UPDATED: Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the 2009 Epicenter Conference. It was an extraordinary day and I believe the Lord moved very powerfully here at home and around the world, even as a new global crisis — the North Korean missile launch — was unfolding. Here are a few snapshots:
- Conference participants were the first to see an 8 1/2 minute video about the work of The Joshua Fund and our “Operation Epicenter” initiative. The strategy is to help build a global movement of Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors with food, clothing, medical supplies and other aid, and to call millions of Christians to “learn, pray, give and go.” I specifically invited participants to sign up for our next “Prayer & Vision Trip” to Israel November 5-17 — perhaps you would like to join us as well.
- Father Zakaria Botros delivered a 6 1/2 minute address to the conference via video. “Father Z” is the most famous evangelist to Muslims in the world. An Egyptian Coptic priest now living in exile (having been thrown out of his country for winning Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ), his satellite TV program deconstructing Islam and preaching the gospel is seen by some 50 million Muslims every day in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the U.S.
- Conference attendees were the first in the world outside of Syria to see clips from the new motion picture “Damascus,” a docu-drama about the religious zealot Saul of Tarsus seeing a vision of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus 2,000 years ago and becoming the Apostle Paul who preached the gospel throughout the epicenter and wrote half the New Testament. Thus far, the entire film — made by Arab Christians, using Muslim actors — has only been seen by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his senior advisors, and 1,100 Syrian government, religious and business leaders at the premiere in the Syrian capital last month. It was announced at the conference that the Vatican is hosting a world-wide premiere for Catholic leaders on May 16th.
- Participants saw a three minute sneak preview of the Inside The Revolution documentary film we are working on that will be released nationwide, Lord willing, on September 11, 2009.
- Lea Maloul, a senior executive from the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, Israel, received a standing ovation for her moving address to the conference on what it’s like as an Israeli to live in a missile zone. She thanked The Joshua Fund for investing in medical equipment for the hospital and for telling the truth about the dangers Israelis have been facing over the last eight years as more than 10,000 rockets and missiles have been fired at southern Israel by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
- Tass Saada gave a powerful testimony of how he was transformed from being a Radical Muslim, PLO sniper, and senior aide to Yasser Arafat to a follower of Jesus Christ and a minister of the gospel to the Palestinian people. He shared from his new book, Once An Arafat Man (for which I wrote the foreword). He also challenged the conference participants to love both Israelis and Palestinians. He said he is opposed to a two-state solution and explained how Jesus is the only hope for reconciliation between Jews and Arabs.
- Israeli Pastor David Ortiz brought the conference to tears as he described how just one year ago someone sent a bomb disguised as a Purim present to his home. His youngest son, Ami Ortiz, opened the package and it blew up, nearly killing the 15 year old boy. David showed a horrifying picture of Ami snapped by a neighbor just moments after the blast as Israeli paramedics were caring for him. They all thought he would die quickly. But David shared the miracle of how Jesus saved Ami. Then David introduced two surprise guests — his wife, Leah, and his son, Ami. The audience erupted in a sustained standing ovation seeing this young man walking, talking, mostly healed, and giving glory to God for his salvation and recovery.
- Dr. T.E. Koshy — the chairman of The Joshua Fund’s pastors’ advisory council, a pastor from Central New York, and one of three senior elders of a movement of some 6,000 evangelical Christian churches in India, Pakistan, Europe and Asia — gave a stirring talk on “How To Pray In Times of Crisis.” He urged Christians around the world to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” according to Psalm 122:6. He also encouraged the audience from the Bible to remember that we serve “a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God, a wonder-working God.”
- Lt.-General (ret.) Jerry Boykin, one of our keynote speakers, gave an incredibly powerful but sobering talk on on “The Most Serious Threats to the U.S., Israel and Our Allies in 2009.” Among others, he described the threat of narco-terrorism in Mexico, the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program and long-range ballistic missile program (and how closely both are tied to the Iranian government), and the aggressive posture of Russia under Vladimir Putin’s leadership. But Boykin — former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and former commander of Delta Force — described Radical Islam as “the most serious threat to U.S. national security since the American Revolution when it was all or nothing.” Boykin explained that the West has never faced a sustained threat from an enemy that wants to die, that glorifies death, that encourages its young people to be martyrs, and believes death by martyrdom is the only way to be sure of going to heaven. He described in some detail the Radical views held by the current leaders of Iran and how determined they are to destroy Judeo-Christian civilization as we know it to create the conditions necessary, in their view, to bring back the Islamic Messiah known as the Mahdi or the Twelfth Imam. At the end of the conference, General Boykin and I took about 30 minutes to answer questions that had been emailed in from all over the world. In the coming days, I will post answers to some of these questions.
