters?

Did you know there are only two countries in the entire world where such a student can receive seminary-level training and education?

That is a mere 1% of all the world’s nations. So how can someone called to Jewish ministry receive solid, Biblical training to reach the Jewish people if they live in one of the other 99% of the countries?

At MJBI, we feel God is calling us to be a part of changing this shocking statistic.

By the year 2020, our goal is to pioneer or collaborate in establishing seminary-level education for leaders called to Jewish ministry on the five major continents of the earth: North & South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Today, this type of education is only available in North America (U.S.A.), and in Asia (Israel).

Our 3-year Kadima (Hebrew for “Forward!”) program will issue Bachelor’s and Master’s level degrees in Messianic Jewish Theology for Jewish and Gentile leaders called to reach the House of Israel around the world.

In September, we launched this program in Africa amongst the Lemba Jewish Tribe in Zimbabwe. A few years ago, we launched a similar program in partnership with The King’s University in Southlake, Texas.

Throughout 2017, we have been planning a possible launch for this program in Europe through a partnership with a seminary in Warsaw, Poland. Dr. Wayne Wilks and I will travel there in December to continue planning. It would be the first ever college-level Bible training in Messianic Jewish studies in European history! 

We will begin strategizing our future in South America in 2018 and will look later to Asia. By 2020, we feel that credible Bible training will finally be much more accessible for the other 99% of leaders called to Jewish ministry, who today have little to no other options.

We truly need your help to see this bold vision turn into a reality.

Would you prayerfully consider an investment in our ministry as we move forward with God’s guidance?

Your donation is truly an investment that will pay heavenly dividends for many years to come. Partner with us to change the lives of leaders who will share the Good News of Yeshua with the Jewish people around the world.

May the LORD richly bless you as you help us see this great “2020 Vision” become a reality!

Gratefully,

Nic Lesmeister
President & CEO


Yom Kippur | The Thriller?

By on September 24th, 2017
Posted in Jewish Holidays

Cue the dark and mysterious music in your head. Dim the lights. A little more. Now whisper with me in grave tones…The Day of Atonement. It sounds like something out of a thriller movie. “The Day of Atonement (bum bumbummm)!”

So like any good Messianic Jew, we usually refer to it by the Hebrew name: Yom Kippur. For those of us who have “celebrated” this “holiday,” we still have come to feel the somber and even dark sense this holy day usually conveys. Most of us don’t celebrate—rather commemorate by fasting food and drink from sundown to sundown. Traditionally, we sing specific prayers special to the holiday, and we wear white clothes. We do no work whatsoever. And in Israel, only emergency vehicles are allowed to drive on the roads.

At the second sundown and the end of the prayers, we blow the shofar or ram’s horn. All these customs have meaning and, to be honest, multiple interpretations of meaning. The study of Jewish tradition and oral law is almost endless, so the following will only deal with raw scripture.

Even still, it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the commandments from Leviticus 16, Leviticus 23:26-27, and Numbers 29:7-11 with the realities we see in Yeshua and the early believing communities. Should we really still be “afflicting ourselves” as is mentioned in Leviticus 23:27? What about sacrificing of animals on altars? I do believe that if I saw my neighbor doing that in the town I live (outside Jerusalem), I’d probably call the police or at the very least be convinced he was in a cult.

If the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God and “all scripture is useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 TLV), then what purpose do the explanations have for me and you today?

We should understand first and foremost that at the center of God’s commands concerning Yom Kippur, there is a meeting between God and man in the Holy of Holies. We cannot easily imagine this scenario, but think something along the lines of the most spiritually intense place on earth—more intense than Luke Skywalker going into the scary tree in “Star Wars,” and more intense than any new age festival. It was legitimately the presence (Shekinah) of the Creator of the Universe that allowed only one select person from a select tribe from a select nation to enter once a year to meet with the most powerful being in all of history. Wow!

The second most important element is the forgiveness of sin. The fairly elaborate explanation of how this is done has plenty of nuggets that we can extrapolate into our own lives. At the most simplified level, animals are sacrificed and their blood is displayed publicly in order to “make atonement…for all Israel.” There is one bizarre element in this ritual in which the High Priest is instructed, “lay both his hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and all their transgressions, all their sins” (Lev 16:21). Then the goat is sent into the wilderness because “the goat will carry all their iniquities by itself into a solitary land” (Lev 16:22). What?

