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April 2011

When the World Quakes

By Gary Alley

Mary Gardner was a Scottish Bible Translator who worked in Togo, West Africa helping to bring the Bible to the Ife people in their own language. She came to study in Jerusalem for six months with Halvor and Miriam Ronning’s Home for Bible Translators. Wednesday, March 23rd a bomb went off next to a crowded Jerusalem bus stop. Mary was the lone fatality, while others were badly wounded, including many teenagers heading home from school. 

Annette Nolting, a German Christian, had come to Jerusalem in 1983 to care for Holocaust victims and to serve the local body of believers. After more than 27 years of faithful service, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in March 2010. She passed away Tuesday, March 8, 2011 after a year of hospice.

On Friday afternoon, March 11th, Japan suffered a massive earthquake, followed by an overwhelming tsunami that devastated its northeastern coastal towns and cities. More than 11,000 are reported dead and over 16,000 missing. Even more apocalyptic has been the partial nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant which will undoubtedly affect Japan’s future life and health.

When tragedy strikes, despair enters, and fear fills our thoughts. How do we react? When death stands before us, or crouches near the ones we love, how do we continue to live with hope? When God seems silent in the face of suffering, why do we still trust and believe?

The prophet, Habakkuk, often remembered for, “the righteous will live by his faith (2:4),” reminds us how we are to live out that faith.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength, And He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (3:17-19)

When our world quakes, whether a daily struggle or a catastrophic event, we know that God is there giving us strength to walk in those difficult places. Joy is unknowable until we have experienced that dark night of the soul.


Biblical Pearl

Our Identity in Messiah and Passover

By Randall Buth

Matthew 2:15, “I called my son out of Egypt,” is often read at Christmas time, when the child Jesus is brought back to the Galilee from Egypt after the death of Herod the Great. However, Matt 2:15 is quoting from Hosea 11:1 where “I called my son out of Egypt” originally refers to the Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt—God called His son (Israel) out of Egypt. And so, invitingly, this verse draws us to the death of Jesus during Passover season even more than the association with his birth.

In the Passover Haggadah, there is a section of “the four sons,” who each ask a question. In particular, the wicked son asks, “What is this religious ceremony to you all?” The Haggadah then explains, “the wicked son said, to you, and not to himself, and so he has excluded himself from the group and denied a principle of faith. Blunt his teeth and say to him, ‘the Lord did this for me in my going out from Egypt’ (Ex 13:8). The scripture says for me and not for him. If the wicked son had been there at the Exodus he would not have been redeemed!”

The Passover tradition expects every later Israelite generation to vicariously share in Israel’s redemption through faith. Retelling the story is supposed to be as if the celebrants themselves were included in the original Exodus.

This same theme is picked up by Paul, who applies it in the opposite direction in 1 Cor 10:1-2, “Our fathers all were under the cloud and all went through the sea. They were all baptized in relation to Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

More explicitly vicarious is Gal 2:19-20, “I was crucified with Messiah (Christ), it is no longer I who am living, but Messiah (Christ) is living in me. What I now live in the body I live through faith of the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

How can a person living in the 21st century claim to be crucified with Christ 2,000 years ago? This is a similar question that the wicked son asks on Passover night—how can a person celebrating Passover insist that God redeemed him from Egypt? And how can Paul claim that the people of Israel were baptized in relation to Moses? The answer comes through faith. A person puts their faith in the same God who acted mightily in the past and who will act mightily in the future. That action is then considered as if it had been done for both the ancient and the modern person.

This idea of vicariously joining a spiritual redemption across generations can help us understand Matthew’s thinking in 2:15. Just as God took Israel out of Egypt, so he takes the Messiah out of Egypt. When the young Jesus came out of Egypt, God was spiritually repeating and extending a mighty act from the past, across generations.

This is the principle of faith that the believer affirms at Passover—God works across generations. So, we can identify with the awesome work of redemption that God did for His people coming out of Egypt and the powerful act of salvation that Jesus completed through his death and resurrection. 


JCF Study Tours

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Golgotha

Join Yoni Gerrish and the JCF staff on a tour in 2011 that investigates “The Backgrounds of Jesus’ World”.   See for details.

