A Season of Trials at Tiferet Yeshua

In the first nine months of the covid-19 pandemic, it seemed like our congregation was being protected from the covid-19 virus. Yes, it was challenging for all of us being in long-term quarantines, not being able to meet in person, and trying to care for those who had suffered either financial or emotional difficulties. However, we were all so thankful that only two people from our congregation contracted the disease and both recovered quickly and without major symptoms.

Hope and Fear

Starting late December, just as Israel was beginning to vaccinate its citizens, more serious cases of the virus started to arise in our congregation. The Israeli government’s massive vaccination campaign caused responses on opposite ends of the spectrum in the community of believers and in society at large – hope and fear. Some felt hope that the vaccination was grace from God to allow us to start making our way out of this pandemic. Others, however, were gripped with fear—some legitimate concerns about the vaccine were engulfed by a tidal wave of conspiracies about the vaccination. To this day, fear continues to cloud the decision-making of many believers, causing much confusion.

Covid Hits Tiferet Yeshua

Then on February 2nd, we heard from a dear family in our congregation that the whole family was sick with covid, and the father, Orel, had been admitted to the hospital with breathing difficulties.

Orel and Monica Obreja are parents of nine children, making the seriousness of Orel’s condition feel more dire. They are also a well-known and beloved family in Tiferet Yeshua: we are a small congregation that feels very much like a large spiritual family. While Orel was in the hospital, Monica was so weak that she could not even stand on her feet. When she finally started improving a week later, two of her teenage sons were admitted to the hospital with breathing difficulties. That same week, Olga, one of our team members, and her whole family contracted the virus. Then we got word that the doctors had decided to put Orel in an induced coma in order to intubate him, which meant that his condition was dire.

The Valley of the Shadow

The following week, Orel’s condition took a turn for the worse, and Monica called us in tears: the doctors had told her that he only had a few days to live. A week later, our sister and co-laborer in the ministry, Olga, was admitted to the hospital with breathing difficulties. Then we learned that the music leaders of our worship team, a husband and wife team, were also infected with the virus. It felt like illness was all around us and death was knocking on the doors.

We did all that we knew to do: we prayed non-stop. We asked our international friends and partners to pray as well. Without having to ask or organize anything, the congregation came together and provided food and groceries for Orel’s family. Olga’s family was provided for as well. We felt like all the challenges we faced up until this point through the last year were nothing in the light of this struggle.

Battling in Prayer

For two weeks, the whole congregation was praying, fasting, and trying to help care for the immediate needs of our families who were hit with covid. We were encouraged with updates from Monica that the doctors were amazed that Orel was still alive. Then by the week of February 21st, we had news that his condition had slightly improved. We knew it would be a long process of healing for Orel and that we would have to organize long-term support for the Obreja family, but we were also hopeful that soon we would celebrate Orel’s healing.

Purim’s Death Knell

As we approached Purim that week, we learned that our worship leader couple was now bedridden with covid and that another woman from our congregation was also very sick with covid. As a pastor of a small flock, the attack on the lives of our people felt raw and deeply personal. Purim, a holiday of joy, celebration and divine turn-arounds, was on Friday that week, the day of our services (which we still hold on zoom), and we were preparing to hear a message of faith and hope for that day. Two hours before our service was to begin, however, Monica called to tell me that Orel had passed away.

I felt broken and confused, and yet I had to find a way to lead the service, to share with everyone the devastating news and point them, somehow, in the direction of His comfort and healing—one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I should have known, though, that it had nothing to do with me—Holy Spirit arranged the service in such an intimate and special way. It was healing and encouraging to everyone, me included.

God is Sovereign

This season of trials has taught me much. The greatest lesson I have learned is that the more I grow in my faith, the closer I draw to God and the more I understand about Him, at the same time I am discovering how little I know about Him and His ways as well. All I need to know in these challenging times is that God is sovereign, and He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him (Rom. 8:28) – even suffering and the untimely death of a loved one.

Beauty for Ashes

We barely see one step in front of us, but God sees the end from the beginning and where each event will ultimately lead us. Along the way, God’s Word prepares us for these moments: when we pass through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us (Ps. 23). We are actually blessed when we mourn because He will comfort us (Matt. 5:4). We consider ourselves happy to endure in sufferings (James 5:11). We discover Him intimately close to us when we are the most broken and vulnerable. In that place, He promises us beauty for ashes, oil of joy instead of mourning (Isa. 61:3), that if we sow in tears, we will reap in joy (Ps. 126:5). We are holding onto all these promises that He will bring about a rich harvest in each one of us of being closer to Him, more dependent upon Him, and filled with a joy that not even death can steal.


