* This article is comprised of (3) sections: 2010, 2012 and 2013. Please scroll-down to view the article in its entirety.
**For ease of viewing, you may click the photos to enlarge them.
To Zion with Love – 2010
“Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn!”
(King David, Psalm 57:8)
In November of 2010 a large team of Anabaptists (Amish and Mennonite leaders) embarked upon a Repentance Mission to Israel.
It was in the Winter of 2009/2010, and while visiting with Amish bishop Ben at his home in Bonners Ferry Idaho, while also having the honor of speaking at a service at the Amish church of Bonners Ferry; and while discussing this mission in its infancy; that I was asked to compose a draft of a Declaration of Repentance, to the Nation of Israel, on behalf of the Anabaptist Nation (Amish and Mennonites). It was as we discussed the initial vision for such a mission, to include drafting the Declaration, that we in turn focused upon the essence and implications of Genesis 12:3, wherein God, speaking to Abraham, and to figurative Israel as a Nation, declared:
“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you.”
Having determined that to have ignored the plight of persecuted Jews throughout Europe for over two centuries; the Anabaptist family as a whole had in essence “cursed” the Nation of Israel by opting to remain indifferent and collectively silent during this period, and most pointedly so in contemporary context, during the Nazi Holocaust. It was further determined that to see the Anabaptist Nation freed from such the curse, that it may then take its rightful place on the front lines of End-Times advances; it must not only collectively resolve to bless the Nation of Israel, but to do so on Israeli soil.
It was earlier, in 2007, that the Amish of Libby Montana and Bonners Ferry Idaho (communities separated by perhaps an hours’ drive across state lines) hosted a mini-conference entitled, “The Gift of Prophecy.” The keynote speaker was that of friend Tom, from Alabama. Tom would then invite me to speak/minister at this conference, as well as two other ministers from Alabama; Dale and Don. It was during this precious time in ministry over a 3-day period that I was introduced at one point to Amish bishop Ben and his wife Barbara. I knew the moment I met Ben and Barbara that I would later co-labor with them in some fashion. I was equally honored to have met Pastor Lloyd and his wife Mary Etta of the Libby Amish church, and their dear family, as well as Lloyd’s brother Elvie and his wife Rebecca, and their dear family. The Miller’s also own/manage a log home business which hand-craft’s and erects them around the nation (please see web-link to Meadowlark Log Homes at the close of this article).
Pictured below: Tom (far right), Rebecca (far left), and extended family of Libby, MT.
Pictured below: Tom, Elvie, Lloyd, David, Dale and Don.
Following this initial meeting of 2007, it was very clear that Tom had dully embodied the name of his ministry—by “clearing a path” for me to write history with the Anabaptist Nation shortly thereafter. One of the more distinct trademarks of Tom’s ministry is that of “clearing paths” for prophetic and apostolic ministries to run their course through maturity, throughout the globe, as well as assisting in the birthing of congregations and training centers.
With the cogwheels in-motion toward a Repentance Mission to Israel; and having been asked to compose the initial draft of the Declaration of Repentance to the Nation of Israel, I set to the task of prayerfully meditating upon a message which would speak to the very heart of Zion.
A copy of my initial draft is accessible below, by clicking the hyper-link:
Having then submitted the draft to the Amish leadership team in Bonners Ferry, to include Micah (founder and president of Global Gateway Network) who is also based near Bonners Ferry, it was decided that the draft would need to be greatly reduced, that it could be contained within a one-page parchment scroll; and that in large typeface. Micah had been to Israel on dozens of occasions, over a period of decades, and therefore exercised keen insight into what the finished Declaration should look like (i.e., cultural relevancy). Micah was also chiefly instrumental in laying the groundwork for this mission as well as leading such. He would remain the critical guiding-light in subsequent missions as well.
You may view the edited copy in its finished-form, as it appeared in the form of the scrolls presented to leaders in Israel, via the hyper-link below:
I remain honored to have composed the initial draft, to have co-labored with Micah, and to have played a part in the end-product which was later submitted to many key leaders in Israel.
While consecrating ourselves as our November 2010 launch-date approached; Micah and Henry (one of several key-leaders within the Bonners Ferry Amish church), in tandem with Amir, Israeli resident and representative of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism; labored to orchestrate a series of special meetings with Israeli leaders, to occur over a seven-day period. With each pending meeting, we would collectively humble ourselves and verbally repent for having rejected the Nation of Israel, while also issuing a copy of the Declaration of Repentance scroll. As our departure of November neared, the meetings to occur would include those with:
- Western Wall Chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (met in the Hasmonean Chamber—beneath the Western Wall).
