Archives For Jewish Roots

Friday at Tiferet Yeshua (our Tel Aviv-based congregation), we were blessed to have a group from China, Korea and Japan with us. As we brought them forward to pray for them, Ariel Blumenthal, co-pastor of our Jerusalem congregation, mentioned something about the gospel coming to the Gentiles, first through Cornelius in Caesarea. I sensed the Lord begin to speak to me.

It started in Tel Aviv

You see the Gospel first hit the Gentiles in Caesarea, but it came from Tel Aviv. You may be thinking, “Tel Aviv is only 110 years old.” Well, technically, our city is known as Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa). It began as a suburb of Jaffa, and the New Testament reports a great revival here.

Peter was in Lydda, where Ben Gurion airport is today. He met a paralyzed man named Aeneas. Peter prayed for him and he was healed. From that moment, a Jewish revival broke out in what today is the greater Tel Aviv region.

“All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 9:35)

We know it was a Jewish revival because the disciples did not yet preach to Gentiles.

Tabitha Dies

Peter was then summoned to Jaffa/Yafo because a dear woman, Tabitha had died suddenly. Peter came and raised her from the dead and the revival deepened within the Tel Aviv area.

“This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.” (Acts 9:42-43)

In short, he had a vision in which God told him to eat unclean animals. He refused, as he knew it was forbidden in the Torah for a Jew to eat such animals. He was told, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:15)

Not about Pork Chops

The vision had nothing to do with food. And Peter knew that, hence, he “was wondering about the meaning of the vision,” when he came out of the trance. Later, he tells us the meaning; “But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28)

Meanwhile, God visited Cornelius the Gentile in Caesarea and told him to send for a man named Peter in Joppa. As the men from Cornelius arrived, the Holy Spirit tells Peter, “Simon, three men are looking for you.  So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” (Acts 10:19-20)

Jews didn’t Host Non-Jews!

You have to understand—Peter had never been in the home of a Gentile and had never hosted a Gentile. Peter invited these men into Simon’s house to be his guests. My speculation is that Simon may have had a mini-stroke. No Gentile had ever been in his home—certainly not by invitation. This went against Pharisaical law. But you see, Peter had just raised Tabitha from the dead. I am convinced that one of the reasons that God raised her up through Peter’s word, was to give him the credibility to oversee the massive earthquake in Jew/Gentile relations.

We don’t know what Simon the Tanner or the others who found out said—but it would have been hard to tell a guy who just raised one of your most beloved citizens from the dead, that God would forbid hosting the Gentiles. Peter had serious street cred!

The Trip that Changed the World

The next day, Peter went to Caesarea with these men. A day before, he never would have entered their home, but now he says:

“You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.  So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection.” (Acts 10:28-29)

As Peter shared the Gospel, God did something else to convince the Jews that Gentiles too, could find salvation in Yeshua.

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.  The [Jewish] believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”(Acts 10:44-46)

The Jewish believers were stunned that the Gentiles were praying in tongues. And then Peter proclaims something that today would not be controversial at all—but then, it was considered heresy under their false understanding of God’s plan.

“’Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Yeshua the Messiah.” (Acts 10:47-48)

Today it is controversial for a Jew to be immersed in water—but no one would blink an eye at a non-Jews receiving water baptism. How things have changed.

Prophetic word for Tel Aviv

From Caesarea, a Roman Gentile city, the Gospel went around the world. But now we are entering the end of “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) or what Paul calls, “the fullness of the Gentiles.” I believe that two things indicated this.

  • The Gospel has nearly touched every nation
  • Jerusalem is back in Jewish hands, under Israeli sovereignty (June 1967)

Now we are starting to see the beginnings of the Jewish revival in the last days before the return of Yeshua. It began in earnest with the Jesus Revolution in 1967, just as Jerusalem was restored. And with Israel’s 70th anniversary, the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem and the moving of the U.S. Embassy, things are speeding up in the spirit.

Blessing from “Caesar”

As those Asians where standing in our congregation, I sensed the Lord remind me, what happened in Caesarea (which symbolizes the Gentile world) began as revival in Yafo, which is now Tel Aviv-Yafo. Through Caesarea, the Gospel bore fruit among the nations. We have longed believe, there was more than one meaning to Acts. 1:11.