Let’s repeat our mantra until we calm down… “All scripture is useful… All scripture is useful… All scripture is useful…”

Somehow a stain that cannot be removed and has been killing us since the fall of Adam is drawn out of us and put into a poor little goat. I picture this as a dark, oily liquid virus that gets in our blood like leukemia killing our bodies. Then the doctor of all doctors comes and gives us a supernatural blood transfusion which sucks up all that dark, oily blood and puts it into a goat leaving us with pure blood once again.

For anyone with ears to hear, this sounds a lot like Yeshua, who took our sins upon Himself to give us life. He was the ultimate sacrifice which was made once and lasts forever (Hebrews 10:12). This connection gives fullness to the meaning of the goat that is slain, but also the goat that is sent away. It is deep and can be meditated on for hours and hours. I suggest a thorough reading of the Yom Kippur verses alongside of Hebrews chapters 4-10.

We cannot avoid the concluding statement in Hebrews 10:17-18 which states, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more. Now where there is removal of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”

When we have declared Yeshua as our Savior, when we follow him and are filled with the Holy Spirit, why do we need Yom Kippur?!

Let’s bring all that we’ve discussed together. First, believers can still meet with God on this special day just like we meet with him every Shabbat or on other holidays. God is omnipresent and can speak to us at any time or at any place. Why then do we bother to set aside quiet times with God? For that matter, if you love your spouse and are committed to him/her, why celebrate anniversaries?

Just because we are forgiven daily when we confess our sins, there are special times that God sets aside for us to meet with him on various topics. Yom Kippur provides a set time that we can use to do a deeper dive into where God still wants to work in us.

The most amazing part of Yom Kippur is the sundown, which closes it. I’m not only talking about the amazing meal many of us share to break the fast, but the feeling we have that God has truly forgiven us of everything we could possibly think to confess. No matter the depth of lust, pride, anger, envy, or greed, even the most shameful of wrongs…are gone. God dealt with it, and we get to walk in freedom once again.

Let’s repent every day of our sins so that every day we can experience the post-Yom Kippur joy. Let’s approach all of life with the freedom of Yom Kippur closing evening.

So even though Yom Kippur starts with the dark mysterious music and dim lights—perhaps on the pathway to a thriller movie, it ends with the thrill and beauty of a new dawn, a fresh spring breeze at your back, and heavenly music cheering you on.


Jonathan Moore co-leads Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, Israel. He successfully married up to Simcha Naomi (Juster) Moore in 2008, and they have three young children. Jonathan has been called to bring business and ministry together and also leads a consulting practice helping Israeli startups connect to investors and other entrepreneurial initiatives connecting believers to Israel. Jonathan has a passion for leadership, home groups, discipleship, and professional sports of Washington, D.C. (his hometown).


For an authentic Purim recipe from Yiddish Mama’s Kitchen, click here: Yiddish Mama’s Kitchen


Trump, Netanyahu and MJBI

By on August 23rd, 2017
Posted in home_page_featured_post

I am not one who watches much cable news. Overseeing a global ministry that is active in 10 different countries, along with raising two kids under the age of five does not afford me much free time to indulge in the latest commentary on news stories of the day.

I do, however, pay close attention to what is happening around the world – particularly in countries where MJBI is active, and areas with large populations of Jewish citizens. Over the past few months, I have been amazed by some of the events taking place globally.

First, while Tabatha and I were in Jerusalem this past May, we were able to witness the President of the United States landing by helicopter for his historic visit to Israel. He is the first sitting U.S. President to lay his hands on and pray at the Western Wall – Judaism’s most holy site.

The same day President Trump left Jerusalem, our family left Israel for a trip to Budapest, Hungary, and Warsaw, Poland. While in Warsaw, we toured the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in the heart of the former 750-acre Warsaw Ghetto and had some exciting strategic MJBI meetings. Mere weeks later, President Trump made Warsaw his first major European visit as President and his Jewish daughter, Ivanka, laid a wreath at the Ghetto Uprising Memorial at the Museum.