- Yad Vashem’s Shaya Ben-Yedua with Holocaust Survivor Eliezer Ayalon (met in the Yad Vashem Synagogue).
- Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tzur
- Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman of Migdal Ohr
- Managing Owners/Hosts of Mahalal, Moshav Ovdim; a massive farming community in Northern Israel. Delegation enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by Moshav Ovdim interns/students.
For the sake of brevity, I will conclude this brief narrative by stating that the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, graced each of these meetings with His sweet, tangible and often powerful presence. In doing so it was unmistakably clear that He was honoring our hearts as we “bowed down” before the Apple of His Eye—while also touching the very core of the “Apple.”
I will continue to add additional narrative to this article as time permits; likely in small segments, as I have time, as there is a beautiful story to tell herein. In the interim I will alight upon one particular and very personal encounter which unfolded while praying at the Kotel–the Western Wall.
In essence, and in short; as I stretched my hands toward the Wall I began to pray in accordance with Ezekiel 36:26, which reads:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh.”
As I prayed this prayer, and while aware that “God knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts” (Heb. 4:12); I asked that the “stoney” places, the figurative scar tissue in my heart, as the result of deep wounds; many of which were self-inflicted; would be replaced with new “flesh,” and the ability to feel again where there had previously only remained numbness. While praying this prayer at the Wall, I felt God’s supernatural healing surge through my hands and into my heart, as I lingered at the Wall. Each time I have since prayed at the Wall, and during subsequent visits, I have prayed the same, and I have continued to receive deep healing of the heart, with each encounter–healing which may be likened to the peeling of an onion–one thin layer at a time.
As I draw this introductory narrative to a close, I take joy in mentioning that Among the Mennonite leaders present, was that of Al and Ada of Pennsylvania. Al is a seasoned professional photographer (Ada is a nurse), and true to his craft was always at the right place at the right time exercising finely honed situational-sensitivity which enabled him to capture many priceless moments in time. All subsequent photos herein (to include the 2012 and 2013 missions further on in this article) are to his credit, and used with his permission.
(above) Al and Ada.
(above) Amish bishop Ben making verbal declaration to Host and Guide Amir, prior to presenting Amir with Declaration of Repentance. Barbara is immediately right of Amir. Ben and Barbara’s son Cornelius can be seen behind Barbara’s right shoulder.
(above) Overlooking Jerusalem; Mennonite bishop Lloyd embraces Amir following presentation. Micah is right of Amir. Barbara can be seen in backdrop; Amish leader Steve is in black vest next to David in suspenders.
(above) Ceremony within the Hasmonean Chamber beneath Western Wall, HaKotel, with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch; David behind Amish bishop Ben as he prepares to kneel and verbally declare repentance on behalf of the Anabaptist Nation. English interpreter next to Rabbi Rabinovitch.
(above) Mennonite Bishop Lloyd—presentation to Rabbi Rabinovitch within Hasmonean Chamber. Bodyguard left off Rabbi.
(above) Amish Bishop Ben addressing team within Garden of Gethsemane.
(above) Entire team with hands outstretched toward Jerusalem, praying for rain in the midst of drought. Israeli News Channel 2 crew filming event.
(above) Amish and Mennonite brothers during worship service near Sea of Galilee. Bottom-center of photo is Amishman Aaron, patriarch of Lapp Family of Pennsylvania.
(above) Members of team near Y’shua’s tomb.
(above) Members of team pictured with IDF battalion above Jerusalem.
(above) Entire team, pictured above Jerusalem.
(above) Amish leader Henry, and David, praying at Western Wall.
(above) Amish and Mennonite team members within Christ Church Hotel courtyard.
(above) At the Kotel, discussing the Tefillim with two Orthodox Jewish brothers.
(above) David with donkey named “Herbie,” in Nazareth (Herbie liked Skittles, hidden in David’s right hand).
(above) Israeli host, Amir, and Amish leader Steve.
(above) David, kissing streets of Old Jerusalem upon arrival.
(above) Meeting with Jerusalem Deputy Major Naomi Tzur.
(above) Worship at Sea of Galilee. From left to right: Steve Lapp, Ben and Barbara.
(above) Amir, Israeli Host and Guide.
(above) First-ever incident of “DWA” in Israel (Driving While Amish).
(above) David, kissing “Streets of Zion,” inside the Zion Gate, Jewish Square.
(above) Taking-in the view in Tel Aviv.
