Some of you have asked me to tell my version of how the journey of “Tikkun” began.
After Patty and I got married and served initially in the Chicago area, we were called to Beth Messiah Congregation just north of Washington D.C. (the congregation that gave birth to Tikkun). I became the senior leader of Beth Messiah in January 1978 and continued in that position for over 22 years. I was the successor to Rabbi Manny Brotman, a great pioneer of reaching the Jewish people for the Gospel and fostering the Messianic Jewish Congregational vision that Jews who come to faith in Yeshua are called to continue to identify and live as Jews and to be part of restoring and fulfilling God’s redemption of His covenant people Israel.
A core group of leaders from those early years is still connected in covenant relationships. Early leaders who had a special role in forming the vision and values through today include: Asher (Keith) Intrater, Eitan (Andrew) Shishkoff and Paul Wilbur.
In the early 1980s the three of them, together with my wife Patty, taught the few dozen kids in our pioneering Ets Chayim Tree of Life K-8 day school in the basement of Beth Messiah. Paul Wilbur taught math and science, in addition to music – of course.
During the 1980s we developed clear theology and values that I would describe as our unique Messianic Jewish orientation. This is reflected in Asher’s book Covenant Relationships and the book Asher and I co-authored, Israel, the Church and the Last Days, which took shape when we dis- cussed our views for a course we both wanted to teach in our Bible school. Sitting together at a picnic table one day, we were surprised to find we had both independently arrived at the same views!
In Israel, the Church and the Last Days we embraced these keys to the return of Yeshua:
- Revival in Israel and revival worldwide
- Unity in the Church (we are a pro-church movement)
- Completion of the great commission in world evangelism (Matthew 24:14)
- Israel being prepared both by the Messianic Jewish remnant and the witness of Gentile Christians to receive Yeshua (made jealous, Romans 11:14)
- Five-fold leadership that embraces all of the above and fosters it. (Ephesians 4:11 ff.) This then becomes a focus of prayer and joining with nearby churches in cooperative efforts.
We also developed and put into practice clear ideas of leadership – a style of mutual submission in decision making with a team leader, plus a focus on raising and expanding leadership. We were committed to the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit and fostered times of seeking the power and presence of the Spirit. We have seen amazing times of refreshing, healings, prophecy and teaching the Word. I can still picture Asher in intensive Friday afternoon prayer times, pacing the aisles of our old red brick building in Rockville, Maryland. We embraced the biblical Jewish lifestyle, life-cycle and festivals; as well as redeeming aspects of the Jewish cultural heritage that were consistent with the Scriptures. We were committed to the idea that congregations were called to be joined in mutual accountability in networks of congregations with leaders governing programs together.
We began with a small network of three congregations in 1984 and then grew to a regional Baltimore-Washington network. The vision to start a network was first presented by Asher as we walked through a cornfield outside of Baltimore (Eitan, myself, Moshe Morrison and Asher). Soon we were pressed by others who wanted to join, one in Memphis and one in New York. At that time we numbered 8 congregations. Asher had planted a sister congregation in Frederick, Maryland to the north of our congregation in Rockville, Maryland. We saw all of this as a restoration of biblical values and emphases.
Sending Asher and Eitan to Israel – the Challenge
Then came the big challenge. Way back in 1982, Asher had already told me that he would move to Israel in 1992 to fulfill his vision of planting a congregation and being part of a new outpouring of the Spirit in Jerusalem, a repeat of Acts 2. In 1990 Asher said he was still committed to move in 1992. Then Eitan said that he too believed he was to move to Israel. He had been very effective with the Russian Jews that were moving to our area and saw the Russian Jewish immigration in Israel as a great opportunity.
Wow, how could we handle the loss of these two pillars, who were key leaders in everything we built? Yet, we were convinced this was of God.
We made two commitments. One was to start an organization to plant Asher and Eitan in Israel. This organization would develop funds for that purpose. Secondly, Beth Messiah Congregation committed to pay half-salaries to both, so they could concentrate on integration into Israel.
Now we needed a name for the new organization. Our dear brother and Bible school leader Mike Brown was thinking of the name Tikkun HaOlam (Restoration of the World) for his traveling ministry. As we prayed, we thought that it would be more appropriate for our planting ministry in Israel. We all decided on the name Tikkun or ‘Restoration’.
We started a newsletter named Tikkun Israel. Then we sent Asher and Eitan to Israel with great prayer and love. We started an office where I was the first (unpaid) director of operations and my wife Patty the accountant. Eventually others would fulfill these roles with greater ability. Later the Amer- ican network of congregations, Beth Messiah Apostolic Network, requested to use the name Tikkun America and then to be identified with the work that Eitan and Asher were doing in the Land. Eitan served with Carmel Assembly and then planted Tents of Mercy Congregation in Haifa Bay north of Mt. Carmel. Asher served other ministries and strengthened them before planting the Revive Israel discipleship center just west of Jerusalem and Ahavat Yeshua in Jerusalem.
To our surprise, after the tragic loss of our youngest son, we sensed God calling Patty and me to Israel with our daughter Simcha. Eitan put us up at a beach hotel near his congregation in Haifa Bay. During that very week we began the process of applying for Israeli citizenship.
Today, four decades after we first began working together in Maryland, I find myself still connected in close unity and cooperative ministry with Asher and Eitan. I serve with Asher as an elder in Ahavat Yeshua Jerusalem congregation and also in the expanded work of Revive Israel – Tikkun Global, and I also love to go north to encourage the leaders that Eitan fathered. What began in the USA is now headquartered in Israel and we are all still committed to the same theology, values and vision.