Dear Faithful Friend,
In honor of Eddie’s memory on his recent birthday (January 27th), I wanted to share this letter that Jonathan Moore, one of the elders wrote to the international friends of our congregation, Ahavat Yeshua. Eddie loved the congregation so very much, pastoring was the essence of his life and the wellbeing of the congregants was always foremost in his heart.
Eddie left a legacy of love, towards God and towards one another and it is our challenge to continue to grow in that. If we are truly grounded in His love, we will overcome all the obstacles that the enemy would use to undermine this congregation that will, one day soon, welcome Yeshua back to his beloved City as King!
It’s the year 2020! Ahavat Yeshua is excited for the new year and all that God has planned for us. We appreciate all your prayers as we will soon hold our annual congregational “business” meeting which includes accountability, vision casting, and remembering the important things that happened this year. In Jewish tradition, even the most joyous occasions are mixed with remembering the sad. In a joyous marriage ceremony, we have the broken glass remembering the destruction of the Temple. We traumatize Bar Mitzvah boys by bouncing them high in a chair after asking them to sing portions of scripture with an often cracking pubescent voice. We even throw candy at them which tends to be a very mixed message. “Here have a tasty treat… after you dislodge it from your eye-socket.”
While we have great joy and passion for 2020, we also have sad and painful memories. In 2019, my spiritual father and the founding pastor of our congregation, Eddie Santoro’s passed away. We grieved intensely as a community for a week while “Sitting Shiva,” then continued intense grieving individually for a month with some deciding not to shave during that time. And traditionally, Judaism holds the entire first year as a less intense but continued grieving. So while we are able to feel God’s blessing on this upcoming year, we grieve that Eddie is not with us in that journey. He has run ahead … typical Eddie. Always pushing out ahead.
Near the beginning of Eddie’s 4 year fight against cancer, I felt the Lord speak to me through the story of Elijah and Elisha. And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 2 Kings 2:9-11
I felt the God saying that the double portion Elisha received was one part because Elisha’s faithful service to God and the second part because of Elisha’s faithful service to his mentor Elijah. When we serve God, he blesses us. When we are wise and serve a mentor, we are blessed to receive the wisdom of a full life of experiences in addition to our own experiences. God was challenging me through this story to follow Eddie like Elisha followed Elijah all the way until he was taken to Heaven. Elijah knew that if Elisha followed all the way until the very end, Elisha would get the double portion he sought. I knew that if I could remain loyal and serve Eddie even when I may have wanted to start “doing my own thing,” God would bless that service.
Looking back on it, I am indeed incredibly blessed to have been with the founding pastor of my congregation all the way through the last days of his life. I feel the anointing to love people the same way Eddie loved people. I feel that pastoral care for people like never before. But the greatest blessing was that not only did my pastor invest into me, but I also gained a true spiritual father. The words of Elisha resonate with me, “And Elisha… cried out, ‘My father, my father’ … [and] saw him no more.”
Please pray for the elders Dan, Asher, Jonathan and Ariel who are to continue the vision of being a congregation based on the model in Acts 2. Please also pray for all the leadership including Chaim, Evan, Jeremiah, Cody & Liat, David, Simcha, Vered, and most of all Jackie (Eddie’s wife).
Blessings on your New Year!
Jonathan on behalf of Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem
We are entering a new decade. And it seems quite evident that this new decade will be even more intense than the last one! There is so much going on in the world and we can all feel the change in the spiritual atmosphere, not only in Jerusalem but around the globe. We are witnessing an increasing destructive spirit of division in Israel as well as in the USA, a spirit of hatred that has been let loose in politics and a significant increase in anti semitism around the world, and so much more. Unfortunately we are not immune to all this and the congregation is also in the midst of the warfare. We feel that it is a season in which we must stand and persevere and we covet your prayers as we move forward and adjust to changes.
Please continue to pray for our leadership as they endeavor to hear from the Lord and encourage growth and development to take us into this next decade.
Pray for the development of home groups. It is a vital part of the congregation and it has proven to be one of the more difficult things to establish for many reasons.
Pray for unity among the whole body in the greater Jerusalem area, as well as throughout the whole nation. There have been some significant attacks on the unity of the national Body of Messiah here.
The Peace Plan has been unveiled and this is a huge historic step as the world stage is being set for the Day of the Lord. We see the Lord arranging the different parts in order to be ready for all that is about to take place. It is such an amazing time and we are all very honored to have a part to play in the Lord’s plan for this city. (More on the Peace Plan in an upcoming update.)
I am especially blessed to know that God has placed me here for a time such as this and His encouragement never wavers! As His word says; “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Messiah’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Messiah’s sake, I delight in weaknesses in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Cor. 12:9,10)
Though I may feel weak most of the time as I go forth without Eddie by my side, I have felt God’s strength more and more as I continue to yield to his Spirit. God is teaching me to “delight” in weakness that His power may rest on me!
Thank you for standing with me so faithfully and for this nation as we enter into an incredibly exciting time! As the darkness increases, the light increases all the more!
To God be the Glory, now and forever!
With love from Zion,