FOUR STORIES OF HOPE IN ISRAEL AS ROSH HASHANA BEGINS: Some rays of light amidst so much darkness

(Albuquerque, New Mexico) — Shana Tova! The Jewish New Year — known in Hebrew as “Rosh Hashana” — began last night. I can’t wait to get back home to Washington, D.C. later today and have some apple slices dipped in honey with my family. That’s a Rosh Hashana tradition, symbolizing the hope that the year ahead will be one of peace and sweetness and blessing for Israel and the Jewish people, as well as all of the people of the epicenter. That’s my prayer, and I hope it is yours as well.

As we end the 2012 Epicenter Conference and begin the new year, however, the news out of the Middle East looks grim. “The Iranian regime is ‘moving very rapidly to complete the enrichment of the [uranium] they need to complete a nuclear bomb,’ Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday. ‘In six months or so they’ll be 90 percent of the way there.'” On NBC’s Meet the Press, Netanyahu noted that, “They’re in the red zone, in the last 20 yards, and you can’t let them cross that goal line, score a touchdown, because that would have unbelievable, grievous consequences for the peace of us all.” I interpret the Prime Minister’s comments to suggest that war could be coming in the next few days or weeks unless there are dramatic changes to the dynamic, such as the sudden fall of the current regime in Iran, or a sudden new and decisive willingness by the U.S. to take action to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat.

That said, I’d like to share with you four stories of hope in Israel, some rays of light amidst so much darkness. These are four stories that were told at the Epicenter Conference, two by Arabs, and two by Jews, whose lives were transformed in the most unexpected and remarkable ways. One of them is a story of a young Jewish man hooked on drugs, selling drugs, stoned out of his mind, living on a dilapadated house boat, when he made the most incredible discovery of their lives: a supernatural encounter with Jesus that changed him profoundly, even though he fiercely resisted it at first. Another one of them is the story of a Palestinian Arab who grew up in Jerusalem and hated the Jewish people and joined the “intifada” — the Palestinian revolution against Israel — in the late-1980s. He was arrested seven times by the police and the Israeli Defense Forces. He was beaten and imprisoned. He was a heavy smoker and drinker. He was a wild man, lost and alone. But then something happened that changed his heart in ways he could never have imagined. He met Jesus Christ in a totally unexpected way, and he not only began to change his attitude towards God, but his attitude towards Israelis began to change as well.

By far, this was my favorite session of the Epicenter Conference, hearing these four men speak. Some of them were incredibly funny as they shared their stories. All of them were deeply moving. It’s impossible for me to capture this in print. So here is the link to the video of these four testimonies. I hope you find them as amazing and as encouraging as I did.

After each brother shared his story, Pastor Skip Heitzig then interviewed them further on a panel about what God is doing in the lives of others in the epicenter. You can watch that video by clicking here.

Here, too, is the link to all the different messages that were shared at the conference. You can watch them at any time, day or night, on demand and for free.

A special thanks to Pastor Skip Heitzig and his wonderful church staff for hosting us here in New Mexico. They were absolutely amazing.

Finally, by way of update, I’m so encouraged that we’ve received more than 58,000 visits to our conference website. More than 29,000 videos have been downloaded. And people have been watching the conference in all 50 states and in 99 countries around the world. Thank you so much for watching and sharing these messages with your family and friends. May God bless you and draw you close to  you as this new year begins.

>> Help The Joshua Fund care for the poor and needy in Israel, teach the Word of God in the epicenter, educate and mobilize Christians around the world to bless poor and needy Israelis, train pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt, strengthen the believers in Syria, and prepare for a possible major new war in the epicenter — please prayerfully consider a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund.

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