Messianic Apologetics

Addressing the Theological and Spiritual Issues of the Broad Messianic Movement

Twenty-Eight Years and Counting Within the Messianic Community – November 2022 Outreach Israel News

Mark & Margaret Huey - personal photo

Mark Huey delivers the November 2022 Outreach Israel News update.

Mark Huey delivers the November 2022 Outreach Israel News update.


Twenty-Eight Years and Counting Within the Messianic Community – November 2022 Outreach Israel News

November_2022

Twenty years ago on November 1, 2002, Outreach Israel Ministries was conceived and birthed without any fanfare or international press releases, at the Jekyll Island Resort in Georgia. Ever since our marriage eight years earlier, Margaret and I had been on what we have labeled our “spiritual scavenger hunt,” pursuing the Lord and seeking His will for our lives together. Thankfully, Margaret was given an incredible “gift of faith” among her many attributes, because quite frankly, our family’s call as non-Jewish Believers to serve the Lord within the Messianic community of faith—has been quite a journey over the past twenty-eight years!

In essence, this specific step of faith to trust in the Lord with our future—without any major means of financial support—was simply adhering to a solemn commitment we had made to our Heavenly Father in December 1994, when we were on a tour with a Messianic Jewish ministry led by the late Zola Levitt. It was there atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where we sincerely prayed and offered ourselves up as living sacrifices for service unto Him (Romans 12:1-2). Little did we know then, that what would transpire over the subsequent years would result in full-time ministry, which eventually led to the conception and formation of Outreach Israel Ministries. But it did, and for that willingness to honor our inspired vows, we are eternally grateful.

Of course, stepping out in faith, walking by faith, and being led by the Holy Spirit, is probably the most satisfying aspect of our sojourn. In so doing, we have exemplified for our children the walk—and not just the talk—about our convictions, and consequently they have each witnessed what it truly means to believe and trust in the Lord for everything, including His provision along the path.

However, we had one great advantage which came prior to our time in Israel. This was a word which Margaret received from the Lord during the early months of our marriage. One day in prayer and contemplation, she got the strong impression that our second marriage and life together with five children (she had been widowed and left with three children, and I had endured an unwanted divorce) was going to be living out the Scriptures revealed in Isaiah 43. As she queried the Holy Spirit about what that meant, the response came back that I was going to confirm the word she had received. The only restriction imposed by this test of faith was that she could not tell me what she had heard, but instead, I had to confirm it by asking the Lord to reveal it to me. When she told me about these circumstances I was dumbfounded: What do you mean, I have to confirm your word? Don’t you know there are sixty-six books in the Bible, can you give me a hint? Was it New Testament or Old Testament? She just smiled and said take it to the Lord. The instructions were very precise. Maybe in prayer you will come up with it sooner or later…

So, imagine the incredible gift of a godly woman of faith (after my failed marriage which had produced two daughters), now pressing my ability to hear from the Lord about what she had heard. But this was too much. Margaret was certainly an answer to prayer, and we certainly knew that after a twenty-one year hiatus from our one date during college on October 11, 1972, when we got reacquainted on May 28, 1993 at a college reunion, that God had a unique plan for our lives together. But come on I protested. This is beyond the pale. But she insisted, and so I had no way out other than to implore the Holy Spirit for revelation.

In my “prayer closet” the next morning the Lord had mercy on me, and somehow, I came to her with an expectant gaze. Was it the Old Testament? She nodded yes. Was it the Book of Isaiah? Her eyes smiled and eyebrows lifted, yes. Okay. How about Isaiah chapter 43? I queried? Yes, the first fifteen verses she exclaimed! I said, let’s read it. I think we will get the whole chapter. And we did read it, and we believed we had been given the whole chapter. The highlighted passage below especially resonated with us:

“But now, thus says ADONAI—the One who created you, O Jacob, the One who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, or through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43:1-2).

Whatever the future brought, we had the reassurance that God would protect us. So, when we endured a Class 5 hurricane on Roatan off the coast of Honduras in 1998, an F-5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma in 1999, and a variety of Class 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes in Kissimmee, Florida during our twelve-year residence there—we were always able to remember that our Heavenly Father was with us. Those tests simply increased our measures of faith! But avoiding natural disasters was not all that God promised. A little further along in the passage, Isaiah references the restoration of Israel which we became involved with, after our return from touring the Land of Promise—and being prompted during the tour by the Holy Spirit to “celebrate the feasts” of the Lord.

“Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bring your offspring from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from far and My daughters from the ends of the earth. Everyone who is called by My Name, whom I created for My glory. I formed him—yes, I made him!’ Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears. All the nations are gathered together, and the peoples are assembled. Who among them can declare this, and proclaim to us former things? Let them present their witnesses so they may be justified, or let them hear and say, “It’s true.”’” (Isaiah 43:5-9, TLV).

When you are walking by faith and seeking His will for your life, sometimes His leading takes a while to sink in. Hence, nine months after our return to Dallas, in Fall 1995, we were finally led to a Messianic Jewish congregation. Following several months of attendance, the recognition that this is where we would be able to grow and mature in our pursuit of truth was evident. We joined the new members class, began taking elementary Hebrew, and despite not being Jewish we benefitted immensely from the study of Torah and the entire counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation.

Since the Fall feasts of 1995, our family has been totally committed to the Messianic community of faith, and what we believe God is doing around the globe to fulfill His promises to not only the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—but also to those who join into that restoration process. We certainly did, because an additional aspect of our Isaiah 43 call was to be witnesses for Him:

“‘You are My witnesses’—it is a declaration of ADONAI—‘and My Servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me no God was formed, and there will none after Me. I, I am ADONAI—and there is no savior beside Me. I alone declared, saved and proclaimed, and not some foreign god among you. So you are My witnesses’—it is a declaration of ADONAI—‘and I am God. From eternity, I am He. None can deliver from My hand. I act, and who can reverse it?’” (Isaiah 43:10-13, TLV).

But what does it mean to be a “witness” to what God is doing during your personal sojourn through life? In our case, it was to follow the proverbial “cloud and pillar of fire,” no matter where it led. This took us from Dallas, to McKinney, TX, to Roatan, Honduras, to Norman, Oklahoma, to Kissimmee, Florida, back to Dallas, and then even back to the McKinney area. This was, in essence, returning full circle—even to the same zip code in Dallas along the way. Of course, along the trail we had a variety of interactions with Messianic Jewish Believers and associated non-Jewish Believers, who were all in different ways called into what the Almighty was doing with His serious truth seekers.

Naturally, because of the multitude of backgrounds which these diverse people were from, there was inevitably going to be tension when they tried to figure out how to properly approach the Holy One in this prophetically significant season of spiritual transition. We sincerely believed that God was in the process of taking His body back on a circuitous route to a First Century style of communion with Him. Upon studying the Apostolic Writings and understanding the challenges which were being addressed by the original Disciples, Apostles, and followers of the Messiah Yeshua—it was abundantly clear that many of those early post-resurrection circumstances and issues were repeating themselves in the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries. Thankfully, because our son John McKee had been along with us on our journey, and himself witnessed what was happening as we entered into the Messianic community, being born again before his four years at the University of Oklahoma—he was inspired to study History and Political Science, while taking some modern Hebrew and classical Greek courses in undergraduate school.

After Outreach Israel Ministries was founded in 2002, John graduated from college in Spring 2003, and came to work with us with his technical skills. But there was more for him to learn theologically, and after a year (2004) of ministering two-by-two with me from Canada to Great Britain to Israel, and from coast to coast in the United States, he was accepted at Asbury Theological Seminary, which just happened to have a satellite campus in Orlando. This made working for Outreach Israel Ministries possible, as he studied to receive a Master in Biblical Studies, receiving the Zondervan Biblical Languages Award at graduation in 2009. Clearly, it became evident from his skillset, work ethic, and calling, that writing and publishing useful books about the spiritual environment where our family had been placed was just a matter of time.

By the time Outreach Israel Ministries was birthed, our family had been involved in this community for seven years. The experiences we had witnessed, the people we had interacted with, and the challenges we knew existed—were somewhat burdensome to see. Bringing Jewish and non-Jewish Believers together in harmonious ways was never a given. In fact, a concise statement of what is seen in Paul’s writing to Believers in Asia Minor regarding the “one new humanity” was something we thought was possible—yet was not necessarily coming together on the timeline we first imagined. Instead, many controversies erupted, despite these profound statements witnessed in the Scriptures:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves—it is the gift of God. It is not based on deeds, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship—created in Messiah Yeshua for good deeds, which God prepared beforehand so we might walk in them. Therefore, keep in mind that once you—Gentiles in the flesh—were called ‘uncircumcision’ by those called ‘circumcision’ (which is performed on flesh by hand). At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. Within His flesh He made powerless the hostility—the law code of mitzvot contained in regulations. He did this in order to create within Himself one new man from the two groups, making shalom, and to reconcile both to God in one body through the cross—by which He put the hostility to death. And He came and proclaimed shalom to you who were far away and shalom to those who were near—for through Him we both have access to the Father by the same Ruach. So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. You have been built on the foundation made up of the emissaries and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone. In Him the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple for the Lord. In Him, you also are being built together into God’s dwelling place in the Ruach (Ephesians 2:8-22, TLV).

