Ron Cantor with Pastor Mike, African Coordinator
May 15th, 2011: It is Israel’s birthday, but I am in Africa. I am looking out into a crowd of many thousands of Nigerians.
They are chanting at my encouragement, “Lord Help Israel!”
February 14th, 2009: I was in a hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, when the Lord spoke to my heart.
I had just been invited to organize a mass outreach campaign by local leaders from Adamawa State in eastern Nigeria, but I was struggling internally. Something wasn’t right!
As I prayed that morning I felt in my heart that I was not to return to Nigeria alone, but to bring Israeli young people with me so they too could fulfill their call to be a light to the nations and be deeply impacted in the process—returning to Israel on fire!
That was the beginning of our “Isaiah 2 Initiative.”
On May 9, 2011 we took our third trip. Our team of seven, all from Congregation Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv, traveled through Ethiopia to Hong, Nigeria.
In fact, without the generosity of the members of Tiferet Yeshua who contributed about 20% of our budget, the team would not have been able to come with me.
So not only were Israelis going, they were being sent by Israeli believers.
MEETING THE KING IN 104-DEGREE WEATHER
On the first day, we visited Hong, the campaign-hosting city of some 200,000 souls along with two large villages.
It was an exhausting day for our team. Daytime temperatures were at a minimum of 104 degrees and sometimes were several degrees higher.
It is a tradition in Nigeria that when a visitor comes to a city, he or she is received by the mayor and the tribal king.
The king of Hong is a Muslim, and given the backdrop of Islamic violence against Christians in northern Nigeria, his words were even more powerful.
“You have come to Hong and have answered my prayers.”
A Muslim king was praying that we would bring the gospel to his city? I didn’t argue with him!
Everywhere we went, we were literally treated like royalty by everybody! The joy on their faces, anticipating our coming to their village with the gospel, was humbling.
I can only compare our welcome to the hysteria of teenage girls at a Justin Beiber concert—only it was all ages and genders—and the star was Yeshua!
A PLAGUE OF TERMITES FLEW THROUGH THE AIR
The first night of the outreach was a challenge.
When I got out of the car, I suddenly saw a swarm of termites flying through the air. The night before it had rained heavily for several hours. That attracted these termites and they were out in force.
I honestly felt like a plague was being poured out upon us.
They would get on your clothes and crawl up to your neck or fly into your hair. I didn’t think I could preach in such an atmosphere. I considered that maybe they should cancel the meeting.
But before I could even fully digest that thought, a resounding NO came from my spirit. “We are going to preach the gospel tonight with or without the bugs!”
Earlier I had been talking to the team about Paul who embraced death—the hardships that he endured to get the gospel to those who had not heard it—so that life could be revealed to his hearers. (2 Corinthians 4:10-12)
Obviously we couldn’t “quit” before we started!
For the next hour I battled the termites and other flying creatures while I waited to preach, still wondering how I would get through forty minutes of preaching, an altar call and then, prayer for the sick without swallowing termites.
The whole team was laughing, even as we suffered, because it was so surreal. Never in Israel or the U.S. had I seen something like this.
However, we did proclaim the gospel and the people responded. We collected 3,254 decision cards that night, and the ushers told us that if they had had more time, there would have been many more.
YESHUA: SAVIOR AND HEALER
Each night at the conclusion of collecting the decision cards, we would blow the shofar and release the power of God to heal.
One night, a woman brought her daughter to the stage. “For three weeks my daughter has been completely blind. All the doctor could tell us was that her problem was not medical.”
As we prayed for the sick that night, God opened this little girl’s eyes. It was a very dramatic moment!
Over these five nights we saw the sick healed, the lame walk, people set free from demonic powers and so many new births into the kingdom.
- A man who was deaf in one ear was healed.
- Another man had fallen out of a tree 30 years prior. It left him with serious damage to his body and brain function. He confessed that after 30 years all symptoms were gone.
- A boy who had not spoken for 10 years suddenly began to speak.
- A young man who had suffered from chronic back pain for 10 years said he was completely healed. The pain was simply gone.
- A woman who was born with a condition in which an allergy caused her eyes to tear up and were itchy all the time for 50 years said as soon as we prayed she was healed.
- An older man said he could barely stand before the prayer for the sick. I asked him if he was healed and he said, “I am standing!” The crowd roared.
