We weren’t Christians in Israel

After ministering to middle eastern refugees in Athens for 5 weeks, it was time to transition into the second part of our missions trip which was in Israel. Jewish synagagueWe had 3 weeks in the “Holy Land” which was basically an orientation to Israeli culture. Being a missionary you always want to be aware of the culture you’re ministering to in order to communicate lovingly & clearly the intention of your words & actions. In Israel there were many things we had to learn in order for us to express our faith & genuine care due to Israel’s history, especially with gentile Christians.

In Israel we did not refer to ourselves as “Christians”  because the word “Christian” has a VERY negative connotation in Israel.  God with UsMany Jews believe the Holocaust was a Christian movement because engraved on the belts of Nazi soldiers were the words  “God with Us” . It is even talked about in their Holocaust museum. Jews also feel blamed by Christians for crucifying Jesus, as well as being criticized and attacked for rejecting Him since the early church. Because of this and the Crusades, the ‘cross’ symbol is also very offensive to Jews . In their minds Christians do not mean them well and do not love them which is an unacceptable reputation that we as gentile Christians need to address and change through brotherly love, kindness & gentleness.

Christians are not very welcome in Israel but tolerated because they bring in lots of $$$ for tourism. HOWEVER, missionaries are NOT welcome- they are considered worse than TERRORISTS because a terrorist wants to kill the body, but missionaries want to kill the soul. We heard this often in order that we would be cautious. airportThere have been cases of missionaries being attacked & persecuted. Even airport security does their best to not let missionaries in. At the airport we were taken aside and questioned & because they found Bibles, which lead to a very intense luggage search and I was even questioned about my name! By God’s grace they decided to let us go.

In Israel we called ourselves “Followers of Yeshua”. In Hebrew “Yeshua” is Jesus and also means ‘salvation’. By saying you’re a follower of Yeshua means that you believe Jesus was the true Messiah and our salvation. The word “Church” also has a negative connotation so we’d say “Congregation” instead.

Israel is only a few decades old since the mass migration of Jews (mainly from Europe) in 1946 after the horror & trauma of WWII. All citizens of Israel are either direct or indirect victims of PTSD. Having PTSD myself, I understand the constant anxiety, frustration, fear, and loneliness which I saw in so many Israeli eyes. I expected Israel to have a Middle Eastern/ Asian temperament but Israeli’s are very close to “Russian” culture- very direct, expressive, intense, .passionate, and in the moment. It’s common for a country/people group that has been oppressed to have this “in the moment” attitude because under oppression you don’t know if you will have tomorrow. If you’re angry you shake your fist, and if you feel like dancing you dance. If you want to bring healing to a nation, you need to know it’s wounds & triggers.

As a team we prayed a lot over Jerusalem because we believe in the power of prayer & intercession. Doug and I often carried our guitar & violin so we could also worship God around the city. We prayed a few mornings in the International House of Prayer with an incredible view of Jerusalem. We also walked up on the ramparts and read aloud God’s word and prayed over the city. We hosted a prayer/worship night for local missionaries and another day we lead worship on top of the Mt.Olives which looks overs Jerusalem. A few tourists ended up joining in, and a few others just stayed a while to listen as we thanked Jesus for His mercy & faithfulness over Israel.

In 3 weeks we were blessed to partner with many missionaries and help in a variety of ministries! Here are a few in which we were involved.