In mid-July, Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit post-Communist Hungary. On his visit, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, made the first ever government public confession of sin for what the Hungarian government did to the Jewish people during World War II (550,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust). Hungary had avoided a public apology for over 70 years. It was truly historic!

All of these events occurred within weeks of Tabatha and I being in these same places, where we are currently planning expansion for MJBI in the near future.  

Friends, you and I are living in amazing times! We are seeing major events take place on the world stage pertaining to Israel, the Jewish people and the Kingdom of God. This is why we at MJBI are so Determined to forge ahead with new initiatives to see “all Israel saved!” (Rom. 11:26)

So if you haven’t already, I really encourage you to register to attend our annual banquet – Determined – on Thursday, September 14. Go to Determined.MJBI.org and secure your spot today, or call our office at 817-864-9300.

We are going to be sharing new vision on how God is using MJBI to build the Kingdom alongside these historic events happening around the world.

Would you please pray about joining us for this exciting evening?

Hopeful to see you soon,

Nic Lesmeister Signature

Nic Lesmeister, President & CEO

P.S. Please enjoy our annual Parashot for the new Jewish year ahead (5778). As you read through the Bible with the Jewish people in the coming year, please pray that they will see Messiah Yeshua in the Scriptures! Download Here!


Jewish Feasts & Holidays

By on July 28th, 2017
Posted in Jewish Holidays

When the children of Israel were delivered out of Egyptian slavery, God instituted special feasts, or “appointed times” throughout the agricultural year to celebrate, remember, repent, and give thanks. The Jewish calendar is based on these feasts which are set on a lunar cycle. It was well established by the time of the Babylonian captivity and predates by centuries the universally-accepted solar-based Gregorian (or civil) calendar finalized in the 1500’s. Because the Jewish calendar is “shorter” in days than the Gregorian, the feast dates change from year-to-year on commonly used western calendars.

There are seven “appointed feasts” mentioned in the Torah. The first are in the autumn, referred to as the High Holidays, and include the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShana), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Feast of Booths (Sukkot). The spring begins with Passover (Pesach), including the Feast of Unleavened Bread and First Fruits, and ends with the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot or Pentecost). The Lord also set aside the seventh day, or Sabbath, of each week as a holy, designated day of rest. Over the years, other minor holidays were add- ed to commemorate important events in the Jewish calendar. These include Purim in early spring, Tisha B’Av in the summer, Simchat Torah in the fall, and Hanukkah in the winter.

The Jewish feasts are ripe with prophetic meaning and fulfillment by Yeshua. Further study and/or observance of these “forever statutes” can bring great dimension and abun- dant life to a “grafted in” believer. For more information on the scriptural basis, traditions, and recipes pertaining to the Jewish Feasts, please go to our website: mjbi.org/info and select “Jewish Holidays.”

CHAG SAMEACH—HAPPY HOLIDAYS—FROM THE STAFF OF MJBI!


Why the Rabbis Don’t Understand Rosh HaShanah

By on July 27th, 2017
Posted in Jewish Holidays

Every year Jewish people do the strangest thing. We celebrate a new year in the middle of the year. It is called Rosh HaShanah, and it is not in the Bible. Well, not explicitly.

The scriptures tell us:

On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets” (Numbers 29:1). We also have this: “On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts” (Leviticus 23:24-25).

You may have noticed that not only does it not mention “Rosh” (head) “HaShanah” (of the year), but comes on the “first day of the seventh month.” In Hebrew this is called the Day of Trumpeting. So, the supposed Jewish New Year is actually a day in which we are to blast trumpets as a memorial.

A memorial for what? It doesn’t say. There is no specific reason given for the blowing of the trumpets. Now doesn’t it seem strange that God would leave that out? Unless, there is a meaning that would be revealed in the future.

It is commonly believed that this blowing of the trumpets is a call to repentance, as Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—is only ten days later. In the Scripture, the shofar, or trumpet, had many meanings. Numbers 10 speaks of the silver trumpets being a way to call people to assemble or the Israelites to battle. The ram’s horn was sounded at the New Moon festivals each month as we see in Psalm 81:3.

