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The transforming power of Katzir youth camps

Yeshua’s transforming power has been on wonderful display consistently over many years during these Messianic youth camps. Again, this summer, we will be gathering teens from all over Israel, representing more than 40 congregations. Here are the true stories of just two young lives we’ve seen transformed through Messiah’s sacrifice and the wonder of God’s Word. Their names have been altered to guard their privacy; but what happened to them is real and lasting.

Katzir-desert

YOSSI came to a Katzir camp reluctantly. His friend invited him, even when Yossi was messed up on alcohol and without interest in Israel’s Messiah. He’d been raised in the faith from birth, but was far more interested in fitting in with the crowd. Yet his friend was persuasive and Yossi agreed to come. Once at the camp, the depth of Yeshua’s love began working in Yossi’s heart. He saw other teens who were genuinely walking with the Lord. By the end of the camp he could no longer resist God’s saving grace. Today, Yossi looks back on that Katzir camp as the turning point in his life. He is now a key member of Katzir’s young adult leadership team, and reaching out to young Israelis is his passion.

Katzir-games

RUTHIE was also “carried along” to the camp by her friends’ urging. Her first days at summer camp were not pleasant—neither for us nor for her. She refused to cooperate in many of the activities, acted sullen, and was unresponsive to appeals from her counselor. Finally, we had to confront her over the necessity of sending her home before the camp’s end. When asked why she was so antagonistic, she began weeping. Her hard shell was melting before our eyes. Wanting to make sure she was sincere, we put her on probation— expressing our intense desire for her to soften and allow the Lord to work in her life. Her behavior changed. At the end of the camp, along with other youth who’d been touched, she got up to share what had transpired. “I came with a chip on my shoulder. I felt that all of this Yeshua stuff was phony.

Katzir-bonfire

I came because I only wanted to get out of the house for a while. Then during one of the worship nights God touched me. I realized that my hardness was an act, covering up who I really am. Then one of the “moms” of Katzir asked if I wanted to open my heart to Yeshua. I asked Him to forgive me and to cleanse my life, to change me and make me new. I am already a different person than when I came.”

This article originally appeared in Maoz Israel Report, July 2017, and reposted with permission.

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Eitan Shishkoff
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.

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