For Release 3 February 2015
Why Israel? Why now? Why next generations?
And why does the world need a “global fellowship of Biblically sound believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships to bless the inhabitants of Israel (both Jew and non-Jew) and the worldwide Jewish community?” This is the vision of FIRM, the Fellowship of Israel-Related Ministries.
Wayne Hilsden co-founded King of Kings Community in 1983, now a thriving congregation located in the heart of Israel’s capital and biblical epicenter, Jerusalem. Several years ago Wayne began to sense that we have entered a time of shaking.
Indeed, growing forces are attempting to delegitimize and demonize the nation of Israel. Historic and once rock-solid backing of Evangelicals for the Jewish people is undergoing shaking as well. Various streams are accepting theologies that dismiss God’s special relationship with the Jewish people. Liberation Theology tends to side with the perceived underdog, identifying Palestinians as David and Israel as Goliath. There are also theologians who advocate various forms of Supersessionism, in which the chosenness of the Jewish people has been revoked in God’s new order of things.
With a heightened urgency, Wayne Hilsden became more emphatic about the need to get close to God, dig deeper in the study of the Scriptures, and pray with increased intensity. Hilsden believed that the result will be a greater confidence in God’s commitment to restore the Jewish people to their irrevocable call to be a “light to the nations.” (Zechariah 8:22-23; Romans 11:29). Hilsden began to take notice that the thousands of prayer houses suddenly rising up around the globe share a common thread: These intercessors are praying through the lens of the Scriptures — and virtually all are praying fervently for Israel’s physical and spiritual restoration.
FIRM’s leaders believe it’s time for Bible believers who have stood with Israel to go beyond cheering from the grandstands. It’s time to get on the field where a vicious battle for truth is being waged.
Motivated by Scriptures such as Daniel 11:32—“The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” (ESV)—Hilsden took action and began to envision a Fellowship of Israel-Related Ministries (FIRM). His first step was to consult with widely respected Pastor Jack Hayford. Hayford immediately expressed his belief that FIRM was God-inspired and timely, and offered to help in any way he could. In late 2014, Hilsden brought together a founding board of 20 frontline leaders, including Hayford.
The Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM), is going public at the “Israel Summit: Stand Firm” on February 4-6 at Resurrection Fellowship (Rez) in Loveland, Colorado. Rez Pastor Jonathan Wiggins, noted that registrations reached full 1,800 capacity 12 days prior to the gathering.
Wiggins, also a FIRM board member, is getting prepared for more than 500 students together with about 90 members of Youth with a Mission to participate in the Summit’s sessions on Friday, February 6. This is consistent with FIRM’s vision to change a trend where typical audiences at Israel-themed conferences consist of older people who have long supported the people of Israel.
One key purpose for FIRM is to engage next generations, especially as many universities have strayed into promoting anti-Israel agendas. FIRM also intends to point millennials and developing leaders to ministries that are geared to young adults.
FIRM’s vision includes awakening the global body of believers to “tap into the nourishment of the olive root from which we have sprung, to reverse the erosion of our common Judeo-Christian values and to experience blessing promised to those who bless God’s chosen people,” according to Tomas Sandell, FIRM board member and founding director of the European Coalition for Israel.
FIRM will not replace or compete with existing Israel-oriented ministries. FIRM’s leadership is committed to complement and collaborate with Biblically-sound and fruitful efforts that extend unconditional love and blessing to the people of Israel.
One such ministry that has joined with FIRM is Jewish Voice Ministries International, with President Jonathan Bernis. Also a FIRM board member, Bernis believes, “We are witnessing a rapid rise of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attitudes, not only throughout the world but in the Church. Now is the time we must act. God is raising up FIRM for such a time as this.”
Although the Israel Summit has reached full seating capacity, it is still possible to register and watch the Live Stream of the event at www.israelsummit.org
FIRM’s Website, www.firm.org.il and its Social Media channels will go LIVE on the first night of the Israel Summit, February 4.
A major goal of FIRM is to be a Biblically-informed voice of reason in the midst of confusion and complexity. It’s leaders also believe that FIRM can serve as a forum for discussion of crucial issues related to Israel and the Middle East. The Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries seeks to bless all peoples in the region, Jews, Arabs and others, and show special concern for those of “the household of faith” who are under severe pressure from many sides.
Steve Strang, publisher of Charisma, will attend the Summit. Multiple publications he leads have included statements on FIRM recently. “I believe that it is time for Christian ministries to join together to support Israel, even embracing those believers who come from a Jewish background….”
Robert Morris, senior pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, TX, with 36,000 active members, recently challenged other pastors and churches concerning the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries: “We’re a part of it, and I encourage you to be a part of it, too!”
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, writes, “As Israel is increasingly being isolated from the international community, I’m claiming God’s promise in Hosea 3:5…The Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God…They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days. I want to be one of those who reconnect Jews with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Fountainhead of all blessing, and connect them to His Son, Yeshua, the Messiah in these Last Days. Therefore I consider it a privilege to support FIRM and it’s vision “to bless the inhabitan