From Bill Sutter’s Desk Sep/Oct 2007
A question raised at a recent Day in the Prophetic Word wasn’t related to Bible prophecy, but it was a good question nonetheless. What is The Friends of Israel doing to reach young people?
In recent years we have run children’s programs concurrently with regular sessions of our prophecy conferences to expose youngsters to our teaching ministry. While their parents attend the conference, the children learn Bible lessons that focus on the Jewish background of Scripture and enjoy crafts related to biblical and Jewish themes and music with a Jewish flavor. Said a grateful parent recently, “It was evident in conversations with our daughters that they were learning the Bible in its historical and Jewish context. This made us smile from ear to ear.”
We are, in fact, committed to teaching children about God’s eternal plan as it unfolds through the Jewish people. In Eastern Europe we host summer camps for youth, many of whom have little or no understanding about the Creator God or His imperatives for life. Campers come from as far away as Russia and the Ukraine to our camps in Poland and the Czech Republic. They come with their parents and teachers to participate in camping experiences filled with meaning and purpose—daily Bible studies, sports, games, craft projects, singing, cultural programs, and special excursions to the Jewish Museum in the old Warsaw Ghetto in Poland. All activities are designed for maximum physical, social, and spiritual challenge. At the close of our camp in Poland, a thankful parent shared, “We will continue to teach our children to pray and to read the Bible.”
One of The Friends of Israel’s most exciting outreaches is our four-week Israel Youth Adventure. Guided by experienced FOI staff, these young people (18 and older) walk where Jesus walked, learn about God’s love for the Jewish people, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and immerse themselves in the land of Israel.
Our summer 2007 group spent close to half its time there working on a kibbutz as an expression of its support for Israel and the Jewish people. The youths also toured biblical and historical sites, hiked the Holy Land, participated in an archaeological project, and found ways to exalt our Lord Jesus Christ in the land of the Bible. Experiences like these frequently lead to life-changing decisions and commitments, including that of lifetime service for Jesus Christ.
Our Institute of Jewish Studies (IJS), a full academic year of in-depth study of God’s Word on the campus of Philadelphia Biblical University, is likely our most important ministry in preparing tomorrow’s leaders. Although many of our students come directly from high school, many are also young and middle-aged adults. The courses are grouped into four areas: biblical, doctrinal, historical, and practical, with a strong emphasis on the historical and Jewish cultural background of Scripture.
Students testify that the most exciting component of the program is the study tour to Israel in the spring. That is when the Bible comes alive, and our students develop an appreciation for the history and culture of the Jewish people and their vital role in God’s plan.
We also have an internship program for recent college graduates. Their training includes:
- Instruction in The Friends of Israel’s mission and philosophy of ministry.
- Work projects at our international headquarters in New Jersey.
- Hands-on ministry with our field personnel.
- Service projects in the Jewish community.
To accelerate The Friends of Israel’s commitment to reach the next generation, veteran worker Bruce Scott has been appointed to the new position of staffing coordinator for North American Ministries. Bruce will interact with and assist young people who have a heart for the ministry and who may be led to serve with The Friends of Israel.
As we communicate truth to the younger generations and challenge them to serve Christ, we think of the apostle Paul’s words to Timothy, his son in the faith:
These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Tim. 4:11–12).