After much preparation and anticipation, the second Jerusalem Encounter conference convened last week as Wayne Hilsden, founder and president of the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM), warmly welcomed hundreds of guests.
Held in the King of Kings Pavilion center, the three-day event brought together local and visiting Messianic believers and Christians from around the world for worship, teaching and networking.
With the theme, “Encountering God, the land and the local believers,” Jerusalem Encounter enabled youth, pastors and leaders from around the world to learn about and experience Israel in a unique way. The conference came on the heels of a week-long, comprehensive, biblical tour of Israel for a large percentage of the conference attendees. The purpose of the tour was to impart God’s plan regarding Israel.
“This is different from last year because we invited pastors, leaders and teachers who, for the most part, didn’t yet know about Israel,” Hilsden told KNI. “We designed it in a way that the participants would encounter the Lord, the land and the people of this land, and take their new-found knowledge back to their homes, congregations and communities where they could impact people for Israel.”
Sessions were divided into times of worship and prayer, followed by panels where representatives of various local ministries were interviewed and given a chance to share the work God is doing in the land. Other sessions were dedicated to guest speakers who spoke about God’s plan for Israel from different perspectives.
In addition to the guest speakers and worship teams arranged for the Jerusalem Encounter, dozens of booths were set up on the lower levels of the CLAL building where Israel-based ministries that are part of FIRM could hand out brochures and representatives could connect with visitors and each other. Large portions of the event were live-streamed and the general consensus was that, from start to finish, the event was highly enjoyable and successful.
Michael Mistretta, chief operating officer for FIRM, took time out of the conference’s packed itinerary to speak with KNI.
“This has impacted so many Christians who had not had this kind of experience before,” he said. “Out of the more than a thousand participants, around 650 were those who came on the tour and have learned about Israel in such a meaningful way.”
“We at FIRM wanted to inspire the leaders to bless Israel and connect people in their ministries and individuals to cooperate with each other, and equip them to bless Israel,” Mistretta continued. “It seems that the tour and Jerusalem Encounter has done that.”
FIRM, based in Jerusalem, is a global enterprise of biblically-grounded ministries that are geared towards including Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Jesus the Messiah. They aim to cultivate Messiah-centered relationships that bless the Jewish community around the world as well as all the Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants of Israel.