American European Bethel Mission

The Bethel Witness

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. . . and the street of the city was of pure gold, as it were transparent glass."
(Rev. 21:2, 21)

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Woman in Gold

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY 2015 - "Never Again--indeed". This is a wonderful story & film... this could be our family story. The woman is certainly 100% like my mother, the circumstances and so many details are our family story, including a painting we have tried to get for decades... made me think there are probably thousands of other Jewish families thinking exactly the same thing.

-Jim Stretchberry 

 

 
Happy Easter & Passover!

Happy Easter & Passover! 

Passover

The Celebration of Deliverance

1 Peter 1:18-21

 Jesus said in John 5:46:

 If you believed Moses you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.

 We are responsible before God to bring the Gospel to the Jews in its context so they may understand that He is their own Messiah.

 I am not a Jew who agrees that celebrating Christmas or Easter is wrong and takes us away from God.  God always reveals Himself however He desires.  Also, I do not believe that Jewish traditions are more important than Jesus, as He has already accomplished everything that was ever promised to Israel and gave it also to Gentiles.  I certainly do not believe that believers are required to celebrate Jewish biblical feasts to be right with God.  It is very distressing to me when I observe believers losing the joy, which is so precious to me, when they embrace Rabbinical Judaism.

 It is amazing to me as I observe His followers embrace a religion, which our Messiah, 2000 years ago, was fighting against with such passion.  If we read the New Testament correctly, we see that the rabbinical leaders of His time had led the people away from the truth and the precious Word of God.  I understand that many believers are looking for more than they are finding in many congregations today, but I suggest they so often look in all the wrong places. 

 Nevertheless, we cannot fail to see the treasures that are here for us in these wonderful biblical feasts.  The words, the music, and even the food, all help us understand the law of the prophets and its fulfillment and completion.    I believe we can find deep meaning in these feasts, and I will try to communicate to you these significant messages of which you may not be aware. 

 The feasts represent or communicate one truth; they help celebrate God’s might and mercy as we see in the history of Israel.

Feast of Passover – 14 Nissan, Leviticus 23:4-5, 12:1-14
Redemption, 1 Corinthians 5:7
Passover speaks of redemption of blood

Feast of Unleavened Bread – Nissan 15-21, Leviticus 26:38 & 12:15-20
Holy Walk, 1 Corinthians 5:8

Feast of First - 16 Nissan , Leviticus 23:9-14
Resurrection , 1Corinthians 15:22-25

Feast of Shavuot – 6 Sivan (Pentecost), Leviticus 23:15-22
Holy Spirit,  Acts 2:1-4

Feast of Trumpets – 1 Elul (Rosh Hashanah), Leviticus 23:23-25
Return of Christ, 1 Thessalonians 4:16

Day of Atonement  - 10 Elul, Leviticus 23:26-32
Atonement for Israel, Zechariah 13:1

Feast of Tabernacles – 15-21 Tishri, Leviticus 23:33-45
Israel’s Millennial Rest,  Amos 9:13-15; Zechariah 14:16-21

 

Passover 

I always delight as Passover season approaches every year.  The ‘Telling’ order of the Seder so clearly demonstrates God in all His mercy and His might.  It is very visual, and it shows us we can live our lives in the light of our redemption. 

We have looked at several of the feasts in the bible, but Passover has to stand out to us in its remembrance of the suffering, the slavery in Egypt and the mighty deliverance of the Lord.  What a wonderful thought as we consider that God never changes.  We can believe everything about Him today, as He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Passover also demonstrates for us the deliverance we have from our own sinful nature.

Passover so perfectly reveals God’s love and mercy, and allows everything to fall so clearly into place.  Many areas in the Bible are confusing to some people and understanding the feasts surely helps to enlighten.  Passover, in particular, communicates that which is so directly connected to Yeshua as Redeemer and Savior.  It allows us to see the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament more clearly.

