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December 2012

A Season of Light

By GARY ALLEY

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned. (Isa 9:2)

For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the darkest time of the year.  The sun has slowly been losing altitude since its summer zenith.  The days are growing shorter and the nights longer. 

In the ancient world, humanity’s life revolved around the rising and the setting of the sun.  And this darkest time of the year was dreaded.  Therefore, fire gave light—candles, torches, lamps, and the like were used to pierce the long night.  Just as we enjoy Christmas lights during this time of the year, so too, many civilizations decorated their winter darkness with illumination.

During this dark month in 164 BC, a light burst forth upon this land.  Judah Maccabee and his forces successfully reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem from their Greek overlords.  The Temple and its altar had been desecrated three years prior by the Greeks, but on the 25th day of the month of Kislev (approximately Dec 15, 164 BC), the purified Temple was rededicated and the daily sacrifice restarted. 

This celebration lasted for eight days and was called “dedication/rededication” or Hanukkah.  In fact, our earliest literary source for the name of this Jewish festival as “rededication” is found in the New Testament (John 10:22).   Josephus, a Jewish historian writing just after the time of Jesus, says this celebration was also called “lights” and supposes that it was called that because liberty beyond the people’s hopes appeared to them (Ant XII, 7.7).

It’s easy to see light as a symbol of freedom when contrasted with prison as a place of darkness.  When God’s Son appeared on earth, the gospel writers portrayed him as a great light and a great hope (Mt 4:15-16; Lk 2:29-32; Jn 1:4-9).  Jesus’ coming to earth as light brought life for all peoples. 

During this time of physical darkness, let us be reminded of the spiritual darkness that still inundates our world.  We have been called to bring light into that darkness and lead people to liberty.  Every time we obey God in our daily life the light spreads and more are able to see the path.  May this be a season of light, where our deeds shine brighter than our words.

…the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace. (Lk 1:78-79)


Under a Sky Raining Rockets

By ANNIKA KOPP

It was 6:00 am when I was awakened by a phone call from a co-worker from CBN News asking if I could join a press tour to the city of Sderot, known as “Rocket Town” in southern Israel.  It was the seventh day of the eight day conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Without hesitation, I agreed to join one of the cameramen from the bureau and headed out with multiple other reporters from various news agencies.

It was not my first visit to the town of Sderot, however, this time was more nerve wracking than any other.  As we piled onto our bus and made our way closer to the border, I could feel my stomach churning as I mentally prepared myself for a sudden rocket attack.

After an hour and a half of traveling, we finally arrived in the small town (pop. 24,000). Our first stop was at the Magen David Adom, the equivalent of Israel’s Red Cross.  They described to us how they are the first to help anyone injured by a rocket attack and are able to provide their services in a matter of minutes to both Arabs and Israelis.  During this briefing we happened to be inside a bomb shelter due to the possibility of a rocket falling in our area.  Sderot is the closest Israeli town to the Gaza border, less than a mile away, and therefore the easiest target for a rocket attack.  We were warned that if the alarm should go off, we’d have exactly fifteen seconds to find shelter before a rocket would hit.

Our next stop was the Sapir College Film School to hear a few other explanations and briefings on the conflict. Suddenly, we heard the “Tzeva Adom” (Hebrew for “Red Alert”) warning that a rocket was heading in our direction.  We ran for the nearest bomb shelter which happened to be in the school we were visiting. We waited several seconds and then we heard a big boom.

We were notified that the rocket had hit in one of the nearby neighborhoods where we immediately headed to get our own first hand impressions.  When we arrived, there were people scattered everywhere together with other journalists covering the event.  We spotted the hole where the rocket had landed and as I looked to my right I had noticed a little boy holding a piece of shrapnel.  At that moment I happened to look up to the sky and noticed a rocket flying in the air.  I turned to a man standing next to me and asked him if what I saw in the sky was real.  He looked back at me with a blank smile and said, “Yep, I’m used it…”

One minute later we heard the “Tzeva Adom” again, and in a matter of seconds, people began running in all directions.  My heart started to pound.  My instinct was to run for shelter.  However, we were nowhere near any bomb shelters.  I decided to follow a group of people running towards a house and was directed to head towards the lowest place in the building—an underground apartment.  A group of us huddled together silently as we waited a few seconds until we heard the inevitable loud boom.  We waited again for a few minutes, to be on the safe side, and then made our way back out of the underground apartment.