  • Holocaust MinistryHolacaust survivor group
    • We had the great honor to meet with some Holocaust survivors, listened to their stories, played worship songs for them and then our team prayed over them.
  • Pro-Life Ministry
    • We volunteered for 2 days at a Pro-Life ministry that gave counsel to women seeking an abortion. This ministry would also offer to supply baby furniture sorting diapersas well as a year’s worth of food & clothing for the baby if they went through with the pregnancy. The instinct of a mother is to keep her child, but it’s fear that makes her want to abort. This ministry tries to comfort the mothers and provide these necessities so they don’t have to be afraid. Most of the women they talk to want the baby but are pressured by their partner, parents, sorting baby clothesor too overwhelmed by their kids. The counselors & the practical help gives them courage. About 90% of women who go to the ministry end up keeping their child. While we were there we helped organize the donated baby clothes (SOOO Cute, it made ME want to have a baby and I wasn’t even prego!), put together food bags, organize/count diapers, and of course pray over the women and the staff ministering to them.
  • Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Ministry
    • candy bagsSpent two nights making candy gift bags for a ministry dedicated to share God’s love to IDF soldiers. All high school graduates are required to go into the IDF and serve at least 3 years. These years are like college for Americans- a stage of life you discover yourself as an independent adult and may go a little crazy. This ministry uses sweets & treats as a way of visiting large groups of IDF soldiers and telling them that Jesus loves them- which is most likely the first time they’ve ever been told.
  • Street Evangelism
    • Praying as a team for people and then going out on the streets and engaging in conversation. As soon as people heard we were “Followers of Yeshua” they were eager to share their thoughts. No one we met believed in Jesus, and their thoughts ranged from street evangelismI don’t really care” to “I HATE Jesus!”. Regardless, we had some great conversations and some not so great conversations *see ministry stories* but what’s most important is to be humble, kind, patient, & loving.
  • Refugee Ministry
    • Playing with refugee children from Ethiopia & Sudan for a week. They were some of the most hyper kids I’d ever encountered in my life!
  • House of Victory
    • Tel Aviv drugsWent to Tel Aviv to partner with a ministry that reaches out to drug addicts, prostitutes & homeless people. Every day they invite people in and serve them a sandwich, soup, the best carrot cake & refreshments (tea & coffee). That day we served 100 people in 3 hours (which was a slow day, I can’t imagine their busy days!). We had a few great conversations during this time and got to pray & encourage a few who were already Christians.
  • Manual Labor
    • Lots and lots of manual labor (wood cutting, cooking, weeding, moving rocks, washing sheets, mopping/ sweeping, dish washing-etc.) We also did inventory & organized a ministry’s bomb shelter because the reality is that Israel is surrounded by enemies and each home is required to have a bomb shelter in case an attack.

Ministry Stories

  • During street evangelism I tried giving a homeless man cup a noodles and got yelled at. This was so sad because earlier we prayed got a vision of a homeless man pressed up against a hotel vent. We drove around- and there he was, in front of a hotel pressed up against the vent. cup noodlesWe drove to a gas station to get dinner (best I could find was cup noodles) but he didn’t want any. I still pray for him every now and then, because God loves him. He must have a lot of pain built up inside to get so angry at a stranger who wants to help. He also yelled at a few people (hotel guests) who stopped to give him money.
  • holacaust worshipWhile ministering to the Holocaust survivors after we played worship songs I also played a song I wrote (about Gack/grief/joy) which we all cried to. I got to share a little how God has been my strength & joy throughout grief and that I pray that they would have the same peace & healing. They loved it and it was such a powerful moment for us.
  • I got to tell the story of Queen Esther worship in sushi restarauntto a lady who made me a crepe.
  • Doug & I were asked by our waiter (who saw our violin & guitar) to play a song- so we played the worship song “No Longer Slaves” in a Kosher sushi-pizza restaurant for everyone! haha.

 

Fun Things because we’re in ISRAEL :D

  • We had communion at the Garden Tomb were Jesus was possibly buried and risen from the grave. It was so humbling to thank Jesus for His sacrificial love and amazing grace.
  • We walked around the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was betrayed.
  • Had a Shabbat meal! *Shabbat, Shalom!*
  • Rode Camels which are SO tall and scary! I had to force myself to get on one. Fun fact: I’m more afraid of animals than humans because I can’t communicate with them. :P
  • Went to the Dead Sea and floated like I never floated before. We only spent an hour there, but if it were up to me I’d float away forever.
  • Read Matthew 5 on the Mt. Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee which is actually a fresh water lake.
  • I got baptized in the Jordan River with one of my teammates, Harrison.
  • We celebrated Doug‘s 32nd  Birthday.

