I met Elder Mordakhai Joseph in Jerusalem during my first Feast of Tabernacles in 1980. Later, when I attended Sukkot/ Tabernacles again with the Worldwide Church of God in 1982 in Jerusalem, I stayed as a volunteer at Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan near Haifa for another five months. Right next door, in Kiryat Ata, was where our only member in Israel, Simcha Gombo, lived with his deaf daughter, Michal.
During my initial search for Simcha’s house on Hannah Senesh Street, I “coincidentally” asked a young Israeli reporter for directions who helped me find her place. Once there, he started talking to her and revealed that he was a reporter and wanted to write an article about her, since he found our beliefs fascinating, from sitting down and listening to us talk. He was gently waiting to help me find my way back to the kibbutz. She told him to write about me.
Ilan Itzhayek wrote a comprehensive article that was published throughout the Galilee region. It was about my old drug addiction, wandering through different religions in search of the truth, and how for a series of miracles God brought me to the Worldwide Church of God, mentioning some of our beliefs about Europe and how we view Herbert W. Armstrong in the spirit of Elijah.
Later I was interviewed by the local high school principal and Bible teacher about our beliefs, especially why we celebrate Jewish holy days and believe that we are Israelites. (I have since discovered Brit-Am Israel, a Jewish organization, which also teaches the Israeli origins of the West.)
That same article was posted on the kibbutz in the common dining room for all to see and read and led to an invitation to speak against drugs. I resisted, feeling that most people have to learn for themselves, but when Ofrah, the volunteer leader, insisted that maybe I could help someone, I relented on the condition that I could give God the glory and mention it as the reason for my release. She agreed and I spoke with more than twenty young people from all over the world and mentioned that we all lack something and we try to fill it with this and that and only God and His Holy Spirit are the answer.
When Richard Frankel, a minister who used to live in Israel and served as a regular party coordinator for the Middle East, discovered that this little “cowherd boy” in the field was “making waves,” he basically demanded that he come back. to America since “He trusts that God will convey his message to the Jews through his apostle …” and how Mr. Armstrong had carefully built bridges with Israel over the years. (Acts 7:25, 35 crossed my mind). He in no way said that Ilan (the reporter) considered himself a spokesman for the Church or for me a representative of that! (The Worldwide Church of God always taught that we are representatives of the Church and the Kingdom of God.)
I wondered why Mr. Frankel didn’t trust God to see that nothing could be done to undermine those bridges what God through Armstrong had built, besides Mr. Armstrong NEVER He went to the average Israeli, but only addressed the leaders in Jerusalem. However, I complied.
However, Ilan had submitted another article for possible publication that I received permission from Mr. Armstrong via Aaron Dean to move on. Obviously Mr. Armstrong not Feel threatened! Mr. Richard Paige, then in charge of the excavations at Ambassador College in Jerusalem, met Ilan and I in Haifa for a pleasant visit during his trip to make arrangements for the next archaeological excavation. I humbly presented him with some grapefruits that I had picked from our kibbutz orchard. He said he loves grapefruits and then reported that they were the best.
He wanted to return to Israel to live, fulfilling a goal he had to live in all of Israel, study Hebrew, learn the culture, etc. (what have I done since) objective Mr. Frankel’s influence required that I Wait until I could have a minister there to “oversee” my activities. (God had supervised them very well, thank you!).
When our government assigned Raymond Clore, a U.S. Consul General to work there for four years (and with whom I had a brief correspondence), appealed to Headquarters again to move there and was denied permission because they had not sent Mr. Clore, the United States government had! So I came across the petty politics of the ministers I allowed to have power over my personal life. A local elder asked if they were setting an unusual precedent for me when deciding where a member can live!
During that time, Mr. George Kackos (Toledo, the wonderful minister from Ohio, who was in the refresher program at Ambassador College) and Mordakhai Joseph encountered the attitude that “we don’t need it, we have a lot of AC students to send if we want to.” In fact, a graduate of Ambassador College of Oregon, Sylvia Owens (the top of her class Mr. Paige informed me), was allowed to stay and live in Jerusalem (with whom Ilan and I had agreed to meet and visit the Biblical Zoo ).
Mark Joseph encouraged me that Jesus’ disciples also try to prevent someone from casting out demons in the name of Jesus because they were not from their clique. Later, they basically told him to stay out of this situation. I still remember him fondly and the correspondence we shared and wish him all the best with his new book on the Middle East. Meanwhile, I long to return to Zion.