However, I think that the greatest fulfillment of this holiday is in expectation of the Messiah: “Then the Lord will appear over them; His arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; He will march in the storms of the south” (Zechariah 9:14).

The revelation is further revealed in the New Covenant:

“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:41).

“In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

I believe that because the rabbis were blinded to the revelation of Yeshua, they were also blinded to the true meaning of Yom Teruah—the Feast of Trumpets. They needed to beef-it-up and give it more meaning, and thus decided that creation took place on the first day of the seventh month. And now it is accepted as gospel truth (pun intended) without a shred of evidence.

There is more. The seventh month in Hebrew is called Tishrei, which really isn’t Hebrew. In Hebrew the months are simply recognized by their order—the first month, the third month, etc.* While exiled in Babylon, we took on the Babylonian names of the months like Nisan and Tishrei.

The Babylonians took their celebrations quite seriously, where as in the Scriptures, it is never emphasized as a holiday. Tishrei was their New Year, and it is possible that the rabbis embraced this—as it was already a holiday and thus easy to incorporate without causing friction with their captors. They could celebrate Yom Teruah as a New Year.

Of course this is merely a hypothesis. The most important point here is to discover its true meaning of the Feast of Trumpets—a day to look toward the coming of Messiah when he subdues the enemies of Israel (Zechariah 14:3-4) and sets up His Millennial kingdom. As believers, we can join in by taking extra time on this day to pray that Messiah’s return will be hastened.

(*There are four exceptions: Aviv, Ziv, Etanim and Bul)


Ron Cantor is the GOD TV Israel Regional Director and host of the daily TV program, “Out of Zion.” He also serves on the leadership team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. Ron and his family moved to Odessa, Ukraine, to work for MJBI in 1996 before eventually moving to Israel in 2003, where they now reside.


Focused on the Goal Line

By on July 27th, 2017
Posted in Zealous Magazine

I have a humiliating confession. Though I am one of the most die-hard Texans many of you may ever meet, I did not grow up a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.

In October 1989, when I was about to turn 7 years old, I was proudly wearing the Purple and Gold of the Minnesota Vikings. Growing up in rural Minnesota, I loved football. In fact, my hometown team – the Tigers – had finished runner-up in the state championship in 1988 and were undefeated deep into the 1989 state playoffs in the fall of that year. Football was on everyone’s mind in my little hometown.

The biggest football news that year, however, was the infamous Herschel Walker trade between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings received a soon-to-be irrelevant Herschel Walker and the Cowboys received a major handful of draft picks. One of those draft picks ended up being a young man from Florida, Emmitt Smith.

For most of us, the rest is history: Three-time Super Bowl champion, eight-time Pro Bowler, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, and Hall of Famer. Yet Emmitt’s achievements did not come easily. He was frequently criticized for being too small, not strong enough, and too slow. What was it, then, that made him the greatest rusher in NFL history?

Emmitt Smith is constantly referred to as one of the best second-effort runners in the history of the game of football. Another way of putting this is that Emmitt Smith was determined.

Clip after clip of Emmitt’s career shows him smashing into a defender, then driving forward with focused vision to gain even more yards before being brought to the ground. You can see the determination in his eyes as he focused down field on the goal line ahead of him.

Though he was never the biggest, fastest or strongest, his determined will to succeed drove him to record heights on the football field. And the same vision and determined focus are now driving him as a successful businessman.

As a staff, we at MJBI feel many similarities to Emmitt Smith. We’re not out to win a Super Bowl, but we have a task before us that is even more challenging – to see all Israel saved, which will lead to a revival in the nations of the earth (Romans 11:15)! We’re not the biggest, strongest, or even the smartest. But we understand the specific mission that God has given us to raise up and train leaders for this great revival, and we’re determined to carry our mission out to completion.

In Hebrews 12:1-2, we find some of the most famous Bible verses used by believing athletes from all over the world. The Message version puts it so plainly:

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it… start running—and never quit!… Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God!”

The Holy Spirit spoke these verses to us as a team as we were praying over our strategy at MJBI earlier this year. The Lord was reminding us that now is the time to go forward, with eyes focused on Jesus, who will show us how to press on to complete this great mission He has given to us.