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Yes, of course it means that He went up and will come down on a white horse (Rev. 19:11) to the same place, the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:3-4). But it also means that even as it began with a Jewish revival that spread to the nations, Yeshua will return to a Jewish awakening that has come from the nations back to Israel. Yes! The Gentiles will play a major role in prayer, love and outreach.

Again I ask: Did [Israel] stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. (Rom. 11:11)

It was through Tel Aviv (Peter at Simon the Tanners house) that the Gospel made its way out to the nations (Caesarea) and it will be through Tel Aviv that Gospel will make its way back into Israel. Jerusalem will always be the high mountain where God’s name resides, but the Greater Tel Aviv region, home to the largest concentration of Jewish people in the world—3.5 million—will receive a massive revival, according to the Acts pattern. This lines up with what Romans 11:25 and 26 teach—that after the” fullness of the Gentiles,” “all Israel will be saved.”

We asked one of the Asian leaders to pray for revival in Tel Aviv and he did with great passion.

Or at least, that is what I sensed the Lord saying.

Will you pray for Tel Aviv?

 

 

 

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I cannot remember another time, in my lifetime, when the world was so completely unified in anger. From France to Turkey, from Hamas to Bernie—the majority of the world believes that President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was, at best, a mistake and, at worst, the end of the world!

But don’t fear. This is exactly what the Bible speaks of. Parallel to the restoration of Israel is the rejection of Jerusalem from the nations (Zech. 12:2-3). And nations are irrationally angry over a Jewish Jerusalem. This is a perfect picture of Psalm 2, when the psalmist asks, “Why do the nations rage?” Well, why do they?

And why do the “kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed…”

The answer, in a word, is: Jerusalem.

We see in v. 6 that the Lord rebukes these kings and rulers saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” Zion or Tzion in Hebrew, is synonymous with Jerusalem. The kings of the earth take issue with God’s Son (verses 7 and 12) and Jerusalem.

It is interesting that the Muslim world has called for days of ragethe exact word from Psalm 2.

Restoration

And yet, I’ve seen many believers fret over President Trump’s announcement, saying it is irresponsible, racist towards Palestinians, inconsequential, a impediment to peace, etc., completely missing the spiritual significance of it. The word Zion means signpost. Jerusalem is a sign to us.

  • From the 1880s to the present, the Jewish people have been returning en masse to Israel.
  • In 1920, the League of Nations (U.N.) adopted the Balfour Declaration as international law, saying that the region of Palestine would be developed into a homeland for the Jewish people.
  • In 1947, the U.N. voted to partition the remaining 20% of Palestine (80% was given to create the new nation of Jordan) into another Arab state and a Jewish state. (The Arabs rejected it.)
  • In 1948, Israel became a nation.
  • In 1967, Jerusalem was reunified after the Six Day War and the Old City was recovered.
  • From 1984 to 2000, tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews and around one million Russian-speaking came home to Israel.
  • Fast forward to December 6th, 2017: Jerusalem is recognized by the most powerful nation on earth as Israel’s capital.

Also in the New Testament

The full restoration of Israel is prophesied not only in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament. When Yeshua was asked by His disciples after His resurrection, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6), He does not rebuke them for asking a stupid question. For any student of prophets, this was the most logical question.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her … I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem … I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.” (Zech. 8:2-3, 7-8)

There are dozens of passages such as this. So, of course the disciples would ask about the restoration of Israel. Yeshua responds:

“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”

Did you see that? Many people miss it. Yeshua clearly indicates that the Father has set the time and date for Israel’s restoration. This why I have said, if President Trump is truly a type of Cyrus (to be clear, no one has ever said that Isaiah 44-45 was referring to Trump, but merely that Trump may have a Cyrus-type calling), then he will favor Zion. That is what Cyrus is known for. A Gentile head of state gets behind the restoration of Israel. And while Trump did not do this when we expected it in May, during Jerusalem’s 50-year anniversary, he has done it now.

My friend and mentor Asher Intrater paraphrases Yeshua’s response in his new book Alignment (free download here) and I think it is brilliant.

“You have asked Me to restore David’s kingdom to Israel. The prophets envisioned a much wider kingdom which would cover the whole earth (Is. 42, 49). Let’s not settle for just David’s kingdom; let’s go for the whole vision of the prophets. Let’s not set up the kingdom in Israel until we offer salvation to all the peoples of the earth. When they all have a chance to be part of the worldwide kingdom, let’s return and restore the kingdom to Israel. The kingdom will start in Israel as Isaiah said, with its capital in Jerusalem, but it will cover the whole earth.

