“What is G-d doing in Youngstown Ohio?”

“What is G-d doing in Youngstown?”

This was the question from Bishop Robert Stearns that set the tone for a truly special night at “Ohio Celebrates Israel!” with a dynamic group of leaders of both the Jewish and Christian community present with us.

Hosted by Victory Christian Center founder Bishop David Thomas and Senior Pastor Juan Rivera, the evening began with the sound of “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem,” as flags of Israel fluttered in outstretched hands across the sanctuary.

It was to be a night of celebration, sobriety and commissioning for all those present. As Bishop Robert Stearns came to sing Hatikvah, the Israeli National Anthem, he shared the breaking news that beloved supporter of the State of Israel and father of four, Ari Fuld, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Gush Etzion that morning. After telling of the courage and bravery of this defender of Zion, we shared in a moment of silence in his memory. As the beautiful words of the Hatikvah filled the room it became a clarion call to remember the great love that Ari had for his nation and the price he paid for others to live in safety and freedom.

Bishop Robert then encouraged the audience that the powerful combination present in Youngstown, Ohio, of trusted spiritual leaders, courageous members of the Jewish community, and a commitment to understanding and dialogue between the two communities is a prototype of what the G-d of Israel is about to do in communities across the nation.

Pastor Joe Daltorio of River of Life Community Church from the Akron area, then introduced Rabbi Joseph Schonberger of Temple El Emeth who said, “My parents would never believe that I, a child of Holocaust survivors, would ever be welcomed into a church – much less invited to share. In many ways, we are living miracles, and the State of Israel is a living miracle.”

We were so honored to have Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of the State of Israel in New York, as our keynote speaker. Ambassador Dayan shared how his grandparents had to smuggle his father as a 6-month-old child out of Ukraine in a potato sack to keep him alive. “What a difference in 90 years, from a potato sack to standing before you, representing the state of Israel here in America. This is the story of the Jewish people in the last 100 years, from fleeing persecution to having an independent and thriving Jewish state in the actual homeland of the Jewish people.”

As the evening came to a close, Bishop Robert asked pastors and leaders to come on stage and join in front with Rabbi Schonberger. He asked them to surround Rabbi and as a symbol of our support to “grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you.’” Zech. 8:23 

Pastor Lew Macklin concluded the evening with a commissioning prayer, declaring, “We go, oh G-d, realizing our assignment is clear, and ask for courage to do it!”

Ohio Celebrates Israel! 2018 was a remarkable evening. If you would like to watch the live stream archive, click the link:

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