Our history is a hall of fame story of faithful leaders who have blazed the way for MJBI to be where we are today – active in nine countries around the world, training hundreds of leaders for Jewish ministry every year. But now it is our turn to move with determined focus toward that “exhilarating finish with God” and see the ancient plan of Israel’s restoration and redemption fulfilled!

We have an aggressive vision to pioneer college-level Messianic education on the five major continents around the world. Currently, this only exists in two – North America (U.S.) and Asia (Israel). By 2020, we are aiming to be the first-ever provider of collegiate Messianic Jewish Theology in South America, Africa, and Europe. We have already co-launched the North American option for this program through The King’s University, and we’re actively moving to complete our vision in these other locations even as you read this.

As I mentioned in my opening letter in this issue of “Zealous,” in the first six months of 2017, I traveled to all five of these continents, and 13 countries throughout all of them. I am determined to move this “20/20 Vision” into reality, to see the vision and mission of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute fulfilled.

And just like Emmitt Smith, we at MJBI need fans. We need people to cheer us on, to support us, and to help motivate us when we’re weary from the challenging mission given to us. We can be as determined as we want, but we will not go far if we do not go with you and your support.

On September 14, 2017, we will gather with Emmitt Smith at the Arlington Convention Center for our annual D/FW banquet. As you can likely tell by now, the clear theme for our event this year is “Determined,” with an emphasis on the Word the Lord spoke to us from Hebrews 12:1-2.

We would be delighted if you could join us on September 14. Emmitt will share his experience, insight, and passionate wisdom with us as we run toward this great vision God has given us to reach, train, and bless the Jewish people. This will truly be a banquet unlike any other we have had in a very long time.

Until we see you in September, may you be inspired with a new determined faith of your own to carry out the mission that God has given you. We’re praying for you, and grateful for your friendship in every way!

Nic Lesmeister
Nic Lesmeister Signature
Gratefully, Nic Lesmeister – President and CEO

Emmit James Smith III is a former college and professional American football running back who became the National Football League’s all-time leading rusher through his fifteen seasons in the league during the 1990s and 2000s.


Dallas Cowboys Emmitt Smith (22) in action, rushing vs Washington Redskins at Texas Stadium. Irving, TX (1994)

Credit: Al Tielemans (Photo by Al Tielemans /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)


For Zions Sake | Summer 2017

By on July 27th, 2017
Posted in Zealous Magazine

Late in 2016, I began feeling an urgent stirring in my heart for the forthcoming year. The elections were over, Dr. Wayne Wilks and I had completed our transitional year as I took over the role of President & CEO, and MJBI had moved into new offices.

As I set my heart on the Lord in reflection, I felt Him saying, “Let’s Go!” Immediately, I knew that an intense pace of ministry was ahead of us at MJBI in the beginning of 2017.

In the first six months of 2017, I traveled to 13 countries and five continents. From Japan to Israel, and South Africa to Poland, I became good friends with American Airlines.

With each trip, I increasingly felt a new emotion rising in my spirit. Through the strength of the Lord, I was becoming more and more DETERMINED. Determined to press into the expanding ministry opportunities the Lord was bringing us to train new leaders for Jewish ministry. Determined to faithfully carry the flame the Wilks family passed on to Tabatha and I. And ultimately, determined to see Yeshua glorified all over the world.

In this issue of “Zealous”, we are unveiling the details of our annual banquet event. I am beyond excited about this year’s special guest, former Dallas Cowboy Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith.

Ron Cantor, long-time MJBI friend, shares a compelling insight on the fall holiday of Rosh HaShanah. We will introduce you to a new member of the MJBI team, and you will hear from another Israeli friend of mine who directs an incredible Jerusalem-based ministry in our “Life From the Land” feature.

I hope that by the end of reading this issue of “Zealous” you will be as excited as I am about the ministry MJBI is being called to around the world in the days ahead. Without your partnership, it would be impossible to carry out our God-given mission. We sincerely thank you!

