Forty years ago, in 1981, we were brought into each other’s lives, having no way of knowing that we’d become covenant brothers and still be serving Yeshua together all these years later. Dan Juster, Asher Intrater, and Paul Wilbur were to become enduring friends, loyal partners, and incomparable influencers in my life.
How did we meet? How have these relationships and others unfolded in such a lasting way? And why have many of us ended up in Israel?
My first experience with Dan Juster happened at the Messiah ‘79 Messianic Jewish conference in Pennsylvania. He gave a message there from the Book of James that said to me “this is a man of integrity.” Many, in that early stage of the movement, focused solely on Jewish identity for Jewish believers (surely important). Without omitting that priority, Dan zeroed in on the essentials of godly character the King calls us to. I thought, here’s a man I can learn from.
Little did I know then, that two years later I would be sitting in a classroom at Beth Messiah Congregation, eagerly taking notes as Dan taught from his foundational book Jewish Roots before it was even published. It felt like I was stepping into a refreshed stream of ancient truth; and I was thrilled to be there.
During that same visit, in the summer of ’81, I found myself riding around Rockville, Maryland with Asher (then Keith) Intrater while he did errands. We instantly began talking nonstop about things we cared for deeply. I remember the excitement of hanging out with this passionate man of God, and the unshakeable hunch that I had found a soul brother.
With Paul, it was also “love at first sight.” Phenomenally, I had met his father-in-law at a meeting in Arizona months earlier, where he handed me a cassette tape and said “Here, this is a song my son-in-law wrote. I think you’ll like it.” At the same time he told Paul about me. To our mutual surprise and delight we met for the first time at a barbecue, having arrived within 48 hours of each other to be part of Beth Messiah. It was August, 1981. Talk about predestined encounters!
At Beth Messiah we experienced a thriving spiritual community. There was a sense of pioneering not just a congregational ministry, but a way of life–a 1st Century Messianic Jewish way of life being rediscovered and restored. We actively served and compared notes on where we felt the Lord was directing us. When Dan taught on Shabbat, he brought new insights to the word of God. When Paul led worship, we entered the Lord’s presence. When Asher prophesied we were gripped with the Spirit. But Friday afternoon prayer times were the most memorable.
We met the in the sanctuary before sundown. It was our way of welcoming the Shabbat; and boy did it get intense. Pacing around, kneeling before the Lord, raising our voices in intercession for the salvation of our people. I remember Asher, proclaiming the words of the prophets–drawing us into his fiery heart for the manifestation of God’s kingdom. In these prayers of unusual agreement, total surrender to His will, and even tears, the Spirit of God confirmed our ultimate calling to the Land of Israel.
….to be continued in the next magazine issue with the story of our aliyah to Israel in 1992.
Celebrating four decades together, with you. A special series about Tikkun origins.