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Bikat Kinarot Center – Working Together for Israel Project

Return Ministries, founded by Rev. Dean Bye, held a ceremony in honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary on May 14 at the Bikat Kinarot Center in Beit Zera on the southern shore of the Kinneret.

The Bikat Kinarot Center, a 15-acre property, is the site of Return Ministries ongoing project – begun in 2013 – to restore a former boarding school in the Jordan River Valley.

Once home to 350 high school students, the Bikat Kinarot boarding school closed in 2008. Return Ministries is working to transform the site into an “educational facility for Jews and Christians living and working together.”

Dean Bye
Dean Bye

Since the Working Together for Israel Project began in 2013, Return Ministries, an Ontario, Canada-based “Bible-believing, Christ-centered, prophecy-fulfilling ministry,” has raised funds and invited Christians from the nations to “fulfill their biblical role, serve God’s people…comfort and bless Israel…and partner with God in the return of His people to their land.”

During a presentation at the event, Rabbi Pesach Wolicki, associate director of the Jerusalem-based Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding & Cooperation, paraphrased a contribution of Rabbi Eleazar ben Shammua to the Babylonian Talmud: The last person to recognize that a miracle is happening is the person that it’s happening to.

“We get fooled, in the course of events,” Wolicki told his audience, visitors from all over the world, “into thinking that everything is kind of natural.”

During the last days of Moses’ life Moses described God’s promise of return to the people of Israel: “The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.” (Deut. 30:5)

But, until this day, nothing remotely similar in the history of mankind had happened before or since, Wolicki said.

“So as much as we look back at the splitting of the sea and manna falling from heaven…the return of the Jewish people to the Promised Land more numerous and prosperous than before…breaking all the rules of world history, breaking all the rules of how the world works…is also a miracle,” he continued.

Faith in the miracle that Wolicki described is what inspired Return Ministries’ four foundational points for their efforts at Beit Zera:

1. God will return his people to Israel
2. Nations will unite with the family of Israel
3. The nations will bring the Jewish people to their homeland
4. Those nations will settle them in their land and serve the restoration of Israel

Return Ministries’ initial goal, along with facilitating the restoration project, is to raise funds through pledges sufficient to complete Phase One, which will include:

• A home for lone IDF soldiers while serving their three-year military service.
• A pre-army program for Israeli Jews and Israeli Aramean Christians living and training together
• A six-month housing and training program for soldiers leaving the IDF
• Housing and programming for Christian interns from the nations
• A hospitality and nations learning center

Artist's rendering of the project when finished
Artist’s rendering of the project when finished

Upon the conclusion of the afternoon’s indoor ceremonies, which included singing, international flag waving and presentations by Bye and Chaim Malespin, Israeli director of the Aliyah Return Center, guests toured the existing facility. Afterwards, the visitors went down to the banks of the Jordan and stood on two bridges spanning the river to sing songs they had rehearsed earlier.

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Cliff Keller lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife, Marcia after making Aliyah in the spring of 2011 from the United States. He has recently published a three-novel series, historical biblical fiction the theme of which is The Modern Restoration of Israel, based on the life and times of the prophets Elijah, Hosea and Daniel. Cliff also blogs at Standing by the Gate and has a writing website goodStories.

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