Throughout all my growing up years in Jerusalem, in the midst of conflict and war, I had never experienced this type of panic and fear.  I have had many close calls with other types of terrorist attacks such as suicide bombers and bus bombings, but nothing like a rocket attack.  Sderot has been living under these conditions for the past twelve years.    

I met a mother whose little son’s bedroom was hit by a rocket.  She managed to find him in the rubble in the dark unharmed.  She, herself, was severely injured in the blast when a number of pieces of shrapnel penetrated her skull.  One piece remains lodged in her head because doctors are afraid to remove it due to the risk of causing brain damage.

Just a few days earlier, during a trip to the southern Israeli farming community of Be’er Tuvia, I had found pieces of shrapnel from a rocket that hit a house.  Just holding one small but heavy sharp piece in my hand was a poignant reminder of how severe the injuries and damage caused by rockets can be—both physically and mentally

This is not only about innocent people threatened on this side of the border.  There are innocent men, women, and children in Gaza who are also living in torment and suffering.  They have no control over their own safety due to the power and misguided leadership of the Hamas terrorist organization.  The fact that both sides are living under such conditions is the harsh reality.  I was able to catch a glimpse of this reality and gain an eye-opening perspective that exists just over an hour away from my own home in Jerusalem. 

Many of my friends and family overseas asked about my safety and wanted to know if the situation got worse would I leave the country. My first response was “no.” Even though the situation is frightening and unsettling, throughout my visit I had a sense of peace and comfort from God. Even walking the streets of Sderot I knew I would not face death because I believed that I was brought to witness what life is like living under the threat of rockets on a daily basis. 


Let There Be Light…and Let There Be Generosity

By JON “YONI” GERRISH

“In the very beginning God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good”(Gen 1:3-4 NASB).

Light is good for the eyes as it helps us to see what we are doing – especially important when we are giving out money.  We learn from Jesus that if our eyes are good, then our bodies will be full of light (Mt 6:22; Lk 11:34).  These words have inspired countless sermons, devotionals, and commentaries, but what do they really mean, and how did Jesus’ first century Jewish followers understand them?

First, let’s review the fuller saying of Jesus in Matthew (later we will also consider Luke’s version).

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear (haplousαπλους), your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (Mt 6:19-24).

Since the original Hebrew manuscript of Matthew did not survive the salty Mediterranean environment of Caesarea’s ancient libraries, we are left with only a Greek translation of this Gospel.[1]  In the above passage I have intentionally chosen a translation, the NASB, which renders the Greek adjective haplous as “clear”, but it can also mean “single”, “simply”, “sincerely”, “healthy”, “innocent”, and “straightforward”.  We shall also see that it can mean “good” or “generous”.  With so many options, it is easy to understand how original meanings of words and expression are potentially lost as we translate further and further away from the Semitic world in which Jesus lived and taught. 

While trying to make better sense of these curious expressions about the eyes, many Christian commentators have divided this teaching from the Sermon on the Mount into two or three segments because they appear to be detached from each other. For example, storing up “treasures in heaven” rather than on earth (Mt 6:19) appears unrelated to having a “clear eye” or “bad eye” (Mt 6:22), which in turn seems disconnected to the choice of being steadfast in service to God or distracted with worldly business (Mt 6:24).[2]  For some, the only common link for these three statements is a form of spiritual dualism which teaches that there are two paths to choose from, one is the right “single” way (towards God) and the other way is wrong, blurry and unfocused.

“God Gives Generously to All”

One basic approach for finding a textual solution for “a clear eye” is by considering the greater context of “haplous” by searching for the same word in the New Testament.  The only other place where a derivative of “haplous” appears in the New Testament is the use of the adverb “haplos” in the book of James.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously (haplos) and without reproach, and it will be given to him (Jam 1:5). 

In this verse haplos (απλως) is best translated as “generously” because it fits the contextual flow; it would not make sense to use ‘clearly’, ‘simply’, or ‘singularly’.

As we broaden our search, our primary measuring stick for understanding many of Jesus’ words is the Torah, the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, because he quotes or hints at the Hebrew Scriptures with great frequency.  Beyond this, we should also probe the greater corpus of Jewish literature from the period.  In so doing, we will find parallels to Jesus’ teachings in Jewish writings from the Intertestamental period (between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament), at Qumran in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in early rabbinic literature.