- Pastor Chuck Smith was another of our keynote speakers. The founder of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, a church of some 25,000 — and founder of the Calvary Chapel movement of some 1,200 churches around the world — Pastor Chuck gave a remarkable message on “God’s Everlasting Love For Israel and The Jewish People.” He took the audience through an in-depth analysis of the prophecies of Ezekiel 36-37 concerning the rebirth of the State of Israel in the last days and Jews returning to the Promised Land after centuries in exile. He then walked us through Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, the 1967 “Six Days War,” and the 1973 “Yom Kippur War” to show how the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has been so wonderfully faithful in blessing the Jewish people and bringing Ezekiel’s prophecies to pass against overwhelming odds. He then taught on Ezekiel 38-39 concerning God’s protection for Israel from a coming Russia-Iranian-Islamic alliance, and described how geopolitical trends over the last decade or so — and even in the last year — strongly suggest the groundwork is being laid for the “War of Gog and Magog” to come to pass, possibly in our lifetime, possibly sooner than most people would imagine.
- Mike MacIntosh, senior pastor of Horizon Christian Fellowship which took the lead in organizing the conference, spoke on how pastors and lay leaders could apply the lessons of the conference to their own lives and ministries, particularly in blessing Israel in real and practical ways and reaching out to Muslims in America with the love of Jesus Christ.
- I delivered two addresses, one dealing with the global economic crisis (see excerpts of that message below), the second on the “State of the Epicenter” and the research I did for Inside The Revolution. Later in the program, after Pastor Chuck Smith’s message on God’s love for the people of Israel, I warned people that the world is increasingly turning against Israel and the Jewish people, including some leaders in the Church. The Turkish Prime Minister has called for Israel to be banned from the U.N. Spanish officials are investigating Israeli officials on “war crimes” charges. Many are calling for a ban on Israeli goods and services. The White House and State Department are putting growing pressure on Israel to divide Jerusalem and cut a premature deal with her enemies. Therefore, I reminded the audience that God said in Genesis 12:1-3 that those who bless the people of Israel God will bless, and those who curse the people of Israel He will curse. I then asked people in the arena to stand to their feet if they would commit themselves to loving Israel, blessing Israel, praying for Israel and standing with Israel come what may. What a powerful sight to behold. I was so encouraged when nearly everyone in the facility stood immediately, and together we prayed that the Lord would truly bless the State of Israel and the Jewish people in every possible way. My Joshua Fund colleagues and I will keep doing this all around the country and around the world, calling followers of Jesus Christ to commit themselves to blessing Israel no matter how hard it becomes and no matter what it costs. We needn’t fear the future. The Lord is powerful. He is sovereign. And He will defend His people.
Over the past few days, we have been gathering more data and reviewing the numbers regarding the audience reached by the conference. We will still need some more time to receive data from churches who showed the conference live via a secure broadband webcast. But here is an updated — though still not final — snapshot:
- Some 7,000 people filled the Cox Arena at San Diego State University — people began lining up at 5:30am to get in.
- More than 7,000 computers were logged on to watch the webcast of the conference — we are getting reports that many of those who watched on-line did so with family members or friends, so a conservative estimate of 1.5 people per computer would indicate that some 10,500 watched the webcast.
- Webcast viewers include people from 57 countries and territories around the world — see updated list below.
- A total of 109 churches in cities across the U.S. and Canada showed their congregations a live, high-resolution broadband feed of the conference — see list below; we don’t have attendance numbers from these congregations yet, but conservatively speaking, if an average of 50 people were gathered in each congregation that would be at least 4,600 people watching.
- 50 radio stations that are part of the Horizon Broadcasting Network simulcast the conference throughout the U.S. — at this point, we don’t have an estimate on how big the listening audience was on radio.