 

The Passover Lamb – Pesach
On the 10th of Nissan, each family had to choose a perfect, spotless, blameless lamb and take it into their house to make sure it had no blemish.  Also, after a time, the family became attached to the lamb, and this signified the family not only giving the Lord the best they had to offer, but something that was meaningful to the them as well.  So after four days of connecting with this perfect lamb, they had to slaughter it, which must have been difficult.  This is such a clear picture of redemption.

Jesus came to Jerusalem on the 10th of Nissan and He was tested, just like the lamb, and they did not find any wrong with Him.  He was the perfect Lamb of God.  Can you imagine what God must have felt as He gave His son to be slaughtered for our sin? 

 

The Shank Bone
As we look at the bone today on the Seder plate, our hearts need to be moved.  The central part of Pesach was the Lamb, which is missing today in most Jewish homes.

Let us not miss something very important here.  The Lord has already given His people the ultimate sacrifice.  There is no need for an annual sacrifice, because Jesus takes all our sin completely away.  John 1:29 says it all – “The next day John saw Jesus coming to Him and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

It is unfortunate that God’s people still cannot see this, as they have been lied to by their religious leaders ever since the time of Christ on that Passover week.  This is why it is essential that we never cease from bringing this truth to Jewish people, that the sacrifice was given for all that we have done wrong just as it was foretold. 

 

Leaven
Before the feast even starts, the home has to be cleaned.  You see, nothing made with yeast can be found in the home before Passover is celebrated, as leaven is a symbol for sin in the Word.  As believers, we see this so clearly in 1 Cor 5:6-8 and in 1 John 1:9.  After cleaning the house, we examine ourselves for any leaven, for any impure thought, word or deed that might separate us from the presence of the love of God.  Psalm 19:14 says it so accurately.

 

The Candles
As on every Shabbat night, also on Erev Pesach (Passover Eve), we light the candles, which remind us that our Messiah is the light of the world.   This signifies that He has also called us to be the light of the world.  Understand that God did not beg us.  He simply said: “You are”.   It should be our desire to be a clean light, bright and illuminating, so that we can bring people out of darkness into the light.

 

The Four Cups of Wine
The Cup of Sanctification:  This follows God’s Word – “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians”.  We are in this world but never of this world.  It is so easy to forget this, to get used to the ways of this world.  But we are called to be set apart, sanctified for Him, holy, as He is holy.  See Philippians 2:12-13, Ephesians 1:4, John 17:13-21.  This was the cup in the beginning of Yeshua’s last Passover Seder.  He shared this cup with His disciples and said to them.  Luke 22:17-18      

The Cup of Plagues, of Judgment or Deliverance:  This is based on God’s statement, “I will deliver you from slavery to them”.  A full cup is a wonderful symbol, and indeed we are filled with His joy from deliverance.  As we take a drop of the wine for each plague the Egyptians suffered, we need to remember the cost of our redemption.  Many lives were sacrificed to bring about the freedom of God’s people from slavery in Egypt.  Our redemption from slavery was bought by an even greater sacrifice, the death of the Messiah.  We should never minimize that Jesus paid for our sin with His perfect sinless life.

The Cup of Redemption:  This is based on God’s statement, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm”.  Nothing we do of our own will can bring about righteousness that comes anywhere close to God.   We always fall short.  God searched, and He could find no one to intercede.  Isaiah 59:16  says “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save.  So His own arm worked salvation for Him, and His own  righteousness sustained Him.  This was the cup that Yeshua lifted after dinner, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  See Luke 22:20.   You see, just as the blood of the lamb brought salvation to slavery in Egypt, so the atoning blood of our Messiah brings salvation to all those who believe. 

The Cup of Restoration:  This is based on God’s statement, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God”.  See Psalm 136.  What is so important about these prayers is that we note each thing the Lord did for us, consider it and thank Him.  We see Him in these prayers as a mighty God who is mighty to save.  The Lord is always loving, gracious and wishing to restore.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

 

The Four Questions – the ‘Ma Nishtanah?”  (What is different this year?)
Every year a child of the family asks the questions, and the response is the whole story of God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt.   We have trusted our precious Jesus, and we believe He is the Lamb of God, our Passover.  Like the people of Israel, we know and confess that it was God Himself, not an angel, not a seraph, and not a messenger, who achieved this final salvation from sin and death.  It is God himself, through Jesus, who takes away the sins of the world.

