The Truth You Know

by Sue Priebe

In Matthew 11 we read the story of John the Baptist in prison.

John heard about the things Jesus was doing so the Bible tells us he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus what may seem to us a very strange question.  “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking for someone else?”  How could John ask such a question?

This is the same John who is described in John 1:6-8 as the man sent by God “to tell about the light so that everyone might believe of his testimony.  John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.”

This was the same John who recognized the Messiah while they were both in their mothers’ wombs.  Remember his mother Elizabeth proclaimed that the baby leapt within her.

This is the same John whose father was given a prophetic word that “he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God…He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.”  (Luke 1:16-17)

This is the same John who was confronted by the Jewish leaders about his identity.  He replied quoting Isaiah in John 1:23, “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”

This is the same John who identified Jesus when he saw Him saying “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!  He is the one I was talking about then I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel…I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him.  I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that He is the Chosen One of God.”

So, what happened that would make John send his disciples to Jesus to ask if He really was the One?

His entire ministry had been based on declaring that very revelation.  What brought such doubt to his mind?

What expectations might he have had?  Did he expect Jesus to work a miracle and get him our of prison?  Surely Jesus would at least come to see him.  I am sure his mind was working overtime …..”maybe Jesus really isn’t who I thought He was.”  His circumstances may have been causing him to doubt what he absolutely knew to be true.

Historians tell us that John was in prison for about a year and a half.  This man who lived outdoors was now imprisoned with very little light, very little fresh air, very little company.  He was definitely in quarantine! 

Science tells us that prolonged social isolation can actually change the shape and function of our brains.  The region responsible for learning and memory can shrink in response to long-term isolation and the part that regulates fear and anxiety goes into overdrive.

Unexpected circumstances, isolation and distancing can cause us to doubt what we know to be true!  This was definitely a time of isolation for John.  Even though John said “He must increase and I must decrease,”  I don’t think he had counted on ending his life in prison.

As we enter another month of isolation and distancing, we must not let our minds “shrink” away from what we know to be true.  In times of isolation and stress, we too can begin to doubt.  We can begin to wonder where God is in the midst of this pandemic when economies are shaking, when our whole world changed in a matter of days.  We might ask,  “Where are you God?” or “Why aren’t you doing something about this?  We can’t even go to church!  People are dying!”

Jesus’ answer to John might seem strange to us.

There is a message in it for us too.  Did Jesus even answer the question? Jesus sent His answer, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”  And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

It may seem to us that Jesus’ answer was obscure, but it would have been clear to John who would have recognized that Jesus was quoting Isaiah 35 and 61, prophetic scriptures describing the ministry of the Messiah.  John also probably recognized the portion of the scripture that Jesus didn’t say:  Jesus did NOT say the phrase from Isaiah 61 that “prisoners will be freed.”  What was the message Jesus was sending? “Yes, I am the Messiah, but you will not be getting out of prison.”

Jesus also added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”  Some versions say “those who are not offended by me.”  Basically Jesus was saying to John—“Don’t turn away from me, don’t doubt what you know to be true because I don’t do what you expect me to do!  You know who I am.  Trust me even in your current difficult circumstance.”

I believe the Lord is saying the same thing to us today.  Our desire is for Him to intervene and stop this virus.  Perhaps we have an unmet need for which we have been praying.  The message Jesus is sending us is, “Don’t fall away, or don’t be offended by me because I am not doing what you think I should be doing.”  It is time for us to stand firm on what we know to be true!

An encouraging part of this story is that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves when we have some fear and doubt in these difficult times.  In Luke 7: 28 Jesus said, “I tell you of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John.”  If the greatest one who ever lived (besides Jesus, of course) can have moments of doubt, so can we.

We may have those moments, but the key is not to stay in that place of doubt or fear.  Remember what the Word of God says.  Remember who God is.  Remember that He is a good God and His character has not changed.  After hearing the report from Jesus, I think John faced his situation with confidence, and we can do the same.  Jesus reminded John what the Bible said about the Messiah, and I believe Jesus’ response reminded John what he himself had seen and heard.

In times of difficulty, we must hang on to what we know to be true and not give in to doubt.  God is still God, and He is working in ways that we may not yet see, but that does not mean He is not working.  It is a time to stand firm in the Lord and the power of His Might!

“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.  Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier] so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (spiritual) places.  Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].  So stand firm and hold your ground having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news].  Above all, lift up the [protective]shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18 (AMP)

Sue Priebe is Associate Pastor at City of Hope Church in Janesville, Wisconsin, a Chaplain for Marketplace Chaplains and serves on the Board of Directors for Women of the Word. She is passionate about teaching the Word of God in ways that are relevant and applicable to daily life. She also has a deep love for Israel and travels there frequently connecting with believers there and teaching God’s Word on location. 

