I first met Elder Mordakhai Joseph in Jerusalem during my first Feast of Tabernacles in 1980. Later, when I attended Sukkot/Tabernacles again with the Worldwide Church of God in 1982 in Jerusalem, I stayed on as a volunteer at Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan near Haifa for five more months. Right next door in Kiryat Ata was where our only member in Israel, Simcha Gombo lived with her deaf daughter, Michal.
During my initial search for Simcha’s home on Hannah Senesh Street, I “just happened” to ask directions from a young Israeli reporter who helped me to find her place. Once there he started talking with her and revealed he was a reporter and wanted to write an article about her, since he found our beliefs fascinating, since sitting and listening to us talk. He was graciously waiting to help me find my way back to the kibbutz. She told him to write about me.
Ilan Itzhayek wrote a full length article that was published in the entire Galilee region. It was about my former drug addiction, wandering in different religions looking for the truth, and how by a series of miracles God brought me into the Worldwide Church of God, mentioning some of our beliefs about Europe, and how we considered Herbert W. Armstrong in the spirit of Elijah.
I was later interviewed by the local high school principal and Bible teacher about our beliefs, especially why we keep the Jewish holy days and believe we are Israelites. (I’ve since discovered Brit-Am Israel, a Jewish organization, also teaches the Israelite origins of the West).
That same article was posted at the kibbutz in the communal dining room for all to see and read and led to an invitation for me to speak against drugs. I resisted, feeling most people have to learn for themselves, but when Ofrah, the volunteer leader, persisted saying perhaps it could help someone, I relented on the condition I could give God the glory and mention Him as the reason for my deliverance. She agreed and I spoke to over twenty young people from all over the world and mentioned how we’re all missing something and try to fill it with this and that and only God and His Holy Spirit are the answer.
When Richard Frankel, a minister who used to live in Israel and served as the regular Feast coordinator for the Middle East, found out that this little ol’ “shepherd boy” in the field was “making waves,” he basically demanded that I return to America since he “trusts that God will get His message to the Jews through His apostle…” and how Mr. Armstrong had carefully built bridges with Israel over the years. (Acts 7:25, 35 flashed through my mind). He said in no way was Ilan (the reporter) to consider himself a spokesman for the Church or me a representative of it! (The Worldwide Church of God always taught we are representatives of God’s Church and Kingdom).
I wondered why Mr. Frankel didn’t trust God to see that nothing could be done to undermine those bridges that God through Mr. Armstrong had built, besides Mr. Armstrong NEVER went to the average Israeli but only addressed leaders in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, I complied.
However, another article had been sent out by Ilan for possible publication that I did receive permission from Mr. Armstrong through Aaron Dean to go ahead with it. Obviously, Mr. Armstrong didn’t feel threatened! Mr. Richard Paige, then in charge of the Ambassador College digs in Jerusalem, met Ilan and I in Haifa for a pleasant visit, during his trip to make arrangements for the next archaeological dig. I humbly presented him with some grapefruits I had picked from our kibbutz orchard. He said he loves grapefruit and later reported they were the best!
I wanted to return to Israel to live, fulfilling a goal I had to live all over Israel, study Hebrew, learn the culture, etc., (which I’ve since done) but Mr. Frankel’s influence required that I wait until I could have a minister over there to “supervise” my activities. (God had supervised them very well, thank you!).
When Raymond Clore, a Consul General for the US was assigned by our government to work over there for four years (and with whom I briefly corresponded), I appealed to Headquarters again to move over there and was denied permission because they hadn’t sent Mr. Clore – the US government had! So I encountered petty politics from ministers I permitted to have power over my personal life. A local elder questioned whether they were setting an unusual precedent with me in deciding where a member can live!
During that time, Mr. George Kackos (Toledo, Ohio’s wonderful minister, who was on the refresher program at Ambassador College) and Mordakhai Joseph both encountered the attitude that “we don’t need him, we have plenty of AC students to send if we want.” In fact, a female Ambassador College graduate from Oregon, Sylvia Owens (top of her class Mr. Paige informed me), was permitted to stay and live in Jerusalem (whom Ilan and I had arranged to meet and visited the Biblical Zoo with)!
Mark Joseph encouraged me that Jesus’ disciples also tried to stop someone from casting out demons in Jesus’ name because he wasn’t of their clique. He was later basically told to stay out of this situation! I still remember him fondly and what correspondence we’ve shared and wish him all the best with his new book on the Middle East. Meanwhile, I yearn to return to Zion.Get a free .com.ng domain name and 2GB Space + 8GB Bandwidth + Free SSL Cert for N5,000 Only!