Prayer is requested for a city council meeting in Sderot on 29 January to decide whether to allow City of Life Ministries (CLM) to continue to operate from their premises used for humanitarian work and congregational meetings.
After pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jews, Sderot Municipality took pastor Michael Beener and CLM to court, claiming their building does not meet zoning requirements. An initial hearing, scheduled for 23 June 2021, was postponed repeatedly and then indefinitely as CLM’s lawyers exerted pressure on the municipal engineering department.
On 29 January a city council commission will assess the suitability of the building for CLM’s activities and consider any complaints from neighbours. Although there apparently had been no complaints, a petition was quickly organised and signed by about 160 people, expressing their disagreement with the ministry and the presence of Messianic Jews in the city.
Opposition to CLM started in 2020 when CCTV picked up an ultra-orthodox Jew who had illegally entered the building and was using his phone to record videos. CLM reported the incident to the police. Following that, in August 2020, Yad L’Achim – a Jewish organisation opposed to evangelistic activity – staged a protest outside CLM and a chief rabbi visited the property owners to try to persuade them to cancel the rental agreement.
Prior to being served court papers, Pastor Michael was summoned to the municipal Engineering Department to answer questions which he says focused more on CLM’s funding than the building or the humanitarian activities and congregational meetings.
Michael writes: “We do not know exactly what awaits us next Sunday. But we are confident that this whole story is happening because we have openly declared our faith in Yeshua (Jesus) and actively serve the people of our city helping them on behalf of the Messianic community of Sderot.”
Please pray that:
- God will strengthen and encourage Michael and the congregation of Messianic believers in Sderot
- God will guide the commission as it meets to discuss the building and its suitability according to zoning requirements
- If it is God’s will, this will be an end to opposition from the municipality and that CLM will continue to use the building for congregational meetings and distributing aid to refugees
- God will touch the hearts of those opposing His work in Sderot and hear those very same words heard by Saul of Tarsus, “Why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads”.