Nic Lesmeister
Nic Lesmeister Signature
Gratefully, Nic Lesmeister – President and CEO

INTRODUCING KEVIN BENTLEY

By on July 27th, 2017
Posted in Zealous Magazine

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you MJBI’s new Strategic Partnership Coordinator, Pastor Kevin Bentley. Since 2011, I have had the privilege of knowing Kevin, his lovely wife of 21 years, Mindi, and their beautiful daughter Lauren.

Kevin was the Director of Johnson County for Israel, an initiative through the Christian Heritage Foundation (CHF), a dear friend of MJBI and partner in ministry, located in Cleburne, Texas. In his role at CHF, Kevin facilitated relationships between pastors in the U.S. and Israel. This was a natural fit for Kevin as he grew up a preacher’s kid and also pastored a church for 20 years.

The Lord has placed within Kevin a talent and energy for connecting and bringing together people of all backgrounds and occupations to maximize kingdom work. When we began discussing the need for someone to foster our church and organizational relationships, it was providential to make Kevin part of the MJBI team.

Kevin also serves as business pastor for DMI corporation in Cedar Hill. He and his family make their home in Cleburne, TX.

Welcome to the team, Kevin!


Life from the Land

By on July 27th, 2017
Posted in Zealous Magazine

Hatikva Project is a Jerusalem-based Messianic ministry working to see the Israeli Body of Messiah built up and serving needy Israelis in the name of Yeshua. We believe the Lord has called the local, Israeli believers to step boldly into areas of public influence to provide value to our nation in many different areas while operating with excellence. In this way, we bring the name of Yeshua into day-to-day conversations in a way that brings blessing that cannot be easily ignored.

The ministry of HaTikva Project is expressed through three departments:

HATIKVA AID

Through HaTikva Aid, we provide direct financial support to Israeli believers who are experiencing financial crisis. We meet the day-to-day needs of widows, single mothers, and families experiencing extreme financial hardship throughout the nation of Israel. By pairing our financial aid with the support of local congregations and financial counselors, we are able to see breakthrough in the lives of many believers.

HATIKVA DENTAL

Dental care is one of the greatest needs in Israel as it is not covered under the national insurance policy. We operate the first and only Messianic Jewish dental clinic in Israel where we boldly treat patients in the name of Yeshua. We are the only clinic in the nation providing a full range of dental services to the needy and are the preferred clinic of referral for government agencies in Jerusalem. We are currently developing a network of clinics throughout the nation and providing scholarships for believers to study dentistry. In this way, we meet a critical need with excellence while making the name of Yeshua famous through dentistry.

HATIKVA FAMILIES

This is a new initiative that we are excited to launch! We believe that caring for “unwanted” and orphaned children is one of the highest expressions of the Gospel. Our aim is to encourage and equip the Israeli Body of Messiah to take a leading role in caring for such children in Israel. We will recruit and equip couples and families to host, foster, and adopt through conferences, seminars, and public education. We will work with various agencies to promote the benefits of Messianic Jewish families adopting Israeli children. As well, we provide financial support to help with the associated expenses.

We are blessed to be serving the Lord in these critical ways as we work toward the spiritual restoration of Israel.


Evan Levine is the Executive Director of HaTikva Project. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Elisa, and their three children. Evan also serves as a shamash (deacon) and worship director at Ahavat Yeshua, a Hebrew speaking Messianic congregation in Jerusalem.

Find out more about this dynamic ministry at hatikvaproject.org


From Slavery to Freedom

By on March 26th, 2017
Posted in Featured Articles

“I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their slave masters, for I know their pains. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians…” Exodus 3:7, TLV

Are you under the bondage of slavery? ADONAI has made the way!

Jacob and his sons fled from a great famine to the land of Egypt. They settled in Egypt under the protection of Joseph, Pharaoh’s second-in-command. Eventually, a new Pharaoh came to power who did not remember Joseph. This Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrews.

ADONAI enlisted Moses as His representative in order to deliver the people of Israel from the yoke of Egyptian slavery. Moses petitioned Pharaoh, “Let My people go,” to offer sacrifices in the wilderness to ADONAI. Pharaoh refused. Therefore, ADONAI performed ten miracles/plagues in an attempt to persuade Pharaoh to let His people go. The plagues concluded with the death of every firstborn.

