For many years Caspari Center has been involved in the crucial task of training Shabbat school teachers for congregations across the country. Shabbat school consists of a few crucial hours during which children can learn Bible stories and fundamental biblical themes. Unfortunately, this time is not sufficient to meet all the children’s needs for spiritual teaching, nor is it enough to meet their personal needs. Every child encounters difficulties in daily life; some even face traumatic experiences which necessitate spiritual healing. There is also a need to address some profound biblical principles relating to the realities of life in Israel, such as unity and reconciliation. In this article we wish to present a broader view
of the work among children in the Messianic movement by giving a glimpse into the work of two children- and family-oriented ministries in Israel that are working to meet these needs.
One of these ministries is King’s Kids Jerusalem. Ruut, who has been in charge of King’s Kids for the 10 years of its existence, describes the work as essentially “breaking the walls.” King’s Kids gathers children and youth from different ethnic (Jewish, Arabic, etc.), cultural, linguistic, and denominational backgrounds. The languages in use are Hebrew and English. “We aim to cross borders and give children the possibility of meeting with others from different backgrounds, to help them experience unity in faith,” says Ruut of the ministry’s vision. Both Christian and Jewish festivals are celebrated with respect. Children are brought together to sing, dance, study the Word, and have fun, and they make friends with believing children from other peer groups. Through positive experiences, Ruut and the King’s Kids staff have seen prejudices and negative attitudes soften.
This change of attitude is expressed in openness and acceptance towards others. “With the youth, we meet regularly with the Arabic-speaking King’s Kids. We have traveled together abroad and it is tremendously encouraging to see how God works in the hearts of our youth when they serve together. Also, for us as leaders, forgiveness and reconciliation are no longer something we teach to kids and speak in theory, but something we need to implement in our own lives as well.”
Integrity in life and faith is pivotal for all believers in Jesus – children as well as adults. Aside from the need for unity and reconciliation, the Israeli reality includes other traumatizing phenomena such as divorce and domestic violence. Unfortunately, these problems are not unheard of, even among believing families.
“Children are vulnerable and they can be traumatized by divorce, by witnessing or being targets of violence at home. Kids who have suffered traumatic experiences are in great need of hearing the truth about life and faith. In many cases, difficult family situations aren’t related to in congregations and the problems are not addressed. Children of single mothers, especially, need to hear that God is the Father of the fatherless. Abused children are in need of a solid base of God’s love and grace in their faith. When problems and difficulties are openly discussed and God is brought into their real life experiences, healing is possible and their faith can grow and mature,” says Hege from Machaseh. Machaseh (“Shelter” in Hebrew) ministers to Messianic families and children in distress, supporting them with material aid and professional counseling.
We need to recognize that these complex issues exist and continually pray for children. Even more so, we need to realize the importance of working together to address them and to effect change. Our children are worth every possible effort.