Make notes of all the little and big things God does for you personally.  We need to review them regularly to remind us who God is in our lives.  It is so easy to forget and take God for granted. 

 

The Afikoman
The eating of the Afikoman after the meal is an interesting custom.  Afikoman is not Hebrew.  It is a Greek word meaning ‘I have come’ to ‘that which comes after’.   It comes during the tzafun.  The Hebrew word tzafun means ‘hidden’ or ‘concealed’.  Early in the Seder, the leader lifts three pieces of matzah, removes the middle piece and breaks it in half.  He then takes the larger half of the broken Matzah, wraps it in a white cloth and sets it aside to be found later in the ceremony.  This broken piece of matzah is the Afikoman.  For the Messianic Jewish community, the Afikoman symbolizes Messiah, as Yeshua’s body was broken, wrapped in linen, buried, and raised on the third day.  He, the sinless One, has been pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities and by His stripes we are healed.  Just as a gift is given to the child that finds the Afikoman, so we will each receive our eternal reward.  We are convinced that the Afikoman was added to the Seder by the first Messianic Jews.

When Jesus celebrated His last Passover with His disciples, He gave them matzah as the symbol of His body.  The matzah is unleavened, striped and pierced, just as the prophet Isaiah describes the Messiah in Isaiah 53:5.  This also remind us of the words of Jesus in John 6:33, 48, 51.

 

Bitter Herbs
Life in Egypt for the children of Israel was a life of tears, pain, and suffering, and this is represented in the Seder meal by salt water.  We take a bit of parsley and dip it into the salt water, remembering that sometimes life is immersed in tears.   As we eat maror with a piece of matzah, we allow the bitter taste to cause us to shed tears of compassion for the sorrow of our ancestors thousand of years ago.  We remember that the slavery of sin is the worst slavery of all.  This should remind us of those times in our life that are harder than others.  Through all of their suffering, God never left them out of His sight.   Nor does He loose sight of us as we suffer life’s hardships.  Later we dip the bitter herbs into the sweet charoset (a mixture of chopped sweet apples, honey, nuts and wine), to remind ourselves that even the most bitter of circumstances can be sweetened by the hope we have in God.

 

Dayenu!  “It would have been sufficient.”
This is the part that Jacob gets really excited about.  We take a long green onion and beat others on the back, singing “Dayenu”.  We go through the entire story of deliverance again and again and again.  “It would have been sufficient if He did less.”  But He did more, and more and more…. for us Hallelujah!”

 There is much more in this feast, and in the wonderful character of God.  Search and you will find, seek and He will show you the way.  Keep asking the Lord, for He loves us without limit and will provide the wisdom we seek.

 Chag sameach, happy holiday to you all.  We send all our love and appreciation to you all for your precious friendship and faithful prayers.

 

Pastor Jim

 
Support for the Poor in Israel - 2015
 
 
Thank you for all the generous donations that went toward our 13th annual "Support for the Poor in Israel" outreach! Please enjoy our recap video to see the people and ministries that you have helped bless through your support.
 
If you would like to support next year's outreach, feel free to make a donation by clicking here. 
 
Save Our Hostel

 

Our Bethel Hostel in Haifa, Israel is in dire need of your support. A vital structural wall is showing its age in a very bad way. It's the rainy season now, and if the wall is not fixed immediately, the hostel building above is in danger of collapsing. This building is used as a discipleship program that has saved the lives of over one-hundred-fifty ex-drug addicts and alcoholics, bringing them off the streets and bringing them to Christ.

Please prayerfully consider making a donation by clicking here.

Another way you can help support this need to by visiting our GoFundMe page at http://www.gofundme.com/bethelhostel and sharing it on you social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers!
 
