Christmas 2019 in Chicagoland was a glorious celebration! Our Matteson Single Moms group hosted a Winter Ball for single moms, their children and loved ones. The aroma which filled the room was that of happiness and joy. The decorations were carefully designed and staged to transform the space into a welcoming wintry eat and play land. There were giant gingerbread men and ice skating snow families.
Who's that showing off their winter coat? It must be the ones who came out for the AGLOW International Matteson Single Moms' Winter Coat Distribution! They were happy to model and strike a pose for the camera - children and grown-ups, alike - because they were so delighted with their new finds!
The annual European Leaders Gathering took place in Riga Latvia in January of 2020. We always love to hear how this time impacted the young leaders that attended. Many boards in Europe have been hosting events this last year with a focus to the Generations. They truly have a heart to raise up leaders and to encourage the generations to run together after the things of God. We are so grateful for all the imparting and love being extended to the next generation.
I am so blessed that I was able to go to the Aglow 2019 Convocation in Jerusalem and the following tour in Israel. This was actually my third visit to Israel, but my first with Aglow. I have wanted to experience it with Aglow for years, and knew that this "Right Time" Convocation was indeed the right time for me.
The biggest difference I noticed between this and my previous trips was the worship. From the Convocation in Jerusalem to the boat rides on the Galilee, we worshiped as we went about the land, and there is just something special about singing praises to the Lord right from Israel. We prayed as we went, as well. One of the most impactful opportunities for prayer was at the Lebanese border at Rosh Hanikra. We were able to put our hands through the gates and pray for Israel's neighbor to the north.
As people have been asking me about the trip, particularly the things that made the biggest impact on me, I've put together a list of thoughts I've been processing since I've been home.
- Protection, Provision, Evidence of Prayer Covering, and Peace:
- A few days before the trip, I thought I may have to cancel and not even go, because of health issues of an immediate family member. But God provided not only a good report from doctors, but gave me peace of mind to go and let Him handle things at home.
- There were many snags with travel plans (airport runway being closed, for one!) that could have turned into disasters, and yet didn't. My flights were changed on me at the last minute, and then diverted. I ended up having to take a bus from one airport to another at one connection. But it worked out. Everyone in my group had their own challenges, but we all made it on time, and did so with cheer.
- So many prayer warriors in Aglow have been praying for this trip over so many months, and it was evident. Things seemed to go smoothly, for the most part. Israel feels like a very safe country while there, and travelers are well taken care of. It is nothing like what it seems like from watching the news back home-- the news points out unrest and disruption, but the tourist experience is peaceful and secure.
- Travelling with Aglow people is probably a unique experience. It is definitely a blessing to be among such joy-filled, like-minded people of God. The people I knew from home ended up being on a different bus and in different hotels than me, but it didn't matter. Everyone in Aglow is friendly and kind, and it's fun to meet and connect with new people. What if some of these new relationships were divine connections, orchestrated by God? Whether it was brief or in-passing, or more of a developing new friendship, I was blessed by every interaction I had.
- Perspective & Purpose:
- If you've ever been to Israel, you know that there is just something eye-opening and soul-awakening about being in the land. As a Christian, it's like there is a divine spark that lights up so many things inside you. Obviously, the pages of your Bible come alive, and the parts of the Word in you that you can recall become real in a new way. The land is both very foreign and so familiar at the same time, and it is just a strange feeling to reconcile in your mind. Your spirit gets it immediately, but it takes a while for your head to process. As a person who keeps up with news and current events, getting a first-hand look at the geography and the small scale of the country itself gives a lot of perspective and more understanding in that regard as well.
- For me personally, there were many times during the trip that I felt like God was giving me my own dose of perspective and insight into the plans and purposes He has for me. Many Aglow women came up to me with prophetic statements (whether they knew it or not), and several times spontaneously asked if they could pray for me. Those were incredibly special moments.
