Go Therefore and Make Disciples…

"And the Good News will be preached throughout the whole world so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come" - John 24:14

We know many of you have been praying for the Shepherd’s Light “Online-Church”, so we wanted to give you an update on how the Lord’s been faithfully answering your prayers. We started the Online-Church almost three months ago. We have been so blessed watching what the Lord is doing with it. Stephen recently started a series called “The Messiah Mystery”. Through his teaching, he shows that Jesus is the Messiah that was prophesied about in the TANAKH (the Jewish Bible; in other words, our Old Testament). We were so blessed that over 130 people signed on the first day of this series.

It’s amazing to watch the Lord use the internet to get the Gospel to the world and into places in Israel that people have not been able to reach. The Lord loves each person so very much. We are blessed, both with the program we use for the online church, and for the servant-hearted people that help with it each week. Each time we broadcast a “service” into Israel and around the world we have a Chat Host and one or two people that are on our online Prayer Team.

Above: A street sign points to the new US Embassy in Jerusalem

The Chat Host manages a live chat window during the service, as well as 15 minutes before service time, and for another 15 minutes after the service video ends. It’s like “doors open time” and “doors closed time” in a physical church. This way people have time to chat and get to know each other. Our Prayer Team monitors the chat session from doors open time till doors closed time. They can take a person from the Chat area to a private chat area where they can talk privately to a person and pray with them for God to help them in their needs. They can also work with the person and take them through the Gospel and lead them to Christ. The Chat Host answers general question about the online service and makes sure everything is running nicely.

The online-church website has a countdown timer that counts the days, hours, minutes and seconds to when the service will begin. The online service is held at a time (7:00PM Israel Time) in Israel when typical synagogues would be having their services in their physical locations. We also hold a service on Saturday’s at 7:00pm (Pacific Standard Time) in hopes of reaching jewish people in America as well. Pressing a button on the online-church website lets anybody invite friends through email or texts, and the online-church sends reminders as the service is about to begin. There’s also a link in the email or text that the person can click on and instantly be watching, or “attending” the service.

For the people that “come to” the service, there is not only the chat window to fellowship with others watching the service, but also a place to take notes, and an online Bible. Then there’s a place on the same page in which a single click can take a person through the Gospel message and tell them how they can be saved. When someone desires prayer, they can either ask for it in the chat window or press on a “Request Prayer” button on the screen to have someone from the Prayer Team take them into a private chatroom so they can pray together.

All the attendees see the service at the same time. In other words, if someone arrives 5 minutes after the service has started, the video of the service is now 5 minutes into the message. So everybody, no matter where they are in the world, views the service progression at the same time. Then, they can comment to each other about something that was said in the message as it’s playing. This interactive fellowship capability is proving to be a time when people get to know each other and encourage each other. It’s like being in the hallways and seats of a physical church having conversations with others. We have been amazed to see people from all over the world “attending” the online service at the same time. People from not only Israel but also Italy, Greece, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, South America and, of course the United States, attend the services.

Above: Thousands flock to Tel Aviv parks in celebration of Israel’s Independence Day

One of our favorite features with this program is that it can be set to any language. If I type in English, the person reading it will be able to see it in whatever language they choose. Then they type a message in their language to us and we see it in English. The online-church platform itself translates back and forth between the different languages so people from anywhere can talk to each other. Many people in Israel speak Hebrew and English, but can only read and write in whatever country they originally were from. This allows us to be able to chat with each person attending without a language barrier between us.

Now, as we all know, meeting together as a congregation in a physical place is best for teaching and fellowship, but in cities that do not have a Bible teaching church, the online-church is certainly better than nothing at all. In fact, it’s proving to be quite effective in teaching the Word of God and reaching the people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The majority of the people in Israel have no idea who Jesus really is. The Jewish religious people have taught them that, if they were to ever go inside a church, they would go to hell. Well, the online-church provides them a way to see what Jesus (YESHUA in Hebrew) is all about without going “inside” a physical church. Our prayer is that the Lord will use this online-church to reach many of His people with His love. Our goal is that when several people in an Israeli city are attending online, then eventually they can get together and start a Bible Study/church in a physical place in that city.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"
- Matthew 28:19

At the beginning of this year, knowing that Calvary Chapel Tel Aviv was doing good, with it’s soup kitchen, medical outreach and various other ministries, along with the Haifa church plant and the home fellowship ministry, Stephen felt the Lord wanted us to focus this year on church planting and discipleship. The Shepherd’s Light ministry team is blessed to be able to work together in reaching Israel through our Online-Church capabilities, USA Training Sessions, and also the Israeli citizens that run the ministries we have planted there.

Shepherd’s Light team members are on the phone via Skype, FaceTime and What’s App for several hours each week discipling Israeli believers. Now those people are maturing in the faith and becoming bold in their witness to non-believers. We are amazed at what God is doing … and HOW He is doing all this. We believe the Lord has opened a door to reach more Israeli citizens with the Gospel, through these online tools, then we ever could’ve before.