Perhaps we were just naïve, in the early days, about how things work in spiritual milieus. However, because of the lack of unity which Paul describes, Outreach Israel Ministries was motivated to try and help people better understand not only what the problems were when Jewish and non-Jewish Believers came together from different cultures and theological persuasions—but to write about it, in order to help in the eventual reunion which we believe is inevitable (in God’s time). This prompted our ministry beyond writing various Torah commentaries and introductory studies, but to produce more advanced writings that were balanced, scholarly, and loving, to assist people with some of the changes they might be making in their respective walks. At first, we produced various volumes in our Messianic Helper series, widely dealing with things such as the seventh-day Sabbath/Shabbat, appointed times, and kosher. We later had to see studies released on various aspects of Torah observance, Jewish tradition, and common Christian objections. Yet, further theological works had to be released on ecclesiology (study of God’s people), the prophesied restoration of Israel and the inclusion of the nations, and debates arising over the nature of the Messiah (Christology). We have even had to deal, at least in part, with topics such as polygamy and gender roles.

As a family, we have had to contend with family and friends curiously asking us various questions: Are you trying to be Jewish? Do you still believe in Jesus? Why have you changed your diet and now worship on Saturday?

Within the Messianic sphere of influence, there are many questions being asked about what this movement is to become: Are we a branch of Judaism or Christianity? Can we trust the theological works of Jewish Rabbis who rejected Yeshua? Can we trust the theological works of Christian scholars who have rejected Torah? Is Jewish tradition important? Is Christian theology reliable? Have we not all “accepted lies”? What is truly “pagan”?

People drawn into the Messianic community of faith needed answers, and we have tried to do our best to help. Many of the issues we have dealt with are lifestyle related, whereas others deal with theology and the Holy Scriptures. We have, hopefully, reflected the best way to walk out our faith in a manner which reflects what Yeshua and His early followers did in the First Century. After all, if we are being conformed into the image of the Messiah and having our minds transformed, then we might as well get started early in the process before the Millennial Kingdom arrives! As Paul stated it to the Believers in Rome, there is a requirement for true followers of the Messiah to daily employ:

“I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given me, I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think—but to use sound judgment, as God has assigned to each person a measure of faith” (Romans 12:1-3, TLV).

“Now we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30, TLV).

As we understood, being foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and ultimately glorified—required our family to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, by the washing of the water of the Word, to be conformed to the image of the Messiah Yeshua. This sounds elementary, but having made the decision and choice to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit twenty years ago, was not a spur of the moment determination.

Instead, it came after seven years of testing in and among those being called in the same restoration arena. There were many Jewish men and women, and even more non-Jewish men and women, who each received the call to be a part of what the Holy One is doing now around the world.

By God’s grace, and through a great deal of work with our eyes fixed on Yeshua, we have had the privilege to become acquainted with, and made friendships with, many of the leaders within the Messianic sphere of influence. It is still our desire to help bring the reconciliation which the Father wants among all of His children. The first followers and apostles of Yeshua wrote about the issues which were being witnessed in their time. We have some similar issues today. But ultimately, when our hearts are right before the Lord, and we each understand that we are here to serve Him and be used by Him to advance His kingdom on earth, His will shall be done. To Him be the glory, forever and ever! Amen!

We are especially thankful for each of the prayers you have made for us, and the financial support you all have given to us faithfully. We have been totally dependent upon the Lord for His provision over the past twenty years, and He has continued to provide through you all, and other diverse means. It has been an amazing journey which will not be completed until our specific assignments are accomplished. What great joy that we have had the opportunity to experience the “new thing” that the Lord is doing in our day and in this age:

“Do not remember former things, nor consider things of the past. Here I am, doing a new thing; Now it is springing up—do you not know about it? I will surely make a way in the desert, rivers in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19, TLV).

He is an awesome God, and His mercies are new every morning. Enjoy them with your family and us, as we await Yeshua’s return with great expectations!


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