- Another woman said for seven years she has had tremendous pain in her chest and that it left during the prayer. She began to jump up and down, shouting she could not do that without pain before.
- A boy was brought up on stage by his grandmother who explained he could not walk before the meeting and after prayer he walked!
It seemed that by the second night the crowd had doubled and grew each night after that.
I was reminded of the passage in Matthew that speaks to the growth of Yeshua’s ministry.
Yeshua went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.
Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. (Matthew 4:23-25)
BURNING IDOLS AND FETISHES
On the fourth night we preached on “You Shall Have No Other Gods” and challenged the crowd to put away their idols, charms, fetishes and superstitions.
We taught them they did not need to be afraid of the enemy and that holding on to these would block God’s blessing.
We asked them to bring anything they had connected to the occult or demonic superstitions to the last meeting where we would burn the idols publicly.
When we set fire to the barrel soaked with gasoline, a mighty flame went up and the massive crowd erupted in joy.
What often happens in a series of meetings is people return to their homes and villages, saved, healed and spiritually charged. Then others with great needs, who hear the stories of God’s power, come to the meetings with them.
HEBREW SONGS SUNG BY NIGERIAN CHILDREN
Moti Cohen, one of the pastors of Tiferet Yeshua, met with a crowd of children before the Friday and Saturday night campaigns.
He taught them the words to Shabbat Shalom, which Jews sing as the Sabbath comes and then on the following evening he taught them the famous song, Am Yisrael Chai (The People of Israel Live).
Both nights he brought them up to the front and they sang and danced with joy.
With all the bad press and negativity in the world in regards to Israel, what a joy to see these Nigerian children singing, “The People of Israel Live!”
GOD’S IRREVOCABLE CALLING FOR ISRAEL
On the last night, the campaign chairman said that this outreach was the most significant event ever to happen in their city.
I received this note on Facebook: “God bless you for blessing our land. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of Hong.”
We really have no way to accurately determine the number of Africans who received salvation during those five days and nights. With assurance we can say there were many thousands.
On Passover, as Jews we ask, Why is this night different from all other nights?
But I want to answer the question, why was this outreach different from all other outreaches?
Truthfully there are so many ministries accomplishing amazing work in Africa. Reinhard Bonnke’s CfaN has witnessed several million professions of faith in Nigeria alone since 2000.
So why is this effort unique?
We need to go back to the prophet Isaiah who spoke of a day when the word of the Lord would go forth from Zion. (Isaiah 2:3)
He also prophesied about the Messianic call to be a light to the nations. (Isaiah 42:6)
I will also make you a light for the Nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6b)
While this is certainly speaking about the calling of Yeshua, Paul also applied this to every Jewish believer when he encountered resistance in Pisidian Antioch:
For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the nations, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:47)
Was this not the call on Yeshua’s first Jewish disciples? What were His last words to his precious followers?
• Go into all the world and preach the gospel… (Mark 16:15)
• You will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
• Go and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:19)
And Paul specifically pointed out that Israel’s “gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)
It goes without saying that all Believers in Yeshua throughout the nations who have been grafted into Israel’s olive tree also have this same call upon their lives!
By God’s grace we in Israel will continue to focus on preaching the good news of Yeshua to the nations. We believe that as the body of Believers in Israel embraces its role to be a light to the nations, it will release grace on Israelis to confess Yeshua.
Furthermore, there is no doubt that the young Israelis who come on these trips have life-changing encounters. Their boldness to share the good news here in Israel has been reinforced and their faith to believe for miracles strengthened.
Ron and Elana Cantor are working together with us in outreaches of Maoz Israel Ministries and as active members of Congregation Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv. We are grateful to have this talented and dedicated couple on board with us in this ministry! ~Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram.
We were a traditional Sephardic Jewish Family (meaning we came from a Muslim nation).
In our Holy City of Jerusalem, the men in our family continued to go to synagogue on Friday evenings and the women cooked a festive meal.
Until today, my mother is still an amazing cook. When she comes to visit us in Ra’anana (just north of Tel Aviv), within minutes our home is filled with smells of cumin, garlic and other Mediterranean spices.
I always believed that God was real. When our family prayed on Yom Kippur, many of my Israeli friends fasted out of guilt or duty, but I truly believed that God was listening.