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In conclusion, we love Israel and we’re so thankful to God and to you to have had the great honor of going & learning how to minister and pray for this nation that has gone through so much. We do hope to go back for missions in the future. Please keep Israel & it’s missionaries in your prayers.

If you’re interested in supporting the pro-life ministry by sponsoring a baby for a year or sending finances to either the IDF sweets ministry or Ethiopian/Sudanese refugee center please e-mail me and I will put you in contact with the right people. If you’d like to go on a missions trip to Israel and would like to visit some of these ministries I’d also be happy to connect you.  

Passion for Greece & Israel

nativity-sceneGod’s greatest gift to mankind is celebrated December 25th. I think it’s only fitting that on the same day that we celebrate God sending His Son Jesus, God is also sending our little team to share His great love to refugees in Greece & Israel. Of all the Christmases I’ve ever celebrated, this will be the closest one to the true meaning Christmas.

On December 25th we fly to Athens, Greece and will work in refugee camps for 5 weeks.

outreach-teamFor the first three weeks our small team of seven will be partnering with YWAM United, a group of ~200 volunteers. We’ll be organized into groups based on our skills & strengths so that we can meet the needs of refugees most effectively. We will find out more details next week when we arrive and will update you on which groups we’re in.

alex-and-ginetteFor the last two weeks in Athens our leaders Anna & Jess will be organizing ministry for us. We’re excited to announce the big surprise that Doug’s parents will be joining us for one week in the middle of January! They’ll stay with our team and join us in our ministry. They’re compelled by human compassion, which is so incredible to me. It’s a great gift to have them with us.

After 5 weeks in Athens we will go to Israel for 3 weeks. Our time will be split working in two locations; 1 week in Mt. Carmel and 2 weeks in Jerusalem.ethiopian_refugees_file
In Mt. Carmel we’ll be serving with a ministry for African refugees (mainly Sudanese & Ethiopian) who fled to Israel. In Jerusalem we’ll be doing a lot of street evangelism, playing worship, possibly meeting with local Christians and encouraging them. We’ve been encouraged to visit the Holocaust museum at the beginning of our trip so that we would understand their history more and how to pray for Israel.

As for finances, our goal at the beginning was to raise a total of $7,000, donations-cashbut after doing research the number became closer to $7,500. Through 60 boxes of truffles, 8 gallons of fresh carrot/apple/kale juice, 22 people, 1 church and a whole lot of prayer we have $6,500 towards our missions trip and we’re amazed by the generosity of our friends and God’s faithfulness to provide. The final $1,000 we believe will come in soon, and once it does our entire team will have raised all it’s finances!

God is good. *All the Time* And All the Time *God is Good*

We’re at a 5 day countdown till we leave and we’re doing our best to prepare our hearts & minds for the adventure ahead. god-is-lionWe know that it will be  emotionally & physically exhausting working with refugees and that there will be challenges & obstacles- but we go without hesitation of fear, sickness, discomfort, pain or sadness because we trust in God’s wisdom, God’s power, God’s strength, God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness, and not our own.

my-familyWe’re so incredibly blessed to serve a God who cares & has compassion. Imagine if it were your home that was being terrorized. Your mother, your brother fleeing for their lives. Would you hesitate? Would you care about the challenges or the danger? God’s love has changed our perspective to see these refugees and all peoples as our family- and when family needs you, you go.

When my family suffered the loss of my sister Rebecca 3 yrs ago, in the midst of the greatest sorrow I could have ever imagined there was still hope, joy, peace, and grace on us because of God’s kindness, the counsel of the Holy Spirit, and the assurance of Heaven. These refugees do not have this comfort, and what they’ve gone through has been so much greater than what I could imagine. strike-a-matchWith Christmas approaching I miss my sister more- & now every time I think of her I think of the refugees and how much greater their pain must be. It strikes a match and lights a fire in my heart to embrace and share God’s love with them. The best things I have to offer is a hug & the gospel.

