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Biblical understanding about Israel
By Orly Wolstein.. Exchanging the stifling heat of the forty degrees centigrade in the Israeli desert for the Australian winter by going from one part on the globe to the other for the speaking tour with Christians for Israel. I decided not to nourish many expectations. The director of the First Home in the Homeland, Elena Kovarsky, guided me through all the preparations; we collected video materials, PowerPoint slides and documentation about our First Home in the Homeland program to share with our Australian Christian and Jewish friends. We experienced in this tour so much acceptance and good will and hospitality! But let me tell the story step by step.
Our plane landed in Melbourne on the 10th of August after a twenty-seven hour flight from Israel to Australia.
First let me introduce the team:
Rev. Willem J. J. Glashouwer – President Christians for Israel International, author of the books "Why Israel", "Why Jerusalem", "Why End Times" and "Covenants and Kingdom"
Andrew Tucker – Executive Director Christians for Israel International
Rev. Conrad Lumahan – pastor from The Philippines
Ian and Mandy Worby - leaders of Christian for Israel Australia
Mathew Thorn – leader of Isreality Project in Australia
Paul and Marg Longfield – pastor from Caloundra and his wife
Jacqui Bakker – activist of Christians for Israel Sydney
Judy Russell – activist of Christians for Israel Sydney
Wilson Ng – pastor from Malaysia
Orly Wolstein (me) – Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)
So, destination number one – Melbourne.
We were warmly welcomed by the Thorn Family that opened their house and their generous hearts for us. Cristopher and Ros Thorn took care of us so kindly as if we were part of their family!
Just three hours after our landing I had a meeting with JAFI representatives in Melbourne – Rinat Bar Kedem and Becky Kiper-Fox. Our meeting was recorded and streamed also to the JAFI office in Sydney. Melbourne has the biggest Jewish population in Australia, 12.8% of the entire population. More and more Australian Jews decide to make Aliyah – numbers are far from East-European, but motivation here is also totally different – most of the Olim are religious and move to Israel because of their calling to the Holy Land.
The next meeting with different Jewish organizations of the State of Victoria took place on Friday the 12th of August 2016. Among those invited were representatives of Zionism Victoria, Jewish Board of Deputies, Jewish Agency for Israel, Association of Israelis in Australia, rabbis and many others. Very special in this meeting was the presence of the Jewish Students Community. Christians for Israel explained their mission, as well as their spiritual and practical approach. It made a great impression on the Jewish participants. Many difficult questions were raised, but the main topic was the desire to cooperate between Christians and Jews – on different levels and in different projects.
On Saturday the 13th of August we visited Shalom Israel - "The Final Regathering" – an impressive event co-organized by Christians for Israel and Eben Ezra. Visitors were captivated by almost eight hours of lectures, fellowships and Bible studies. The event was hosted by New Hope Baptist Church and Pastor Enoch Lavender. Many visitors followed already for a long time the message and work of Christians for Israel – with help of Christian Radio Vision and Israel & Christians Today newspaper edited by Ian and Mandy Worby. Many people were also familiar with the books of Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer. The most committed of them participated in the facilitators' workshops and additional lectures of Rev Willem Glashouwer and Andrew Tucker in the next three days. At the end everyone stood up and sang Hatikva, the national hymn of Israel – that was such a powerful moment!
On Sunday the 14th of August we attended divine service at the Trinity Presbyterian Church. A traditional Sunday service in a very warm Christian community leaded by Pastor Phil Mercer and his wife Lavena. They head this church for already sixteen years. Thank you Pastor Philip and Lavena for your hospitality and great work!
Destination number two – Sydney
First (on August the 17th) we visited representatives of Jewish organizations of Sydney. The gathering took place in the Jewish Museum (with a remarkable exhibition about Anne Frank and her connection to Australia). The meeting was organized by Jacqui Bakker, an active member of Christians for Israel in Sydney. Jewish participants raised a question. “Can Christians for Israel Australia represent a Christian voice in reaction of different events in Israel and abroad.” Ian Worby as leader of Christians for Israel Australia was ready to take on this role. Among Christian participants of the meeting were Friends of Magen David Adom and Eben Ezra.