Even though I knew He was real, I didn’t have a deep connection with Him—I didn’t know that such a thing, a relationship with God, was possible.
The early decades of our brand new country were exhilarating. We were building a nation!
I had no time for drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. My greatest passion as a teenager was being involved in the Tsofim (Scouts).
The Scouts in Israel cannot be compared to the Scouts in the U.S. Every kid was in the Scouts and so much of what we learned there would help us once we joined the army, as every Israeli is required to do (except the ultra-Orthodox).
We would navigate by the stars and sleep in the desert. We would hike for miles and miles on the Golan Heights, around the Sea of Galilee and in the Negev Desert. In addition we would help at nursing homes and during Passover and the summer we would serve as guides to younger Scouts.
The focus of Scouts was serving our country—our very young country.
My other great love was the beach. As I was approaching my teen years, we moved to Ashkelon on the coast.
This brand new city built on the sand dunes that grace the seacoast is an hour south of Tel Aviv and just a few minutes north of Gaza. I could walk to the beach—and I did!
You might think that being so close to Gaza was dangerous, but at that time we got along well with the Arabs who lived there. My father would take me shopping for vegetables in Gaza and I felt perfectly safe.
However, once the PLO infiltrated the people of Gaza, they turned against us, sadly ruining their economy. While Arafat got rich, the poor Arabs of Gaza suffered.
I graduated from high school in 1985 and for half a year volunteered to serve the nation through a special program in the Scouts.
We went to a small pioneering kibbutz (a collective community traditionally based on agriculture) that was just starting with a few families. We cultivated the new vegetable gardens, picked cotton and the ripe fruit from the trees.
I loved being outside, working with my hands, watching our nation grow.
SERVING IN THE AIR FORCE
After my season with the kibbutz, it was time to enter the Israeli Defense Forces and I served in the Air Force as a drill sergeant for pilots.
In Israel, pilots are highly revered. So as a young lady, I felt lucky to be surrounded by so many handsome pilots!
After my two years of service I started college at Wingate Institute for sports, named after a famous Christian Zionist who helped train Jewish soldiers before Israel was even a state.
I studied physical education and I met Dalit, my best friend there. Her family escaped the Soviet Union long before Perestroika and Glasnost, during a brief window in 1971, when a number of Jewish families were allowed to leave Russia.
She was my roommate at Wingate and lives just twenty minutes away from me today. We did everything together, including going to America.
OFF TO AMERICA
It is a tradition for Israeli youth to travel abroad after they finish their army service or college.
Some hike in South America, others go to India to do drugs. I wanted to go to America—to see Hollywood, New York, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
Dalit’s family lived in Oregon, so we decided we would head that way and then continue our trip around the U.S.
On the airplane ride over the Atlantic, Dalit turned to me and told me that there was something that she needed to tell me. She started out by saying, “I believe that Yeshua is the Messiah of the Jewish people.”
At the time Dalit was not walking with the Lord, but she knew I was going meet her family in a few weeks and her mother especially, was anything but shy about her faith. Dalit was preparing me.
Our first stop was New York where we met her cousin and his wife in New York and stayed there for a couple of weeks.
They were so sweet and I found that they too believed in Yeshua.
Before I left to continue our trip, they told me, “We have a present for you.” It was a Hebrew New Testament.
While many Jews may have been hesitant to receive such a book, the truth is I didn’t even fully understand what it was.
THE HOUND OF HEAVEN
I began to read it as we traveled. It didn’t really make sense to me, yet I now know that God was clearly trying to get my attention.
Our next stop was Los Angeles and we were already down to our last pennies.
As Israeli youth do when they travel, we went looking for a job in some restaurant to wash dishes for a few weeks, until we would have enough money to move on to our next stop.
Suddenly a man came up to us on a bus and said, “Are you from Israel? God told me to give you this.” In his hand was $20.
I was truly dumbfounded. I had never heard anybody speak like that.
Along the way, Dalit remembered Paula, a woman that she met at a Messianic conference in Israel. Paula invited us to her home and we stayed with her for a week.
This woman loved Israel so much! She was part of a home group that prayed for the Jewish people everyday.