“Bad Eye” and “Good Eye” in the Bible

Beginning with Deuteronomy, we find the expression “bad eye” used in the sense of callousness or unwillingness to help the poor in the land.

Beware, lest there is a base thought in your heart, saying, 'the seventh year, the year of remission, is near,' and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you. You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings. For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land’ (Dt 15:9-11).

In this passage, a “bad eye” or “evil eye” (ra’ah ayinרעה עין   —translated hostile” here in the NASB) is equated with being stingy and even cruel.  Therefore, the challenge or command in this verse is to be generous towards the poor.  The same word combination is found in Prov 23:6, where we are told not to eat the bread of a selfish man, who in Hebrew is called a “bad of eye” (רע עין rah ayin).  Similarly in Prov 28:22, we are told that a man with an “evil eye” (i.e. a greedy eye) chases after wealth.

Earlier in Proverbs, we find a reference to the opposite position – a generous person is called a “good of eye”.

A good of eye [tov ayin - טוב עין] will himself be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor (Prov 22:9).[3]

We could potentially stop the textual comparison here because it seems evident that Jesus has coupled two Hebrew idioms from Proverbs and Deuteronomy about “good eyes” and “bad eyes” into one well-linked and fortified statement.  Yet how can we know with certainty that these expressions still existed in the spoken Hebrew of his day? 


“Good Eye” as Good Intentions and Benevolence within the Mishnah

The Mishnah is a collection of teachings or legal rulings which directed Jews at the end of the Second Temple period on how to apply the Torah to their lives.  Although these rulings were not written down until the end of the second century A.D., they reflect a long period of development spanning back before the time of Jesus.  Several of the contributing rabbis were contemporaries of Jesus, speaking the same language, and using many of the same exegetical tools.  One of the first references to a “good eye” is from a tractate called, The Sayings of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot).  In this section, Rabbi Yohannan ben Zakai asked his students to summarize some of the higher principles of life worth striving for.

Go forth and see which is the good way that a man should adhere to, Rabbi Eliezer said: ‘a good eye…’ (Pirkei Avot 2:13).

Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkanos responded with just two Hebrew words, “good eye” (ayin tovah עין טובה). This famous student of Yohannan ben Zakai studied and taught only a few decades after Jesus and was a key figure responsible for helping to establish and preserve Jewish academies outside Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.  According to more modern rabbinic opinion, Rabbi Eliezer made benevolence the principle of his life.  The following is an excerpt from a commentary on Pirkei Avot from Dr. Marcus Lehmann (1831-1890), a well known rabbi and writer from Hanover, Germany.

The good eye is a symbol of good intentions and benevolence, while the evil eye indicates malevolence, avarice and greediness.  Rabbi Eliezer is telling us: Make beneficence the principle of your life, be kind and friendly not only in your conduct toward your fellowman but also in your judgment of him, and also look kindly on all the precepts of God’s Torah, even those that do not mean so much to you.[4]

Regarding the concept of a “bad eye”, Yohannan ben Zakai rephrased the question in the negative to learn what standards in life to avoid.

He said to them [his disciples]: ‘Go and see which is the evil way which a man should shun.’ Rabbi Eliezer said: ‘an evil eye’ (Pirkei Avot 2:14).

Again, the term “evil” or “bad eye”, which is being stingy or greedy is understood as the opposite maxim of a “good eye”. The following is a portion of the Mishnah which includes both expressions together.

A good eye [ayin tovah], a humble spirit and an undemanding soul, these are the characteristics of the disciples of Abraham; an evil eye [ayin ra’ah], a haughty spirit and a demanding soul are the characteristics of the disciples of Balaam.  What difference is there between the disciples of Abraham and the disciples of Balaam? The disciples of Abraham enjoy this world and inherit the World to Come (Pirkei Avot 5:23).

For these ancient rabbis to link the term “good eye” to Abraham is a perfect match considering the accounts of Abraham’s exaggerated acts of hospitality (see his entertaining of the three visitors in Gen 18) and generosity (such as his overpayment for a property to bury Sarah in Gen 23).  

Today, in Israeli Hebrew speaking circles, the expression “a good eye” is still widely used.  On several occasions, I have encountered youth groups and individuals participating in charity drives knocking at my door.  As part of their pitch, they usually ask that I give with a “good eye” (ayin tovah) and it is quite obvious that my generosity is what they are hoping for.