Few Evangelical Christians which tour Jerusalem realize how much of a historical and archeological connection the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has to the site of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This area was situated outside of Jerusalem’s walls at the time of Jesus’ death, and tombs from the 1st century are located here. The Jerusalem community held meetings at this site until AD 66 when they fled from the Roman siege. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in AD 135, this site was specifically zoned to build a pagan temple, in order to erase its previous association with Jesus. Two centuries later, the Roman Emperor Constantine became a Christian and commissioned his mother, Helena, to build a church where the resurrection took place. The Jerusalem community led her to this location, where the pagan temple had sat for nearly 200 years. The Roman temple was torn down and Helena dedicated the new church in AD 335.


Charity Report

Your Gifts Helped these Individuals and Families during March 2011

Liel is a single mother of two children. She is a Jewish believer who immigrated from Russia, and works very hard to support her children. Her mother, who was living in Israel illegally, was recently deported back to Siberia, and the government insisted that she pay her mother’s deportation fees.

Ophelia is a single mother of two boys, who works part-time and cannot make ends meet. Ophelia, who is originally from Chile, has lived in Israel for twelve years and has no family in the country. She came to faith ten years ago through a Christian cult whose members abused her for several years. After recognizing the situation she was in, she left the cult, but has found it difficult to find a ‘church family,’ and feels very isolated.

Sarah is a Christian Palestinian mother of three. Sarah and her husband are ill with various medical conditions, which do not allow them to work. Their 14 year old daughter is also quite sick and has needed a lot of medical treatment. They have no income and live off of various (and very small) donations. In the past, JCF helped the family pay for their daughters to attend a Christian school so that they would not be forced to attend the local Islamic schools, which are subsidized by the government. This has been a hard winter for the family, and they have had very little with which to keep warm. JCF helped purchase a gas heater, two gas balloons, and five blankets (one for each family member).

Stephan and Hilda are an Ethiopian Jewish couple from the Galilee, who have five children and live in extreme poverty. Stephan, the husband, is an elderly man with medical limitations, who cannot work. Though Hilda, is young, she is very ill. She recently underwent surgery in her abdomen, and is unable to work. They receive little help from the government and the monthly cost of medication is very high.

Hannah is a young Ethiopian woman from the Beit-El congregation in Jerusalem. Hannah’s faith has caused her trouble in her workplace and she is now looking for a new job. These hardships have discouraged her, and she is struggling with depression. She has no family to help support her.

Alice, an Ethiopian woman from the Beit-El Congregation, is the mother of a six-month old baby girl. Both Alice and her husband work cleaning homes, however, her husband suffers from a couple of medical conditions which limit his ability to work. JCF helped them purchase baby formula and diapers.


News: Annette Nolting 1941-2011

JCF grieves with Narkis Street Congregation in Jerusalem over the passing on March 8th of Annette Nolting, a beloved sister and deaconess. Annette, a German citizen, first arrived in Israel in January, 1983. Along with her friend, Ilse Seegers, she cared for Holocaust survivors for 17 years before moving into the Baptist House, home of Narkis Street Congregation, in 2000, for full time service to the local community. Ilse passed away in 2003. Annette and Ilse have left a legacy of prayer and service to the Body of Messiah in Jerusalem. They are greatly missed.

For more, click here.





Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

Larry and Mary Ehrlich led an Israel study tour during March. Yoni Gerrish guided the group, consisting of 32 students and parents from Augustine Christian Academy of Tulsa, OK. Larry, who is the administrator of the school, has brought multiple student groups over the years in order to encourage Christian youth to connect with the land of the Bible.

Mary Gardner, a Bible Translator, was killed by a terrorist bomb in Jerusalem at the end of March. Pray for her family in Scotland and for the continuation of her work in translating the Scriptures into the Ife language in Togo, West Africa.  For more about her memorial, click here.

Middle East. Pray for the Arab peoples throughout this region who are seeking to be free from autocratic rulers. Pray for security for the citizens of Israel and the Palestinian territories during these turbulent times.


During October, Yoni Gerrish is guiding the Foursquare Church’s Global Leadership Training Network during their conference and visit to Israel. These leaders of the Foursquare denomination with more than 8 million members worldwide will be gathering in Israel to pursue strategic opportunities of training and consultation. There is no better place to gain both a local and a global perspective of Scripture than from within the land of the Bible and the Gospel.