By Fred Comella
We are living in times of trial. History is being corrupted in the absence of those who lived it, and a government of, by and for the people is losing sight of its Judeo-Christian heritage. The God of the Bible and all He represents to free people around the globe is being marginalized, and the “evil one” is manifesting himself in ever-changing ways in order to seduce an entire generation to a life absent even the slightest accountability. Consequently, many are seeking answers in dark places, intentionally confusing right and wrong and advocating for alternatives to the truth. And our leaders and media/press types are complicit players in a game that shouldn’t be a game.
So, as we witness events of unimaginable horror, from the neighborhoods of war-torn Syria to the gulags of North Korea, and here at home on the streets of Chicago and in the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, it’s easy to embrace the words of an ignorant late night talk show host or frothing politician with questionable intent. And it’s easy to excuse away chasing God from our schools and government buildings, while devaluing human life to the point where we’ve become morally desensitized to even the most sinister of man’s sins. So, what then is the answer?
If you’ve read anything I’ve written in years past you’d remember a common theme, that being a return to the Judeo-Christian value set that was and is the foundation of all that we are. But what does that mean. Well it’s not just a cliché band-wagon statement, attached exclusively to the Founders and the Framers in one of my American political rants. No, my friends, it’s about far more than just acknowledging our short-comings as fathers, mothers, parents and teachers. It’s about going back to the beginning, a place where we can actually identify and relate to our Creator and how He wanted us to live this life He gave us. This type of deep reflection on the Biblical principles which are the pillars of a life well-lived, and that help to guide us away from the temptation and darkness in times of anguish and pain, is exactly where we need to be as a nation and as a human kind. Going “back before we can move forward” is something we tend to overlook these days and increasingly, with tragic consequences.
I must admit, I too have been confused about what exactly going back means. But as if an answer to prayer, my editor sent something my way having to do with an organization called Rhode Island Coalition for Israel, or (RICI) and an event they’re sponsoring on March 8th having to do with the “Book of Esther” called “Such A Time as This”. Now the usual challenges to Israel, both as a nation and as a people are well known. I would submit to you that many of Israel’s detractors count on the ignorance of most folks when it comes Israel’s true history, thus they endeavor with malice to paint Israel as part of the problem and not the solution in modern times. And while a true reading of world history debunks those nefarious claims of Her enemies, 2000 words isn’t enough space for me to list all the reasons why. With that said, coming to know Israel as our brethren in the God of Jehovah is essential to understanding why Israel’s right to survival is so important to our own, and why “going back before moving forward” is an essential factor in deciphering the labyrinth of errors that have brought man-kind to this ominous place in world history.
“RICI is a grassroots organization of Christians and Jews volunteering their time and energy out of their religious faith in God’s eternal promise to Abraham, and their unshakeable belief that the Jewish people have a right to a safe and secure homeland in Israel. Foundationally speaking that says a lot. Their mission is to promote Western, Judeo-Christian values in America and America’s alliance with Israel through a working partnership of Christians and Jews”. And God’s words, (“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”. Genesis 12:3), solidify that Israel, beyond debate, must be part of any solution we seek. To take this one step further, and to tie it to the sponsored event in March, I was blessed to be invited into a conference call by Howard Brown, Executive Director for RICI, discussing and promoting “Such a time as this” on March 8th, as well as Judeo-Christian alliances.
I was joined in that call by Mary Greene, faith leader of Jubilee Sisters Bible Group and President of RICI, Dave Talan, President of Reservoir Triangle Neighborhood Association, and RICI Vice-President, Luanne Pezzullo, who organizes Christian tours to Israel, and is the RICI secretary, Tricia Miller, senior analyst with CAMERA’s Partnership of Christians and Jews for Israel, and the guest speaker for the event, Jaime Aguayo, CEO of Urban Ventures, and RICI advisory Board member, and Pastor Dave Marquard of the Praise Tabernacle Church, an early supporter of the Christian/Jewish partnership concept in our area.
Mary Greene conducted the interview for me as I marveled at the collection of knowledge and experience on the phone. I remain fascinated when I speak to these people of action, and my conversations yield so much of what I just didn’t know. (I highly recommend getting educated on the topics you choose to debate. Just sayin’). Mary immediately reminded me that the (FREE) event is a film of a popular play about the “Book of Esther”, and how in these turbulent times, returning to our Biblical roots can be enlightening and re-assuring. Dave Talan explained the venue and how he hoped the triangulation of ethnicity and churches in the area would contribute to a diverse and varied attendance. Pastor Dave Marquard and I spoke of the connection between the Jewish and Christian communities, and how we both understood one is ultimately connected to the other by way of a common God of the Bible, and that that relationship was critical even more so in modern times. He also reminded that Israel stands poised in defense of its God-given homeland, a mere 8019 square miles amidst its surrounding enemies of nearly 4.5 million square miles. A daunting testament to the protection of an all-powerful God and His promise to His people.