“I will establish the kingdom government on earth when I return. For now, proclaim both personal salvation and kingdom authority, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. In the meantime, there is no need for the nation of Israel to be here until it is time for My return and the kingdom restoration. Therefore, Israel will be scattered while the gospel goes to the Gentiles (Matt. 24:14). Then in the period before I return, the nation of Israel will be restored, so that there will be a place for Me to return and set up the capital of My kingdom.”

Manipulating Scripture

I heard a replacement theology pastor share the other day from Matthew 23, how God is not really concerned anymore with Jerusalem and, in fact, the Jewish people rejected the Messiah in Jerusalem. He quotes Yeshua:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matt. 23:37-38)

Well, if we stop, it sure looks like Yeshua is done with those pesky Jews. That is what I call intellectual dishonesty. My dear brother was manipulating his hearers because he didn’t read the next verse.

“For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matt. 23:39)

Read differently, Yeshua was saying to the Jews of Jerusalem, “You will see me again when you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The phrase in Hebrew, Blessed is he who comes is a greeting. When someone comes back to Israel from traveling, we say, “Baruch haba” or “Blessed is he who comes.” And Zechariah clearly says that the Jews of Jerusalem will welcome Him back.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zech. 12:10)

Yeshua left the Mount of Olives with the angel saying, “He’s coming back the same way.” (Acts 1)  Zechariah 14 shows a restored Jerusalem being attacked by the nations, and “then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem.” (Zech. 14:3-4)

Beloved, again, Zion means signpost and each step of restoration in Israel is a sign that we are one step closer to His coming. Maranatha. Come, oh Lord!

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More and more Israeli believers are having an impact on all aspects of society. Last month, to my surprise, I was asked to interview Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister for GOD TV. The largest tour company in Israel is owned by a Messianic Jew. I just got an email from a Messianic friend who is working inside one of Israel’s larger political parties. And a few years ago, musician Shai Sol told the entire country that Yeshua is the Messiah when she appeared on the television show, The Next Star, a reality singing competition.

Last week, another Messianic Jew appeared on that same show and wowed the judges. Tslil Goldman is a very quiet, humble young lady. In fact, she turned the show down initially.Though she has a voice like an angel, she only wanted God’s will.

During the pre-audition interview, they were asked what it means to be a Messianic Jew. Her father Yariv gently, but boldly stated, “It means Jews who believe both in the Tenakh (the Hebrew scriptures) and that the Messiah that we, as a nation, long for—He has already arrived—Yeshua, from the New Testament.”

The Goldman family has been in our congregation for several years. And Tslil told us she was not really interested in trying out. The show’s producers contacted her last year, but she said ‘no’ because it didn’t feel right, as if God might not want her there.

They called her again this year, so she started wondering if maybe God was opening a door. She knows that God has called her to music and worship. As she prayed, she didn’t receive a clear ‘no’ or ‘yes’ from God, so she decided to go to the audition and simply put it in the Lord’s hands.

But once she was accepted to the auditions, she started questioning things; as the reality (no pun intended) of being on the show hit her, she was tempted to back out.

A lady from the program called Tslil to interview her (as they do with every participant). She and Tslil ended up talking about Yeshua for about an hour and a half. The lady kept asking more and more questions about Messianic Judaism, and said that “everything made sense” to her and “that’s what she was looking for” all her life. She actually said she believed, but never met anyone else who does, too.

Michael Elady, who works with us here at Messiah’s Mandate, was there to encourage Tslil and even wore a T-shirt from a local media outreach ministry, One for Israel.

After the conversation, a sense of relief came upon Tslil, and she thought, “Wow, God is already using me in this TV program. It feels right.” After Tslil’s audition aired, a ton of people contacted her about her faith, interested in these Messianic Jews on TV. This was a very different response than what Shai Sol received just a few years earlier. She was mocked online and attacked in the streets of Ashdod. Of course, Ashdod is a very religious city that has a history of persecuting Messianic Jews.

Tslil went out on stage before some of Israel’s most successful singers and, probably, more than a million viewers. Every judge chose her and much of the public, also. This show uses a combination of both the judges having a vote and viewers at home. Israel pushed her over the top, even before the last judge voted!

Now the competition begins. But Tslil’s focus is not on winning fame and fortune, but spreading the name of Yeshua. Keep her protected in your prayers.

