Beit Hallel Congregation – April 2020

Apr 15, 2020

                                                                                                                                                 vojisrael.org

Shalom, 

One would think that during such difficult times, when everybody is struggling and trying to navigate uncharted waters, that Beit Hallel Congregation would get a break from the continuous religious pressure we’ve been under for the longest time now. 

If you thought that, you’d be wrong. 

Unfortunately two days ago, out of the blue and in the middle of the COVID19 lockdown, we received a closure order from the municipality of Ashdod forbidding us the usage of our new building for humanitarian purposes. The specific section of the new building in question is an area that we have been using exclusively for storage and for the distribution of humanitarian goods. 

This closure order comes after we had already received the correct and necessary permits months ago, and had been operating our humanitarian projects out of our new building ever since. 

Photo taken a few months ago before the COVID19 lockdown

Photo taken a few months ago before the COVID19 lockdown

We were taken aback by such blatant disregard for the permits we already have, while the municipality claims we have been operating from that space without having the permits for it. 

Despite them being in the wrong, we have now been turned away from our own facility and are forced to engage in this senseless bureaucracy that might even force us to take city hall to court over this. 

Needless to say it is not only unjust, but the timing of it is very odd, seeing how during such intense crisis the humanitarian work we are currently doing is incredibly important and far reaching, within our city and beyond! 

Currently we have appealed this arbitrary decision made by city hall against us, and are waiting to see if some of our friends at city hall will be able to act on our behalf to reverse the decision before we are forced to take this further. 

It became very clear to us that the public pact (seen below in Hebrew) that rabbis and religious authorities made a few months ago, committing to “banishing” us out of the city and stopping all our work, was taken very seriously by them. They have been working very hard to ensure that preaching of the Gospel of Jesus is halted in Ashdod.

Their plans became even more evident when we got a visit yesterday from the police at our main facilities where we broadcast our live services on social media (whilst keeping to all the rules dictated these days by the government). Despite the police not finding any fault in what we are doing, they still prohibited us from using our main congregation building to livestream our services on Facebook, despite the fact that it’s just me and 2 of my associate pastors who usually accompany me during the livestreams. 

A few days ago we saw an article in the local press accusing us of continuing to organize public prayer and “religious” services when it was forbidden to everyone else here in Israel during the COVID19 lockdown. 

Beit Hallel has become a real thorn in the side of the religious authorities in our city, seeing how it is the only Hebrew-speaking and ever-growing congregation in the city of Ashdod that actively preaches the Gospel and reaches thousands of families every month through our humanitarian efforts; it’s no wonder we have become such a threat to forces of darkness.  

Despite the fact that none of what we have been doing has been deemed illegal, we still face these harsh measures taken against us and each time we have to get more creative relying on God’s wisdom to ensure that Gospel is not silenced in our city, nor in Israel. 

Even though we are facing these new obstacles and persecutions, we are more determined than ever to continue with God’s mandate to feed and clothe the poor, and spread the gospel to our nation, that is in desperate need of it now. 

We know God will give us the victory in every situation, but before it He will make us stronger through these challenges. 

Our humanitarian work will continue uninterrupted as always from a different warehouse we use for storage and distribution of humanitarian goods. But we will need your help more than ever, to ensure our resources keep coming as the help is going out of our storage houses into families’ homes. This is your way to stand up against the unjust persecutions outrageously taking place during a time when the most vulnerable need our help the most. 

However, your prayers are the most powerful tools you have. We really need you to stand with us in prayer during this time against the incessant attacks against God’s work in Ashdod, against the resistance to the Gospel of Yeshua, and for this resistance and animosity to turn into favour from those that currently persecute us the most. We pray with God’s love for them, that Yeshua will reveal himself to them in a powerful way just as he did to Paul on the road to Damascus, changing the course of his life and history forever. Amen!

Israel Pochtar

vojisrael.org

 

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