I must admit to you, I'm becoming tired of hearing bad news! I'm fully aware of the seriousness of the global situation revolving around the coronavirus outbreak—the crashing of stock markets—the current and growing death tolls in country after country—the widespread panic and fear in the hearts of many people. All of this is very real and serious.
But, a few days ago, while I was driving my car and praying for friends and this dire situation, the Lord clearly spoke to me about Empower Ministries’ role during this critical time in history and what I must do now. The Holy Spirit impressed upon me: "Encourage my sheep. Show them that God is at work."
Therefore, for the next little while, to follow the Lord's directions, I will send short emails every few days, as well as mailed letters every few weeks for those who aren't on our email list. These messages will highlight a variety of countries and regions where the Kingdom of God is expanding rapidly during this period of social and spiritual upheaval. As I have stated over the years—"There is no panic in heaven."
We will edit these updates and stories to make them safe for you to forward on to your friends, family members, and other contacts, so that you may encourage them as well. Please feel free to post the updates on websites and social media as you wish. Let us turn this scenario around to show that believers in Christ—Christians—are keeping their focus on eternal matters and not only on the current problems of this life.
Today's verses of encouragement are taken from Colossians 3:1-4 (NASB) and I have bolded some sections:
Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Christians in the West are not the only ones currently under pressure. All over the world and for thousands of years, persevering believers in Christ have endured hardships only to emerge victorious in their walk with God. How do they do this? By setting their minds on the things that have eternal consequences, rather than on temporary matters that will one day pass away. Our outlook on life is already so different from those who are unbelievers. The indwelling Holy Spirit provides us with joy, peace, and hope that the world does not even come close to understanding. Why? Because Christ Jesus is our life! For a Christian, everything revolves around Him. As our world continues to fall apart, He is the One on whom we stay focused. We may experience waves of fear and discouragement because of current events. But God has given us the power to overcome these emotions by always reminding us that our eternal destiny is with Him in heaven—forever.
And now for a global update from one of Empower's national church leaders.
- All traditional Holy Land sites are closed. Tour buses are off the roads. Anyone going into Israel from abroad must spend 14 days in quarantine.
- All malls, restaurants, schools, nursery schools, etc. are closed. Few people are taking public transportation. Only essential workers are in the workplace; everyone else was asked to stay home.
- People are being laid off work in the tourist sector of the economy, and it is now spreading to high technology workers.
- No public meetings are allowed with over ten people in attendance. Social distancing of 6 feet is in effect.
- Public Shabbat services (Saturday church) are not possible. Many congregations are streaming live.
The Good News:
- Daily prayer meetings at 6 a.m. are popping up along with days of fasting and prayer, leading to congregations having a growing passion for outreach. They are calling out to God for wisdom during the crisis.
- Groups of Messianic believers from congregations are conducting door-to-door visitation offering food packages to believers and unbelievers alike. This outreach is highly significant because so many are temporarily on unpaid vacations or laid off from work. Few people in Israel have much in savings and live pay cheque to pay cheque. They are worried about providing the basic needs for their families. These visitation groups are exceptionally well received. Believers encourage and pray for people's needs and concerns.
- Food is proving to be the outreach vehicle in this time of crisis. While food is still available, it is not affordable or accessible to those who are unemployed or quarantined. This situation is a golden opportunity for believers to show the love and concern of Yeshua. One Messianic congregation has posted online, a phone number for people who are in desperate situations. To the best of their ability, this church will supply them with food, medicine, or other immediate aid, as well as explain why they are helping them (according to the Gospel) and then pray with them.
- The coronavirus is also drawing believers closer together as never before. The Body of Christ in Israel likely has never experienced this much "oneness" in their history.
- Congregations are ramping up media work and ministry. New videos are coming online to explain the Gospel and give hope amid the current turmoil.
- Many Russian Jewish congregations and Holocaust survivors are incredibly reluctant to shut down congregational meetings, despite the risks, because people are growing in the Lord as well as in number. They are becoming leaders in their communities for Gospel outreach.
- Lastly, Israelis as a whole are becoming incredibly interested in the "End Times”—something that has never happened before. Because the coronavirus is a global event and not a localized war around them, they are wondering if this might be related to the return of the Messiah. Teaching material and new videos on this subject are currently being prepared. Israel is taking another step closer to opening their hearts fully to the Gospel, Yeshua as Messiah, and the promises contained in God's Word. This is the positive side of the coronavirus outbreak in Israel.
Israel, as well as many other countries in the Western world, has always equated peace, contentment, and success with their health and wealth. It appears now that this philosophy of life is being questioned at its core. The Holy Spirit knew this revolution of thought was coming, and in 2019 led Empower to begin to saturate Israel with God's Word—the Bible—in many languages and formats. Tens of thousands of copies continue to be distributed throughout the country to seekers, newly landed immigrants, recently converted believers, and congregations/outreaches—FREE OF CHARGE!
Thank you, Empower family! We will not cease to provide Israelis with an ample supply of the Bible, regardless of world conditions.