A respected Korean pastor once
sat in my office and asked me a deep question: "What are the keys to
transferring leadership from one generation to the next?" This
question is being asked by ministry leaders around the world.
Guy and his son
Other Asian Christians with passionate hearts for Israel, also perceive
this same need. As a result, they initiated a multi-national conference,
held in Taiwan in August, 2017, with the theme "From Generation to
Generation/M'Dor L'Dor". They invited me to be one of
To my great joy they also invited a spiritual son of mine, Guy Cohen. The
organizers said, "We want both you and Guy, so that we can understand
the dynamic of a spiritual father and son. How does a father prepare a
son for ministry responsibility? What are the keys, the tensions, the
pitfalls, and the blessings of such a relationship?" To top it off,
Guy decided to bring his son, Ofek, who had recently celebrated his
bar-mitzvah. Thus, we represented three generations of Israeli
The conference, held in Taiwan's hi-tech capital, Hsin-Chu, was
attended by dedicated believers from Japan, Korea, India, Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand and China. Guy and I were received with more love
and respect than was possible to absorb. There is a hunger in the Asian
body of Messiah, to build real relationships with Israel's Messianic
Jews. Their heart is to learn, to intercede, to serve and to support the
reawakened community of Yeshua in His land. Truly, we experienced the
fulfillment of what the prophets of Israel saw:
"Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the isles
afar off, and say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and
keep him as a shepherd does his flock'" (Jeremiah 31:10).
"Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'In those days ten men from
every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man,
saying 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with
you''" (Zechariah 8:23).
How were Guy and I to present the richness of our relationship, developed
over a period of 20 years? We decided to "team teach". We alternated,
speaking honestly of our trail together. The approximately 1000 Asian
believers who took part in this remarkable event (called Asia
Messianic Forum) received our message at a far deeper level than I
had dared to hope. Here's some of what we shared in Taiwan:
Eitan and Guy
Obviously there are differences from one generation to the next. In
addition, Guy and I come from very different backgrounds. I find this
both challenging and rewarding. I was born in the USA, the son of a
mixed marriage (Jewish and Gentile). Guy was born in Israel, of Moroccan
Jewish and Yemenite Jewish families. Before coming to Yeshua my
knowledge of Judaism was minimal. Guy spent five years in
ultra-Orthodox education studying rabbinic texts in the original Hebrew.
Contrasts between generations of leadership can and should enrich both
sides - causing us to learn from each other.
The Unfolding of Friendship: A Relay Race
Chronicling the history of our relationship was unexpectedly moving. We
reflected on the gradual building of trust and the many stages we went
through in growing together. Guy has always pursued goals with intensity.
This was no exception. We found our hearts woven together as we faced
ascending challenges. From being a learner (disciple) he became an
assistant. Then, years later, he planted a congregation with my
I see these intergenerational relationships as a relay race. The runner
who receives the baton must begin running before the hand off. As
he gains the same speed as the previous runner, the baton is placed in
his hand without him even looking back. Quite a metaphor, eh? This is,
in fact, the holy, down-to-earth process required to "win the race" of
God's kingdom taking root in the earth.
As a baton
Prophetic Timing: Why is this Important Now?
We are walking into the end-times. Malachi's conclusion
stresses the next generation. "Behold, I will send you Elijah the
prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And
he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts
of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with
a curse" (Malachi 4:5, 6). God knew that we would be challenged in
our faith before an increasingly secular/idolatrous world. He knew that
a dynamic transfer would be needed to raise up leadership for the last
generation before Messiah's return.
There is a leadership vacuum. Many, including secular voices, are
asking "Why the vacuum? What must we do to produce leaders?" I believe
there are no shortcuts. It's not about inventing more programs.
Rather, the key is the time-honored method of investing life, of
pouring ourselves - our time/love/instruction and example of how to live
- into spiritual sons and daughters.
Generations turn toward each other
When we finished the presentation, Guy and I invited the fathers and
mothers to seriously consider making such an investment in the youth of
their nation. To our amazement, scores of men and women from the nations
of Asia came forward. I then challenged the younger believers present.
"Are you ready to receive the relay baton from these spiritual moms
and dads? If so, come and face them, so they can bless you." The
sons and daughters came up to receive the loving prayers of veteran
believers from their nations. There were virtually no empty chairs after
the youth came forward. It was one of the most remarkable responses to a
message I've seen in over 40 years of ministry.
I believe this simple key of inter-generational love, respect, and
dedication will transform nations. May the Lord energize and focus us to
engage in His own method of expanding the kingdom - now, preparing for