There would be still much to do! Good! How can someone take three days and be quiet?! Listen to God? And to the brother? Mary was exemplary in this respect: “She sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to his speech.” Lk 10:38. To her sister the Lord said, “Martha, Martha, you have much care and trouble. But one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good part; this shall not be taken from her.” Lk 10:41.
Even well-intentioned busyness leads to loneliness and burnout. Jesus, however, has called us as ‘brothers’: ” …but you are all brothers.” Mt 23:8
‘Sitting at Jesus’ feet’ – ‘sitting at Yeshua’s feet’ (SAYF). For well over 23 years, a team of Messianic and Arab pastors has been committed to gathering Arab and Messianic pastors from all over Israel for three retreats in the desert in the fall and spring. The content and goal of this national leadership gathering is to renew, strengthen relationships with God and each other. Prayer, praise, sharing and the encounter with God are at the center. At SAYF, ministry, politics and even theological disagreements take a back seat for once. The Word of God and the person of the brother become important. We remember and experience this: we are one family and we have one common passion: Jesus! Even if we have different views and emphases in the construction of the Kingdom of God, the personally experienced reconciliation, the cross of Jesus, that unites us! Duties and surprises try to keep the 30 to 60 men from participating each time, it remains a struggle.
On the first day, after a brief word of orientation, they meet in groups for personal sharing and prayer. Each one gets involved and shares what is important or difficult for him, for the Body of Christ, for the nation. The fraternal relationship, the interest in the individual is in the foreground, becomes visible and renewed. For this time, the pastor is the one who receives! How beneficial, the fraternity. In the evening, the storytelling continues in the large group, sometimes around the campfire. Personal testimonies and prayer requests are shared, people get close to each other and share. This is always a moment of reconciliation and clearing up of relationships between individual leaders and groups.
The next day begins at dawn: Bible texts for meditation are handed out, everyone wanders into the vast desert, equipped only with his Bible and water. This time belongs entirely to God. Without smartphone and computer, for many men the only time of the year. Under a big rock, in a gorge, by an acacia tree – everyone finds his place where he is alone with God for five hours. Quietly. Unusual. And God speaks differently to each one. The brothers tell each other about this in the afternoon. How strengthening! God surprises us again and again with his presence when we step out of our overcrowded everyday life for a moment.
In the evening we celebrate communion together, seal our unity, our togetherness.
On the last day we pray again for each other as brothers. Together we bring our personal intentions before God. Goodwill from the brother and blessing from God should accompany each of the brothers!
The simplicity of these meetings, the focus on Jesus, on the brother, and not on a theme or problem, make these retreats so valuable, a place of encounter, where one becomes aware for a moment anew of what moves the brother, presses – in order to remain together on the way.
We as the SAYF committee would like to cordially invite all pastors and leaders who are building the Body of Christ with us here in Israel to attend, as it is a unique and blessed time to meet Yeshua and the brethren more deeply and to strengthen relationships and be encouraged. In 23 years I have hardly known anyone who regretted giving this time to God and the brothers.
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