Resurrection Sunday morning, the sun was anticipating its rise. Sydney was just entering the winter season, and the air was crisp with autumn coolness. The streets were darkened and my excitement vivid. I had begun my journey to the other side of the earth forty-eight hours before and was now on my way to the Sydney Opera House in Australia. The renowned venue was only a short drive from my friend’s home, but it seemed to take forever to get there.
I had a new song I was going to sing for a television audience of eight million and a studio audience of three hundred. Although the song was divinely downloaded, the words were still a jumble and the melody as a finger painting by a five-year-old. Would I be able to carry the message of the song to the hungry hearts who had gotten up all over Australia for the sunrise service on the day of the resurrection of our Lord?
We arrived at the Opera House and rushed up the seventy-two plus steps to get to the outdoor stage where the crew was waiting. I handed them my CD track. The orchestra and choir were already in position. I walked on stage to the microphone, closed my eyes, silently prayed, and from deep within the music flowed.
And thus began my three and a half week tour “Down Under.”
From Sydney to Brisbane to Queensland to Townsville to Perth, music from Israel, music from Jerusalem reached the ears—and hearts—of those who would listen. Many were moved to fall in love with the nation of the Lord, with the City of Peace, Jerusalem.
In Sydney, there was a wonderful Messianic congregation run by a South African Jewish believer and his wife bringing many Russian Jews to the knowledge of Messiah. Hungry as they were, their Yiddishkeit was evident. Yiddishkeit is an eastern European expression describing dialects made up of German, Hebrew, and sometimes Spanish (the language of the Inquisition.)
Nonetheless, these passionate people loved the Jewish music, especially dealing with the Mishiach (Messiah). Some had numbers on their arms indicating they had survived the Holocaust, and the joy they found in Messiah Yeshua inspired me deeply.
I got to minister in an Assemblies of God church to a Spanish congregation who were Baptist. Many of the things I talked about and the songs I sang were new to them. There were many tears shed that morning in that Spanish church. The words from Romans 11:6 came alive, and repentance was evident. “For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”
Later that week, I went on to the Gold Coast (Australia’s answer to Miami Beach) where two congregations caught my attention. One was a “Torah observant” Gentile Messianic congregation. This was quite interesting in that I found myself recognizing bits and pieces of their religious expression, but a stranger to the rest. Sadly, the Spirit of the Lord was obscured in “isms,” such as. …Catholicism, Judaism, dogmatism, and “one new world-isms.” And the freedom of Davidic worship (where believers dance with joy and reverence to the Lord, never for the Lord) was sadly in want. Additionally, in the midst of our service, children were hollering; a mother was nursing her child in the front row, and my concentration was at its lowest.
The following morning, I went to a Charismatic Assemblies of God church where members had no idea as to Torah or Talmud but did have a firm handle on the Holy Spirit. Few “isms” were seen or felt, and the fellowship of the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) was powerful. For both services at this church, morning and evening, I felt my heart break, and my tears flowed freely. I felt God honoring the childlike love of these people as written in Mark 10:15.
Sometimes the burdens of life make me remember how uncomplicated life can be when our faith is uncomplicated and total.
On to Perth, Western Australia, where I went to a Jewish home for the elderly. They knew of me and that I was Messianic but enjoyed the Jewish Expression of Worship which the music represents to them. They asked me to please keep the music “Kosher,” and I would be permitted to do an evening of music for many people in their seventies, eighties, and nineties. I always feel humbled when I have an opportunity to minister to such people who have lived so much longer than I and have experienced so much more than I. Many of them have been to hell and back in Europe during World War II and here I was bringing them their Messiah in song.
It was a spiritually profound experience.
We had many beautiful, almost heavenly experiences, but one that brought me back to earth was when an ashen-faced man came up to me, eyes bulging and voice insistent and said, “Do you know what tribe you’re from?”
I thought he was kidding so I said, “Yes. I’m a Mohican.” Not being from America, he had no idea what I was talking about.
“No, I mean what Israelite tribe are you from?”
As soon as he said the word “Israelite,” I knew I was in trouble, certain we were headed for an argument. I had no desire to incite this man’s dogmatic wrath, so I smiled and said, “What tribe are you from, brother?”
“I’m from the tribe that went to England. We’re called British Israelites.”
This wasn’t the time or place to get into a theological discussion, so I told him I was a little busy right then and perhaps we could talk about this at some other time. His response wasn’t as kind.
“You don’t want to talk to me because you are a JEW (he pronounced it as though it had two syllables, as in jee-yew.) The sound of this word had thousands of years of hate and spiritual darkness behind it.
I turned away and began to pack up my equipment, and he went off muttering to himself. I saw him later telling all who would listen that the jee-yew didn’t know how to be an Israelite and that he was a real Israelite.
I learned some valuable lessons on my Australian trip. To be Torah-aware is a good thing and to be denominationally sensitive is another good thing. It’s also good to be intellectually, emotionally and spiritually aware but all of this is not THE thing.
THE thing is to be Messiah-centered and aware of the residual blessings that this knowledge brings. If I were to draw a picture of this, it would be of a calm lake with a stone dropped in its center, the stone being Jesus—Yeshua—the center of all things. And the ripples coming from that center core are the actions in our lives that transform others around us when we allow Yeshua to lead us in all things to all people.
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win over more of them. 20 To the Jewish people I identified as a Jew, so that I might win over the Jewish people. To those under Torah I became like one under Torah (though not myself being under Torah), so that I might win over those under Torah; 21 to those outside Torah, like one outside Torah (though not being outside God’s Torah but in Messiah’s Torah), so that I might win over those outside Torah. 22 To the weak I became weak, so that I might win over the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that by all means possible I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the Good News, so that I might be a fellow partaker of it” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 TLV).