What was once a must for their parents and grandparents, Eagles’ Wings aims to ignite a passion for the Holy Land and its people among Evangelical Millennials
An Eagles’ Wings pastor group gathers outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Courtesy: Eagles’ Wings)
To an average passerby, the scene is typical of most late-night haunts: Men and women, grabbing a slice of pizza, most likely after a night out.
But upon closer inspection, something much more interesting transpired. The language is English, but the accents are diverse – some hailing from the deep south to others clearly spoken by a non-native speaker. Others are wearing kippas and tallit (skullcap and Jewish prayer shawl, respectively), while others have tattoos on their arms and wear a crucifix around their neck.
But they are all engaging in a deep conversation about not only their differences, but their commonalities.
“We stayed up until about one am last night with a bunch of Jewish kids at a pizza place,” Pastor Adam Mesa of the Abundant Living Family Church in Rancho Cucamonga, CA remembered with a smile. “They didn’t even know what a pastor was.”
There, a group of pastors from all over the world broke (cheesy) bread with other young Jewish men and women where they both discovered much about each other and broke down the many barriers that often come between those hailing from different religions and nationalities.
The pastors were part of a 30-person delegation who arrived to Israel last week courtesy of Eagles’ Wings – an organization dedicated to building bridges between Christians and Jews and strengthening the bond Evangelical Christians have with the Holy Land.
“What we find is that the parents and grandparents of these guys all came to Israel. It was a given. But we find that it’s not a given in this generation,” the organization’s Founder and Executive Director, Robert Stearns lamented.
“There’s less engagement among Millennial Evangelicals. So this is a jump start to something that’s stalled. But once it’s jump-started, and you have that catalytic moment, then – boom – it all falls into place and they’re re-engaged.”
Eagles’ Wings pastors meet U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman outside the U.S. Embassy. (Courtesy Eagles’ Wings)
Stearns, who has brought more than 25,000 Christians to Israel since the 90’s, chose these group of young men not just for their youth, but their influence.
Mesa alone, preaches to a congregation of 12,000 and has 17,500 followers on Instagram. His take on Israel, then, is not just his own – when he and the 29 others share their unfiltered perspective on Israel at the pulpit or their virtual platform, the potential to change hearts and minds is infinite.
“I feel privileged to be able to tell these stories and use my influence. People think I look like their neighbor, or someone they know, so they want to listen to what I have to say. That why I’ve taken on the responsibility to tell the story of Israel. This is our job,” Mesa, said.
Citing scripture, Pastor Calvin Battle of Tulsa, Oklahoma agreed, saying, “Apostle Paul said that the gentiles, in return for receiving spiritual things from the Jews, must give to them material things in return. We interpret that passage to say that we have a debt to the Jewish people and Israel. We must support her in material benefits.”
Among Eagles’ Wings pastors that means, holding Celebrate Israel events back home and engaging with their local Jewish community to understand how this relationship can be a two-way street.
Sometimes, however, especially for those who have never been to Israel before, that friendship is not always obvious or easy to forge.
“I had a pastor on this trip say to me, “There is a synagogue on my street, and I’ve never visited it. I would have never felt comfortable, because I don’t know how to cross that divide,’Stearns recalled. “But then he added, ‘First thing I’m doing when I get home is visit this synagogue.’”
“I think it’s sad when I find a pastor who is in his late 60’s and they’re retired, kids are out of college and they finally tackle Israel as an item on their bucket list. How sad that they missed 30 years of preaching opportunity to be really engaged with Israel – the Israel that is not just a museum, but a living, thriving, home of the Jewish people,” Stearns said of the all-inclusive trip, which is fully sponsored by Eagles’ Wings.
That journey goes beyond visiting popular holy sites like the Western Wall, by setting up meetings with the Israeli political and diplomatic leadership, like US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and, like the aforementioned impromptu pizza-summit above, everyday Israelis.
“This is the ambassador who has the blessed privilege of seeing the embassy move to Jerusalem. I think there’s a certain prestige and honor to that,” Stearns said. “This current ambassador very much understands and is attuned to the rich dialogue between Evangelical Christianity and the Jewish people.”
While in Israel pastors are often overcome by the spiritual, emotional and physical experience in Israel, that they often coordinate a return visit for their congregants. Specifically, roughly 40% of the pastors who visited Israel through Eagles’ Wings have initiated a return trip, Stearns said.
Mesa is doing just that, with his third trip to Israel already in the planning stages. This time, he will come with members of his congregation and his wife.
His relationship with Israel is a deeply personal that Mesa chose to ignore for much of his life. A descendant of Spanish-Jewish immigrants, as a young boy, Mesa grew up proud of his Jewish heritage. But after suffering antisemitic bullying at school, eventually the Star of David around his neck and the Israeli flag adoring his walls came off and his connection to the land he loved so much was severed.
He credits Stearns and Eagles’ Wings for helping reignite that passion. He now feels it is a flame that will never be extinguished and hopes his infant son and young congregants will continue keeping the love for Israel alive in the next generation.
“It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to come here, and I stood in the halls of Yad Vashem, even though I had no personal connection to the Holocaust, hearing other stories of Jews who were persecuted, it just radically changed me,” Mesa said. “I want my son to develop that connection to the land at two, the way I did when I turned 28. It feels like being home. Now as my second time here, I feel more comfortable in Israel than being any other place in America.”
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.