Pay it forward – The Harvest of Katzir youth camps

Impassioned, Yosef poured out his heart before the silent teens.  His words rushed over the stunned youth like a rapid stream over well-worn rocks. He exhorted them to put aside every distraction and pursue God with all their souls. Yet his tone was without condemnation. He spoke from his own struggle as a young Israeli serving in the army, questioning faith in Yeshua and living in moral compromise.

Now 30, Yosef was a regular in our early camps during his teenage years.  His intensity as he addressed the group erupted from a volcano of concern for today’s youth—often living in the bubble of social media.  Yosef carries a burden for kids who’ve grown up in a believing home.  I felt his longing to light a fire in their hearts – a burning desire to know the Lord, to walk with Him, and to make Him known.

Time stopped. The kids blinked. What just happened? Yosef came to the end of his message. When he urged them to receive prayer, to be real in turning it all over to God, they came forward. There was no requirement. No grade being given. Each of them was compelled by the Spirit of the Lord. I couldn’t stop looking at them – Israeli teens from 14-18 years old. The counselors, whose own teen years were not so far in the past, wrapped their hearts around those responding. This was the crescendo to a spiritual momentum that grew during our three day Passover camp this spring, 2019. What a scene!

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Yosef, a Youth Leader for Katzir

Years ago a movie came out called “Pay It Forward.” In it a boy created a school project to change his town. The concept was doing something good for three people, who in turn, would do something good for three more people. I remembered this phrase while thinking about Yosef’s message. Fifteen years ago he had experiences with God and his life was changed in a Katzir camp. Now he is “paying it forward” by sharing his experience and by opening the words of God for the next generation. The fruit of these youth events is multiplying before our eyes.

But this effort is not just for those of us who live in Israel and speak Hebrew. We need the help and participation of brothers and sisters around the world, who understand the drama of Israel’s rebirth. Our physical restoration as a nation only sets the stage for spiritual restoration. The ancient prophets were united in emphasizing this end-time restoration/revival once the Jewish nation would be replanted in our land. They pointed to the calling of youth in this final outpouring preceding the coming of the Lord. And Isaiah expressly anticipated the prominent role of God-lovers from all nations in Israel’s last days’ return to Messiah.

This August we will again gather with young people from some 40 congregations throughout Israel. For a solid week there will be youth-led worship, challenging messages from God’s word, small group discussion and prayer with trained counselors, together with service projects to give something back to the needy in our society. Won’t you join us in equipping Israel’s Messianic youth for the harvest (katzir) spoken of by the Hebrew prophets and by Yeshua Himself? “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest (Adon haKatzir) to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Eitan Shishkoff is the Founding Director of Katzir and Founder of Mercy Network of Congregations

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This article originally appeared in Moaz Israel Report, June 2019, and reposted with permission.