 

 

Watchful Gardeners

by Kim Warf

Let us be watchful gardeners and keepers of the inner treasure.

As natural gardeners of our flowers and vegetables, there is much care and foresight given. The necessity for proper soil and healthy seeds and seedlings are understood and due diligence is given for the hope of an abundant harvest.

What of the garden of our hearts? It is from there, the Bible tells us, that the issues or the overflow of our lives will stem. So, the condition of our heart foretells the condition of our lives.

Take care that seeds of discontentment are not allowed to flourish there. Those are like the pesky weeds that grow deep roots and choke out the wonderful things you are trying to grow .

The Bible refers to this in Hebrews 12:15, ‘See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled’. These deep, dark roots of offense become tangled and twisted causing distress for oneself and will spread to others if not dealt with immediately.

In Mark 4, we see another scenario. Here, the condition of our heart is addressed. “Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.” Even when good seed is sown (God’s word), if the condition of our heart isn’t right, it will not flourish and produce properly.

If good seed can be choked, what happens when “bad seed” (negativity, divisiveness) evil is sown? Be vigilant over the soil of your heart and do not receive these words as truth. At the very least, take the time to get the “whole story”.

Do you remember when we first came to know the Lord?

There were strongholds that were deeply rooted in our hearts and minds. Over time, our minds and hearts were renewed by the good seed of the Word of God. We need the truth and the love of God to realign our mind and thinking. This is true for every season of life.

Let’s be watchful gardeners of our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 warns us to “Keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

Thankfully, we are then instructed how to do this:
Verse 24 “ Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you.”
Verse 25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you.”
Verse 26 “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.”
Verse 27 “Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”

How do I know what is good seed and what is bad seed? The good seed brings forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness and the bad seed brings forth distress. The watchful gardener will reap what is sown.

Kim Warf is the associate pastor, alongside her husband Paul of New Beginnings Church in Bangor, ME.  She is also a Board Member of Women of the Word and has served as Conference Chairman of several WOW conferences in Maine. Paul and Kim have two grown daughters and a beautiful grand-daughter.

Why is this Night Different from All Other Nights?

by Betsy Roy

Good question! This is the question asked by the youngest member in a Jewish family during the Passover Seder Meal celebrated each year.

The question in the Bible is actually “What do you mean by this service?” The answer is “It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our house.” (Exodus 12:26, 27). The LORD also instructed them to keep this feast at its appointed time from year to year so that they would remember what HE did for them throughout their generations. (Exodus 13:3-10)

Passover this year (2020) begins at sundown on April 8th and goes to sundown on April 16th. Many of us are familiar with the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the basic teaching of Passover when the death angel passed over the homes of the Hebrew people who had the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels so as to spare the death of the first-born (the last plague Exodus 12:21-24).

How is it pertinent in our day especially this year as the world is under the scourge of COVID-19?

Passover is not only a feast of remembrance. It is also a present reality with prophetic meaning. There is much to be learned as we study the prophetic scriptures. God has a plan. Much has been fulfilled but much is still to be fulfilled as we await the glorious return of the Lord!

Many of us are under a “shelter at home” or “shelter in place” directive right now here in the USA. People in Israel are forbidden by the government to leave their homes for 3 days during this Passover. Also, they are not allowed to celebrate with their extended families (which is traditional) but only with those who live under the same roof. Is God saying something to Israel and to His Church throughout the nations? I believe that He is.When I reflect on the Exodus and the Passover meal the Lord Jesus shared with his disciples (Luke 22:14-22), his suffering, his death and his resurrection I am reminded that God is a God of Covenant! He is a Covenant-keeper. We see this theme throughout the Scriptures in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Covenant. The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Covenants with us.

God has made A Covenant of Peace with us. 

“‘For the Mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10) We certainly need that peace, that shalom, in these days. In Hebrew the word shalom (peace) is not the absence of trouble, not the absence of war. Rather it speaks of wholeness and completion in our lives which includes provision and health to us physically, spiritually and emotionally. This covenant of peace was promised to the Levitical priesthood in Numbers 25:10-13 and for us as believers this is extended to us today as we are also a part of this perpetual and royal priesthood (1 Peter2:9). Remember that one of Jesus’ titles is “Sar Shalom” which means Prince of Peace! Even in this time of great distress in the world and very difficult circumstances we can be a people that have God’s peace as an anchor to our souls and a witness to others.

Let’s remember that the Lord isn’t finished with us yet. Yes, it’s a very difficult season but it is the beginning of birth pains (Read Matthew 24:1-14), not the Great Tribulation. It is a very important sign and I believe one we must pay attention to individually and corporately as the Church. It is a huge shift; the ending of one era, and the beginning of another era. We cannot return to “the way we were”.  Let us be about our Father’s business and usher in the return of the Lord. May our cry be “Maranatha! Maranatha!”, Come Lord Jesus Come. As surely as God has fulfilled His promises through the first advent of our Messiah so the final promise of His return will be accomplished also at His second advent. (Revelation 19:11-16).  Hallelujah!