I ask that you partner with us with your whole heart and whole being that these people would know God as we know God, as a loving Father and gentle Shepherd. And when you pray- believe and have faith that God can use us to make a difference, because He uses what is weak to show His glory.

usThank you for your prayers, your love and your support. We’ll be sure to be faithful in updating you and sharing prayer requests & testimonies these next two months. Internet may or may not be readily available, but please remember us. We love you and ask God’s blessing on you and your own journey with Him.

If you’re interested in supporting us here is our paypal account. paypal.me/EstherNobels Thank you for your consideration.

Our First Married Missions Trip

Who is aware that the biggest humanitarian crisis in history is happening now? As the church, we should be aware and involved because we serve a God who cares greatly for the orphan, widow, poor, & foreigner- and it’s our responsibility as believers to be living representations of what He cares about.

I can understand different political arguments about the refugee crisis going on in Greece, but regardless of what opinions we have, we cannot ignore this need and opportunity. There are thousands of desperate people fleeing from closed Muslim countries to seek mercy and refuge in a gospel saturated location. Instead of wondering what Jesus would do, examine what jesus-ministeringHe’s already done. He came, humbled himself, spent time with the lost, died for all our sins, defeated death and charged us to do the same for all nations with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So, don’t ask what Jesus would do, pray and ask God what your role is, because you do have a role in this whether it’s praying, fasting, paying or going.

We have prayed about our roles, and we’re fortunate to have an opportunity to go and minister in the Greek refugee camps for 5 weeks with the School of Ministry Development this winter. Currently we are a team of six and plan to leave Christmas Day.
It’s amazing how God gives us dreams and then unfolds them in a way we can’t deny His sovereignty and perfect plan. God spoke to us to go to Greece this past Spring, but did not tell us when or how. refugee-crisisThen during the summer God spoke to me to do the SOMD, which was only meant to be 3 months of leadership training. Little did I know that the school would have an optional outreach to Greece.

And yet God is still full of surprises. Not only is the SOMD outreach 5 weeks in Greece, but it is also 3 weeks in Israel. This summer we literally were dreaming about how much we want to go to Israel- and now God has opened the door to us. When this news was announced in class a few days ago, I jumped out of my chair and screamed- I have been wanting to go to Israel  since I studied the Bible in 2012.

We have a contact in Israel who we’ve already had the israelpleasure to know and work with in LA, and we’re very excited to serve under her and bring the heart of the gospel to a nation whose history and inheritance we’ve studied intricately for the past 4 years. It’s mind blowing that we’ll be doing what Jesus did in the same location but thousand of years ago. Times have changed but God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and so is His heart & message for Israel.

In Greece & Israel we’ll be ministering in a variety of ways. We’re prepared to teach English, Exercise classes, Bible Studies, lead worship/ play music, pass out supplies and food, through hospitality and represent the love of God in every way He’s gifted us.

I’m thankful that my parents put me in violin lessons and that Doug plays guitar becauseworship now we can minister beyond words through music. I’m thankful that we’ve been trained for 3 years to understand & teach God’s word and we can teach with confidence and accuracy. We’ve have been on missions trips separately and while we were dating- but this is our first official outreach as a married couple, and I feel so blessed.

Financial & Prayer Needs:

For both of us to go on outreach and minister 8 weeks to Greece & Israel we will need a total of $7,000. This includes plane fare, food, shelter- everything. We don’t have other needs, except a constant need for prayers. We know this outreach will bring glory to God, so it’s normal to expect an enemy attack. Please join us in covering the outreach with prayer for unity, wisdom, safety, patience and love.

Thank you for reading. We’re thankful to be a part of a body of believers who can emotionally, spiritually, and financially support each other and we hope that this outreach gets you as yeahexcited as this lady (left) because we are certain the Holy Spirit will do great things. If you get words, verses, or pictures to encourage us and the team, don’t be shy to share- we’d love to hear back from you.

God Bless- The Nobels

The easiest form of payment is our paypal account. Here is the link: paypal.me/EstherNobels

If you’d like a tax deductible receipt please mail a check to “Youth With A Mission Los Angeles” and at the bottom left write for: Esther Nobels outreach fees.

