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Because the vision of JCFI is to raise a greater awareness of Israel in the churches of Johnson County, we want to connect you to some of our friends who work to bless Israel.

 

This month I want to introduce you to the ministry of a new 

Bridge of Hope, Congregation Shaar HaEmek!

 

   

Jonathan Almeida is the pastor of Congregation Shaar HaEmek (Gate to the Valley) and has recently partnered in a Bridge of Hope with Pastor Juan Pioquinto of La Fuente (The Fountain) in Cleburne. Shaar HaEmek is located in the Jezreel Valley, a very significant location, biblically speaking. It was in this valley that Gideon led the fight against the Midianites and the Amalekites (Judges 6) and where the Israelites, led by King Saul, were defeated by the Philistines. Also, the Jezreel Valley is believed to be the site of the final, great battle of Armageddon.

 

Pastor Jonathan is married to Silvana and has two children. His daughter, Stephanie, is 21 years old, and son, Raphael, is 19 years old. Stephanie is pursuing a call into the ministry, and Raphael is currently serving in the IDF. The Almeidas are Brazilian Jews who made aliyah (return) to Israel in 2003.

 

Pastor Jonathan also serves as a psychologist at the Regional Council of the Jezreel Valley, where he works to support the emotional health of area professionals. Just after the recent war in Israel, Jonathan had the opportunity to work with local teachers and rabbis to help students transition back to school after a difficult summer vacation. For Jonathan, working as a pastor and psychologist is mutually beneficial and presents him with many unique opportunities to serve the needs of others.

 

The Almeida family started Shaar HaEmek about 5 years ago, the only Messianic congregation in the Jezreel Valley. The congregation meets weekly on Shabbat, ministers to adults through cell groups, and has outreaches for children and youth. Currently, Pastor Jonathan would ask for your prayers as they seek to refurbish their meeting facilities, lead evangelistic and educational conferences in their area, and work to expand psychological services.


 

Please, keep the Almeida family & Congregation Shaar HaEmek in your prayers!

 

 


Assyria Refugee Update


(This update comes to us from Pastor David Pileggi and Christ Church, a Bridge of Hope partner with Pastor Kenny Rigoulot and the United Presbyterian Church in Cleburne)


Since Islamic State's initial attack on Mosul and then subsequently on the Christians and Yezidis of the surrounding area of Sinjar Province -- which precipitated the initial refugee crisis last August into northern Iraq -- IS has turned its sights on the Kurds of Syria. Media attention for about three weeks in October and November focused on the battle for Kobani in northern Syria, right on the border with Turkey, not far from Urfa and close to the Haran of Abraham in Genesis 12. 

 

As the battle for Kobani continued, many of the area's Kurdish residents fled. After initially crossing over to Turkey, most are either now in northern Iraq or still in Syria but living in refugee camps near the northeast border with Iraq. All this as recent UN statistics put the total number of refugees, or displaced people, at more than 7 million, nearly half of the total population of Syria. (Photo of refugee shanty in Erbil, Iraq.) 

 

Recently, the Middle East saw one of the most severe winter storms of 2014/15. Snow has been 

falling since Jan. 8 at higher elevations and even at some places lower than 1,000 meters above sea level, like in Jerusalem. As a result, the situation for many of the refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, southeast Turkey, Syria and northern Iraq has become quite difficult and even serious. 


 
In our desire to continue to support many of our partners along the Isaiah 19 Highway who are working with refugees, we want to continue to ask you to support relief efforts in the region. One of our main partners in Erbil, Iraq has had the unique privilege of welcoming refugees from the Kobani area into his church. Most, if not all, of these Kurds are Muslims, so please pray that the mercy shown them by Muslim-background believers will breakdown barriers to the gospel message. (Photo of a ministry partner with a Kobani refugee in Iraq.) 


 

In addition, many of those who are serving have told us that the need is at times so overwhelming that they are struggling with both physical and spiritual fatigue. We would ask that you continue to lift up in prayer both national and international workers as they pour out their lives in service for these Kurds, Yezidis, Muslims and Assyrian Christians who are spending their first winter displaced and struggling to understand how their lives have changed so suddenly and drastically. 


 

Finally, our team of young Israelis that went to serve in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq this last fall are planning to return in the next few months with the vision of establishing a base in the area both for prayer and practical service. Please be in prayer for this initiative, that God would put the right team together, provide for this trip, and guide us as we seek our part in being a "light to the nations."

 


 These tarp shanties in Erbil, Iraq, are what many Syrian refugees are calling home. 

 

With a Knife at Her Throat, She Didn't Flinch!

(this story comes from our friends at MJBI)


This scripture emerges in this new season of 2015: "They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death" (Revelation 11:12). 

 

There are believers who are experiencing the strength of this passage written by the apostle John on the island of Patmos in real life. With the rise in persecution and slaughter of Christians globally, a new breed of warriors is emerging whose foundation is based on the above passage. 

 

Statistics from 2014 are not available yet; but according to Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, instances of Christians martyred for their faith world-wide doubled in 2013 from the year before, with the largest number coming from Syria. Open Doors places North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan at the top of the most persecuted Christians' list. 

 

With 2.2 billion followers or 32 percent of world population, Christianity is the largest and most widely spread faith movement in the world. It faces some form of hostility in 111 countries such as attacks on churches, schools, sexual assaults, discrimination, threats, and expulsions. Christians in North Korea face the highest imaginable pressure with 50,000 - 70,000 in political prison camps. 