Lastly, allow me to pray for you please. Father God, in the mighty name of Jesus I lift up the reader right now. Father, I ask for your assurance of peace for them in the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. You know what is going on in their life. Please reveal yourself to them. If they are in need of repentance then I pray for your loving conviction upon their hearts to draw them to ask forgiveness knowing that you are willing to forgive and to cleanse their hearts. If they are in emotional or mental turmoil I ask that they cast their cares upon you knowing that you care for them and will shelter them under your wings of love. If they are fearful, anxious, or in grief, I ask that you comfort them and make provision for them. If they are ill, I ask for your healing touch on their bodies restoring them to health. Father, I apply the blood of the pure and spotless Lamb, the blood of Jesus over our homes and families. Thank you that it is protection, a place of shelter for us. Father, I thank you that you hear us when we call out to you and that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us before Your throne of grace. I thank you that you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. May our eyes look upon Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen

Women of the Word has corporate prayer on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm (EST). We invite you to join us. Please visit our website by clicking here. 

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

 

 

 

Defensive and Offensive Weapons against the Coronavirus

by Betsy Roy

I am Christian, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am also a nurse, a wife, a mother and grandmother.

First I will give the practical weapons against bacteria and viruses (like “flu” and “coronavirus”).
  1. WASH your hands!! Wash them well with lots of soap, water and long enough (at least 20 seconds). Get all surfaces of you hands (front, back, between fingers, under nails).  See picture
  2. STAY home if you’re sick! Don’t infect others!
  3. DON’T shake hands and DON’T touch your face and eyes.
  4. SNEEZE and COUGH into tissues and dispose of them.
  5. BUILD UP your immune system. Eat right, get rest, exercise. Take a good multi-vitamin. Extra Vitamin C and D are also a good idea.
  6. SUBMIT to and OBEY the governing authorities of your pastor, employer, community, state and nation regarding meetings, travel and health directives in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. according to Romans 13:1.
Now for the spiritual weapons. the Bible tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (natural) but mighty through God (2 corinthians 10: 4-5)  so let’s use them!

Believing prayer and saying what God says works! About 18 months ago I received a diagnosis that frankly did scare me at first. So, I understand fear but I didn’t stay there. Here are some of the scriptures the Holy Spirit gave me to fight with and I believe they will work against the flus and coronavirus also.

  1. If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are a child of God. Know who you are, remind yourself you are not of the world and declare it to the powers of darkness that try to intimidate you with fear. You are a daughter of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords and HE is in your midst and has taken away the judgments against you and clears away your enemies.  (Zephaniah 3:14 – 17) Sickness is an enemy!
  2. I do not fear bad news! My heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. I am blessed because I fear (reverence in awe) the Lord and greatly delight in His commandments! (Psalm 122: 1, 4 – 8)
  3. God’s Word is life to me and healing to all my flesh. I am attentive to His words. (Proverbs 4: 20-22)
  4. Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law becoming a curse for me. (Galatians 3:13) 
  5. Jesus healed all who were sick, took our illnesses and our diseases. (Matthew 8: 16-17; Isaiah 53: 4-5; 1Peter 2: 24)
  6. Jesus gives life to my mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in me and has set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8: 2, 11)
  7. I fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6: 12)
  8. I am strong in the Lord and put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. I pray at all times in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6: 10 – 18)
  9. I take refuge in the Lord, rather than trust in man. The LORD is my strength and my song and has become my salvation. (Psalm 118: 8-9, 14)
  10. I do not think like everyone else does. I wait for the LORD and put my hope in Him. (Isaiah 8: 11) His thoughts are higher than man’s thought and His ways are higher than man’s ways. (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

Finally, stay in peace. Stay your mind upon God.  Do not give into fear or be anxious. Rejoice in the Lord! (Philippians 4: 4-6) Stop listening to and watching the news all the time, including social media. I’m not saying stick your head in the sand, but don’t let yourself get bombarded by all the hype either.

Let’s pray together………..Father God you are on the throne! You are greater than any sickness or disease including the coronavirus. I thank you that I am your daughter and that my household and those who live in it are under the protection of the shed blood of Jesus. I do not fear for myself nor my family. I do pray for those who have been afflicted by flus and coronavirus. I ask for your mercy and healing. Along with my brothers and sisters in the faith I raise the standard of the blood of Jesus against this flood of sickness knowing that your WORD prevails against all the power of the enemy. We stand firm in expectation of the victory you bring. Amen.

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

 

Israel 2020: Maranatha, Ministry, Prayer and More!

by Betsy Roy 

It’s always an adventure to go to Israel and there is always more to learn.