(above) In courtyard of Christ Church Hotel, Old Jerusalem.
(above) Worship, Sea of Galilee.
(above) Worship service at Christ Church Chapel, Old Jerusalem.
(above) Micah and David, Jordan River.
(above) Meeting with our good friend, “Moshe,” Judaica shop owner, Jewish Square.
(above) David, with “Kitty of the Tribe of Judah,” in Christ Church Hotel courtyard, Old Jerusalem.
(above) Dinner at Mahalal, Moshav Ovdim.
(above) Lloyd Hoover with Rabbi, at Kotel.
(above) David, with “Cousin of Kitty of the Tribe of Judah,” Ancient City of David.
(above) Ben and Barbara, Old Jerusalem.
(above) Old Jerusalem.
(above) Strategic meeting to determine “which way is East.”
(above) Al and Ada, with “Lion of Judah” outside Jerusalem Mayoral Office.
(above) David and Ben, at Kotel, Western Wall.
(above) Ceremony at Yad Vashem Synagogue.
(above) Above Ancient City of David, Old Jerusalem.
(above) Praying for the Peace of Jerusalem, Yad Vashem.
To Zion with Love – 2012
“Let me hear Your loving-kindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul” (King David, Psalm 143:8).
In the Spring of 2012 it was determined that we would return to Israel, to follow our Repentance Mission—with a Blessing Mission—to simply bless the Nation of Israel in accordance with Genesis 12:3. It was as the glowing embers from our 2010 experience were still smoldering, that we would go on to experience God’s precious presence in ways which surpassed our previous. We would also see the miraculous fruits of our repentance and blessings, in the lives of Israelis very dear to us at this stage.
I will add that the intensity of our mission this time around was heightened, due to ongoing and incoming rocket-fire from Israel’s hostile neighbors. There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of going from sipping a “White Chocolate Mocha Latte” at Aroma Café in one moment, to scrambling to a bomb shelter in the next (smiling). I was duly impressed with the grace and poise with which Israelis responded to the incoming attacks and warnings. I was also keenly aware of the Shield of Grace which covered the entire nation as we traveled about–and scrambled about.
I will divulge that it was through the gift of a dear friend in Hong Kong that me and my wife Gigi were able to go on this 2nd mission. It is to him, and his Spirit-sensitivity, as well as the Spirit behind his sensitivity, that I offer my eternal gratitude.
It was during our return-mission in November 2012 that we would collectively experience the precious flow of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, through each of us as we worked in concert to again bless the Apple of God’s Eye. Tears were shed around the clock as His love visited us, worked through us, and touched the soul of Zion once again. We would later walk away from this equally precious 7-day encounter, with a deeper revelation of the “one new man” which Rabbi Saul so passionately discusses in Romans 9 through 11.
Our itinerary would be similar to that of our 2010 Mission, which included the addition of a privileged meeting and ceremony with Israel Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, and yet another special ceremony within Yad Vashem’s synagogue, to include blessing and embracing another Holocaust survivor.
On the occasion of our 2012 Mission, Verna Yoder would personally design and hand-embroider a beautiful wall-hanging for each the Israeli’s we were to meet with. The wall-hangings declared Ruth 1:16, which reads:
“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”
(above) Amish leader Henry and our Israeli bus driver display one of many Ruth 1:16 wall-hangings presented to Israeli’s during our mission. Amir and Hanna, our hosts, can be seen in backdrop.
My narrative of this mission is limited to a cursory glimpse at present. I will purpose to add more narrative as time unfolds, and will allow the photos to rather tell the story for the present.
One particular event that I will insert presently, is that of a truly mind-boggling experience in the Upper Room. In short, as our Amish-Mennonite team entered the Upper Room, we were stricken with the beauty of roughly 25 Brazilians in a far corner, praying in the Spirit with great intensity. We immediately lifted our hands and began the same–roughly 25 of us at the moment. In turn, roughly 25 Koreans who had been quietly singing songs in yet another area of the room, lifted their hands, and began praying in the Spirit with much volume and intensity. In the same moment, all three groups shot into what one might call “full-afterburner” in praying the Spirit–at the top of our lungs. We did so for an extended period, and as we did so the Holy Spirit filled the room in such measure that most were weeping and many had to fall to their knees with emotion.
(above) Upper Room experience – photo A.
(above) Upper Room experience – photo B.
(above – Upper Room experience – photo C.