 

TheChristians.com online magazine recounts the story of an Iraqi woman, Khiria Al-Kas Isaac, who recently defied ISIS terrorists when they demanded that she convert to Islam or be beheaded. With the cold, silver knife at her neck, she replied that she would rather die than give up her Christian faith. She didn't flinch, using the Lamb's blood and her testimony. She loved not her life unto death! Her tormenters eventually relented-only robbing and then releasing her. Many others, among them innocent children, have not been so blessed, succumbing to the most heinous tortures and deaths. 

 

Blood chilling stories like this bring home the strength of the scripture in Revelation.   Without the Lamb's blood, we have no testimony. Loving not our lives unto death is what we cannot see in the dark. We don't know until the moment we are tested if we will carry this out in reality. What I do know, personally, is this scripture is a bullet in my arsenal. It is what causes me to overcome. 

 

Yeshua also left us with great comfort with this passage: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

 

Dr. Wayne Wilks

 
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem!

 

Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.


 
Israel has the highest number of scientists and technicians per capita in the world.


 
Israel has the highest number of engineers per capita in the world.


 
Israel has the highest number of PhD's per capita in the world.

  



BOH Logo with text
Bridge of Hope Update... 
We Are Growing ! 
                  
One way JCFI raises awareness of Israel's role today is through building a Bridge of Hope (BOH).  A Bridge of Hope is a "bridge" built between a Church or organization of Johnson County and a Congregation, Home Group, Faith-Based Organization, or Individual within Israel. At JCFI we currently have 22 Congregational BOH's and 5 Organizational BOHs  that are up-and-running with MANY in the process. The BOH project is blessing people both in Israel and here in Johnson County as it provides connection through fellowship, prayer support, educational exchange, and more.  (Click
HERE for more info)

We would love to hook you up!  I am Skyping almost weekly with those in the Land who are eager to link up in a "sister" relationship with a congregation or organization in Johnson County.  Be in prayer for us as we establish new connections with ministries in Israel that desperately need our support and prayer.   

If your church would like to know more about becoming a BOH to a congregation in Israel, click HERE or contact me by phone at 817-556-1061817-556-1061  / by email me at bentley_kevin@sbcglobal.net.

  Let's build a Bridge together as we stand For Israel!

            
              

PRAISE & PRAYER REQUEST! 

 
The Bridge of Hope (BOH) ministry continues to grow (24 strong now) and bless Believers in Johnson County and Israel. We are so honored at JCFI to be a part of these vibrant connections. 

Please pray for, "BOH IGNITE," coming February of 2015. At this gathering, designed specifically for the BOH pastors of Johnson County, we will fellowship and envision how to build stronger BOH connections moving forward. BOHs strengthen our churches, promote the Gospel, & bless Israel !

Until we are all ONE! (Eph.2:15) !

Hebrew Helps
As we work to build a greater awareness of Israel in Johnson County and continue to connect to Believers and Jews in the Land, we are often ask, "What does that word mean?".  So, each month at JCFI we will ad to a glossary of terms to help broaden our Hebrew vocabulary. Please, enjoy this Hebrew Help and contact us with any definitions you think we should ad.

This month's Hebrew Help definition is:

Tefilah (tefi'la)

The Hebrew word for "prayer." Sometimes used to specifically refer to the Jewish prayer recitations that are part of Judaism.

Previous Month's Definition

Ruach HaKodesh (ROO-akh hak-KOH-desh)

Holy Spirit; the Holy Ghost. Occurs more than 90 times in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament). Note that kodesh is an adjective meaning holy that agrees with the noun it modifies.

Click HERE to see the entire Hebrew Help Glossary!

  

RecomReading List Logomended Reading

This month at JCFI we encourage you to get a copy of:

What About Us? by Eitan Shishkoff


HOW CAN I STAND FOR ISRAEL?
 
Since the Banquet, many have ask me, "What can I do for Israel?"  While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, here are a few suggestions I hope you find useful:

1. Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem (Psa.122:6)
    "For Zion's Sake I Will Not Be Silent" by Rebecca Brimmer is an excellent guide on
    prayer for Israel. Click HERE for more info.

2. Learn more about Israel-related ministries
    There are wonderful Israel-related ministries doing a great work to support Israel. Click
     HERE to learn more about a few of them.

3. Learn more about the Hebraic Roots to Christianity
    The Bible often takes on deeper meaning in the context of its Hebraic Roots. The
     Ancient Hebrew Scroll project at the CHF is a testimony to this fact. There are
     numerous writings about Hebraic Roots. A good place to start is the book by
     D. Thomas Lancaster entitled Grafted In.  Click HERE for more info.

4. Take a trip to Israel     I've been blessed to travel to Israel many times.  It has
    changed my life. I baptized my daughter, Lauren, in the Sea of Galilee during my trip
    there in 2011. She had accepted Jesus as her Savior 3 days before we left. This
    should be at the top of any bucket list!

5. Be an Israel contact person for your church
    The vision at JCFI is to increase the awareness of Israel within the churches of
    Johnson County. Maybe you could support your pastor by volunteering to be the
    church's Israel contact person for JCFI. 

6. Build a Bridge of Hope
    Speak with your Pastor / Church Leaders about building a BOH.  Feel free to
    contact me for more info by phone at 817-556-1061 or by email  at                                 bentley_kevin@sbcglobal.net.


Kevin Bentley, JCFI Director
2 North Caddo Street, Cleburne, Tx 76031
817-556-1061