- Proof of my Passion:
- I have loved Israel for most of my life, and in Aglow, not many people question that. But outside of Aglow, many people do. They ask things like "Why is Israel so important to you? Why do you believe God cares about it? Why do you travel there?" Before this trip, I got another round of these kind of questions, and I realized that I am not doing a good job of teaching those around me about the importance of Israel. Apparently, I have been taking for granted more than I should that people, especially Christians, understand why Israel is the apple of God's eye, and why as believers we should pray for and stand with Israel. Especially in light of the growing anti-Semitism around the world, it is more important than ever to take those opportunities to teach everyone around us the Biblical truths about Israel and God's covenant with them. It's time to speak out, and not just wait for others to bring it up. People may know we love Israel, but it's time to show them why. I, and I suspect many of us, need to be known as ones who love to teach about Israel, not just ones who love Israel.
Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend an Aglow seminar called Watchmen on the Wall for Israel (WOW for short). It is something I would recommend that everyone in Aglow should do, at least once, because it is so full of useful information regarding the topic of Israel. On this trip, one of the most special moments for me was standing on Mt. Scopus, overlooking Jerusalem, and taking an oath to pray for Israel as we (several hundred people who had attended a WOW) were being commissioned as a Watchman on the Wall for Israel. It was a simple little ceremony with a big spiritual impact. I believe in many ways, it encapsulates everything about the Aglow Israel experience, to me. It's not just about a tour. It's about a commitment to the land and the people of Israel.
I always encourage anyone who has a desire to travel to Israel to go. It is not something I could imagine anyone regretting doing, and as a Christian, it is something that would absolutely be meaningful. Even if you've gone before, consider going again, and with Aglow. You'll feel right at home among the Aglow people, and there will be many opportunities for God to touch your heart and bless you.
Alyssa Hoffman from Alaska
I had a new friend ask me today if I got wrecked while I was in Israel. “It’s okay if you didn’t,” she assured me. I appreciated this. I feel like that’s always the answer we’re supposed to give. That the Holy Spirit manifested and we saw Heaven come down.
We totally did. Just not in the way I thought. Not like I knew what to expect or anything, but I really had to be intentional about looking for it. Like the secrets of the Land wanted to be sought out. Like she wanted to know if you were really serious about finding her, and what it was that Jesus loved about His home so much.
So I sat, and I would wait, looking out over Jerusalem. Jesus began what He referred to as “The Softening” – which was something equivalent to putting my heart in a microwave to get it malleable enough to receive what He was dishing out. That’s when I began to hear it. The sound of the city, Israel, as she sang her own sweet song of unity. I could feel the peace that rode in on the breeze. “I could hardly wait for you to come and be a part of this.”
The rest of the week I searched for opportunity to make sure my heart was in a position to be made soft. That I could see what He was doing, or saying. To see how He felt, or who He was highlighting. It was a really sweet beginning for this new season.
Sanna Akurstein from the Faroe Islands
The worship in the convocation was amazing! I loved the worship and the fantastic worship band!
It was SO good to praise God in Jerusalem together with people from all over the world. The presence of God was so near, and you could feel that the people of God were in the same spirit! God filled my spirit in a special way, and I was overwhelmed of this loving presence.
I loved Asher Intrater’s message about going on a higher level. Sometimes there is not a human solution to what is going on, and we get very confused. But in Revelation 4:1 God is asking us to come to a higher level. We have got to get a higher solution over what is going on in our lives!
Asher mentioned 4 steps:
- Step 1— When Yeshua went to Heaven, He took authority over this world with Him.
- Step 2— He gave that exact authority to us.
- Step 3—He invited us up to Heaven to be with Him there.
- Step 4—We have access to Him through the Spirit of God.
Ephesian 2:6 And God raised us up together, and He made us sit together in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Do we really understand this? We are seated with Him in the Heavenly places!! He gave it to us and He invited us to participate with Him.
I have been praying this message over my life, my nation and different circumstances since the convocation. When there are things in my life I do not understand I pray to God for a higher solution – not for a human solutions, but for Godly solutions! God always has a way, even when we do not see any way!
Christopher Tsoi from Hong Kong
Upon learning that the Aglow Convocation was going to be in Israel, my mum had a special desire for the whole family to go together. I immediately agreed as I’d always wanted to travel to Israel and step foot in some of the many places where I’d read up about in the Bible.