Yet another truly life-changing moment was that on our ascent to Mt. Carmel, wherein we stopped to have lunch at a cafe prior to making the final trek up the mountain. During this stop, we would experience the profound fruits of our labor in the form of an encounter which would echo into eternity. Because of the nature of the event and the people involved, it is prudent to refrain from additional detail, and to rather simply declare Baruch HaShem!–for His mighty hand at work in our midst.
(above) Planning session in bomb shelter of hotel. Rocket Warning sirens could be heard during this meeting.
(above) Israeli Host Amir, and Amish patriarch Aaron share a word with the team.
(above) Fanning the flame at JFK Airport (NYC) prior to departure for Tel Aviv, by sharing our personal testimonies of God’s goodness and grace. Jonas shares his story. Brother’s Steve and Jake (left to right) are next to Jonas.
(above) Israeli host Amir, and Micah of Global Gateway Network.
(above) Mt. Carmel. Left to Right: Amish Pastor Lloyd, Amir, Hanna, David & Gigi, Mary Etta.
(above) Amish Bishop Ben, caught in a moment of deep introspection.
(above) Ben and Al–the view of Mt. Carmel. Jonas in backdrop.
(above) Amir and David, Mt. Carmel.
(above) Impromptu prayer and worship together.
(above) Mennonite Bishop Lloyd, worshipping in Nazarene synagogue.
(above) Frank and Sarah, Russian Mennonites, based in Canada.
(above) Mt. Carmel: Amir and Hanna.
(above) Mt. Carmel: Ben, Hanna and Amir.
(above) Olive Press, Nazareth. Note crushed olives about stone wheel. Anyone been here before–figuratively speaking (smiling) ????
(above) Group prayer and petition.
(above) Team photo: above Kidron Valley. Kotel and Dome of the Rock can be seen in the distance.
(above) Mt. Carmel: Amir & Hanna; Micah and Nancy.
(above) View from Mt. Carmel.
(above) Amish pastors Lloyd and Mary Etta.
(above) David and Gigi–Garden of Gethsemane.
(above) Ben and David, praying at Western Wall.
(above) Jerusalem: Praying with Jerusalem Deputy Major Naomi Tzur at Mayoral Office.
(above) Jerusalem: Presentation to Israel Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.
(above) Jerusalem: Meeting with Israel Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.
(above) The Kotel: Hasomean Chamber beneath Western Wall; initiation of meeting with Chief Rabbi of Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch.
(above) Jerusalem: Meeting with Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tzur, at Mayoral Office.
(above) Jerusalem: Meeting with Israel Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.
(above) Lloyd addresses delegation at Yad Vashem Synagogue, with Holocaust Survivor present.
(above) Yad Vashem host/guide.
(above) Lloyd addresses delegation at Yad Vashem Synagogue. Holocaust survivor in front row, second from left, with peach-colored scarf.
(above) Holocaust survivor in attendance at Yad Vashem Synagogue ceremony, at-left, wearing peach-colored scarf.
(above) Ceremony at Yad Vashem Synagogue.
(above) Jerusalem: Ceremony with Israel Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.
(above) Steve and David, Sea of Galilee.
(above) Israeli host and guide Amir, praying blessing over David & Gigi.
(above) Kotel, Western Wall, Jerusalem: David, Jacob Lapp and IDF soldier.
(above) Israeli Rabbi praying blessing over Aaron.
(above) Singing, at Kotel.
(above) Yad Vashem Synagogue. Holocaust historian addresses our delegation.
(above) Kotel: Hasmonean Chamber beneath Western Wall; ceremony with Western Wall Chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch.
(above) Western Wall: Ben, Rabbi, David and Jacob.
(above) Moments after meeting with Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tzur at Jerusalem Mayoral Office.
(above) Ben address team.
(above) Praying a blessing over Amir.
(above) Amir addresses team at Caesarea Philippi (“Gates of Hell”).
(above) Jonas shares a word with team, on boat, on Sea of Galilee.
(above) The Very Often Right Reverent Al.
(above) Negev Region, en route to Dead Sea.
(above) Sea of Galilee.
(above) Sea of Galilee.
(above) Sea of Galilee.
(above) The Women, at Jordan River.
(above) Escorting Holocaust survivor at close of ceremony at Yad Vashem Synagogue.
(above) Escorting Holocaust survivor, close of ceremony at Yad Vashem Synagogue.
(above) Gigi, at Kibbutz, with cat “Herbie” — nephew of “Kitty of the Tribe of Judah.”
(above) Al and Ada.
(above) Worship on Mt. Carmel.
“…those who love His name will dwell there…” (King David, Psalm 69:6).
To Zion with Love – 2013
“My soul waits for the Lord, more than the watchmen for the morning…” (King David, Psalm 130:6).
