Day 43 of the Omer
I have been made privy to some letters which were sent out by email to the supporters (and followers) of one of the HaYovel volunteers. They include some information which I find to be the most shocking of all the revelations we've laid bare here.
In the fall of 2013, a courageous Jew in the Shomron - a defender of his people's integrity and his God's honor - had some posters made up and hung them in the area to warn the local residents of the missionary threat posed by Tommy Waller and his HaYovel Ministry.
I'll let the volunteer take it from here...
A couple weeks ago, some people here in the area printed very large posters with a picture of Tommy Waller on it, with a big “x” marked across it, along with words that basically said, “Christians in Samaria stealing the souls of Jews.” and warned everyone to be careful of us.
This attack on Mr. Tommy and HaYovel is one of the most public and “loud” attacks that there has been. There have been several articles written and other things in the past.
As you can imagine, it’s been very hard on Mr. Tommy and his family and the HaYovel staff to be publicized in this way. He wants so much to be able to defend himself and say that we’re only here to love and serve – not to “convert” or missionize, or anything else. But obviously, defending himself won’t change anything right now.
In many ways though, it’s been a blessings in disguise. Many Israelis who we work with in the Samaria governor’s office and other places have spoken up for us and defended us. It has encouraged many who were quiet about their support of us to speak out loudly. There have been articles written, and public debates, and one couple – friends of the Wallers – were seen going around with a can of black spray paint, vandalizing the posters. : ) A few friends, people we have worked with in the vineyards, have dropped by to express their support and love.
It has caused severe rifts among the Israelis here. The Wallers were “blind-carbon-copied” in several email conversations as people defended them. Tommy and Sherri shared one letter with the group last week. Two men were going back and forth – one against us, one for us. The one who was for us closed his email by saying that as he prayed in the days before Yom Kippur, he prayed for this man who was so against HaYovel, and that he wanted to come to Tommy and Sherri and kiss their hands and ask their forgiveness for the hatred and misunderstanding. He wrote that we (HaYovel) were standing with Israel in a way and a place that no one else was. His words were, “On the front lines”. As I read the email, his support and appreciation brought tears to my eyes.
These are the “growing pains” of our relationships.
...I’m sharing this with you all because I feel that you need to know it. You need to understand the battle that we all are in. Maybe it will help you in how you act and react around Jewish people....
In my last update I talked about how people had written things about HaYovel, supporting us and giving credibility to what we're doing. Here are excerpts from an article written this week by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, the head Rabbi of Har Bracha.
Recently, a troublemaker distributed libelous materials accusing Tommy Waller, an American Christian, of being a missionary. This despite the fact that Tommy has been actively recruiting Christian volunteers for Israel for ten years, and not a single Jew claims that Tommy or any of the thousands of people he has brought here have tried to undermine their faith. Therefore, I feel it is incumbent upon me to speak on his behalf.
Out of an abiding faith in the uniqueness of the Jewish people and in the Divine mission to settle the Land, Tommy has rallied support for Israel from American Congressmen and Senators. The head of the Shomron Regional Council, Mr. Gershon Mesika, told me that Tommy’s activities have been very influential. Each year, through the summer, he organizes groups of Christians who love Israel to volunteer here. As he is a big believer in family values, many of the volunteers come with their entire families, including the young and the elderly. In recent years, at the request of the Regional Council, the Har Bracha settlement has hosted the volunteers on a hilltop near our community. From this base, the volunteers set out to work in vineyards and orchards throughout the Shomron.
Because of our difficult history with Christians, and due to concerns about possible missionizing, I felt it necessary to meet with Tommy. I wanted to have an upfront discussion with him about precisely what his positions were. At the same time, I wanted to convey a Jewish position without kowtowing or obsequiousness.