The opening night of the Convocation was unforgettable as I looked upon hundreds of my fellow brothers and sisters in the Christ gathered from many different nations all in the name of worshipping Jesus Christ. We were given precious insight about the political and spiritual environment of Israel from our speakers, ultimately to better understand the heart of God.
I especially appreciated some of their friends that they introduced who shared about how they are facilitating the spreading of the gospel in the Holy Land in their various capacities. This included a dental ministry, an organization making bags and accessories from up-cycled materials, and a church catering especially to the Arab community.
After the three day Convocation, we were able to visit various sites in Jerusalem, travel up to the Galilee and finish in Tel Aviv. As someone who is fond of maps and geography, the distances travelled between places and the intense heat we experienced has added another level of understanding of the scriptures.
There are many more layers to discover and the ten days spent was just a small taster of this fascinating land. If you haven’t been to Israel, I strongly encourage you to visit and if you have already been, I’m sure you’ll want to go back once again!
From Nicola Tsoi from Hong Kong
"Shalom!" This is the word I heard many times throughout the Convocation in Israel, and yet it's so much more than a greeting of peace. In a sense, me and my family's trip to Israel was supposed to be a time to get away from the chaos of Hong Kong, but truth be told, chaos is found no matter which part of the world you're in.
And yet, what an eye-opening experience it has been! I think what I appreciated most out of this trip is learning how to pray for the current Israel, and knowing that even though there's chaos, we can still find "Shalom" - not only with each other, but peace with God through the blood of Jesus.
Along those lines, the biggest highlight for me would have to be the sharing from Asher Intrater about throwing stones, and doing the prophetic act of casting down the metaphorical stones we hold - stones of accusation, condemnation, and judgement. Instead, we're called to lift people out of their sin because of our love for them, and to pursue personal righteousness in our own lives rather than finding fault in everyone else. This is only possible if we seek and work for the true Shalom, so I'll definitely be putting more of this into practice!
This was my first time in Israel, but it certainly won't be my last! The Bible really comes alive in all the places we visited, and has deepened my understanding of what Israel is and was like. And hopefully, I can bring back and share a piece of Israel with those in Hong Kong - both its amazing history, and its "Shalom"!
Cassiana Tavares from Portugal
I had a very compelling time with Sarah. (Sarah Catarino was the Aglow president for Portugal for many years and this last year Cassiana has been appointed and serving as their new Aglow president.) As we completed the transition in our ministry I felt the need for further teaching and counseling.
Sarah is very supportive and available but I’m always moving. This was a great opportunity to have really important feedback about this 1st year of work and specific guidelines for other issues. We also had the chance to share and pray, and of course we had fun together.
It was my first time in Israel. I visited Jerusalem. I toured in specific sites and took the time to meditate.
At the wall I felt the need to pray over human trafficking victims. I believe I heard the Lord say that as He heard his people when they were enslaved in Egypt, we should tell the victims that He listens to their voices and that He will deliver them.
At the conference I took the word “come up here” as a life statement and shared it in our conference.
Visiting King of Kings gave us an understanding of prayer and heavenly atmosphere that I still find moving just by recalling it.
Bianca Fuchs from Germany
Regarding the convocation: I was very moved by the vow that was taken by the Watchmen on the Wall. Standing at this special place overlooking Jerusalem, together with many nations and experiencing the commitment so many have taken was a real encouragement for me.
It has become even more important to me during the last week as we had a man violently attacking the Jewish community in Germany massively.
So for me it has become an even more important task to stand with our brothers and sisters in prayer and speaking up for them. I think being in Jerusalem with all the mighty prayer warriors has set the pace for me.
Young People were blessed at the French-Speaking Aglow Conference in Belgium
"During that retreat, I was touched by the Holy Spirit. Thanks to Him I was able to meet other Christians of my age, who are also hungry for GOD; I thank Him because there was a before and an after retreat." — Rebecca 16 years old.
The theme for this year’s spring European English Speaking Aglow Conference was on Naomi and Ruth, and the Generations.