Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) conference celebrates Israel’s 70th birthday


Hundreds of international visitors from at least 20 countries are gathering this week for Christian Friends of Israel’s (CFI) 2018 Conference.

Andrea Hanel left her home in the United States last week to attend CFI’s annual conference which coincides this year with Israel’s 70th anniversary of statehood. Hanel sojourned from Paonia, a small town in Colorado, located 7,000 miles from Jerusalem with a year-round population of some 1,500 residents.

What prompted Hanel to travel so far?

Linda Link, Penny Sutton and Andrea Hamel traveled 7,000 miles to attend the CFI conference.
(L to R) Linda Link, Penny Sutton and Andrea Hanel traveled 7,000 miles to attend the CFI conference.

“I love Israel and I love Yeshua,” Hanel answered simply. This was her third visit to the Holy Land.

“My first trip here was years ago during Yom Kippur,” she told KNI. Afterwards, Hanel, who is not Jewish, underwent what she called a “born-again experience” regarding Israel and the Jewish people. She described her prior spiritual experience as “church attendance, learning, memorization and recitation.”

Then she fell in love with Israel.

Hanel’s two close friends, Linda Link and Penny Sutton, also from Colorado, convinced her to accompany them to Jerusalem this spring and experience CFI’s annual conference, which is taking place April 16 to 19, 2018 at the Yehuda Hotel in Jerusalem.

Stacey and Kevin Howard
Stacey and Kevin Howard, CFI International Directors

Christian friends of Israel was founded by Ray and Sharon Sanders until 2015 when the torch was passed to Stacey and Kevin Howard. CFI continue to bring love and light to the Jewish people from Christians all over the world who received from God a love for Israel and the Jewish people.

The 2018 conference theme is “Stepping into the role of being a Light to the Nations” and has a stellar line-up of speakers from the Israeli government, Israeli Jewish community and the Israeli Messianic and Christian community including:

  • Anat Berko, Knesset member and former IDF Lieutenant Colonel
  • Steven Khoury, Israeli Arab author, pastor and vice president of Holy Land Missions
  • Daniel Yahav, Messianic pastor of the Tiberias-area Messianic congregation Peniel
  • Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
  • Jonathan Spyer, Middle East analyst, author and senior research fellow
  • Chris Mitchell, Christian Broadcasting News (CBN) Middle East bureau chief
  • Adam Halley, IDF captain and Homeland Security consultant
  • Rick Ridings, founder of Succat Hallel 24/7 house of prayer in Jerusalem
  • Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel
  • David Nekrutman, executive director of The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding & Cooperation
  • Michael Oren, deputy minister in the Knesset and former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

The 2018 CFI conference includes speakers from the Israeli government, Israeli Jewish community and Israeli Messianic/Christian community

The first evening of conference featured Knesset Member Anat Berko, a 25-year IDF veteran who reached lieutenant colonel and has a Ph.D. in criminology from Bar-Ilan University, who presented a blunt assessment of Islamic terrorism’s continuing threat, not only to Israel but to all civilized people.

“Israel is the canary in the coal mine,” she said.

Berko stressed the importance – in the face of this threat – of continued cooperation, support and understanding between Christians and Jews.

MK Anat Berko
MK Anat Berko

Berko is the author of The Path to Paradise: The Inner World of Suicide Bombers and their Dispatchers and The Smarter Bomb: Women and Children as Suicide Bombers,  books she wrote based on interviews with Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons.

Berko joined CFI in urging more cooperation between Christian supporters of Israel and Jews, a point amplified later in the evening by Michael Amsalem, deputy mayor of Sderot. Sderot, a city in southern Israel, is known for enduring a continuing onslaught of rocket attacks from the nearby Gaza Strip and is darkly referred to as the bomb shelter capital of the world.

Amsalem praised CFI’s Maggie Huang, the volunteer coordinator of their Communities Under Attack ministry which reaches out to victims of rocket attacks in the South.

“Maggie, would win an election in Sderot over me,” Amsalem told the audience, referring to the local fame Huang has accrued during her service to the traumatized citizens of Sderot. “She is a combat soldier.”

The Communities Under Attack outreach is one of a dozen CFI programs that support the Jewish people in Israel and worldwide.