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Pastor Meno KaLisher speaks about Israel and persecuted believers

Messianic Pastor Meno KaLisher was born in Jerusalem, Israel. His wife Annette is originally from Germany and they have 4 children. He leads the Jerusalem Assembly House of Redemption, which was established in 1991, and is made up of believers with Jewish and Gentile backgrounds (www.Jerusalemassembly.com). The church also has a website with teachings in Hebrew, as well as Messianic music (www.yeshua.co.il)

Faith Bible Church in Cincinnati, Ohio (www.fbccincy.org) invited him to speak to the congregation during the Sunday morning services and on Sunday evening.

Pastor Meno explained that Israel is a Democracy and Israelis have the freedom to do what they want concerning their beliefs in Jesus Christ. However, “While the law itself isn’t against us, those living in Israel sometimes have a resistance to Christ and come against us.”

One example that he gave involved the purchase of a new building for their church. After 19 years of moving around, God granted them their own building. He continued to explain that, “If you have a synagogue or other place of worship, you’re not supposed to have to pay the city tax for the building, which is a lot of money.” However, they still received a notice that they must pay $60,000 dollars per year in city taxes. It cost them $12,000 to fight that battle and another $4,000 for a clerk to come and verify that they really are a house of prayer and not a business. He added that, “They don’t make anything easy for us because we believe in Jesus.”

A more blatant example he gave of how Israeli citizens who believe in Jesus face persecution is that there is a group who believes that Israeli Believers who witness about Jesus are evil. The mindset of this group is that Jews automatically go to heaven because they are Jewish. So when Israeli Believers witness to Jews and then those Jews accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, this group thinks that they are no longer Jewish, their souls have been killed, and now these former Jews will spend their eternity in hell. The group goes into synagogues and tells the Israeli Jews these things. As a result, sometimes a Jew will then go to Hamas and ask Hamas to go blow up the church that is doing the witnessing. In effect, the groups think that they have done God some sort of favor because any Israeli Believers who died can no longer witness. However, he said that the Catholics in Jerusalem are typically left alone because, “they aren’t known for doing anything except lighting candles.”

Pastor Meno’s father survived the Holocaust and eventually became a believer. His story was published and is entitled Zvi and can be purchased at www.FOI.org.

Pastor Meno KaLisher graciously agreed to take questions. Here are a few of highlights from that:

Q: I have heard that the Russian immigrants to Israel have trouble integrating. Is that an issue that your church addresses, or does your church find that it’s not really an issue?

A: That’s a big question. It’s part of our responsibility as the church and part of the government’s responsibility. When the wave of immigrants came from Russia (in the 90s), it was not just one airplane. Imagine that 30 million people would immigrate to America within 5 years, the government was determined that no one would go hungry, no one would sleep in the streets, everyone would be under Medicare for free, and all children (who are school age) will go to school immediately. Good luck! That’s exactly what happened to us. If it was only one plane of them, no problem. But usually they come in chunks. Consider Ethiopia: 30,000 from yesterday to today! People were taken from the desert and told, ‘Welcome to hi-tech times.’ How much time do you need in order to change it? I will tell you: a generation. Actually, the parents are doomed and you have hope for the kids. This is the literal situation. But the parents who don’t know how to read and write still need to eat.

Q: So from the perspective of the person who’s trying to get from Russia to Israel, are they moving to a better life?

A: Some, yes. For others it’s not like this. There is also reverse immigration. It’s hard and not so easy. Prices are high and life is different. So if you come because you really believe God calls you, that’s for the best because then you’ll see obstacles in a different way. But if you just come because you have this romantic idea of what the mountains of Israel look like, you are going to face reality a week after when you go to the grocery or you pay your rent. Believe me, the mountains will be less beautiful then. The amount of people who come to Israel because of persecution in their homeland and their life is at risk is very, very low. Now with the rise of Islam in France, there may come a time when the Jewish people run to the airport in France and run to Israel because it is dangerous for their kids to live in France.

Q: What’s the situation for Arab Christians? Are they in the same spot that Jewish Believers would be in or do they have different issues?

A: We have different issues sometimes. But if they are Christian Arabs, not nominal, I mean real evangelical Christians, yes, they may have similar situations. Not from the Jewish society, but from the Arab Muslim society, and even worse. Every time you pray for me, pray twice for them.

Q: How close is Jerusalem to really being split between the Jews and Palestinians?

A: Well, there is already a fence that divides it and you can even drive alongside the fence. What the Palestinian also wants is a portion in the old Jerusalem city. They are saying that the wall that is running through Jerusalem right now is not enough. They want more sections inside. But it has, in fact, been divided for a very long time.

Q: How did you come to realize that Yeshua / Jesus is the Messiah?

A: I grew up in a family in which both parents were believers. And as a small kid I was a very, very comfortable kid and (still comfortable) even as I became a little older. I went with my family to church and I didn’t ask too many questions and I enjoyed it. I had very few friends because the number of believers in Israel was maybe 200-300 believers. So it was a very small community. But 17 years-old came very quickly, and kids have different ideas and youth start to ask questions. So I started to wonder how it is that we are right, and all of them are wrong. I was very much afraid to share that I go to a church. Every time I lied about it. Then some kids found out that I went to a church and that was a nightmare. Today I would see it as a joy. But as a kid, it’s not a joy. So I decided I’m going to study for myself about Jesus.

I realized the differences between us and Rabbinical Judaism. It’s not in the purity of the family. It’s not in the dress codes. It’s truly in the realization of an identity in Jesus. So I studied the material on messianic prophecies. I really wanted to know Jesus in the Old Testament. If he is God there needs to be something there about that – it cannot just come out in Matthew. So I simply studied Messianic Prophecy one after the other along with Rabbinical commentaries. And I checked what they say about it. At 17 years-old and even then I could understand that there is no correlation between what they said and the Messianic Prophecies. But there is a very good correlation between the Christian commentaries on these Messianic Prophecies, and it gave me peace. I knew that He is my Lord and Savior, He settled down my situation, and then I saw the fact that the reason that only 200-300 knew Him and the rest not, is exactly like in the time of Elijah: 7,000 bow before God and others do not. (More people bow before God than we often realize.) And I thank God that He opened my eyes. Not because I am better, but because that’s what God decided. Then after I was assured of what I believe, I began to teach the other youth in the church.

Elizabeth Delaney began her writing career more than five years ago when her employer downsized. Trusting that the Lord was directing her steps and confirming the vision that He placed in her heart, she continued her education for her new vocation, and began submitting her writings to various Christian magazines — and they decided to publish her prose. Since that time, she has enjoyed being published in nonfiction and fiction markets. Elizabeth’s other interests include singing, playing the guitar and keyboard, songwriting, short-term overseas mission work, and hiking.

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