Our address is: Esther & Douglas Nobels 11141 Osborne St Lake View Terrace 91342 CA, USA

Our next ‘baby’ step!

So many things have happened in the past couple months. We finished staffing Chronological School of Biblical Studies at the end of June. Then began “the summer of parents”.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0693.     Doug’s parents came all the way from Belgium to spend 2 1/2 weeks with us in Los Angeles. The day after saying “Au Revoir” to them we flew to Okinawa to say “Hello” to my parents. It’s been almost 2 months that we’ve been here in Okinawa and are returning to LA in a few days. Now that the CSBS is finished, you may wonder what’s nextfor the Nobels. Here is our next ‘baby’ step. 

For this next season (September- December) we will be returning to YWAM Los Angeles with different roles.

img_1043

The fall quarter is the largest and busiest season for our YWAM LA base, and in order for the base to run there is a need for “base staff”. These roles include maintenance, accounting, registration, cooking meals- etc. Douglas will be serving the base for the next few months in accounting. 

As for me, I will not be a base staff, but be doing what I love best- being a student. I’ve recently been accepted into the School of Ministry Development (SOMD). This is a 3 month school designed to train servant leaders how to be most effective in the ministry God’s called them to.
Although the school does not include a missions trip to a foreign country, it is focused on serving the community in LA on a weekly basis. I’ve been on a few missions trips in a variety of foreign nations, and honestly I’d have to say that LA is one of the hardest and most desperate places I’ve experienced. I’ve never been somewhere so wounded and afraid to connect. At first when I moved to LA I thought everyone was so cold. Now after being here two years I’ve realized there is a wall of ice, but it’s thin, and if cracked it unleashes so much warmth. People are hungry to condsc02483nect! This city is starved of love and I believe that the most loving thing to do is to tell them there is hope and love that never fails and always satisfies. I am more than excited to be a part of this school and continue to learn how to share God’s love in ways that honors God and honors each individual. I know & trust the staff involved in this school and I’m honored to have this opportunity to study and be discipled by them.

Thank you to everyone who’s been interested in what we’re doing. Some of you pray for us in faith, and some of you who don’t have the same beliefs still show your love and support. We’re grateful for you all. If you’d like, please continue to pray for us this fall and for what’s to come after. We’re unsure where God will lead us after the Holidays, but we know He’ll reveal it to us soon as He is the best guide and has never failed us once.

God bless you guys and thanks so much for reading.

Finances, Grief and Us.

Hello Everyone,

For those of you who prefer reading over watching a video here is a written version of our financial update video.There are four points expressed in our financial update video on; joining a cheesy facebook group, the privilege of being involved, operation: bless the homeless & good grief.

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First off, thank you everyone who’s been praying for us while we’ve been in LA. It’s been an amazing time and we’ve been so blessed to start staffing another CSBS. We apologize for not giving an update sooner on the school. We actually did record a video a couple weeks ago but it got deleted by accident. We’ll be sure to film a new one soon! And not delete it. ;)

In the mean time we’d like to invite you to join our prayer support team on facebook. It is a closed group called “Nobel’s Prayer Warriors” and I write simple updates of the school to pray over. Although the name is cheesy, the group is faithful to pray into our ministry and within these past couple weeks there has been so much answer to prayer and it’s been an incredible blessing. If you’re interested to soak our ministry in prayer, please send us a message so we can add you.