Why a Single Eye is Still a Good Eye 

Arguing against rendering haplous as a “good eye” or generous, Steven Notley in his article, “If Your Eye Be Single” (Jerusalem Perspective online Jan 1, 2004), maintains that the Greek word is best translated as “single” in Mt 6:22 and Lk 11:34.  He supports his case with The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs which is a Jewish text from the time of Jesus.  The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs has been preserved in Greek from a later period, but certain fragments in Hebrew and Aramaic were found at Qumran.[5]  In particular, Notley focuses on two subchapters of the Twelve Patriarchs entitled, The Testament of Benjamin and The Testament of Issachar.  Notley rightly suggests that Jesus may have been aware of such books and Jewish communities which promoted teachings about spiritual dualism and the benefits of staying focused on God without distraction.  In his article he mentions the following two passages from the Testament of Benjamin.

The good man has not an eye of darkness [σκοτεινον οφθαλμον] that cannot see; for he shows mercy to all men, sinners though they may be, and though they may plot his ruin. This man, by doing good, overcomes evil, since he is protected by the good; and he loves righteousness [i.e. charity] as his own soul…

His good mind will not let him speak with two tongues, one of blessing and one of cursing, one of insult and one of compliment, one of sorrow and one of joy, one of quietness and one of tumult, one of hypocrisy and one of truth, one of poverty and one of wealth; but it has a single disposition only, simple and pure, that says the same thing to everyone. It has no double sight or hearing; for whenever such a man does, or says, or sees anything, he know that the Lord is looking into his soul in judgment. And he purifies his mind so that he is not condemned by God and men. But everything that Belial does is double and has nothing single [haploteita] about it at all (Test. Benjamin 4:2-3 and 6:5-7).

In the first quote, Notley does not draw attention to the strong link here between The Testament of Benjamin and the words of Jesus.  Test. Benjamin 4:2-3  says that the good person, in contrast to the eye of darkness, loves doing righteousness (i.e. charity, or giving to the poor), just as Matthew weaves “acts of righteousness” or giving to the poor with the “single eye” as light and the bad eye as darkness in the same chapter (Mt 6:1-2, 22).  By extension, this theme appears to be the overall controlling statement of the second quote as well (Test. Benjamin 6:5-7).  Although “single” does seem to apply to part of the theme, no form of haplous is found in this quote until the final sentence.  And here, ‘straightforwardness’ would be a better fit for haploteita.  It would be insufficient otherwise to report that Belial’s main problem is simply “double vision”.  

Earlier in the same chapter of Test. Benjamin we find comparable language to Mt 6:19.

The good man’s impulse is not in the power of the error of the spirit of Beliar, for the angel of peace acts as a guide to his soul.  And he does not look with greedy eyes on the things that perish, nor does he pile up riches and delight in them (Test. Benjamin 6:1-2).

This is remarkably similar to Jesus’ warning against storing up treasures on earth (Mt 6:19).  And, as we have demonstrated, a “greedy eye” is a synonym of a “bad eye’.  Test. Benjamin 5:3 also equates “light” with “good works”, and subsequently, further removes us from the limited concept of a “single” perspective. 

Luke’s Generous Eye

Looking at Luke’s account, Jesus not only emphasizes the point of generosity and charity in conjunction with the “good eye”, but Luke also strings this teaching together with the following discussion between Jesus and a Pharisee.

The lamp of your body is your eye; when your eye is good [haplous] your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you may not be darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it shall be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.” Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. And when the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as charity and then all things are clean for you (Luke 11:34-41).

Surprisingly, Jesus seems to be applying the “good eye” concept of charity to help solve a quandary about ritual purity. 

In short, while haplous can mean “single” or “single minded”, there is better support for “good” or “generous” in the texts of Matthew 6, Luke 11, and James 1.  In particular, generosity or charity is the thread that connects Jesus’ entire teaching within Mt 6:19-24.  Storing up treasures in heaven is done by giving generously to the poor.  Everyone must make a choice between worldly possessions and heavenly things.  Since these things cannot be taken into the next life, we might as well give them to the poor and reap the benefits in heaven later.  During the coming holiday season, let us do good deeds and give to the poor with “good eyes” so that our light can shine and God may once again say, “it is good.”

