top of page

Israel

“I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” 

Genesis 12:3

The Israel Compassion Initiative is how CityServe empowers and resources churches to nurture relationships with the Jewish community.

God’s Call to Stand with Israel

by Steve Vinson

I’ve spent over 30 years in ministry and currently serve as Executive Pastor at Canyon Hills Assembly of God church and Director of the Israel Initiative at CityServe. What I believe to be of the utmost importance in the life of any Christian is aligning ourselves with the desires of God. Standing firmly planted in His will is essential to our prioritization of ministry efforts. This is why standing with the nation of Israel is imperative.

I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.
All the families on earth will be blessed through you.
Genesis 12:3

The primary goal of the Israel Initiative at CityServe is to provide our POD pastors and their spouses access to discounted trips to the Holy Land. Our tours are designed to be both spiritually enriching to CityServe Pastors and a financial blessing to the Israeli people. We also prioritize relationships of mutual respect and fellowship amongst our Jewish brothers and sisters here in America.

The Trip of a Lifetime: Scripture Brought to Life in Israel

 

When pastors have a chance to walk where Jesus walked, the scriptures they’ve known for years come to life in a new way. This renewed vibrancy transforms the way they communicate the scriptures to their congregations. It’s something we’ve seen repeatedly as a result of sending pastors to The Holy Land: their excitement and new understanding changes the way they teach and shepherd.

Unfortunately, only 3% of American pastors have actually visited Israel. They study and teach from a Jewish book and worship a Jewish carpenter as their Lord and Savior, yet they’ve never had the opportunity to travel to the places where these historical events took place. Our scholarship program is designed to change that by sponsoring pastors who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to afford the trip. Thankfully, we’ve been able to take hundreds of pastors each year (outside of the pandemic).

So Why Should the Church Care So Much About Israel?

 

We are clearly called in scripture to stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters. That call should be as important as any other area of ministry that we focus on in our churches. Through years of experience, we understand that this message becomes especially clear from pastors who have traveled to Israel. The experience of standing among this history brings what was once a somewhat distant concept to a much more concrete idea — grounded in something they’ve seen and experienced firsthand.

Throughout scripture, we are repeatedly shown God’s love and faithfulness towards His chosen people, the Israelites. Even in the midst of repeated rebellion and idolatry, God, in His great mercy, pursues them. They belong to Him. And though Christians have been grafted into God’s kingdom through the life and death of Jesus, the Jewish people remain deeply important to Him. And what’s important to God should be important to us.

Our trips to Israel have enabled us to build connections with orphanages, food banks, and many other humanitarian organizations that care for the people that God has always cared for. More recently, we’ve been serving Israel by ministering to the Ukrainian refugees that are flooding into their country due to the conflict with Russia. These contributions allow us to bless Israel, which in turn blesses us. What we know from scripture is that we can miss out on blessings when we don’t take the word of God seriously…so, our aim is to take Him seriously.

How Can the Local Church Stand with Israel?

 

Ministering to Israel can start here at home. We don’t have to travel to Israel to meet and connect with Jewish people. There are synagogues and rabbis in our own cities, and I encourage church leaders to be intentional in reaching out to make powerful connections between our faith communities.

Our church, for example, has made the effort to get to know our local rabbis through hosting an annual event called A Night to Honor Israel. The event has quickly become a blessing for all involved. The purpose is to gather together to honor our friends with Jewish songs, a drama focused on the Holocaust or a story from the Hebrew Bible, and listen to a speaker who focuses on the friendship that can be fostered between Jews and Christians.

These events have also allowed us to get involved in several compassion projects. For example, we’ve facilitated offerings to support relocation efforts for Russian Jews to Israel and to rebuild a youth cafe in Israel after terrorist bombings.

Creating relationships with your local Jewish community makes a statement. We don’t have to agree on whether the Messiah has been here or is still yet to come in order to collaborate and make an impact on our larger community.

Next Steps for the Local Church

 

Taking the bible literally, as the inerrant word of the Lord, means that we have a duty as Christians to care for our Jewish brothers and sisters. We know that our obedience to the word is a source of blessing, not only for them — but for us. As such, my encouragement to the American church is to take seriously the call to walk with Israel. Develop your ministry around the idea of relationship building in your city and encourage your pastors to reach out to CityServe about joining one of our upcoming trips to Israel.

bottom of page