Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Off to Israel...
These are my dear friends, the Kashtans. We met Eitan and Orit nearly two decades ago and when you see Orit (the wife) and I together, you'd think we were sisters! Read about their testimony here:
They have four children, Alon and Amir, who are both in the military, Liel, their dancer and Ehud, their genius. Eitan runs a publishing company that translates Christian books into Hebrew for the church in Israel. Last summer Eitan told me that there are 9 million people in Israel - 6 million Hebrews and 3 million Russians. He said that there are only about 10,000 believers in Israel which equates to only 1-2,000 families. Because the number is so small, the Christian publishing houses won't translate books in Hebrew, for a lack of audience (they have to make money...).
Eitan's publishing house secures the rights to specific books and then translates and publishes them. This is done with donation money, i.e. a church in Canada donated $15,000 to translate Pilgrim's Progress in Hebrew. What a great project to have a church raise money to give the church in Israel Christian material!
We take for granted our Christian bookstores - they have nothing like this in Israel. When Eitan and Orit come to visit, they always spend a day wandering around Baker Books in Grand Rapids. It's their favorite spot to visit!
They also put out three magazines quarterly - an adult one, a teen one and a children's one. These magazines are a true lifeline for believers in Israel.
Orit works along side Eitan at the publishing house, but she also is a busy mother and worker in the church. She manages her children's sports teams, runs women's ministries at her church, and worked on producing the only two children's Christian music CDs in Hebrew. She has directed children's musicals and taught classes to the immigrants on Jewish history. She is very busy which leads me to what is happening there this weekend.
Two years ago, Orit formed a committee and put on the first women's Christian conference in Israel. One hundred Hebrew and Arab Christian women gathered for a day of teaching and sharing. It was a huge hit! After the conference, the committee sat down and discussed how things went and what they would do the next year. Orit suggested bringing in a friend from America to teach (me!) but they said, "We do not need a Gentile to teach us. We will teach ourselves." After the second year, they sat again. This time they had 150 women and the conference was even more of a blessing. They looked at Orit and said, "Okay, now we will take a Gentile."
I am the Gentile of choice, I guess!
I leave with my twins, my mother, my daughter-in-law and another little girlfriend (Hannah Weflen) tomorrow morning. We land in Tel Aviv on Thursday and the conference is Friday. There are over 220 women signed up to attend. I will be speaking with an interpreter three times, on the topic of "Idols of the Heart." It is teaching that I am very familiar with, so I am not worried about that - but I am concerned about teaching with an interpreter. Please pray for clarity and coherency in flow as I teach. Please pray that God would be central to the conference, that the women, despite the translator, would clearly hear from Him and draw closer to Him because of the time we will spend in the Word.
Once the conference is done, we will worship at their church on Saturday (the Sabbath) and then on Sunday and Monday they will take us around Israel to show the girls the Holy Land. I am sure we will spend a day in Jerusalem...we'll see where else we'll go. Due to the volatile nature of the region, I doubt we'll head south...maybe we'll spend a day in the Galilee area.
On Tuesday our little entourage will fly to Rome, Italy, for a few days of touring. My mom is a wonderful guide - she loves Italy and has arranged our activities there. Then we come home on Saturday, the 10th.
So, there you have it. I am sure I'll have plenty to chat about when I return. Hopefully by then we'll have pictures from the wedding, pictures from the conference and Italy, news on the church plant plans...I should have plenty of material to keep you coming back and checking in.
Blessings to you all and thank you for your prayers!