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As we get closer to the next Christ at the Checkpoint conference, a conference dedicated to convincing people that Israel is an illegitimate, oppressive and unbiblical nation, it is important to take a fresh look at their claims, that the New Testament changes the land promises to Israel. Dr. Gary Burge, a proponent of Fulfillment Theology (just like Replacement Theology—the Jews have been replaced by Church), believes:

“the Holy Land is now the whole world and is no longer the privilege of an ethnic few [Jews]. In a word, the New Testament is globalizing the blessing of Abraham; earlier it had been tribal and local, now it is global and universal.” (From COCP 2014)

Proponents of Fulfillment Theology teach that all of the Old Testament promises to Israel are fulfilled in Yeshua (hence the name, Fulfillment Theology). Classical Replacement Theology teaches the Church has replaced Israel, whereas now they are saying it is Yeshua who takes Israel’s promise.

This time around it is not the Church that replaces Israel and takes over all her promises in scripture but in fact Jesus. He fulfills in His life and redemptive work all the promises that God ever made to the Jews; even the promise that Canaan would be the everlasting possession of the Jewish people! (Malcolm Hedding)

Burge teaches that when God spoke of Abraham’s seed, it was only a singular seed promised to Yeshua and not to all of Abraham’s physical descendants through Isaac.

The problem with Burge’s approach is that he doesn’t deal with passages that completely contradict his theory.

1, In Genesis 13 we find this passage:

“All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” (Gen. 13:15-17)

Notice a few words: offspring, forever, and the phrase: dust of the earth.

First, it is true that offspring in Hebrew is seed or zerah, which is always in the singular form, even when used in plural. But the very next verse says that his seed, that inherits the land of Israel, will be “like the dust of the earth,” meaning a whole lot of people. It seems that Burge bases his supposition on one verse, Gal. 3:16, that I deal with in depth, here.

We see this in Genesis 15 as well.

“Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Gen. 15:5)

So Abraham’s offspring is clearly more than one person. I know Dr. Burge has a Ph.D. but we can read. And then, later in this chapter, during the same event, God says:

“To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites,Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” (Gen. 15:18-21)

The descendants of v. 18 are the same offspring of v. 5, who will be numbered as the stars in the skies—too many to count. So Burge’s claim that the promise of the Land was to Yeshua alone, makes no sense. God is promising it to himself? No.

Secondly, this promise of land to Abraham’s descendants is forever—not just until the Messiah comes. The Hebrew is ad olam and it absolutely means “forever”.

2, In Burge’s book, Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to “Holy Land” Theology, he was criticized for failing to deal with key end-times passages that place the Jewish people in their own land at the coming of the Lord. Ezekiel speaks of the dry bones coming to life. Who are these dry bones that come to life? The Lord tells Ezekiel, in v. 11, “These bones are the people of Israel.

Zechariah speaks of the Lord returning to Jerusalem to fight for Israel in chapter 14. (Just a note, if all the Old Testament promises to Israel were fulfilled in Yeshua two thousand years ago, what do you do with all the end-times prophecies?) Zechariah 12 talks about all nations coming against Jerusalem. We can see that happening in our lifetime, yet Burge teaches that there is no future Jerusalem.

3, Even if you discount every Old Testament verse that points to Jews in Israel, in the end times (of which there are a plethora), by coming up with some crazy idea that God was secretly referring to something else, we see Yeshua Himself warning end-time believers that when the anti-Christ takes over the Temple (2 Thes. 2:3-4), “let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Judea is in Israel.

Yeshua seems to think that there will be an Israel when He returns. And how can the anti-Christ desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem (Dan. 9:26), if there is no Jerusalem? According to this verse, he destroys the city. What city? Without a doubt, Jerusalem, as Zechariah 14:1-2 confirms. The two witnesses of Revelation 11, prophecy in the same city, “where also their Lord was crucified” (v.8), a clear reference to Jerusalem. And Revelation 16:16 speaks of the armies of the world gathering in the valley of Har Megiddo (Armageddon), smack dab in the middle of Israel.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the idea that the promises of the land of Israel to the people of Israel were fulfilled on the cross, goes against God’s clear promise to Abraham and his seed, plural (stars of the sky, etc.). It ignores all the Old Covenant prophecies of the Messiah returning Israel and contradicts the New Testament’s clear claim that there is an Israel in the end times.