ADONAI instructed Moses and the people to slaughter a lamb without blemish at twilight in order to spread the blood on the doorposts and on the cross beams (Exodus 12). The blood on the doors would be a sign to G-d, causing Him to pass over their houses so that they would escape the judgment of death. This perfect lamb was the sacrifice that stayed ADONAI’s hand of judgment from coming against anyone who placed his or her faith in the promise of ADONAI. God instructed the people to consume all of the roasted lamb and to leave none until morning. If a lamb was too big for one family, they were to invite their neighbors to partake.

ADONAI instructed His people Israel to celebrate this day as an annual and eternal ordinance (Exodus 13:14). This is generally done in the Jewish community by having a Passover seder (an ordered service), which consists of retelling the story of Israel’s deliverance while eating a meal together. The lamb was to be eaten with bitter herbs and matzah (unleavened bread). During a seder, these elements would be present to recall the time of slavery in Egypt and the subsequent deliverance of ADONAI.

Yeshua can be seen throughout the Passover story. He is the Lamb that was pierced for our transgressions (Isaiah 53) and when His blood is applied to our hearts it will be a sign that we have been purchased for redemption. The penalty of our sins is death, but judgment shall pass over us and ADONAI will lead us out of bondage to sin into a freedom where we can wholeheartedly worship and serve Him.

The format of the seder has remained relatively constant over time. During each Passover, we tell the story to our children of how we were delivered out of slavery in Egypt. This corporate solidarity makes the miracle real in our own lives.

At a Passover seder a few years ago, we participated in a new addition to the seder. An additional cup of wine to celebrate the State of Israel witnessed to the great works and miracles of ADONAI in our own generation. The birth of the modern State of Israel opened a heavenly door of return to the Land of our forefathers – the Land that G-d promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants forever.

ADONAI has provided Yeshua the Lamb for our own deliverance from the bondage of slavery to sin. He has released us into a world to share this Good News with everyone, Jew and Gentile (Romans 1:16). We have not been delivered out of slavery and into freedom to simply enjoy our freedom. We have been delivered with the purpose of worshiping and serving ADONAI as in the times of the Exodus. The people were to go into the wilderness and worship/serve ADONAI. Since we have been delivered from bondage to sin, let’s leave our slavery and go serve ADONAI by making Him known throughout the entire world.


Rabbi Ari Waldman
Ari Waldman is a rabbi on staff at Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a master’s degree in Messianic Jewish Studies from The King’s University. Ari is married to Brittany and has two beautiful daughters. (bhsdallas.org).

For an authentic Purim recipe from Yiddish Mama’s Kitchen, click here: Yiddish Mama’s Kitchen


Where is God? Where are You?

By on February 26th, 2017
Posted in Featured Articles
Purim 5777

Where is God?

That’s a question that has occupied the minds of theologians, philosophers, and everyday people for ages. It’s also a question that confronts us when we read the biblical Book of Esther. The events described there serve as the backdrop to the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim.

In short, the story goes like this. In Susa, the capitol city of the vast Persian Empire, a king known as Xerxes (Ahasuerus in Hebrew) selected a young Jewish woman named Esther (Hadassah in Hebrew; Esther 2:5-18) to be his new queen. Meanwhile, a chief minister of the king named Haman had become angry at Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, because Mordecai, a Jewish man, refused to bow down and pay homage to Haman. Haman determined that he would release his anger not only upon Mordecai, but upon all of Mordecai’s people, the Jewish people, who lived within the empire. Haman’s plan to annihilate the Jewish people was set in motion (Esther 3:1-15).

In response, Mordecai encouraged Queen Esther to utilize her influence by petitioning the king to put a stop to Haman’s plan. This was a dangerous strategy because no one was permitted to simply approach the king without being officially summoned by him (Esther 4:1-17). After calling upon the Jewish community to fast on her behalf prior to approaching the king, Esther entered the king’s chambers and the king received her favorably (Esther 5:1-5).

When the time was right, Esther revealed to the king that she was Jewish and that Haman had sold her and her people to destruction (Esther 7:1-6). King Xerxes responded by sending Haman to his death on the gallows that Haman had ironically built for Mordecai. The king also granted the Jewish community the right to rise up and defend themselves against their enemies (Esther 7:7-8:14).

