A Messianic Jewish congregation of about 350 people in Israel has won a restraining order against members of an anti-evangelism organization that it says has for years harassed the congregation and even damaged its property.
Pastor Israel Pochtar of Congregation Beit Hallel based in Ashdod, said in a statement that the congregation has faced “a targeted persecution campaign” lead by the Orthodox Jewish anti-missionary organization Yad Le’Achim.
The campaign, he said, began in 2011 when a mass demonstration was organized and busloads of protesters demonstrated outside the church. Pochtar said some rabbis even encouraged “further actions against us.”
“It has been nine years of systematic oppression, harassment and outright persecutions on many levels, fuelled by a hate-campaign led by Yad Le-Achim where they have called time and time again for actions against us, declaring their goal is to stop our work completely and drive us out of the city,” the pastor explained.
“Their systematic and targeted harassment has filtered down to many areas affecting directly our congregation and ministry.”
According to Pochtar, a judge recently determined that “Yad Le-Achim and anyone on their behalf is not allowed to come within 100 meters (328 feet) of our building.”
Pochtar said they’ve been inundated by activists who gather at church’s property on a weekly basis to intimidate worshipers. These protesters have filmed congregants as they walked into services, intimidated children and blocked the entrance, which has led confrontations.
“We’ve had police called many times, and it has been complicated to get them to protect our rights, until now when we finally have the course resolution,” he wrote. “They have vandalized our property, causing us great financial damages. They were caught on camera doing that and yet the authorities didn’t do anything to protect us.”
Pochtar said protesters are also now forbidden from filming or photographing people who attend services. Additionally, he said protesters are required to obtain permits from city hall and the police before they can organize a demonstration outside the church.
“This is such a significant victory and breakthrough for not only Beit Hallel Congregation, but for all local believers in Israel,” Pochtar wrote. “It is so crucial to stand against injustice, especially when you know your rights and the law is on your side. We have to ‘prepare our horses for battle,’ so we can see God’s victory in the lives of all local Israeli believers who face religious oppression every day simply for their faith in Yeshua.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith