“I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.” I Kings 17:4b
A check in the amount of several hundred dollars arrived via air-mail in early June in support of the on-going ministry of Kehilat Nachalat Yeshua (KNY) located in Beer Sheva, Israel.
The unconventional nature of this income, not normally associated with fundraising, was sent from prison inmates housed at the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC-Kingman) in Kingman, Arizona USA. ASPC-Kingman is a short drive away from the Grand Canyon and seventeen miles outside of the windy and dusty railroad town of Kingman, which also straddles historic Route 66.
Many Israelis are unaware that among the first European eyes to gaze upon the grandeur of the Canyon were those of a Sephardic Jewish linguist by the name of Pedro Mora. Early Spanish explorers intrigued by the Hebraic sound of the Indian languages surmised that these native peoples must be the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Hebrew speaking Pedro was recruited for Coronado’s quest to find the Seven Lost Cities of Cibola and was given the task of communicating with these tribes.
On a more humorous note, Coronado’s journal entries states that Pedro’s initial efforts to communicate with the natives in Hebrew was a bust … neither side understood each other. Actually the whole trip was a bust because the Seven Lost Cities of Cibola were found to be not of gold but nothing more than a collection of mud huts.
Housed in ASPC-Kingman’s Huachuca (wah-chu-kah) unit is an alliance of Messianic and Evangelical inmates who approximately twice a year collect offerings to send for the on-going work of KNY: such as recently helping with airfare to send a group of KNY’s High School graduates on a medical mission trip to a Jewish Voice International medical facility to serve the Beta Israel Jewish community in Hoshiana Ethiopia.
This work initially began in Florence, Arizona in 2010 when Messianic Jewish believer inmate Rickey Mora was awakened in the middle of the night by the Lord and led to his latest copy of the Messiah Times. The front cover of the newspaper had a photo of a demonstration occurring in the front of KNY’s worship center. The article stated KNY had been fined $10,000 for so-called proselytizing by a local court. He was instructed by the Lord to have a bible study group of Mexican Nationals (paisas) who daily met on the yard, to send an offering of $50.
The Paisas responded enthusiastically by raising the funds in two days. On the third day Mora sent a $50 check to his brother Joe in Phoenix who along with a few others added funds of their own which brought the total to nearly $100. Joe contacted congregational leader, Howard Bass of KNY, and arrangements were soon made to send the funds to Beer Sheva.
“I was stunned,” says Mora, “by how quickly we raised the funds. A group of us had previously attempted to send a local church $50 and it took several months to do so. The group of eighteen paisas did so in two days. Sensing this was a word from the Lord, they responded sacrificially as fast as they could with as much as they could. It should be noted that our prison jobs (if you can get one) pay on average twenty to thirty dollars every two weeks: much of which is used to purchase items that the state of Arizona use to provide for free such as toiletries, medical services, postage, electricity, etc. We’re not rolling in dough. Equally amazing is the enthusiasm shown by our friends and families on the outside who also added monies of their own to the sum total. Our giving has had a snow-ball effect of giving on them and some have become regular donors on their own.”
In January of 2015 the inmates were moved to another facility in Eloy Arizona (ASPC-Redrock), which is situated halfway between Phoenix and Tucson where they resumed their fund raising activities. Mora relates one highlight at ASPC-Redrock.
“I had grown frustrated at our inability to provide more funds and in faith petitioned the Lord to increase our fundraising from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Approximately a week later a new inmate arrived on the yard and after hearing me speak for several hours inquired extensively about KNY, unbeknown to me, this inmate had recently received an inheritance and was convinced that God wanted him to send ten percent to help the Messianic Jews in Israel. He just didn’t know how to do so or to whom to send it. He became convinced that our group was God’s answer to his prayers and within a week or so a prison trust fund check in the amount of $2310 was on its way to Beer Sheva.
“Shortly after those funds were sent, a group of Messianic and Orthodox Jews had just finished ushering in Roth Hashana (Yom Teruah) with the requisite blasts of the shofar on the prison yard. The last of four lunar eclipses falling on Jewish holidays was occurring on the eastern horizon. Gazing on that amazing sight, I was especially thinking of our Israeli brethren on the other side of the world who were viewing the same thing and grateful that God had granted us the privilege of being a part of His work in His Holy Land.”
Three months later, on December 17, 2015, the inmates were again moved to what is now their present location; after a prior riot at ASPC-Kingman by a different group of inmates had caused millions of dollars in damages (the destruction was televised nationwide).
In closing, Mora notes, “In the same manner that Adonai used black ravens to provide for one of His prophets” during difficult times, in these end times Adonai is using another unusual method to provide for God’s prophetic people. I hope other inmates hear of our efforts and catch the vision to go beyond the steel bars and the concertina wire of their lives and become a part of the Tikkun Olam (healing/restoration of the world) that God is accomplishing through Israel.