 “The light of the eyes brightens the heart…” Prov 15:30


[1] Papias, possible Bishop of Hierapolis (Asia Minor) from the 2nd century AD is the first of the early Church Fathers (before 324AD – also called Ante-Nicean) to mention that Matthew’s Gospel was originally penned in Hebrew (not Aramaic).  Later other Church Fathers such as Irenaeus (120-202AD), Origen (early 4th century AD), Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History III 39,16) et al also mention this fact.    Later in the late 4th or early 5th century Jerome mentions that the Hebrew text of Matthew was stored in the library at Caesarea (De Virus, Inlustribus 3).  For a lengthier discussion see, David Bivin, Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights From a Hebraic Perspective, (Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA, 1983 pp. 23-25). 

[2] For a list of several popular commentaries see this link: http://www.preceptaustin.org/matthew_619-21.htm

[3] From the Hebrew a better reading might be, “A generous person (good of eye) will be blessed for he shares his bread (food) with the poor.” 

[4] Rabbi Marcus Lehmann and Rabbi Prins, Pirkei Avot (Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1992) p. 126.

[5]  Although no fragments of the testaments of Benjamin or Issachar were found at Qumran, there were parts of four copies of the Testament of Levi in Aramaic and a fragment of The Testament of Naphtali in Hebrew, which strengthens the argument for the existence of the rest of the series in the collection of the Dead Sea community.  See H.F.D. Sparks,  The Apocrphal Old Testament (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1984) pp. 510-512.  Also, 4Q539 is considered to be a portion of the Testament of Joseph  in Hebrew.  However, the fragments of the Testament of Naphtali, Levi and Joseph are now considered to be only proto-types of an earlier form when compared to the more developed, later Christian era Greek copies.  The current position is that the later versions have seen considerable editing by Christian hands.  On this point see Vered Hillel, “Naphtali, a Proto-Joseph in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, May 2007, Vol. 16 issue 3). Also Wise, Abegg and Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls (Harper Collins, San Francisco 1996) p. 431. 

Charity Report: 2012 Year in Review

Jerusalem Cornerstone is not a large organization. We are a handful of people that love God’s Word, His people, and His land. While there are many other non-profit groups working in Israel and the Palestinian Territories with a greater financial support and human resource base, at JCF we believe that God has given us a special calling despite our limited assets.

We believe that God has called us to help those who are struggling, those who have fallen through the cracks. Everyday we come across people that have been rejected by the world, those forgotten by their families, friends, neighbors, and governments.

JCF does not have a brick and mortar building. We have a simple staff in Israel that receives modest stipends. Our workers embody your prayers and gifts.

This year, 148 different people have given towards the work and staff of JCF, and we are honored to serve as God’s ministers of those funds entrusted to us. Thank you for your faithfulness towards the Lord’s work and His Word.

House of Light (HOL) is an Israeli Arab Christian ministry led by Anis and Nawal Barhoum that provides spiritual and social aid to both Jewish and Arab residents. JCF specifically aids House of Light’s prison work, which visits and disciples current and former prisoners. In the future they hope to have a half way house to disciple former inmates who accepted the Lord while in prison.  This month JCF gave an additional $1000 towards Christmas gifts for Sudanese refugees, Israeli Christians, and foreign workers who are incarcerated. HOL owns farming land and is hoping to grow their own food for those in need and, perhaps, one day building a Christian Center on the property.  JCF’s average monthly support: $500

Club for the Blind is an Israeli social service to the blind residents of Tiberias which was dormant before JCF’s involvement. The club has around 30 members and meets three times a week for classes and trips. There are art and cooking activities led by professionals.  JCF’s average monthly support: $500


Beit El is a Messianic Jewish Ethiopian Congregation in Jerusalem with more than 100 members. They struggle to make ends meet, while standing as faithful witnesses for the Gospel within Israeli society. JCF’s funds typically go towards the needs of their families, single mothers, sick, elderly, new immigrants, youth, and children. Over 30 families have received support through JCF during 2012. JCF’s average monthly support: $500

Shevet Achim is a community of Jerusalem-based believers that brings children from Gaza and Iraq with congenital heart defects to Israel for heart operations. One little five month old boy who recently came to Israel for surgery is Walid.  Shevet’s volunteers brought him and his grandfather from the Gaza border to Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv during the seventh day of Operation Pillar of Defense. The Shevet staff van drove through areas that had been hit by rockets just the previous day. JCF contributed $500 this month towards Shevet Achim’s work with children from Gaza.