If you’re interested in supporting us more we would be blessed because our financial support in general needs to increase to continue to stay in YWAM and live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.  Although it is difficult in many ways to be a missionary (including little/ unpredictable finances) it is a privilege to know God and make Him known. Although it is a life full of challenges, we have God’s strength and faithfulness to give us joy & victory. Supporting missionaries is also a blessing, and that’s not something to joke about. No one should support missionaries out of guilt or obligation. We ask that if you do decide to support us either in a one time donation or monthly, that you also would see it as a Heart at the human handsprivilege and a blessing, and give with a joyful heart in faith & prayer because you are giving not just to us but to the mission of furthering the kingdom of God– specifically in this case to educate Christian men & women to correctly study, understand and apply God’s living word. Our ministry does not rely on money, but on God- and we believe He can provide everything that we need. However, giving is an opportunity for you to be blessed and a part of what God is doing here. We’re not asking for money- we’re asking for your  support.The finances we receive is for us to continue to stay, teach and to have a healthy life. Our staff fees raised over the summer from $600/month to $650 which is still very reasonable, especially for LA.To be healthy for us personally includes having healthy food in our fridge, having toiletries, a car, and getting off the base (where we live & work) every once in a while for an ice-cream date or to be able to get a coffee with a friend.

We’re also trying to raise $100-$200 dollars for care-packages that we can give homeless people in our community, which I am naming “Bless the Homeless” (…because it rhymes). We have been involved in homeless ministry for over a year in our community, however we’re looking for ways to bless & encourage homeless outside of this ministry because there are so many in LA. homeless08_copyWe’ve already been given about 30 New Testament Bibles to give out- however giving solely a Bible to a homeless person doesn’t seem to show much care, especially if there isn’t enough time to engage in conversation. But if we made an care package that included ex). socks, deodorant, protein bar and the Bible within it, they would feel much more cared for and more likely to read the Bible and experience the love of God. Within these packages we’d also like to include a personal prayer card unique to each package. A ministry on our YWAM base called Justice 180 does something similar by giving care packages to prostitutes every Friday night. They’ve seen a lot of fruit and the prayers they’ve written have been so divinely accurate that women have come closer to knowing Jesus as their Savior through the experience. We’re hoping for similar results.

Lastly, I’m relieved to announce that I’m finally going to see a grief counselor. It’s taken a lot of time and prayer, and now by faith, we’re going for it. We were recommended to a specific counselor who has a secular practice in Pasadena, although is a strong believer. Amazing news, she has recognized that we’re missionaries and has decided to support us by offering a 50% discount on every session! Although this is unbelievably generous, we’re still unable to afford theGack discounted cost which comes to $75.00 per hour session. We have a lot of peace that this woman is right for the job and that the timing is right to receive professional guidance. Many friends, including my fellow CSBS staff have seen that this is necessary for me to continue to heal and gain more understanding about myself and the effects of grief from losing my sister. I hope to have a one hour session every other week, which will be $150.00/month. My first session is this Thursday, November 5. Please be praying over this process.

In conclusion, please be praying over how/if the LORD wants you involved in our support team. It brings us so much encouragement to see that individuals of the body of Christ believe in us and our mission to educate missionaries in God’s word. The Lord is our strength & joy, and you are our assurance and confidence. We’re so thankful for you taking the time to read over this update and if you have any questions please e-mail us at nobels.ministry@gmail.com.

Students Share Why it’s Worth It

In 40 weeks there were 66 books to study, teach & grade by 9 staff for 11 students. We made it. And we couldn’t be more tired or more thankful.

Congratulations to all 11 of our students for graduating Chronological School of Biblical Studies! It’s been a good year with a lot of laughs, not much sleep, and a daily dose of the God’s grace.

Here is a video of Douglas interviewing some of our students why they wanted to do CSBS and what they’ve learned so far. We hope this video encourages you and shows a little bit of the heart behind why we do what we do.

I can see why people wouldn’t understand why Doug & I left a well paying job in Europe & stable lifestyle to then be missionaries that live in a trailer to teach the Bible in crazy LA.           But  knowing that these 11 student’s lives are changed by God’s word and seeing their hearts opened & healed… only God could do such things, and it is the greatest honor to be a part of it.

Thank you for everyone who has been financially & prayerfully supporting us and know that you’ve been a part of it as well- so share in the joy.

We’ll give an update soon about summer and the coming CSBS in September that we will staff. Please, if you’re interested in doing an SBS- message us on facebook or nobels.ministry@gmail.com. We already have 13 students accepted for the next school and more are coming! Pray for more staff as well ;)

Till next time!

The Nobels