She loved on me and I was drawn to her faith. She was fulfilling the scripture that says that salvation has come to the gentiles to make Israel jealous. (Romans 11:11)
I wanted what she had, even though I didn’t really know what it was.
She was just one of many believers that I met as we traveled and they all were so kind to me. Through her we made connections with other believing friends.
In San Francisco we were invited to attend a concert—a Christian singer named Michael Card. After the concert we were introduced to him and because I was from Israel, he gave me one of his CDs.
I loved his music; it touched me deeply.
All of these incidences were divinely planned. They were His many laborers who touched my life and each opened my heart a little bit more to know God.
Towards the end of that year, we attended a large conference in Washington, D.C. for Messianic Jews.
That night a man by the name of Dr. Michael Brown spoke powerfully. At the end of the message people were literally crying as they repented.
I had never seen anything like this before and quite honestly I thought they were crazy. I had to get out of that place.
Frantically, I tried to get out of my seat, but I couldn’t move! It was as if I was glued to my chair.
Then I heard a voice inside me. “Close your eyes and you will know that I am real.” As I did, I felt warm oil being poured out all over me and then I started to weep. I didn’t fully understand what was happening, but I knew that this was from my God, the God of Israel.
At the same time, Dalit returned with all her heart to her Messiah!
Later that evening I met with a Messianic leader and holocaust survivor, Eliezer Urbach. He explained to me more about Yeshua and prayed with me to receive salvation and eternal life.
After that I was so hungry for God! I wanted to go to Bible studies and to know Yeshua more deeply.
While working at odd jobs, Dalit and I were taken in by a woman named Joanne who attended Beth Messiah, a Messianic Congregation in Rockville, Maryland.
We began to travel some with the popular Messianic band “Israel’s Hope” with Paul Wilbur. I with six other dancers would perform Israeli folk dances during their concerts. Life was great.
AN URGENT CALL TO COME HOME
But just a few months after coming to faith, I received a phone call from my brother in Israel who told me that my father was sick and I needed to come home.
When I arrived back in Israel, I found that the situation was far more serious than they had told me. He was in a coma as the result of a heart attack.
I loved my father very much. He was so warm and friendly. In fact, everybody loved Abraham Vaknin.
For two weeks I sat by his side, holding his hand, praying earnestly for his salvation.
You know how new believers are! They are full of their newfound faith!
Even though my father could not speak to me, I witnessed continually to him of our Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. Suddenly, he opened his eyes for the first time—looked straight at me and then passed into eternity.
It is my belief that when he opened his eyes and looked at me, it was a sign from God that my father had heard all that I said and prayed, and that he received salvation.
Who knows what heavenly business took place during those two weeks when he was in a coma!
After his death I entered into a dark depression. I missed him so much.
I would go to the beach every day and cry. The more I thought about it, the more I felt I needed to go back to the U.S. to get stronger in the Lord. I was a new believer and there were so few Israeli believers at that time—in fact none that I knew of in Ashkelon.
To tell the truth, I didn’t know a single Jewish believer in all of Israel except Dalit.
REQUEST FOR U.S. VISA REJECTED
I tried to get a visa to return to America, but the American consulate kept refusing me. I was single, without a job and female—a red light to any American consulate agent reviewing a visa application.
The more you ask for a visa, the less likely you are to get one because they see from your record that you have been rejected.
Yet I wondered why God, who is so powerful, didn’t answer my prayer.
On my last try, I desperately prayed, “God, if Yeshua is really my Messiah, please let me get a visa today.”
That day God’s favor was on me and they granted me a visa.
I returned to America and some believers immediately prayed for me as soon as I arrived. A heavy black cloud lifted from me; I was free of depression. I felt like I did when I first came to faith.
I found work in an Israeli Deli and became active in the congregation and began to grow in my faith.
Just a few days after I returned I was introduced to a young man named Ron Cantor. He was a Jewish believer, a youth leader, and on fire for God. I began to have dreams we were going to get married!
One evening I felt the Lord told me during a service that my husband was in the balcony. I turned around but no one was there at all that night sitting in the balcony.
I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. However again, I felt a voice inside say, “Turn around; your husband is in the balcony.” When I turned around the second time, Ron was getting up off his knees, as he had been up there praying by himself.
Ron was not aware of any of this. But one evening, Ari Sorko-Ram was visiting from Israel and he spoke at our singles group. Ron said when he walked in and saw me, he just knew that I would be his wife.