Beyond that, it goes against our common sense. God said that He would bring the Jewish people back to their own land in the end times. If he did not mean that specifically, then how in the world could the Jewish people, who wandered for 2,000 years, remain a people and even come back to their own land and create one of the most prosperous countries on earth, in the midst of her mortal enemies? Do you think we are stupid?

The fact is that the theology coming out of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference is not sound at all, but manipulates Scripture to get a desired outcome: Israel is not a fulfillment of prophecy. This conference is a political conference disguised as a theological one.

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By Moti Cohen, Associate Pastor, Tiferet Yeshua Tel Aviv

The good news is that Yeshua’s gospel is spreading in Tel Aviv. The better news is that there are people who accept the gospel, give their lives to Yeshua, are willing to go through water and Spirit baptism, and dedicate their lives to the Lord!

The Witness of an old Friend

Leah* came to Tiferet Yeshua about three months ago, and she was immersed this week at the Yafo beach. She came together with Miriam, one of our members. When I asked Leah what drew her to the congregation, she said that a few months prior, she met Miriam on the street. Leah and Miriam had known each other for many years, but they hadn’t seen each other in a few years. The reunion with Miriam left a strong impression on Leah. Leah remembered that Miriam had a pretty rough life, and that she had been through more than her fair share of trials. She always saw Miriam as a sad woman who was just trying to survive.

At their reunion, to Leah’s surprise, Miriam was just full of joy. Leah saw a transformed woman. Miriam immediately shared her faith in Yeshua with Leah, and told her how He changed her life completely.

Moroccan Israelis

Born 60 years ago in Tel Aviv, Leah’s family left Morocco a few years after Israel’s independence. Moroccan Jews are one of the larger immigrant communities in Israel. She had a very traditional, Jewish family (a family that observes the Jewish holidays and customs, but not to a religious extent). At a very young age, she was already divorced with two children. She had to raise them completely alone. In addition, she was a chronic cigarette smoker, and she was dealing with unceasing coughing and a hole in her lung.

Leah would occasionally come to our congregation’s gatherings in Tel Aviv and she received a lot of love from our congregation members. She saw that her new friends had faith and values that “provoked her to jealousy” and caused her to reexamine the meaning of life. Of course, the teachings in the congregation about destructiveness of sin, forgiveness of such sins, the love of God, repentance and freedom, caused Leah to ask questions.

Miriam was a great help to Leah, as they met several times each week. She taught her about the Lord from the scriptures and watched movies about Yeshua with her. Finally, it all came together for Leah and Miriam prayed with her to surrender her life to Yeshua.

She could be my mother

I was very excited to hear Leah’s testimony. This is a Jewish woman who came from a Sephardic background (Jews who come from Arab countries like Iraq and Yemen), who surrendered to Yeshua. This gave me a lot of hope for my own family. There’s a barrier of blindness subduing the Sephardic ethnic groups. They were exiled to Muslim countries from Spain in the 15th century. They were exiled for not converting to political Catholicism—thus, the false representation of Yeshua left them closed to His true purpose.

When a 60-year-old woman like Leah surrenders her life to Yeshua, it feels as if my own mother is surrendering to Yeshua. Miriam’s testimony gave hope to a lot of people who pray constantly  for their families. The kind of hope that says even older people from the Jewish Sephardic groups are capable of accepting the gospel and giving their lives to Yeshua.

Time to get wet!

One day, Leah came to me at the beginning of our weekly meeting and told me that she had a dream. In the dream, she saw herself being immersed in water, and through that dream, she realized that it was her time to go through this action of faith.

We took some time to study the foundations of the faith together and the meaning of water immersion. This week, several of us in the congregation arrived at Jaffa beach. This is the same beach where many Jews were most likely immersed in Acts, chapter nine. Leah grew up in Yafo, and it was very symbolic that she specifically chose to be immersed there and make her declaration of faith. Leah wore white Moroccan clothing, and she was completely filled with happiness and joy—something that had escaped her for so many years. We asked that as she was immersed in water, so would she also be immersed in the Holy Spirit.

Leah went into the water and came out glowing. When I looked at her face and her eyes, I saw a woman who was filled with love for God. We rejoiced, worshiped and thanked God for this moment!

Please continue to pray for Leah, that she would have the strength and power from above to completely stop smoking and receive complete healing for her lungs. Furthermore, dear friends, keep our families in your prayers. So that not only us, but also our entire households would come to believe in the Messiah of Israel. Amen.

*Leah is not her real name

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