Re’ut (Friendship) Home is a residential intensive treatment center for boys, ages 7-14, who suffer from severe emotional and behavioral disturbances as a result of core damage and neglect at the earliest stages of life.  Most of the boys act in a destructive and self-destructive manner as an expression of their deep-seated mistrust and suspicion which is a result of their past experience. Re’ut was created as a last-stop safety net for children who were rejected or expelled by all other institutions, and for whom the only remaining options are psychiatric hospitals or closed juvenile detention centers. A JCF donation of $500 helped purchase Hannukah gifts for the boys and cover the cost of a pool table for the home.

Southern Lebanese Orphans—less than a year ago, one of the Southern Lebanese families that JCF has helped in the past, suffered a terrible tragedy when the father killed his wife, the mother of their four children.  See the JCF February 2012 newsletter.  Since then, JCF has continued to support the four children with rent (JCF gift $2000) and $500 for upcoming Christmas help.

News: Chuck and Liz Kopp in Niger

Chuck and Liz Kopp, spent over three weeks in Niamey, Niger with their daughter, Julie, and son-in-law, Joshua Korn, who are working for Cure International.  The Kopps were also guest speakers at a Foursquare conference there in the Nigeran capital. 

Liz Kopp writes, “It’s not unusual to be invited to a conference, unless the invitation is specifically for an unfamiliar, less-traveled place like Niamey, Niger which has been labeled as one of the poorest countries in the world.  And what makes the invitation even more incredible is that it just happens to be the country where our daughter, Julie, and her husband, Josh, have been working for the past year at CURE hopital des Enfants.

The reason for the invitation to attend the conference in Niger was to take part in the opening service of the newly erected Mid Atlantic Foursquare Church in Niamey.  An accompanying literacy school is scheduled to be established in the near future.  What a joy it was to teach the more than 200 in attendance to sing the simple song in Hebrew “Baruch Ha Ba b’Shem Adonai” (Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord).

While it helps to be able to speak French, Zarma (Djerma), or Hausa in Niamey, the languages of love, prayer, medical and spiritual healing, music, and art go along way to communicate how much every man, woman, and child is completely and unconditionally loved and cherished by God.”  

Biblical Hebrew Summer Courses

Come study the Language of the Bible in the Land of the Bible!  This summer, Randall Buth and the Biblical Language Center will host six weeks of introductory Biblical Hebrew at Kibbutz Tzuba in the beautiful Judean Hills of Israel. 

Course Dates: 

Beginning Biblical Hebrew (4 weeks):
“Jonah”, May 19- June 14, 2013

Intermediate Biblical Hebrew (2 weeks):
“Genesis: In the Beginning”, June 16-28, 2013

For more information on the Summer Hebrew session in Israel, click here.

Randall Buth and the Biblical Language Center will also be offering Biblical Language Fluency Workshops in Fresno, California this July.  These workshops run “immersion” style with the entire day taking place in Koine Greek or Biblical Hebrew.  Both full group sessions and small groups led by a team of facilitators provide maximum personal attention and practice. 

Workshop Dates:

Biblical Hebrew Fluency Workshop (July 9-18, 2013) 

Koine Greek Fluency Workshop (July 23-Aug 1, 2013) 

For more information on the Biblical Language Fluency Workshops in Fresno, click here.

Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

Israel, Gaza & West Bank, Iran, and Egypt—After Israel and Gaza’s short war this past month (Operation Pillar of Defense), tensions remain high.  Now Israel is declaring that it will expand settlement building in the wake of the United Nations’s positive vote for the upgrade of the Palestinian Authority’s status from non-member observer to non-member observer state. Iran continues to support Hamas’ rocket arsenal in Gaza with the smuggling of weapons via Sudan and Egypt. 

Israeli Elections (Jan 22nd, 2012)—Israel will hold nationwide elections next month to elect the 19th Knesset (i.e. parliament or congress) and the new Prime Minister. 

SyriaMore than 40,000 people have died and over 400,000 refugees have fled the country in the midst of civil war.  

Randall and Margret Buth will be returning to Israel on Jan. 9th after their work this fall in the United States. 

Narkis St. Congregation’s Hanukkah-Christmas Reception on Dec. 13th that will be attended by Israeli officials, including the Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat.  This reception follows after a Christian-Jewish Solidarity Reception held at Baptist House on Oct. 23rd in response to the vandal attack against the property earlier in the year.

JCF Study Tours—This past year, a record 481 people joined an Israel Study Tour with Jerusalem Cornerstone.  As of now, there only half as many signed up for this upcoming year.  For more info about joining or organizing a JCF Study Tour, click here.