Later, Ron took me to meet his parents and his father told him afterward, “Ron, you have to marry that girl. I know she believes in Jesus, but at least she is Jewish.”
Ron received his father’s blessing and we were married on August 27, 1988. Nine months and three days later, Sharon came along. A few years after that we had Yael and then Danielle joined our clan in 1993.
We served as part of the leadership team of Beth Messiah for several years. We then moved to the Ukraine, where we taught new Jewish believers as part of a Messianic Bible School and spearheaded an outreach festival that birthed a new Messianic congregation in the Ukrainian city of Berdichev.
Afterward, Ron taught in the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry and finally, the Lord spoke to our hearts to prepare to come home to Israel.
On June 24, 2003, we landed at Ben Gurion airport to start a new life.
We joined Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv, led by Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram. Ron served for two years in Jerusalem with King of Kings Congregation, and now we have returned to Tel Aviv to partner with Ari and Shira again.
The future is bright. We are believing for Tel Aviv to come to Yeshua. If God can open up the eyes of this young Israeli to the truth of Messiah, then He can do the same for the rest of our nation.
The greatest need of every congregational leader in Israel is without doubt, MORE LEADERSHIP! More workers of all kinds to serve in the Kingdom of God!
John began making trips overseas, grateful to God for leaders he met and their passion for the gospel; but also frustrated – because he saw so many who never had the opportunity, while in ministry service, to develop their leadership skills.
John then developed his EQUIP program for a global audience which is now in 135 countries.
His vision is to help equip developing leaders whose potential is great but opportunities for learning leadership have been limited.
This last May, Maoz had the privilege of hosting EQUIP leaders Tom Atema, Vice President of International Ministries, together with Pastors Dennis and Colleen Rouse of Victory World Church for a two-day seminar for Israeli leaders.
Israel’s pastors and leaders jumped at the opportunity to receive such training!
Two hundred and two pastors and leaders-in-the-making attended the seminar.
EQUIP has committed to a three-year program in Israel, coming back to Tel Aviv every six months.
The response from pastors, youth leaders and young businessmen and women was tremendous. They are already planning to attend the next conference in December to continue their leadership training.
We are thankful to the EQUIP leaders and to our Maoz partners for making this seminar possible!
What an invaluable investment you have made!
KATZIR SUMMER CAMP FOR TEENS
JULY 10-19, 2011
As Israeli leaders think about the strategic vision for the salvation of Israel, more eyes are turning towards the Messianic youth of our nation. They are the future of the movement for Yeshua.
Bottom line—equipping our youth IS our strategy for reaching the heart of our people.
Eitan Shishkoff, senior coordinator of KATZIR (Harvest) Summer Camp, says, “These precious teen believers wait all year for our summer camp. For ten days we pray, worship, study/discuss God’s word, hike Israeli trails, serve the poor and disadvantaged, explore creative arts, and enjoy valuable fellowship. ”
Maoz is excited to continue to have a part in this camp because every year we hear of wonderful transformations by teenagers who were either dabbling with the world, or were already deeply imprisoned by the god of this world.
Our own teenagers in Congregation Tiferet Yeshua are radically changed and renewed in this camp.
Parents who were praying for wayward children have seen the miracle happen! Israel’s up-andcoming youth leaders find strength and more passion for Yeshua.
We believe that you will want to have a part in this year’s outreach to Israeli youth!
ELAV CONFERENCE FOR YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS
August 14-16, 2001
Remember this picture from our Maoz Israel Report last summer?
These are Arab Christians from the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, praising the God of Israel!
They were worshiping together with 500 Israeli young people at last year’s Elav (To Him) Conference.
This is God’s answer to the Middle East Conflict!
This summer Maoz is sponsoring 150 Palestinian youth who are receiving special permission from the government to travel from the West Bank to attend the Elav Conference together with 500-600 Israeli young people!
Saed Awwad, a Palestinian who fought in the first Intifada, but through salvation in Yeshua the Messiah, found a deep love for the Jewish people, will be speaking, along with other Israeli young people and an international speaker.
Thank you Maoz partners, for bringing this wonderful opportunity to 150 Palestinian young people who have chosen to follow the Messiah under very difficult conditions.