Above: A volunteer sharing the Gospel at our weekly soup kitchen outreach.

Stephen asked one of the men that serves with us in Israel, to start a discipleship program with men that attend Calvary Chapel Tel Aviv. Several men signed up, and now they meet weekly, over the internet, for a 13 week discipleship program. When this man had to return to America, he was able to continue the weekly discipleship program using the FaceTime app. Once a week the Israeli men go to our ministry apartment in Tel Aviv and are able to go through the discipleship program using modern technology. We bought a large screen TV to put in the ministry apartment. The group of men can see the man in America that’s leading the discipleship program, and he can see them sitting in front of him as he teaches the classes. They discuss everything real time, as if they’re all together in the same room.

One woman who ministers with us in Israel, is going through the discipleship program with an Israeli woman who is over the Calvary Chapel Women’s Ministry. The woman that is leading it is in Virginia in the USA, and she “meets” weekly online with the Israeli lady. This is helping the Israeli lady become more grounded in God’s Word and be better equipped to lead the women in Tel Aviv.

Recently someone mentioned the discipleship program in the Chat Room while “attending” the online-church service. Several Israeli women, who saw the mention of the discipleship training, then asked if they could be discipled also. They’ve all recently started the discipleship program a couple of weeks ago, and it’s going great.

Above: Calvary Tel Aviv celebrates a birthday.

Finally, thanks to your prayers and donations, we were able to order several more discipleship books and ship them to Israel. It’s humbling to think that just a few short years ago this would not have been possible because we either did not have internet service there or we did not have fast enough internet service. But God knew when all these pieces of the puzzle would come together, and now, people are being reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ and being discipled in Him in ways never imagined only fifteen years ago. It is truly an honor to be able to witness some of the amazing things the Lord is doing!

If you’d like to visit our Church Online site, go to http://shepherdslight.churchonline.org today.

Prayer Requests

There’s a precious Jewish man that we have known since 2005. A few years ago he had a heart attack, and had to move in with his daughter who lives outside of Tel Aviv. This meant he could no longer attend our Shabbat Service due to a lack of bus service on Shabbat. Each Wednesday though, he takes the long bus ride and faithfully attends Calvary Chapel’s mid-week Service. As with many Jewish people, he struggles with Jesus being the Jewish Messiah. He’s been asking more in depth questions lately and is really searching for truth now. Please pray that the Lord opens his eyes to the truth of Jesus Christ.

Then, as many of you are aware of, Calvary Chapel Tel Aviv had met at the Metropolitan Hotel for years. January of this year the hotel hired a new District Manager who notified us that they were drastically raising our rent. After much prayer, we felt the Lord’s leading to have our Shabbat Services at our Ministry Apt, which can hold up to 50 people in the big room. The manager of the hotel recently contacted us and said they now have a new District Manager and they would like us to start meeting at the hotel again at the same price that we were previously paying.

Please pray for wisdom for us. Having Shabbat Service at the Ministry Apartment has worked out really nicely. The people in the congregation like it, plus it’s enabled them to have a Shabbat meal after each service. At the same time we want to be open to the Lord’s leading. When we were at the hotel, we were able to witness to the hotel staff and periodically guests, including Orthodox Jews would attend the service. Since the hotel is in a central location in Tel Aviv, it is convenient for a great number of people. And we don’t have to pay for repairs for things like air conditioners, plumbing and facilities like we would at a leased location. Please pray for wisdom and clear direction for our hearts as we consider which way to go on this.

Also pray for wisdom on how best to let the people in Israel know about the new online-church. We want to pray big … because we serve a BIG GOD! We want to put a simple invitation, maybe in the form of business card or small brochure, into the hands of tens of thousands of Israelis. Pray that the Lord uses it for His Glory and that many … multitudes … come to know Him. THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS. These are the times to act … to put feet to our faith … to boldly go forth … the Lord is at the door. Consider what God would have you do. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and of Israel, and for the peace of each individual Israeli heart. Pray for the peace of their neighbors. Pray that the Lord would pour out His Spirit on all flesh and restore His people to Himself. Also pray that the Lord would heal our land as well. Now is the time to earnestly and boldly go before the Throne of our Heavenly Father and pray on behalf of the lost and the hurting. Today is the day to seek the Lord … to hear His voice … and to answer His call. Today is the day.

As always, you are in our prayers. We are so blessed that the Lord has put us together with you to partner in the harvest that is being done presently. It is also, indeed true that the seeds of tomorrow are being planted today. And, as the Scriptures state, there will soon be a time when the one who plants and the one who waters and the one who harvests will rejoice together as God brings the increase. May God bless you and meet your every need as you walk daily with Him. Amen.

In His unfailing care,

Stephen & Patricia Apple

On behalf of all of us at The Shepherd’s Light

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