Israel, we stand with you... how it all began
Even when Friends of Jesus came into being more than 25 years ago, we were aware that the Jewish people and Israel have a special place in the heart of God. But it was only when several of us spent varying lengths of time in Israel, together with Arni Klein teaching us about Israel again and again, that we gradually became more aware of its relevance in our lives.
Then in May 2014, Marcus, together with his wife Karolina, stood at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and wondered how we could serve and help the people of Israel, so many of whom pray to the same God as we do - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - to have a life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit.
Out of this questioning and searching, the project "Israel, we stand with you" was born. In this process, God reminded us of the many formative encounters we had at a young age with Him during times of worship
He showed us the situations where people in our own city were touched in their hearts by God and literally listened for hours while we played music on the street. If God touched people here in our hometown through the tools of our trade, surely He could do the same in Jerusalem...?
4 months later, we found ourselves on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem with a small team from our congregation, some instruments, battery-powered amplifiers, and thousands of handwritten postcards. Although we had prepared ourselves in talks, discussions and prayers with our leadership, families and friends, we were nervous as we set up our instruments for the first time - nervous, but determined. How would people react? Were we putting ourselves in danger? Would we have the right answers if we were approached?
“4 months later, we found ourselves on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem with a small team from our congregation, some instruments, battery-powered amplifiers, and thousands of handwritten postcards....”
At that moment we could not have known how this project would develop and how the experiences would grow our spiritual identity. Today, hundreds of songs, conversations, and a major miracle later, we have gained many more friends and look back with gratitude and humility at what has grown! We learned how comfort and encouragement, brought in love, humility, simplicity and with a open heart, can help break down walls that have been built up over centuries. Hearts are opened and the Holy Spirit can work in them. This experience moves people, from secular to ultra-Orthodox, to ask us about our motives.
This allows us to tell people authentically about our reconciled relationship with God and with people. With love being lived through songs and words, we gain access to many hearts, the only place where the seed sown in subsequent conversations can sprout. Our unity and relationships within the team are also always noticed and addressed. On more than one occasion, we sat with families in their homes until the early hours of the morning after they had met us on the streets. Friendships have developed that have lasted until today.
We let our light shine and "provoke Israel to jealousy" (Rom. 11:11) by witnessing the work of God in our personal lives before the people of Israel and meeting them in the loving and serving attitude of Jesus.
In doing so, we use the musical gifts with which we have been blessed. As children of God in the new covenant, we are commissioned to stand up for Israel, the salvation and peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6-7), to bless His people, to comfort them (Is. 40:1), to encourage them (Is. 43:1-4) and to love them.
But God does not only let us see fruit in Israel, he lets us see fruit here in Germany and in the lives of people who have been part of one or more of these trips, who return home with a deeper understanding and love for Israel.
In the course of the last few years, we have increasingly realised that, in addition to making a statement of love for Israel and against anti-Semitism in the streets of Israel, it is just as important not to remain silent in Europe - in our workplaces, with relatives and acquaintances, and also in Christian communities. There we can help people gain a deeper understanding of God's ways with his people and their special position and calling (Genesis 17:7-8) - beyond political attitudes and events.
It has become much more than a music project. It is the voice of a small, faithful piece of the puzzle in God's great plan of salvation.