My first trip to Israel was in 2005 with Dr. Marion Dodson and Pastor B.H. Clendennen, where the first Israel School of Christ was conducted. In November 2012, I was privileged to return to Israel for the fifth time. I can now report that the long-term effects of the School of Christ are still being felt today.
In the School of Christ, Jews and Arabs attended together. The testimonies from former School of Christ students are that they obtained a deeper understanding of the Word of God. Every pastor spoke of the prayer meetings and how God dealt with them. They have a continuing hunger for a deeper understanding of God’s Word. It was in the School that many learned the power of prayer. These ministers will continue to use what they have gleaned from the School of Christ for the rest of their lives.
We are planning to return to Israel next year, and meet with more of our former students. We all know how the events in the Middle East have had a profound impact on the world. But, in the midst of these uncertainties, the God who rules over history makes promises that offer hope and future to those that believe. These pastors and their churches are offering this very hope in Israel today. The Lord has allowed you and me, and the School of Christ, to be a part in these end-time events occurring on the world scene today.
In Israel, if you only see the tourist sites, you would never know the real world that exists there. The racial tension is very high, along with strong religious hostilities. The pastors who attend the School of Christ face growing opposition and hostilities in their own country. There are students who graduated from the School of Christ who pastor both Jewish and Arab congregations. These churches and pastors and their families, are on the front lines of evangelism every day.
The Arab congregations are in the middle of mostly Muslim communities, where they face many threats. The attacks are mostly centered on the children and young adults.
One pastor’s wife of a Spirit-filled Arab congregation, told me how their children are just not safe to be alone outside. They live under constant danger, and have even experienced beatings—some of them very severe. The children are outcasts at school because they are Christians; and if their fathers are pastors, the persecution is intensified.
In every church that we have had the privilege to minister in, the Holy Spirit’s presence was very prevalent, and the gifts of the Spirit were manifested. Many were saved and baptized in the Holy Ghost. In every church the response was tremendous. In one church nearly everyone in the building responded to the preaching of the Word.
Though surrounded in neighborhoods with a spirit that is hostile to the gospel and any thought of Christ, there are churches and congregations that have become a light to their dark world. As I sat in these congregations hearing them singing and seeing them lift their hands in worship, I was strengthened in my soul to witness the Gospel that transforms the life of the believer. These congregations are first generation Pentecostals.
One day as I stood at the empty tomb outside the old city of Jerusalem, I read the words someone had placed in front of it: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). We must not forget that the Gospel we preach has power—power to save to the uttermost. In the book of Revelation it says, “I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” If I could sum up what I experienced on this trip to Israel, it would be a sense of the Spirit of Prophecy.
We must continue the work of the School of Christ in Israel. We all know that the Bible says to pray for Israel. Both the Jew and Arab groups need for us to stand with them. Many want to bless Israel, and the way you can do that is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and your support which helps train and equip these pastors. You can become a part of the great commission in a very real way, the Scripture says, “Go into all the world and make disciples of men.” If you cannot go, then send. The blessings of God are promised to those who support Israel. We are living in one of the most exciting times in the history of the world, and we must be about our Father’s business. Your prayers and financial support continue to bear much fruit in Israel. The Lord used this trip through the School of Christ to be an encouragement to the pastors and their families. Please keep them in your prayers.