Israel Tour 2015

Have you ever wanted to take a tour through Israel and visit the places your savior walked? Now is your opportunity! Sign up now to join us on our October tour! Click on the thumbnail below to see the full size flyer:

 

Israel Tour 2015
 

 

 
Newsletter - Winter 2014

Our Winter 2014 Newsletter is currently being sent out, and we hope it finds you well! If you aren't signed up to receive our quarterly newsletters you can click on the preview below to read it. If you'd like to be added to our mailing list, send us an email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it with your mailing address and we'll add you right away. God Bless, and Merry Christmas!

Newsletter - Winter 2014

 
Support for the Poor

The 13th Annual Support for the Poor in Israel event is coming up! Flyers are being sent out to share about this ministry. For more information, click on the flyer thumbnail below to view full size; if you feel lead to make a donation, you can do so at our Donate page. Thank you for your support!

 Click to view full size

 
Shabbat shalom!
Every week seems to bring more horror to our world. 
An interesting perspective from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
Bonhoeffer believed that the problem of evil could only be understood in light of the Fall of mankind. The Fall caused the disunion of man and God with the result that man is incapable of discerning right and wrong. Modern men have a vague uneasiness about their ability to know right and wrong. Bonhoeffer asserted this is in part due to the desire for philosophical certainty. However, Bonhoeffer urged the Christian to be concerned with living the will of God rather than finding a set of rules one may follow. And while Bonhoeffer was not advocating a direct and individual revelation in every ethical dilemma, he did believe that man can have knowledge of the will of God. He said that "if a man asks God humbly God will give him certain knowledge of His will; and then, after all this earnest proving there will be the freedom to make real decisions, and [this] with the confidence that it is not man but God Himself who through this proving gives effect to His will."
 
Please visit our PRAYER ROOM

Update

Visit our Prayer Room. Just click on the photo below!

 
Pastor Jim teaches in Germany at the B.A.S.E. outreach
 
 
 
PASSOVER/EASTER 2014

How I love these HOLY days, as they are so totally significant to Judaism and Christianity. Have no doubt that there is no coincidence or conspiracy that PASSOVER and JESUS’ death, burial and resurrection are so closely aligned. For decades, I have been reading various accounts written by individuals trying to determine exact dates and times of all these events. Unless you were present 2000 years ago, it is all pure speculation. Even Josephus, who worked both sides of the street (a Jew who worked for the Romans), is often questionable. You can be sure of one thing, however, this PASSOVER/EASTER season, and that is that by HIS grace and mercy HE set His people free from the horrors of Egyptian bondage. The Bible clearly foretold that HE would came again as MESSIAH and, as it states in Isaiah 53, in HIS grace and mercy, through HIS death, HIS burial and HIS resurrection, He set ALL people free for all eternity. It is a time to embrace The LORD OUR MESSIAH JESUS CHRIST, who is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.
May you have a blessed Passover and a joyous Easter. JNS 2014
 
Israel Tour 2014 Trailer

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A HOPELESS CALLING?

Pastor James N. Stretchberry

I am often amazed at the response of acquaintances when I tell them of my ministry.  I pray that we are all engaged in work that the Lord validates and that is affirmed by the counsel of our closest brothers and sisters in the faith.  When I began at A.E.B.M., my pastor, a man I hold in the highest esteem (Pastor Ricky Ryan) told me “this work is made for you Jim”.  That comment, along with a lot of prayer and the affirmation of my wife, was all it took.  Imagine my surprise when I recently met with a lifelong friend who commented, “I never knew anyone engaged in a more hopeless work!”  This was my friend’s reaction when he discovered I was involved in a Mission to the Jews.  As I thought about this, I started to see his point.  What could appear more hopeless than to seek to turn the Jew away from his religious devotions?  There they stand, entrenched in thousands of years of tradition, extremely embittered against the Christian faith by countless years of persecution, which continue to this day in the name of Christ.  How could they ever turn to Christ?

   

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Israel Tour 2013

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Our primary focus is evangelism among world Jews and bringing Jesus to Israel through the distribution of  literature, radio ministry, small group fellowships and the training of Jewish believers to be sent out as tent makers and missionaries. We also desire to edify Hebrew Christians in the Spirit of oneness with the whole body of Christ, in whom there is neither Jew nor Gentile.