UPDATED: The following is a complete listing of countries and territories from which people logged on to watch the Epicenter Conference:
Anonymous proxy country
Satellite provider in an anonymous country
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
UPDATED: The following is the list of cities where churches showed a high-resolution broadband Internet feed of the conference to their congregations:
States and Cities
- AL Opelika
- AR Bryant
- AR Conway
- AR Russellville
- AZ Chandler
- AZ Flagstaff
- AZ Glendale
- AZ Phoenix
- AZ Tucson
- CA Auberry
- CA Bellflower
- CA Bakersfield
- CA Carlsbad
- CA Cathedral City
- CA Chino
- CA El Cajon
- CA Escondido
- CA Fremont
- CA Los Altos
- CA Los Angeles
- CA Los Gatos
- CA Norwalk
- CA Oceanside
- CA Palo Alto
- CA Paso Robles
- CA Rancho Cucamonga
- CA Rancho Santa Fe
- CA Red Bluff
- CA San Diego
- CA San Francisco
- CA Santa Maria
- CA Sunnyvale
- CA Temecula
- CA San Luis Obispo
- CA San Marcos
- CA Templeton
- CA Vista
- CA Westminster
- CA Whittier
- CO Aurora
- CO Bennett
- CO Boulder
- CO Broomfield
- CO Commerce City
- CO Denver
- CO Englewood
- CO Fort Collins
- CO Grand Junction
- CO Johnstown
- CO Lafayette
- CO Laporte
- CO Littleton
- CO Longmont
- CO Loveland
- CO Parker
- CO Westminster
- CO Castle Rock
- CO Rocky Ford
- CO Windsor
- CT Fairfield
- FL Brandon
- HI Honolulu
- IL Chicago
- IA Huxley
- KS Lawrence
- KY Union
- LA Lake Charles
- MI Calumet
- MI Grandville
- MI Canton
- MO Kimberling City
- MO Saint Joseph
- MS Philadelphia
- MT East Helena
- NC West End
- NM Albuquerque
- NM San Miguel
- NY Jamesville
- NY New York
- NY Sangerfield
- OH Dover
- OH North Baltimore
- OR Damascus
- OR Portland
- OR Salem
- PA Harrisburg
- PA Lancaster
- PA Lebanon
- PA Manheim
- SC Rock Hill
- SD Sioux Falls
- TN Morristown
- TX Baytown
- TX Cedar Hill
- TX Lubbock
- UT North Salt Lake
- UT Salt Lake City
- UT Park City
- UT Vernal
- WA Auburn
- WA Bainbridge Island
- WA Yelm
- WA Colville
- WA Ellensburg
- WA Everett
- WA Port Orchard
- WA Seattle
- WI Madison
- Canada — Calgary
EXCERPTS FROM JOEL C. ROSENBERG’S ADDRESS ON THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS
You and I are gathered at an extraordinary moment in human history – a moment of great darkness and peril — a moment that requires tremendous wisdom to understand what’s happening, and tremendous courage to navigate the right course through thick fog and raging storms.
The theme of this conference is: “Understanding Today’s Global Crises In Light of Bible Prophecy.” And the reason is clear: Pick up any newspaper and you can see that the U.S., the West generally, and notably our allies in Israel and the Middle East – what I call, “the epicenter” – face severe, historic, and in some cases unprecedented threats, economic, geopolitical, military, and spiritual.
In Luke 12:54-56, Jesus urged us to understand the times in which we live…..
And Jesus was saying to the crowds – When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, “A shower is coming,” and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, “It will be a hot day,” and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?
During the course of this conference, we’re going to analyze this present time and examine some of the most serious threats and crises facing us today.But let’s begin with the economy.
- The U.S. unemployment rate has skyrocketed from 4.5% in the beginning of 2007 to 8.1% today….12.5 million Americans are currently out of work. Some 2.6 million Americans have lost their jobs in just the last four months.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
- Nearly 1.2 million American families have lost their homes since 2007. California has been hit particularly hard – the Golden State had the second highest rate of house foreclosures in the nation in February.<!–[endif]–>
- In 2008, Americans lost some $6.9 trillion in wealth in the stock markets.<!–[endif]–>
- When you combine stock market losses and the collapse of home values, Americans have lost $11.2 trillion in household wealth in the last 18 months, according to Federal Reserve Bank data.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
- And with the loss of jobs, and the loss of homes, and the loss of so much wealth has come a loss of confidence, a loss of hope.
Americans, of course, are not alone.
- The head of the International Monetary Fund told a reporter last month: “The world is in a dire economic crisis….The crisis will push millions into poverty and unemployment, risking social unrest and even war, and urgent action is required….”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>
- A new report by a private Wall Street firm finds: “Between 40 and 45 percent of the world’s wealth has been destroyed in little less than a year and a half,”….and adds: “this is absolutely unprecedented in our lifetime.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently told a conference in Europe that 100 million people have been thrust into poverty as a result of the global economic crisis. He cited a World Bank statistic that “half a million children will die simply because they won’t have enough to live on.”