This trip in January 2020 was no different! This was not a tour, but rather a trip to attend the Maranatha Conference in the Golan, visit and pray with believers in the land, and do some scouting for the upcoming Amazing Israel Adventure tour in 2021. Rose-Marie Slosek, a Women of the Word Board Member, Kathleen Annis of Thirsty Soul Ministries and I traveled together. We really had some adventures along the way. It rained a lot but this is a blessing. The Sea of Galilee is almost full. Israel has had more rain this year than in the past 50 years! Glory to God!

Everyone loves pictures so let me begin with that! You can find pictures of this trip on Flickr. To see pictures of past Israel tours click here.

We began by visiting with believers in Tel Aviv and having the blessing of attending Shabbat dinner with the wonderful Mizrachi family. Avi is an Israeli born Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, Hallelujah! His beautiful daughters have all served in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). Chaya, his wife is a strong believer and we had a wonderful time of worship and prayer together in their beautiful ministry center (Dugit) overlooking Tel Aviv. Their daughter OrEl led us in anointed worship and she also has started street worship and ministry in a popular gathering place around a fountain in Tel Aviv. She is taking worship to the streets, Glory to God!

Then it was off to the Golan in northern Israel for the Maranatha Conference with FAI (Frontier Alliance International). The word “Maranatha” is an Aramaic word meaning “The Lord has come!” and can also be an expression for “The Lord is coming (back)!” It is a declaration of our faith! People of every age and from many nations including Israel attended this gathering. Rose-Marie had taken a year long online course with FAI and invited Kathleen and I to join her at the conference. Personally I felt this conference to be very authentic. There was a simple but beautiful love for the Lord exhibited. Speakers came from many different nations with the central theme being making disciples through personal relationships and around the table. In the USA we tend to “invite people to church”. We were challenged to “invite people to your home around the table” having open dialogue about Jesus’ teachings. I am still processing  how to incorporate what I learned within our culture, which is not as hospitable as Middle Eastern Culture. FAI reaches previously unreached people groups primarily in the Middle East.  There were also speakers from places like Tibet, Uganda, South America, Germany and Israel talking about making disciples. So what about the USA?  Well, we have “unreached people” right here. Pray to the Lord about how to reach them beyond our traditional methods. I was very challenged to think outside the box. You can read more about this strategic event here.

After the conference we spent several days in the Mount Carmel region visiting with both Arab and Jewish believers, attending another Shabbat dinner in the home of beloved friends, and Saturday Shabbat service with the congregation at Kehilat Carmel where Karen Davis and Colin Mitchel spoke on “Pursuing God’s Presence”.  While I felt the Lord minister to me personally, I also felt challenged to press into prayer and worship for the lost and the next generation. I received a promise from Isaiah 29: 22-24. While in context this verse is speaking to Israel, we as grafted-in believers, can also pray this promise over our households and our nation. Will you join me in believing the Lord to accomplish it?

A highlight of the trip was going with Renee of Ima’s Goodies to visit with IDF soldiers to give them goodies and let them know they are loved.

We drove deep into the heart of Samaria. Renee has an amazing way of lovingly relating with the soldiers. She is completely disarming and they love her. She goes out at least two nights a week, driving to bases around the country including along the borders. Young men and women are required to serve in the IDF! It is quite something to see 18 and 19 year olds carrying loaded machine guns ready to defend their nation. Currently Renee is preparing to give out 900 goodie bags to soldiers for Purim. She has an oven, donated by a church in Malaysia that can bake 280 cookies at one time. Most of what she gives out is home-made so this is a tremendous amount of work. And she doesn’t give out little bags. She gives out BIG amounts to each soldier. Her car trunk was completely filled up the night we went out and quickly emptied! If you’d like to give to this worthwhile cause please visit Ima’s Goodies

We spent some special time on the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum and at the beautiful Magdala site and hotel. While I have visited the amazing archeological

part of the mosaic at Magdala

site of the First Century synagogue discovered there before, the hotel had just opened recently. What a lovely place! I’ve already reserved rooms there for the 2021 Amazing Israel Adventure so come on along! We had the opportunity to spend time with Hermana, an intercessor and we prayed and talked together about how the Lord is moving today. Hermana ignited my heart with some prayer strategies I am going to incorporate into Women of the Word. More on this to come so stayed tuned!

Our last days were spent in Jerusalem. Really there is no city like it !

We stayed in an apartment that overlooks the Mt. of Olives and Mt. Zion and spent one day driving down to the Beersheva area for prayer and worship at the home of Avner and Rachel Boskey. Rachel blessed us by taking us to the Fountain of Tears in Arad, and also to see some incredible views of the wilderness and the southern end of the Dead Sea. Amazing! We did spend a day in Jerusalem going to the Old City (of course) and the “Shuk” (marketplace) as well as praying at Succat Hallel. Jerusalem is a must experience for every believer in my opinion.

