What does it mean when we say “the time of God’s favor”? It is a phrase (et ratzon) found in the Hebrew Bible which has made its way into Modern Hebrew, though today it is used to signify “the right time”. In ministry, I have witnessed specific times and events when God is at work in a powerful way that extends beyond what our own human effort could ever generate.
How is this “right time” to be recognized? For example, there can be a wonderful flow when all the pieces fall into place surrounding a particular ministry initiative. At other times, God’s favor can be seen as a red stoplight, bringing careful plans to a supernatural halt. In every case, grounding in Scripture combined with spiritual sensitivity helps clarify how the Spirit is working.
I recently experienced this sense of a “time of God’s favor” at our sixth annual seminar for Russian-speaking Shabbat school teachers in Haifa. This year’s gathering garnered more interest from across Israel than ever before. Initially organized for Russian-speaking teachers in the North of the country, the seminar has begun to attract participants from the center and even from the South of Israel. The number of participating congregations is also growing. We are drawing teachers from Hebrew-speaking congregations, too, as almost every Israeli congregation, regardless of their official service language, has Russian-speaking children teachers. In addition to this, participants have shown initiative by actively engaging with us prior to the seminar, sending us suggestions for discussion topics and other agenda-related issues.
In Israel, the community of Yeshua-followers is small. Estimates place the number between ten and fifteen thousand people. It has been an on-going challenge to find qualified, professional speakers for our seminars, but recently we have begun to see growth and commitment in the believing community and we now have access to a number of seasoned children’s ministry leaders. I am happy to say that there are many Russian-speakers among them.
Our latest speaker was truly remarkable. This particular lecturer teaches Tanach (Old Testament) in an ordinary Israeli high school, and loves her profession. (Unfortunately, not all Tanach teachers believe in the God of the Tanach.) She brought to our seminar a knowledge and love of Scripture and a teaching proficiency that really enhances the learning experience of both the students in her secular high school, and the children in her congregation. With her help, those attending the seminar learned how to dig deeper into Biblical Hebrew. They learned how to help their children understand this language, which is so different from modern-day Hebrew. They learned how to impart a love of the Book of books. They learned how to turn each lesson into a memorable experience.
This seminar was unforgettable for all participants and our feedback forms reflected this unequivocally. Blessed be the Lord who sends us good speakers at the right time! At the end of the seminar we asked the participants if they would like to gather more often than once a year. Every single hand went up in the air!
As we move ahead to meet this desire, we sense that this is a time of God’s favor to further develop this important discipleship ministry. May we have the wisdom to follow him well where he is already at work among his people!
This article originally appeared on Caspari Center, March 28, 2017, and reposted with permission.