It happened last August 5, during his daily habit of going for an early morning swim. About a kilometer away from the shore of Tel Aviv, Jacob Damkani felt a strong, agonizingly sharp pain in his chest that lasted for around 10 seconds. For another minute he felt an increasingly strong pain taking over his left leg. Jacob fought for his life and by some miracle (literally speaking), with the last of his strength, he succeeded in reaching the shore and the operating room at Ichilov Hospital. He was suffering from a rupture of his aorta. During the eight-hour surgery, they sawed his chest open and repaired this major blood vessel over his heart.
All this happened after Jacob had finished work on his new film, “The Messenger” (“Ha-Mevaser” in Hebrew).
“I don’t make a connection between the operation I underwent and the film I produced,” said Jacob. “I just sing praises to God that He decided to keep me alive. I heard that 95% of those experiencing this medical emergency die from it – and in my case it even happened out at sea! He spared my life because I have not yet completed my mission.“
Damkani, who is viewed in the Body of Messiah as a point-man for evangelism, has built a professional production studio, managing it with an experienced staff. His messages are broadcasted on Christian TV stations around the world. Jacob has also established an Internet radio and TV channel, and he hopes that anyone with something to teach to the Israeli people about the promised Salvation will get in touch with him. As he sees it, people are “glued to their screens”, causing them to read books less and watch videos more.
Jacob remembers: “The idea to produce a movie burned in me for years, but the timing is always in God’s hands: and that time is now. Doron Eran is a leading director in the film industry. He saw me on the screen as I gave my testimony in a movie which he produced about Messianic Jews, and he said, ‘We have to do a movie about this guy!’ I was ready for it – and that’s how ‘The Messenger’ came into being.
“I have to say that Doron and his team asked a lot of questions; they wanted to understand the Messianic faith. Like all of us, they also hope to see changes in the way Israelis approach Yeshua.”
The movie tells Jacob Damkani’s life story, his testimony and aspirations. He is the pre-eminent evangelist, a strong and steadfast man who does not let jealous or angry people, inside or outside the Body of Messiah, divert him from the path that God has set for him. Even if they attack, accuse and curse him, he will do the right thing. Although he describes himself in the movie as a kind of abandoned man, separated from wife and children, Jacob still has an unmovable and powerful vision. The film tells it all, but ultimately it is meant to tell about Yeshua the Messiah, who conquered Jacob’s heart and made him a servant of the gospel.
Damkani explains, “The whole movie, like everything else I do in life, is meant to let the people of Israel see Yeshua in His Jewishness. I have very high expectations – my hope and faith is that the people of Israel, and even the rabbinic establishment, will wake up to recognize Yeshua the Messiah and will be a voice for a spiritual revival and a real reform. This is my great dream, and I have been aiming for it since the day I was born again. By God’s grace, and in spite of my weaknesses and failures, I have not let go of this dream. It’s actually the dream of the prophets, Yeshua and all the apostles. It’s God’s dream – and it needs to be the dream, goal and vision of every true believer.”
Jacob’s dream may be big and his expectations high, but he has good reason to think of dreaming and hoping for this spiritual reform. His famous book Why Me? is the most widely distributed Messianic book in Israel. It was written 25 years ago and describes Damkani’s journey from the lost life of a “hippie” to life as a believer in Yeshua the promised Messiah. The Messianic faith burning inside him turned him into a national evangelist.
The book Why Me? has reached more than half a million Israelis, and many have come to the Messianic faith after reading it. What does Damkani say to that? The book did what it was supposed to, and it will continue to do wonders. But he believes now it’s time to produce movies.
“I would very much like to see the Body of Messiah get serious about working together and cooperating like we did in the early 1980s. We need to complete this mission. Once we used to do so much together; today we do less. I would like to see us get back on track together in doing things jointly. For myself, having a very professional production studio, I invite anyone who has something to teach to take part in our radio and TV programs, which are produced in Hebrew and English. I extend my hand and heart to the general Body of Messiah to come and take part in this studio, which is there for all of us.”
He wholeheartedly invites everyone to come to the premier screening of “The Messenger”, on Tuesday, March 15 at 20:30 at the Cinematheque in Tel Aviv (Shprinzak 2). One thing is certain: with Damkani as the subject, it will be interesting.
Jacob concludes, “I am happy to report that after much effort, it looks like the press will be there. It is very important for all of us to be there too – in one spirit and with one heart. Please pray for the presence of the Spirit of God, that His grace will be on all the viewers, and that the movie will be an instrument in God’s hand to open the eyes of many and set captives free.”
Click below to watch the trailer for “The Messenger”.
If you’re interested in Jacob Damkani’s story you can purchase his book “Why Me?” by click on the image below to go to Amazon.