A hot topic of conversation was the “Deal of the Century” which was unveiled while we were in Jerusalem. I always love to get the perspective of believers in the land because they are the ones “living” it. Rachel Boskey gave us some background from years ago and this was very helpful. Also, this article, written by a leader in the Messianic community in Israel adds some perspective that we here in the US typically do not consider. Take the time to read it, especially ponder the last paragraph. Hmmm…

While we visited and prayed with Arab and Jewish believers, we were also able to bless them financially thanks to the generosity of many at Women of the Word. 

As we have come to share in the spiritual blessings of Jewish believers, so we aught also to be of service to them in material blessings (Romans 16:27). Thank you ladies for obeying God’s Word — it was a joy to bless them on your behalf! While seeing the biblical sites is wonderful, spending time with fellow believers in the land is the best! We get to share in their joys and their struggles and learn how to pray and support them more effectively.  God cares about Israel and so should we (Deuteronomy 11:12). Israel is about people and land. When I travel to Israel my desire is to touch both. More pictures of the trip here.

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

 

 

Ministry to Refugees, Soldiers and Believers in Israel

by Betsy Roy

On January 14, 2020 I will be departing again for Israel with one of our Women of the Word Board Members Rose-Marie Slosek. I would love for you to be part of this trip. We need your prayers and support to bless refugees, soldiers and believers in Israel.

Our first stop is in Tel Aviv where we will have time with our brothers and sisters at Dugit Ministries. We will be going to their new ministry center and prayer room and sharing a Shabbat meal together. Then it’s on to the Golan for a thee day conference with FAI Missions who minister to unreached people groups in Syria and amongst the Kurdish people. We are looking forward to hearing about the work the Lord is doing there, how to pray more effectively for the Middle East and how Women of the Word can come alongside in support of the region.

Along our way we have scheduled times to visit with both Jewish and Arab believers in various parts of Israel. We will spend time with our brothers and sisters at Carmel in worship and prayer and blessing the Women’s and Children’s Shelter there. We have a unique opportunity to be with Renee of Ima’s Goodies to visit Israeli soldiers and bless them with goodies. We are also doing some one-on-one visits with some Arab sisters, including Rania and Randa, and Messianic sisters like Carolyn Hyde and some others that live on a kibbutz.

Going to Beersheva to be a part of Avner and Rachel Boskey’s worship watch is also on our itinerary as well as time in Jerusalem to pray and bring blessings to brothers and sisters there.

I will be scouting out some places for the Amazing Israel Adventure tour scheduled for April 2021 where we read the Bible on location at sites, pray, worship and visit with believers in the land. Always more to learn in Israel. God’s eyes is always upon His land (Deuteronomy 11:12) and ours should be too!

Please pray for us and for Israel. You can give a donation towards blessing the refugees, soldiers, and believers and their ministries in Israel. Mark your donation “Israel” please. Together with your help we can be a blessing and share God’s love and care. Thank you and the Lord bless you with His peace.

“Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, or who will grieve for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare?”                                                               ~ Jeremiah 15:15 

 

The International Flavor of Serving in Israel

by Jill Czelusta –  Representative for Bridges for Peace

This is the fourth summer that the Lord has provided the funds for me to volunteer with Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem.  Each summer has become more and more enjoyable because of the friendships that have formed while serving the Jewish people in His Land.  Bridges for Peace (BFP) is an international organization with offices in at least eight different nations, so there are volunteers who come from all over the world.  Since I have had the privilege to return each summer, I have made friends with several long term volunteers that I keep in contact with throughout the year, and I make new ones with each visit.

This past Shabbat the volunteers who are here by themselves, like me, decided to get together for dinner.  As a short term volunteer, you are always invited to someone’s home for Shabbat, but this time we hosted ourselves at one of the volunteer’s apartment.  With the 10 of us around the table, nine countries were represented:  France, England, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Namibia, Russia, Japan, Canada and the United States.  Ages ranged from early 20’s to 60 something.  The evening was filled with questions about how each of us ended up volunteering with BFP.  One by one, amazing stories were told of how God directed their steps and then faithfully provided for the call.  Over and over I heard my story.  First it was a dream to come and serve in Israel.  Each one had heard of BFP and how you could volunteer. Each one did not think they would have the funds to come, but God miraculously provided.  Three of them were young people who participated in the Zealous Project – an 11 month discipleship program for 18-30 year olds. When they completed that, they chose to return and serve some more.  Some were in midlife and just wanted to serve here in Jerusalem.  Some, like me, are spending their summer vacation here both serving and taking in the sights of Jerusalem and greater Israel on the weekends.

The other amazing thing that I have noticed is that when we go out on a delivery to bring food to the elderly Holocaust survivor, they always ask, “Where are you
from?”  One time I am with someone from Japan.  The next time I am with someone from New Zealand, then Canada, then England, then Ireland.  Each time, the Jewish person is so surprised that people from all over the world love them enough to spend their time and resources to carry a bag of groceries to their small apartment and to sit down and visit with them.  We listen to the stories – some very hard to hear – but necessary to hear, and remember. We cry together, and then laugh together as they tell of their children, grandchildren and great grand-children.  Then there are the hugs…the best part!

I am so thankful that the Lord has chosen to use me for this amazing ministry to the poor, the elderly and new immigrants of Israel.  I had the opportunity to deliver new school supplies and backpacks to a school in Bet Shemesh that BFP has been working with for 14 years.  The parents and students arrived and immediately began to hug the BFP staff and those from the Jewish agency that we partner with for this project.  I was surprised to see such appreciation for what I consider such a small gift – a backpack and assorted school supplies.  I also learned that BFP helps to pay the book fees for some of these students.  One of the parents thanked us because her son was one of those who received the help.  She said that for the first time last year, he received his books on the first day of school like most of the other kids.  He came home so happy that day and it made a difference for the whole year. She could not say thank you enough.

I will end with this.  As a Food Floor Worker, I come in contact with the families that come in once a week to receive their food parcels of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat and canned goods.  I have the opportunity to greet them and, if they speak English, get to talk with them a bit.  Regardless, every one shakes my hand and says ‘Toda,’ or thank you.  One couple came into the work area because they insisted on saying thank you to everyone there.  They had ‘graduated,’ and this would be their last time to pick up food.  They had been on the program for one year and it was enough to get them on their feet and to get a job to provide for themselves.  They were so full of joy and so thankful.  They had experienced the love of Jesus through perfect strangers and the generosity of Christians from around the world.

I know that I am there to be a blessing, but I know I receive way more than I give out! Thank you to Women of the Word for your prayers and support throughout the years!

About Jill Czelusta: Jill visited Israel for the first time on a Bridges for Peace tour in 1995, returned in 2004, and has had a love for the Land and a heart for the Jewish people ever since. Jill is a friend of Women of the Word and has also been to Israel with WOW.  This is her fourth summer volunteering at the BFP Jerusalem Assistance Center.  She is a graduate of Institute of Israel Studies and is currently enrolled at Master’s International University of Divinity pursuing a Master’s Degree in Judeo-Christian Synergism.  During the school year, she teaches AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and pre-calculus at a private Christian school in northern Vermont.  Her undergraduate degree is in Chemistry from Virginia Tech. Her other favorite pastime is visiting her 2 children and their families. Jill will be leading a tour of Israel in the summer of 2020.

Celebrating Shavuot/Pentecost

by Betsy Roy

On the Hebrew calendar Shavuot occurs fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits. On the Christian calendar Pentecost occurs fifty days after Jesus’ Resurrection.

They are the same day since Jesus was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits! The Old Testament Feast of Shavuot (or Weeks) is an agricultural feast celebrating the wheat harvest and also called the Feast of Reaping or Harvest. While not supported in the Biblical text, Rabbinic tradition teaches that at this time God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. Pentecost in the New Testament commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the 120 gathered in the Upper Room and their empowerment to spread the Gospel. Indeed, 3000 new believers came into the Kingdom that day (Acts 2) and were baptized. Wouldn’t we like to receive 3,000 new believers into our congregations today? That is a mighty move of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of men and women!

We need both the Word of God (His teachings and instructions) and the Spirit of God to guide us and teach us.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher and he brings to our remembrance all that Jesus taught. Jesus himself spoke the scriptures many times in various situations. Growing up as a Jewish man within a Jewish community, Jesus studied the scriptures, went to the synagogue and celebrated the Feasts of the Lord going up to Jerusalem to be in God’s House (the Temple). After being baptized in the Jordan River, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil and Jesus met every temptation by speaking God’s Word from Deuteronomy (see Luke 4).

Jesus’ example shows us how much we need to know God’s Word and need the Holy Spirit to rightly apply God’s Word in our lives. It’s not one without the other. There are many voices competing for our attention today. As believers we need to know whose voice is speaking to us as the enemy of our souls surely tries to get us to listen to his voice. The Holy Spirit will never contradict God’s Word. Therefore, to know the voice of the Spirit, we must also know what the Word of God says. The Spirit will bring understanding, illumination, revelation and confirmation of God’s Word, but never speak contrary to it. So, it’s the Word and the Spirit together!

Are you struggling with Life Issues, not knowing what to do today?

Go to God’s Word, the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He will! Perhaps you need a Redeemer – His name is Jesus – and he will forgive you of every sin if you ask him and then give you strength and power to live free of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you need direction? Again, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will help you. The Lord never turns away a sincere heart that comes to him.

Commemorating Shavuot and Pentecost is celebrating the WORD and the SPIRIT. Let’s be thankful God gave us both and pray and work towards a great harvest of souls into God’s Kingdom! 

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

The Sign of the Almond Blossoms

 by Betsy Roy

As I was writing this recently it was very cold in New England, and very cold in other parts of the United States like Wisconsin, which had a wind child of -50 degrees last week.  Brrrrr……that’s frigid! We had a “taste” of spring for a couple of days early this week, but now it’s back to that damp raw winter feeling. 

We become inpatient in times like this, wondering if spring really will ever come this year! But, God is faithful! It will surely come! 

In February I really start to think about walking in Israel because I have been there in late February and March when it is spring in God’s beautiful land! Almond trees, often blossoming in late January or early February, announce the arrival of spring in Israel! Just looking at this picture of almond blossoms lifts my heart and encourages me! 

Almond blossoms are spoken of several times in the Bible. Numbers 17 gives the account of Aaron’s rod producing blossoms and bearing ripe almonds. Each Chief of each tribe of Israel also had a staff, but only Aaron’s blossomed. This was a sign from God that Aaron was God’s chosen man and it was also a sign against those rebelling against God at the time. They were to make an end of their grumblings lest they die. Selah! 

Remember, that Aaron’s rod was placed inside the Ark of the Covenant along with the Tablets of the 10 Commandments and some shewbread (manna). 

In Exodus 25 God directs Moses in the construction of the golden lampstand (menorah). The cups that hold the oil for lighting are made to look like almond blossoms! We find the lamp stand mentioned several times in the Bible. It is an important element in the Temple where it represents God’s presence and is also mentioned in the Revelation where there are seven golden lampstands representing seven churches. This lampstand (menorah) is Israel’s national emblem and a symbol of rebirth and restoration. There is a huge one standing in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem which you can see when you go there.

In Jeremiah 1:11 the prophet saw an almond branch to which the Lord replied “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” What a beautiful reminder! So, when you see almond blossoms remember not to grumble, that God’s presence is with you, and that HE is watching over His Word and He will bring it to pass in your life, in your family, in our churches and yes even in our nation and the nations of the world. All may seem very dark and cold right now, but take heart! HE is forever faithful and His Word is true! HALLELUJAH!!

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation. 

Diana’s Story of Redemption

by Andrea Parker   photos by Julie Ganey   re-posted with permission

Diana’s smile is amazing. I met Diana in August. But, it took until quite recently for me to see that smile. Before I share Diana’s story, I want to briefly introduce some background on story-telling…

In the past few years here at Tenwek (hospital in Kenya) , I have learned the difficulty in sharing someone’s story, especially with attention to the different contexts from which we come. But, we pray that the words and pictures convey the “beauty from ashes” that is this story.

Injuries are a huge part of what we see as doctors at Tenwek. In addition to accidental injuries, many injuries are intentionally-inflicted, perhaps due to land disputes or livestock ownership issues or in situations of domestic violence.

Diana was admitted in August with severe head injuries, deep cuts through the skin and bone such that the brain was visible, as well as multiple other deep cuts and injuries to her back and arms and amputation of two of her fingers. These were violent injuries, clearly meant to do serious damage or cause death. Diana was brought in several hours after her injuries, and immediately taken to the operating room, where…

her wounds were washed out and repaired. Her physical wounds, that is…

Over the next several days, we began to see that as severe as Diana’s physical wounds were, equal in severity were the non-physical wounds. And those wounds cannot be sewn together and repaired in a few hours of time in an operating room. Diana struggled to eat. She was tearful. She would not make eye contact. She rarely spoke and relied on her sister to answer questions; I did not even realize she spoke English.

We began to hear parts of Diana’s story – she had been injured by a man, not her husband as she is not married. It was not the first time; she had old scars. She was scared. Over several days to weeks, we prayed for her on our team rounds, and we spent time with her later in the afternoons. We felt a deep desire for her to know her worth, both to us and to a God who loves her with an incomprehensibly immense love. We wanted her to know that she was deeply cherished. Our chaplains and a social worker came and met with her, and over the course of those few weeks…

she came to know the radical love of Jesus who cares so profoundly about each of us.

As we began to make plans for her discharge from the hospital, we had questions:

  • Was it safe for her to return home?
  • Did she have a community to support her?
  • How could she better understand who Jesus is and how God can work in her life?

Throughout our few years here, Bob and I have seen numerous examples where the ideal person is available at a time when their particular, unique skill or expertise is needed. For instance, a patient with a complex vascular problem is here the one week of the year that we have a vascular surgeon available. In these times, we have become deeply grateful for and found a new appreciation in the way that God uses the Body of Christ – our various gifts, desires, enjoyments, strengths – for His glory. We have become keenly aware of our own small part in this picture. While most often I’ve seen this happen through medical providers, in this situation…

God used Tabitha Ministry and some other missionary and Kenyan friends.

Tabitha Ministry  is a ministry to Kenyan women in the area surrounding Tenwek Hospital. It started out of a home Bible study but has grown to a network of thousands of women learning the Bible and caring for one another. It was started by a missionary friend, Linda, and a Kenyan woman, Peris Rotich. As Diana was in the hospital, I reached out to Linda, Peris, and another friend who works with Tabitha Ministry, Julie, in hopes that they could meet with Diana so that perhaps she could be connected to a group of women from Tabitha, near her home, who might be able to provide continued support and encouragement.

God used the Tabitha leaders in beautiful and wonderful ways to minister to Diana, and I began to hear more of Diana’s story through them.

Diana is one of eight daughters and no sons. Had she been born into a family with sons, likely her life would have been much different. If she had a brother, as her parents aged, they would have been cared for by a son and daughter-in-law. Instead, Diana was chosen to stay with her parents and care for them, both as a financial provider and for their daily needs.

Diana is a teacher, and her home is on the same plot of land as her mother and father’s. Diana is not allowed to marry. As an unmarried woman, Diana is vulnerable, lacking the protection a husband would afford her. And there are men in her community who take advantage of her vulnerability. She has three children with two fathers. A particular man in her community, the father of two of her children, periodically comes to her house to spend the night, and at least once prior to this story, he has abused her violently enough to leave scars.

One morning, as he prepared to leave the house, he suddenly turned violent, taking a machete and attacking her, even as she tried to run away. Leaving the house, she screamed for the neighbors before she collapsed, and he escaped. The neighbors came, and when they saw the severity of her injuries, they assumed she was dead; she scared them when she asked them to take her to the hospital.

The first hospital they took her to saw how bad her injuries were and wouldn’t even allow her into the hospital, sending her instead on to Tenwek with a blanket to soak up some of the blood. Tenwek is an hour and a half of very bumpy dirt roads from her house. Diana said she didn’t even feel the trauma of the ride as she was unconscious.

As the women from Tabitha Ministry talked to Diana, they were able to share personal experiences and situations and encourage her in her newfound faith.

They spent hours over several days with her acknowledging her trauma, allowing her to talk and process the situation, and hearing her fears. They prayed, shared scripture, and sang songs with Diana before her discharge. And they arranged for Diana to have women visit her at her home through a Tabitha group nearer to her. I am so very grateful for the time these women spent pouring into the life of another woman.

A little over a week ago, Julie, Peris, and I had the opportunity, along with several women from Tabitha Ministry who joined us at various points on the journey, to visit Diana in her home. We met her parents and children and had a beautiful time of hearing Diana’s story.

She related that in that moment as she was escaping, as she was fearing for her life, she just cried out to God, that he would forgive her and forgive this man. Hearing her say that reminded me of Christ on the cross. She said she had heard about Jesus all her life but had never known him until she was in the hospital.

Diana and her family told us of the many ways in which God intervened on her behalf that day and the way He has changed her life since.

Her family was supposed to be away, yet their plans had changed, and they were around. In this very remote area, a car just happened to be passing by the neighbor’s house, and the driver offered to drive her to the hospital for no charge. When they arrived at Tenwek, Diana’s mother was told that she would need a blood transfusion and also given an estimate of the cost of the hospitalization and surgery. She was overwhelmed wondering where she would find family to donate blood and money to pay.

She happened to run into another relative who was at the hospital for an unrelated reason, and that relative organized family members to donate blood and contribute to the cost of her care. She talked about God’s work in her life including the way that He has miraculously taken away her fear, her nightmares, her anger and her bitterness and her shame. We shared chai (Kenyan tea) and songs and prayer and hugs.Diana is in the middle with the blue head scarf. Her 4 year old is in the front center. The rest are Tabitha Ministry* bible study leaders, friends, neighbors and relatives.

I will not pretend to understand why these things happen or why sometimes evil seems to prevail in this world or give easy answers.

Nor do I want to naively overlook or simplify the trauma that she or others have experienced. But, I do know that God’s work in Diana’s life is obvious. Her smile is not one of naivete or ignorance or denial. Her smile is that of someone who knows the love of God in a real way. 

 

 

Women of the Word  helps to support the work of  *Tabitha Ministry through offerings and prayer. We heard about this ministry through personal connection with Dr. Mike and Julie Ganey.  Mike is a pediatric surgeon and Julie is a nurse. They have 2 children, Eden and Caleb and have ministered in Kenya for several years at Tenwek Hospital and in the community.