In ordinary times, Dr. Dmitry Radyshevsky, CEO of The Jerusalem Summit, spends his time fighting against radical Islam.
When the coronavirus began causing widespread fear and isolating people in their homes, Radyshevsky, who attended Harvard Divinity School, was inspired to “add a spiritual dimension” to his work. “I felt, especially in this time, when people are depressed, the best remedy is to reconnect to God,” he told Breaking Israel News.
As a Jew living in Jerusalem, Radyshevsky’s vision was to unite Jews and Christians through the Book of Psalms, in a joint appeal for deliverance from the corona pandemic. “Theology is words about God that separate us. The words of God, particularly Psalms, unite us, creating a spirit of love that goes beyond theology.”
Believing that, “Christians and Jews are different branches of the same Tree of Life,” Radushevsky turned to Dr. Jürgen Bühler, president of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) to request his organization’s support.
Bühler’s response was rapid and positive. “I felt this was an idea from Heaven. Everybody was excited. It’s so amazing to pray together with Jews. Look at the crisis – look at the bad, the sick, the death, the economy. At the same time, it is a tool that brings people together like never before.”
The project has been dubbed Calling To God Together. To sign up, go to the Calling To God Together Facebook page.
For the past three weeks, and continuing through the end of the Book of Psalms, Radushevsky and Bühler recruit panelists from their Jewish and Christian networks respectively, to read a chapter of Psalms on a Zoom call.
The first three international online gatherings have attracted 1800 participants from 70 different countries, including exotic places such as Brunei Darussalam and Cook Islands as well as from surprising places like Egypt and Lebanon. Radyshevsky and Bühler are particularly committed to including religious Israeli Jews who live in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.
“Besides uniting our voices in calling to HaShem (God) to protect His creation from this virus, we hope to expand, through this action, direct ties between Christian Zionist and Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria so that our friends from across the world will see the genuine Biblical places, the revived ancient Jewish villages and the real people, sweet and courageous Jews who live there – not some mythical, menacing ‘settlers.’
“In the post-corona world, with God’s help, we hope it will lead to a program of solidarity with Judea and Samaria and expansion of tourism to the Biblical heartland,” Radyshevsky elaborated.
Bühler concurs. “We felt it was very important to have as many readers from Judea and Samaria, for Christians across the world to see real Jews who live in these places in the Heartland and Biblical places. Christians read about this, but don’t realize they are real. [Through this project], we expand the geography of Israel beyond Jerusalem and Bethlehem,” he explained.
Jewish readers, men, women and children, from Nokdim, Eli, Hebron, Hashmonaim, Ma’ale Adumim, Jerusalem, Haifa, Efrat, Arugot Farm in the Judean mountains and the Galilee have already participated. Radyshevsky urges the Jewish readers to read their assigned chapter in Hebrew. “Christians follow in their Bibles, but they love the sound of the original language,” he explained.
On the Christian side, readers have been pastors of pro-Israel churches worldwide, primarily recruited from the ranks of the ICEJ. Each Zoom call lasts approximately an hour and includes ten Jewish readers and ten Christian readers, each reading a chapter of Psalms in their mother tongue. In the third call that took place this past Friday, participants heard chapters of Psalms read in English, Hebrew, Russian, Fijian, Italian, Chinese, Slovenian and Serbian.
In his appeal to Christians to join the Calling To God Together initiative, Bühler wrote, “We are reminded that the Creator God invites us to humble ourselves and call on Him in times of trouble. The Jewish people have given the world the most powerful and most widely used prayer book in the world, the Book of Psalms. Christians cherish the beauty, power, and solace of the Psalms as well. ‘Calling to God Together’ will once again unite Jews and Christians around the globe in prayer together… in an attitude of reverence and faith that [God] will hear our prayers and answer from heaven.”
Christian participant Jacki Hutchinson commented on last week’s Zoom call chat, “Transition cannot be without crisis – a wonderful reminder of what we are experiencing today in the world. I am loving this morning’s reading of the Psalms, read by a global family. A house of prayer for all Nations indeed!”
Bühler emphasized that the project’s goal is “to bring Jews and Christians together.” He is excited for Christians to have the opportunity of “hearing the Bible being read in the language in which it has been written. Tanach (Hebrew Scripture) reaches literally to the ends of the world. It’s an amazing time that brings people together, with a focal point of Jerusalem.”
The regular time for the online gatherings is Thursdays at 4 PM Israel time. Last week and this coming week, the time has temporarily shifted to Fridays at 12 N Israel time to accommodate the Passover holiday. The next gathering is scheduled for this Friday, April 17 at 12N Israel time.