Perspective of church and synagogue spires atopped with a cross and Star of David. The two spires appear to be overlapping in a clear sky.
Luanne Pezzullo spoke of the need for activism, and how our common enemies are more vocal than at any time in the past. She spoke of Rhode Island Congressman Cicciline’s help in combatting ill-intended anti-Israeli legislation, and of his willingness to hear concerns from RICI and related groups regarding the Iran nuclear deal and its negative effects on Israel.
And Jaime Aguayo spoke of his activism in the 60’s and 70’s and how that opened his eyes to the plight of civil rights and the Jewish people at the time, and also how they supported his own activism as part of their own. Jaime also spoke of the need for a clearer message of Judaism and Israel to the Hispanic community, and how that message needs to be more consistent and in the form of radio where he feels there is great opportunity to reach out.
And finally I heard from Tricia Miller, Ph.D., and Senior Research Analyst with CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), who focused on what Esther means for us today as Christians in the struggle for a secure homeland for the Jewish people in the Jewish State of Israel. Dr. Miller and I spoke of how humans have the right and responsibility to defend themselves against those who intend to murder them, and about how the truth of Esther has been manipulated to reflect the Jews as aggressors in order to fuel anti-Semitism over the ages. “Dr. Miller wrote her dissertation on anti-Semitism in relation to the book of Esther. It was published in July of 2014 under the title Three Versions of Esther. A second book, titled Jews and Anti-Judaism in Esther and the Church was published in May 2015, and addresses the relationship of Esther to current Christian anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism”. We also spoke candidly of the enemies need to deconstruct the God of the Bible, and how while this cannot be accomplished in short order, a concerted effort continues over generations and must be thwarted with Biblical fact and truth.
The entire conversation was wide ranging and touched on everything from the tragic murder of former U.S. Army officer Taylor Force in March of 2016, who was part of a Vanderbilt University tour group and was stabbed to death in a terror attack that left 10 others wounded in Tel Aviv, to the moral confusion and violence we’re seeing here in our country, to the need for confirmation of Israeli advocate Kenneth Marcus to serve as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, and to the need to combat pro-Palestinian organizations like BDS, (Boycott, Divest, Sanction), that seek to destroy Israel’s alliances and economy , inevitably destroying Israel.
So how does this all come together you ask? Well, for me it’s easier than it may seem on paper. From the very beginning of God’s purpose for human kind, we bear witness to Biblical principles and truths which He intended to be more than simply words spoken on Sunday in synagogues and churches around the world. We’ve formed governments around those principles and truths of our existence, so we might not forget them. And we set them as guidelines to try and live by every day. They come to us via the passages of the Hebrew and Christian Bible, the words of the God of “Israel”, and we claim to hold fast to them. But I submit to you my friends, and in this time of great angst in His world, that if we cannot hold fast to the simple truth of our faith and common God of Israel, then how can we possibly, as mere mortals, be the arbiters of any of life’s great questions. You see, there are no short cuts. And I believe we are at the crossroads when we must “go back to move forward”.
So I would encourage you to mark a spot on your calendar, and go attend this one-time program, to be held on Thursday, March 8th at 7 pm, over at Potter’s House Church, 77 Reservoir Ave, Providence. It may not be the answer to all of your questions, but it certainly will reassure you on the alliance of faith necessary to apply yourself to the conundrums of our time. I’m told it’s also extraordinarily entertaining and educational, written by a pastor and first performed at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, California. Maybe I’ll see you there…
The video will be followed by a talk and Q&A presented by Dr. Tricia Miller, Ph.D., focusing on what Esther means for us today as Christians in the struggle for a secure homeland for the Jewish people in the Jewish State of Israel. I found Dr. Miller superbly versed in her discipline, and I’m sure she’ll be ready for any questions you may have.
Additional information: The program is being co-sponsored by the Rhode Island Coalition for Israel (RICI) (www.ricoalitionforisrael.org), CAMERA’s Partnership of Christians and Jews (www.camaeraspartnership.org), Christians and Jews United for Israel (www.cjui.org), and New Hampshire for Israel (www.nh4israel.org).
Rest assured fellow travelers, and as I’ve told you time and again, I’m no biblical scholar nor will I likely ever be. And I too am dazed and confused by the events unfolding on the television screen on any given night. But I’m steadfast in my belief that the one true God of the bible is in control, and that if I’m not complacent and lazy, and that so long as I seek truth and not authority over that which I have none, I will find answers. But there are no short cuts. Start on page one…