Often the most critical ministries in which we will engage throughout our lifetimes can be likened to the philosophy and goal of the U.S. military’s Delta Force, wherein operations are carried out with very few ever knowing they occurred. Such was the case with my return to Israel in January 2013.
Returning to Israel solo, I was representing the Anabaptist Connections Team and several other friends, who made my return possible by under-girding this trip financially and spiritually. It was therefore as representative of the entire team that I returned to minister to two precious Israeli friends who needed a healing miracle.
On the heels of a protracted and grueling fast previous to my departure, I then looked like an emaciated vagabond upon my arrival. However in the spirit, I felt very bold. For seven days I earnestly contended for a divine healing. I can say that in 3 decades of intense ministry, I had yet to meet with a battle such as this. God yet showed Himself sovereign in many ways.
During this mission, my 3rd to Israel as of this date, I had the unusual privilege of spending extended time at the Kotel, the Western Wall. Having prayed at the Wall on previous occasions, I had yet to experience such on Erev Shabbat (Friday evening). The presence of God was profoundly so on this night. I am aware that our spiritual senses are unusually keen during and following a long and intense fast. This evening could have therefore been “like any other” to local Israelis. For me however, time seemed to stand-still as I leaned against the Wall and earnestly contended in intercession for this dear Israeli couple. While doing so, and while also feeling as if I were in another realm beyond the physical, I was granted perhaps a nanosecond experience of feeling the Father’s heart for this couple. His love was profound, and surged my heart with a supernatural heat. I could only weep during this experience.
My heart has been deeply wed to the fabric of Jerusalem. And when I am away from Jerusalem I feel as if I have been displaced from my childhood home.
It has been a high honor for me, co-laboring with my dear Anabaptist friends, as well as my larger circle of friends around the globe who have under-girded me with support and prayer during each of these three missions to Israel. And as truly amazing as each of these missions have been, I believe this is only the beginning…
*Note: Please take a moment to view the web-links below, in association with several ministries represented in what would become (3) strategic missions to Israel.
Path Clearer Ministries:
The above web-link represents a ministry founded by Dr. Tom, who truly embodies the namesake of his ministry, in that he “clears paths” in the work of the ministry around the globe. I have had the privilege of ministering with Tom in three states to date, each venue of which entailed prophetic mini-conferences which were very fruitful and which spawned many testimonies of lasting fruit—fruit which remains. Tom moves in the prophetic and apostolic realms, and has authored 4 books to date (the latest of which is approaching publishing). The 3 titles currently available can be purchased from the above site. I recommend all of them. I was honored to compose an endorsement for his Hope When Everything Seems Hopeless volume, which can be viewed via the sub-link below:
The above web-link represents the vision and mission which fuels the Anabaptist team based largely in Bonners Ferry Idaho and Libby Montana respectively.
The above web-link represents Bishop Ben latest book: An Amish Journey to Forgiveness. I was deeply honored to labor to produce the initial draft of this book, whereby Micah of Global Gateway Network equally labored to produce the final edit. This web-link will take you to the book Preface was I was doubly-honored to compose. I encourage you to not only purchase a copy of this volume, but to also consider purchasing Ben’s first book:
Baptized by Fire: The Gethsemane Way, which can be purchased via the AnabaptistConnections site.
Gobal Gateway Network:
The above web-link represents the ministry founded by Micah—a ministry which impacts the globe through planting and overseeing new congregations in very remote regions of non-English speaking people groups. Micah is regularly joined in his global missions by GGN team members representing the medical professions, and who donate their time and resources to helping and healing the needy. Micah is also responsible for acting as a conduit for hundreds of Believers making their first pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and that over a period of decades.
Light of Hope Ministries:
The above web-link represents the ministry of the extended Amish Lapp family based in Pennsylvania. This courageous family has also served as overseers of “The Glory Barn,” a congregation which characteristically moves in the power of the Holy Spirit, and which has seen countless healing miracles in their midst. I recommend Steve Lapp’s new book: The Glory Path, which can be purchased from this site. I characterize the Lapp’s as exuding what I call “Freight Train Faith,” wherein they will stop at nothing to see God’s glory manifested in their midst—wherever they happen to be.
Meadowlark Log Homes:
Meadowlark Log Homes
Owned by the Amish Miller Family, settled largely in Libby Montana; the business is under-girded with a great deal of honesty, integrity, character and superb craftsmanship and commitment to excellence. The Miller Family are wholly submitted to serving God, and to honoring Him through the work of their hands.