Not only were the Jewish people spared, but they emerged victorious (Esther 9:1-19)!

Because what was to be a day of annihilation became a day of salvation and triumph, the Jewish community of Susa instituted the annual holiday called Purim (Esther 9:20-32). Purim means “lots,” because lots had been cast in order to determine the day on which Haman’s evil plan would be executed.

Since at least the middle ages, Jewish people all over the world celebrate the joyous holiday of Purim by publicly reading the Book of Esther, traditionally called “the Megillah” (that is, the Scroll [of Esther]). The reading is performed in a spirited way with great cheering for the heroine (Esther) and hero (Mordecai), but boos and hisses (often with the aid of noisemakers called “groggers”) for the villain (Haman).

Sometimes the story is acted out, often in a whimsical manner, in the form of a play, traditionally called a “Purim Schpiel.” Purim partygoers frequently don costumes to enhance the levity of the day. They enjoy traditional pastries called hamantaschen, triangular-shaped cookies with a sweet filling, which serve as a reminder of Haman’s failure to destroy the Jewish people. Celebrants also exchange gifts with one another, and donate to charity, as an expression of peace and goodwill toward neighbors—a great contrast with the hate and violence that Haman sought to direct their way.

Notice that in my synopsis of Esther above, I never mentioned God. That is because the Book of Esther itself never makes reference to God. In fact, it is the only book in the entire Bible in which you will never find the mention of God.

This has not gone unnoticed by traditional Jewish commentators, who find a wordplay between the name “Esther” and the similar-sounding Hebrew word “hestir,” which means “hidden.” They say that although God is never mentioned in Esther, God is at work behind the scenes. Surely there are no coincidences here. Every twist and turn in the book leaves no doubt that there is an answer to our initial question, “Where is God?” God is ever-present. Even if we don’t see God, feel God, hear or say God’s name, God is there. And, God is working, sometimes below the surface of our own understanding, toward making good on His promises and establishing His ultimate plans.

But, there is another question that confronts us through the Book of Esther during Purim; namely, where are you?

In the Book of Esther, God works through people, most notably Esther herself. The well-known verse emphasizes this: “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place… . And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). In other words, Mordecai poses the question to Esther: where are you on the challenge of standing up for God’s promises and people? What choice will you make?

That question surfaces rather frequently in the Bible in different forms. God’s first question to humanity was, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Yeshua asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). In other words, “Where are you in your heart concerning me?”

Where are you?

That’s the question each one of us would do well to consider at this season. The Book of Esther may implicitly answer the question, “where is God?” but the book can’t answer the question, “where are you?” That is a question we have to answer for ourselves continually along the journey of our walk with God through our Messiah Yeshua. Are we on that journey? Are we following closely behind Yeshua, our guide?

There is a lot that God is doing today that he wants to accomplish through us. God wants to radically reshape conventional understanding about Yeshua’s rightful place among his own Jewish people. God is working to equip a new generation of Messianic leaders to teach and shepherd the people of Israel within the sheepfold of faith in Yeshua, the great Shepherd.

God wants to reveal himself to your friend, with whom you have considered sharing the hope that is in you. He wants to show his love to his underprivileged children: Holocaust survivors, orphans, and widows in Israel who do not know where they will get their next meal; children in under resourced communities at home or abroad who do not have adequate access to education, health care, justice, or even clean water. The list goes on.

So, where are you?

What does God want to do about these great needs through you? To apply to our lives the timeless challenge that confronted Esther: who knows whether you have not been equipped and inspired in your particular context, with your distinctive personality, giftings, callings, and influence, for such a time as this!


Nic Lesmeister
Seth N. Klayman, Ph.D., is rabbi of Congregation Sha’arei Shalom (“Gates of Peace”), a Messianic Jewish synagogue community, located in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, and adjunct professor of Jewish Studies at The King’s University in Southlake, Texas. Seth lives in Cary, North Carolina, with his wife, Rachael, and their three children. He can be reached at seth@entershalom.org.

For an authentic Purim recipe from Yiddish Mama’s Kitchen, click here: Yiddish Mama’s Kitchen


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