In the course of our conversation, I asked him: “If a Jew were to come before you and ask you whether it is better to be a Jew or a Christian what would you tell him?” He responded: “I would tell him to be a Jew!” Tommy added that he had not always thought this way. Originally, like other Christians, he was interested in everyone becoming Christian, but eventually he realized that this earlier position was the result of ignorance. Now, following his exposure to the Jewish renaissance in the Land of Israel, he wishes for all Jews to observe the Torah and mitzvot.[What Rabbi Melamed fails to understand because he has not properly and throughly investigated this complex situation is that Tommy Waller has now been enlightened to believe that he is also of Israel and not only would not tell a Jew to become a Christian, but he no longer considers himself to be a Christian in the traditional sense that it has been understood for hundreds of years until now. This was not the right question to ask.]
I asked Tommy what led him to dedicate his life to bringing Christian volunteers to Israel. He told me that he read Yeshayahu 61:5: “Strangers shall stand and pasture your flocks; aliens shall be your plowmen and vine-trimmers.” This greatly moved him, and he said to himself: “Maybe I can be the one who is privileged to fulfill this holy verse!” Ever since then, he has encouraged people to visit Israel and to help Jews work the land.
Every summer Tommy brings hundreds of volunteers, some for a week and some for longer periods. They bring us greetings of peace and friendship from tens of millions of Americans who love us, and when they return home they serve as loyal ambassadors for Israel.
Hopes of Redemption
Sometimes I see these honored Christian guests walking on our roads and paths, and I am filled with great love; I am deeply moved and have to hold back tears. How beautiful are these people, who volunteer enthusiastically, crossing oceans and continents to come express their wonderful connection with us. How they shine with joy at being privileged to see the miraculous return to Zion, to walk on holy ground, and to contribute to making the desert bloom.
Perhaps they are the pioneers who begin to fulfill the words of the prophecy:In the end of days, the Mountain of the Lord’s House shall stand firm above the mountains and tower above the hills, and all the nations shall stream towards it. Many peoples shall go and say: “Let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob, that He may instruct us in His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.” For Torah shall come forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge among the nations and arbitrate for the many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not take up sword against nation, and they shall never again know war (Yeshayahu 2:2-4)."
You can read the whole article here...http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/13855#.Uj1TuMxJNdj
I would highly recommend taking the time to read it. Being able to see something (in this case, ourselves) from someone else's perspective is a valuable, beautiful tool.Apparently, some serious questions were forthcoming from supporters about Tommy's reply to Rabbi Melamed in which he said he would not encourage a Jew to become a Christian. Here is how the volunteer explained it...
...I want to be careful to not put words into Mr. Tommy's mouth, but I can tell you how I understand this comment. It has a lot to do with definitions. To a Jewish mind, to become a Christian is to reject the majority of God's word. Anything that is clearly Jewish in observance is rejected - the Shabbat, the Holy days, eating kosher, etc. In the past (as I mentioned before) during times of persecution, when Jewish people did convert to Christianity under force, they were not allowed to do those things under threat of death. They still understand that to be "Christianity" today. They don't understand yet that someone can live a life as an observant Jew and believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.
I understand Mr. Tommy's quote here to mean that he would never encourage a Jewish person to leave his Scriptural lifestyle, his observance of the Bible, (as they understand it) to become a "Christian" who leaves behind his love and obedience of God's word.Lies, deception and subterfuge. These are the tools missionaries use to entrap gullible souls.
But, what do you call a Jew who defends an idolater and a missionary against his fellow Jew?
What do you call a Jew who "blind-carbon-copies" a private conversation with a fellow Jew regarding the missionary idolater with that very enemy who then shares it with his entire group?
And last, but not least, what do you call a rabbi who accuses a good, caring, self-sacrificing Jew of being a "troublemaker" and "libelous" to the entire readership of Arutz Sheva and all the other places his article has been shared, for simply stating the Truth; for following the Torah injunction not to stand idlely by while his brother's blood is being shed!?
And this is not a unique situation. It is going on everywhere.
I really wish I could think of a stronger word than "collaborator". Is traitor too strong a word?