- What’s more, the Prime Minister added: “It is absolutely clear that the global institutions that we built in the 1940s are quite incapable of dealing with the problems that we have now.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
The global financial institutions we have today are the most sophisticated the world has ever known – yet clearly they are failing us. The world’s leaders just met at the G20 summit in London – yet clearly they have no answers. Many are looking to Washington for a rescue plan they can count on – but it is far from clear Washington knows what to do.Washington’s plan is to try to spend our way out of the crisis, to add $9.3 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. It’s a plan that is leaving many here at home and around the world fearful or angry. How, they ask, can we possibly add $9 trillion in debt to the $10 trillion in debt we’re already passing on to our children and grandchildren?
CNBC’s Jim Cramer – long a supporter of President Obama – has in just the past two months become a sharp critic of what he calls the new administration’s “radical agenda.” He calls the administration’s spending plans “the greatest wealth destruction I’ve seen by a President.” What’s more, he says the President’s plans have created “a level of fear in this country that I have not seen ever in my life.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>
In this, he is quite right. A new poll finds that “53% [of Americans] now think the United States is…likely to enter a 1930’s-like depression within the next few years.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>
Not surprisingly, our newspapers are filled with stories of the emotional impact of the economic crisis – more cases of drug and alcohol abuse, more case of spousal and child abuse, and this is just the beginning. A suicide hotline near Los Angeles reports a 60% spike in calls since the crisis began. A suicide hotline near Chicago reports a 70% increase in recent months. A national suicide hotline is also seeing a 70% increase in calls.<!–[endif]–>
“People are fearful,” says a family therapist in Richmond, Virginia, quoted in a newspaper article I read recently. “Nobody knows what is next, so there is a lot more anxiety.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
“A lot of people have lost their jobs for the first time,” says the executive director of a crisis hotline near Lynchburg, Virginia. “It hits them pretty hard. They don’t know where to turn.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
Perhaps that is why you have come, or tuned into this conference. Perhaps you are fearful, not sure what will happen next….not sure where to turn. If so, let me begin with some good news. The Bible says that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God who loves you and wants to adopt you into His family. The Bible says God has a plan and a purpose for your live, a plan for good and not for evil.The Bible says He is a great and powerful God. In Hebrew, we call Him El Gibor, the “mighty God.” He is all knowing, all sovereign, all powerful. He is completely in control….and He promises to give wisdom to those who seek Him.
The Bible says in Daniel 2:20-23…..
Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong
to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs. He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things….To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise….
The Bible says in James 1:5…..
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 11:28-30….
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
You and I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But God does. None of the speakers on this platform today has the ability to take care of you whenever and wherever disaster strikes. But God does. None of us in this room have the wisdom we’ll need to navigate every twist and turn in the road of life, especially with all that lies ahead. But God does.
When we read the economic news going from bad to worse month by month, it’s almost as if we can hear the ice cracking underneath our feet. Humanly speaking, we have very little influence to stop or change the current course of events.
The Bible indicates that when the return of Jesus Christ is near, life will actually get much more difficult. Jesus warned us in Matthew 24 to expect wars and rumors of wars, kingdoms rising against kingdoms, nations going to war with other nations, the rise of false messiahs and false prophets, earthquakes, famines, apostasy, lawlessness, people’s love for one another growing cold, rampant persecution of followers of Jesus Christ and so forth. It was quite a list. And we are seeing all of it coming to pass in our lifetime. And the Bible says it will get even worse as we go forward. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the God of the Bible is a God we can trust to care for us and save us no matter what happens. So we must pray. We must get on our knees, humble ourselves, turn to the Lord and seek His wisdom, His mercy, His grace, His favor on our nation and our leaders, lest we see the current economic crisis take us into a financial death spiral.
I have no doubt the Lord is shaking our country and He is seeking to purify His Church. He is making us reconsider what we value, where our treasure is, where our hearts are. He is preparing us to see Him face to face. For when we see Him, the Bible teaches that there will be a day of accounting. He will ask us what we did with the resources He entrusted to us.
What, then, shall we say?
In Matthew 6:25-33, Jesus told us…..
Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
This is the most important question of this entire conference – so let’s ask it right up front: Are you seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness? Have you given Him your heart, your mind and your soul? Are you putting the God of the Bible first in your life? Are you trusting Him completely to take care of your needs?
HEADLINES TO TRACK:
- Obama arrives in Baghdad for first presidential visit — will head to Israel, West Bank in June
- Text of Obama’s speech to Turkish parliament
- In Turkey, Obama Reaches Out to Muslim World
- Obama in Iraq to push for political progress
- Iranian Presidential Candidate Calls Ahmadinejad an Extremist
- Plot uncovered: Iran used NYC banks to advance nuclear weapons program — 118 count indictment
- Netanyahu invited to Egypt for official visit
- Satellite or no satellite? First photo of North Korean rocket shows no sign of one