On the same day Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer and Andrew Tucker shared the message of Christians For Israel in St. Annes Church. I also explained the intentions of JAFI project First Home in the Homeland. One of the guests in this evening was Paul Young, an active member of Christians for Israel Australia and leader of Christians for Israel Korea. He takes active part in all events organized by Christians for Israel and visits also Jewish communities in Sydney. For me personally he is a very special person because four years ago he travelled with a Christians for Israel group to Mashabey Sade, the kibbutz where I at that time just started my new life as a newcomer. Now we met in a different situation, in another part of the world, in a different stage of life but with same vision and mission!
On the 18th of August we participated in an impressive event in the Parliament House of Sydney, the oldest Parliament House in New South Wales. The meeting took place thanks to Judy Russell – she put so much effort to make it an excellent event! The big hall was packed to the doors and among the guests were politicians, social media, representatives of different churches and Jewish organizations.
In the evening of August the 18th the future facilitators of the "Why Israel?" course gathered in St. Jones Church for the workshop with Rev Willem Glashouwer and Andrew Tucker. Even an almost three hour captivating seminar with Rev Willem Glashouwer was not enough to finish the discussion and provide answers to all the questions about the biblical view on Israel, on Jerusalem and their meaning for the Church.
Destination number three – Brisbane
Straight from the airport we rushed into the Vision radio station where Mandy Worby was broadcasting and recording her talk show about Christians for Israel. She interviewed Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer for the listeners of Vision Radio all over Australia and explained to them the mission of Christians for Israel. Then Ian Worby showed us how Vision Christian Media functions - it was really inspiring!
Then we rushed again – now to the meeting with the Jewish Board of Deputies – to present the work of Christians for Israel and establish cooperation. Jewish leaders expressed their gratitude to Christians all over the world for supporting Israel and the Israeli people. First result of this meeting was an invitation to the media-project Shadows of the Shoah. We visited the opening in our last day before our flight. The opening took place in the central synagogue of Brisbane. Powerful and very professional artwork with eight stories of Holocaust survivors.
In the evening we were invited to the Gap Baptist Church of Brisbane. Paul and Marg Longfield organized and leaded this meeting of wonderful musical worship with songs in English and Hebrew. I felt there so much warmth, interest and support – wish I could stay in touch with everyone who shared with me his or her love to Israel!
20th of August – Facilitators workshop in Brisbane – and again many new faces and many old friends. A thorough explanation by Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer, a lecture of Andrew Tucker and my fellowship about Aliyah and "First Home in the Homeland".
Then we bade farewell to Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer and Rev Conrad Lumahan and drove to our next destination – beautiful Caloundra. In the Caloundra City Life Baptist Church we had our final event organized by Paul and Marg Longfield. Andrew Tucker explained thoroughly about the biblical and modern Israel, from the point of an international lawyer and Christian, pastor Wilson Ng, national director of Christian for Israel Asia preached and then I had the pleasure to share my story, explain about the work of Christians for Israel in Ukraine, about the cooperation between Christians for Israel and the Jewish Agency and about the "First Home in the Homeland" project.
On the 21th of August we met with the Australian branch of "Bridges of Peace" and afterwards Ian and Mandy Worby let us explore the really amazing Australian Zoo!!.
During this speaking tour my main thought was – how humble you are! You are doing so much for us, bringing your love and support. You explain a spiritual part but never shown in the full mass how much action you take for Israel in a practical way! Many Jews in Israel and in the diaspora experienced your help and warmth. It was such a great honor for me to be a part of this tour. We're happy to have so many friends!
And – where else can you find a koala with a kippah?
In Australia only!
Project manager, First Home in the Homeland, Israel