By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
NETANYA, ISRAEL (ANS – June 26, 2017) — An Israeli youth ministry recently held a conference for Messianic high school seniors to meet with IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers in order to answer questions about military service as they are about to be drafted themselves in the coming months.
According to an article by Kehila News, KNI (http://kehilanews.com), the goal was to build and strengthen these students before their enlistment. Some 120 soldiers attended the conference.
Netivah’s goals are three-fold: To see young men and women coming to the saving knowledge of Yeshua the Messiah, that they may know His love, become like Him and that they may serve Him; To equip, strengthen and support the maturing of the Messianic/Christian community in Israel to the full stature of Messiah Yeshua in issues of family life, youth work and soldiers ministries; To provide various activities such as: National youth conferences, Regional youth events, Hiking and camping trips. Seminars and teaching events for youth leaders and congregation leaders and providing relevant conferences for soldiers in the IDF. (www.netivah.com).
The Netivah Center staff held the event for soldiers, where several service organizations such as Masa (journey program), Israel College of the Bible and the Lech Lecha discipleship program were invited to attend the conference and present their plans for soldiers who have completed their mandatory service.
The theme of the conference was “Supreme Purpose.” The Netivah staff chose this subject for these 12th graders who are about to join the army. Army service is one of the most talked about subjects among Israeli high school seniors. There are soldier conferences, pre-army programs and soldier meetings across the country. Military service galvanizes their conversations because of its complexity, difficulty and dangers.
Netivah says that in the Body of Messiah, believers agree that military service is something they are obligated to do and that they should strive to excel at it, or as they say in Israel, make it a “meaningful service.” While this agreement is based on the Word of God, it is often interpreted by youth in a distorted and erroneous manner, and produces sin. So, what is the problem?
Prior to their enlistment, Messianic youth talk about formation, units and assignments. Some have been accepted into “elite” units and others have not. This often leads to comparisons, pride and jealousy among the youth. Competition begins to develop.
Netivah said: “Those who were not accepted to elite units feel inferior and frustrated. Rather than looking at their service as dedicated to God, many of the youth are looking for honor and success through their positions. Those who have not reached their desired positions may remain frustrated throughout their army service.”
The conference aims to help these young soldiers properly understand God’s overall plan and purpose for their army service and enlighten them that his purpose for them is far beyond matters of honor and pride.
Matan Ohana, who is in charge of the soldiers’ division at the Netivah center, shared with KNI (http://kehilanews.com ) the “supreme purpose” of the Messianic soldier.
“The truth is that as Messianic believers we have to remember during our army service what our ‘supreme purpose’ is. What does this mean? Our soldiers must remember that in order to serve in the army for God with everything they’ve got, and to implement the supreme purpose of their lives, they do not necessarily have to reach elite units or the highest esteemed and special places in the army,” he said, adding: “They must invest and make the most of everything in whatever unit they are in the army, even if they have not reached the ‘best’ place (Mark 10:31).”
Ohana continued: “They must remember that God controls every detail and has a wonderful plan for each of us (1 Corinthians 2:9).”
“The place where they are stationed to serve is the place God has chosen for them. Therefore, there is no reason to be jealous and there is no place for pride. Jealousy and pride are sins due to wanting to strive for false honor (Galatians 5:26).”
Netivah says the “supreme purpose” is to honor God in every area of our lives. “Wherever these young people are, whether in the army or in civilian life, they are reminded to honor God, share about him and be faithful witnesses so that their deeds will reflect his light (Matthew 5:16).”
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
The main activities of the Soldiers’ Department at the Netivah Center are:
**Army preparation programs: “Netzor” and “Hetzim” – the personal preparation of the issues of faith and coping with the difficulties Messianic youth face during military service. “Netzor” (besieged) is an intensive 10-day program of study and preparation for service for all Messianic soldiers. The program is 10 years old and each year about 50 percent of all Messianic youth who enlist in the IDF take the course. “Hetzim” (arrows) is another preparatory program, more intensive and lasting six weeks.
**The Soldiers Conferences. The Soldiers’ Conferences are the flagship events of the Messianic soldiers in Israel. Once every two months the staff of the Netivah Center organizes a national soldiers’ conference for all the messianic soldiers. The conferences take place in the Baptist village. The soldiers come for a time of learning from God’s Word, worship, prayer, group conversations, connection and of course good food and a variety of treats. The soldiers’ conferences are a time for them to be blessed and supported spiritually, mentally and physically.
** Media. The Netivah team operates a closed group of all Messianic soldiers in Israel. In this group, the minitry sends them words of thoughts every few days, encouraging verses, announcements about conferences and events for soldiers, and more, “This is the way of the Netivah center staff to encourage and strengthen the soldiers during the week when they are at the base, distant from messianic meetings.
“We, at the Netivah center are excited to see the work of the soldiers growing and growing day by day in the body of the Messiah in the land, we pray that God will bless this work and strengthen the messianic soldiers during the time they serve in the IDF,” Ohana said.
Netsor is a pre-military preparation program for high school graduates preparing them for their military service in the IDF. This program is organized and put on by Netivah, in co-operation with “Lech -Lecha” (non-profit ministry for short term discipleship programs).
Military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens/permanent residents upon finishing high school, men for three years and women for two.
The Netsor program is geared to address the issues that are relevant for them as soldiers, such as: fears and concerns of moving away from home and into a rigid and demanding environment, helping to diffuse some of the fears and anxieties, the moral and ethical dilemmas they will face during their service, sexual
purity, purity of heart, purity of arms, being a light and testimony to those they are serving with and under, identity of the believing soldier, respect and dignity of all people, also the enemy and seeing the time in the army as an opportunity of growth and maturity rather than a long survival period they need to fear from.
The ministry says: “Moreover, our desire is to see them bond and develop effective supporting relationships that will carry them throughout their time in the military and beyond. Finally we want to encourage families, pastors and elders in the congregations to actively pursue contact with the soldiers in their midst.”
The first two days consist of strategic team building games, outdoor Bible studies and a long challenging day hike. The following days usually take place at a guest house near the Sea of Galilee, where they conduct intense activities, Bible studies and discussions take place. The program ends with a graduation ceremony, where families, pastors and elders are invited to take part and show their support.
The targeted audience is High school graduates, ages 17-19, and the participants are primarily of a Jewish background, generally committed believers and followers of Yeshua.
The frequency of the Netsor program has literally doubled every year since the ministry started its first program, which had 7 participants, to now where they are up to 35 participants and growing.
A major focus is ‘Spreading the Gospel and Growing the Body.’ The participants are challenged to strengthen and grow in their faith and are encouraged to be a testimony and a light as they boldly and openly share their faith.
Joel Goldberg is Netivah’s General manager and Youth Director.
Goldberg studied and worked as a graphic artist for many years, together with serving in his local congregation as a worship leader and youth worker. During this time he also ran an inter-congregational youth group in Tel Aviv. The youth ministry grew and it became apparent that the needs of the youth were more than he could handle while working on a volunteer basis. This situation led him to seek information about formal training and he began considering the possibility of working full time in youth work in Israel.
In 2003, Goldberg his and family (three children at the time) headed out to Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, where Joel completed a Graduate Studies Diploma focused on youth ministry and is completing the MA program. In 2005, Joel returned to Netanya, Israel with a clear calling to serve the local congregations in the area of youth work and established the Netivah Center.
Photo captions: 1) Hiking program. 2) Praying for each other. 3) Some of the attendees. 4) Netivah Team. 5) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
** You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net). Please also tell your friends and colleagues that they can get a complimentary subscription to ANS by going to the website and signing up there.