0 thoughts on “A Season of Trials at Tiferet Yeshua

  • Your testimony has deeply touch me…I have enjoyed your Shabbat services online, especially the worship even though I do not understand Hebrew, You are in my prayers, I ask that you feel Yeshua’s presence, that the Spirit will comfort and sustain you…much love in Yeshua’s name!

  • Arie ten Napel says:

    May the Lord continue to comfort all in this situation. And give victory. Tiferet Yeshua is and will remain in His way and plans. He gave your congregation His crown. Keep on praying! Miss you guys!

  • Brother Gil,

    Please keep us informed how is the situation with other brothers and sisters who were infected with Covid virus in Tiferet Yeshua family. How is Olga, the worship team leading family and another sister from the congregation that you mentioned. Is Monica now beseder with Covid, and other two kids? I ask of Adonai to protect the congregation from further virus onslaught on His little flock in Tel Aviv. Shabbat Shalom to everyone and blessings and love from above!

  • wish to get in contact with Monika – I spent many years with them in Ashkelon, can you please let me know their e-mail address ? thank you !

  • Shalom, I attended your Kehila for the three years I lived in Israel but had to return to Canada to support my elderly mother. I was so sorry to read of the difficulties the Kehila has endured in your report. Thankfully you have endured and he will reward what the locust has stolen.

    Love & prayers, catherine

  • Martin Natterer says:

    We, friends and family, stand with you in prayer! And we do profit, as i must say, even from your suffering… it works in us a consolation we do thoroughly need, hour by hour, as we are s often attacked at all levels. We are utterly thankful for your endurance and faith. And we pray that your love for oneanother isbeing refreshed and renewed every hour of these cloudy days. Be the peace and presence of our Lord with you all! M.

  • Charles Compton says:

    Having lost my beloved wife of over 47 years in January from after she contracted covid in the hospital where she was admitted l after suffering a stroke and having been privileged to serve stents as both a pastor and a worship leader at times, I can truly relate to feelings of grief and even despair With God’s help and guidance I was able to conduct my wife’s funeral and as well as sing her favorite hymn “It is Well with My Soul” and her and my favorite contemporary songs “Sovereign Over Us” and “Way-maker” After the service the funeral director told me that the strength he witnessed in me caused him to turn back to God and one of my son’s friends told him that he felt compelled to go back to church because of what he experienced during the service . We must always keep in mind that the ultimate good spoken about in Romans 8:28 is stated in verse 29 to make us more like Yeshua. I believe even the current political situation in both of our nations as well as this pandemic will ultimately prove that to be true.

    • Tiferet Yeshua says:

      Dear Charles, thank you for sharing your story with us! May you discover the Lord ever closer to you as you walk out your grief with Him as your guide through the “valley of tears” and that you would continue to see the eternal life He is reaping even from your most painful experience.

  • Beth Stewart says:

    Please pass along my deepest condolences to Orel’s family. My prayers joined yours for his complete recovry. God’s will be done.

  • Agnes Chang says:

    Yes, please let Orel’s family know we in the nations are praying for them. May they
    experience supernatural comfort and extraordinary grace. We pray also for the
    whole congregation, agreeing with you Rom 8:28-30.

  • Dalia Cohen says:

    Oh Roeh Gill,
    I am so sorry to know all that.
    But The God of Israel is building our faith.

    I lost my father when I was 9 years old.
    So many wrong things went tough my life because of my fathers death.
    Because of my father’s death I was very broken and willing to look at Yeshua.

    • Tiferet Yeshua says:

      Dear Dalia, Thank you for your care and sharing your experience. God is sovereign even in these difficult times, and He give us beauty for ashes!

  • Helmut Kühn says:

    What a challenging time for you, your family and the whole congegation, dear Gil. God is strong enough to hold you and make you stand firmly, even though your heart is trumbling. Our deepest condolences and God´s provision to Orel´s family. He ist Jahwe Jireh.

  • Thankyou for a real sharing of sorrow and difficulty. May the Lord flip the circumstance s from this
    New year on to see HIS wonders and truth reap a glorious harvest. Bless you all

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