You are family, and families wrap-around stories that bind them together in shared purpose and love. This is why I want to share my personal “Why Jerusalem” story with you. As you read, your own “God Story” may be stirred to remembrance in your heart. You have a calling and destiny that is wrapped around Jerusalem too—did you know?
I grew up in a Jewish family in Connecticut, one without a lot of Jewish tradition, but enough to keep a sense of identity. As a child, I understood that Israel and Jerusalem were somehow important to us, but they seemed like distant stars in my youthful, American galaxy.
In college, a search for truth led me to Zen Buddhism and Japan. There, in a small church in downtown Tokyo, Yeshua first revealed Himself to me. Amazingly, as He called me to Himself in 1992, He connected my heart, life, and calling to the city of Jerusalem.
It was during a time of prayer, fasting, and concentrated bible reading, that I came to Isaiah 58:12. It seemed like time stopped, the words grew in font and boldness, and came off the page, as if in three dimensions:
“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell." (NASB)
At first, I had no idea why the Holy Spirit was emphasizing this Scripture to me. Over the next six years of life and ministry in the USA, I started to see why: I helped to start a Messianic Jewish congregation—raising up the age-old foundations of Jewish faith in Jesus. I became active in the prayer movement in Connecticut, becoming the leader of March for Jesus--bringing together Christians from all backgrounds and walks of life. We were helping to repair the breaches in His Body, and I was seeing the spiritual fulfillment of a calling from Isaiah 58:12.
But of course, when God first spoke these words to the prophet Isaiah, he knew nothing of the USA, March for Jesus, or Messianic Jewish Congregations.
The prophet, looking into the future,
saw a day when Jewish exiles would return to
Jerusalem and raise up the age-old foundations,
repair the walls around the city, rebuild the ancient ruins,
and restore her streets for human dwelling.
In 1998, I made Aliyah and moved to Jerusalem. With my inheritance, I thought to buy a small apartment somewhere in the city. My agent showed me many of the popular neighborhoods, but I couldn't sense God's leading in any of the places she showed me.
A friend told me about Nahlaot (inheritances), a downtown neighborhood close to the Mahane Yehuda marketplace. It's one of the first modern Jewish settlements in Jerusalem outside the walls of the Old City, dating from the 1870s. By the 1980s, Nahlaot had become a run-down, eyesore in the center of the city. It needed restoration, and that's what the Jerusalem Municipality decided to do.
As I walked around Nahlaot in the summer of '98, I could feel the Holy Spirit on me like a wet blanket. In one ear, I could hear the words of Isaiah 58:12, and the Lord saying, "it's not just spiritual, it's concrete!" And in the other ear, the description of the earliest Messianic community in the book of Acts, from chapter 2, verses 42-47.
This was the beginning of my "Why Jerusalem" story—with my inheritance, and a big loan from the bank, I took the plunge into my first Nahlaot restoration project, resulting in a beautiful building of 3 units in the heart of the city. Today, my family lives in one of those units, and another is serving dual purpose as our temporary humble RITG "headquarters" and youth center for congregation Ahavat Yeshua.
God's promises are spiritual, and they are
physical—down to earth, and very real.
Jerusalem brings it all together, just like
heaven and earth will one day come together
in Messiah Yeshua. (Ephesians 1:10)
Thank you for partnering with us as we seek to partner with Him in His grand restoration project for all the earth—from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth, and back again!
Executive Director, RITG Jerusalem Base on behalf of the RITG Leadership Team
For more project information.
Build eternal treasure in the Eternal City.