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16 north state pastors go on a pilgrimage

ICC Note: Though the point of this story is not to talk about persecution, the observations of 16 pastors from California is disturbing in their assessment of the situation for Messianic Jews.

By Christy O’Bar
2/24/08 Israel (Record Searchlight) – North state Christian pastors were recently given an opportunity to visit the land they have taught their congregations so much about, forging lifetime friendships and gaining a first-hand look at today’s Israel.

Denominations of the 17 pastors were diverse but, with two exceptions, the men who went on the 10-day trip had never been to the Holy Land before. They got a closer look at the birthplace of their Christian faith.

“The goal was to give pastors from the local area that have never been to Israel a look at the political, social and economical picture of Israel, as well as the religious,” said Pastor Bryan Blank of Little Country Church of Redding, one of the organizers of the trip.

The nation of Israel consists socially of four main groups of people, the ultra-religious people of the Jewish faith, the more liberal secular Jewish people, Messianic Jews and Muslim, Blank said.

For the most part, the people who live in Israel are not religious, although it is strictly prohibited for a Christian to proselytize their faith in the country, and persecution of Christians is very real and of great concern, said Blank.

“There are three Christian schools in Israel now, and they are persecuted by the ultra religious Jews,” he said, adding that while one school was being built for the children of Messianic believers, rocks were thrown through windows at the children.

“There have been rocks thrown and fires started,” he said.

The ultra religious Jews take exception to Christianity, literally stating that the Nazis took the bodies of Jews but the Christians were trying to steal their souls, Blank said.

“They literally say that,” Blank said.

Clary said the persecution of Messianic Jews was striking.

“I was a little bit surprised at the persecution of the Messianic Jews,” Clary said. “And the ultra religious do persecute them, although they tolerated us, because they know we support their nation.”

Christian believers that reside in Israel must live and not speak out about their faith, according to Blank.

“They literally turn the other cheek with blood running down it,” he said.

The men were able to visit a Messianic service but were cautious not to name names or post any photos that might give Israel’s ultra-religious Jews an opportunity to target Christian Israelis.

According to Blank, there are Jewish groups who monitor media and the Internet searching for Christians who live in Israel in order to persecute them… [Go To Full Story]