Keeping It Israel

A Terror Attack and the Power of Forgiveness, David & Leah Ortiz

October 21, 2020 Jeff Futers Season 1 Episode 28
Keeping It Israel
A Terror Attack and the Power of Forgiveness, David & Leah Ortiz
Chapters
Keeping It Israel
A Terror Attack and the Power of Forgiveness, David & Leah Ortiz
Oct 21, 2020 Season 1 Episode 28
Jeff Futers

Jeff interviews David and Leah Ortiz from Kehilat Ariel in Ariel, Israel. This will be the first of two podcasts from David and Leah as they share about their experiences in ministry in Ariel. They are an amazing couple and you are going to absolutely love this story!

Support the show (http://www.firstcenturyfoundations.com/donate/)

Show Notes Transcript

Jeff interviews David and Leah Ortiz from Kehilat Ariel in Ariel, Israel. This will be the first of two podcasts from David and Leah as they share about their experiences in ministry in Ariel. They are an amazing couple and you are going to absolutely love this story!

Support the show (http://www.firstcenturyfoundations.com/donate/)

Chris Atkins, One Media:

Welcome to the Keeping at Israel podcast with Jeff Futers. We're Jeff and his guests talk everything Israel as it relates to Christian faith and the church. If you are a Christian and you stand with Israel, you will be encouraged and challenged by this podcast. And if you're not so sure about the whole Israel thing, you need to learn how your faith connects with Israel, and why standing with Israel matters. Now, here's Jeff with today's guest.

Jeff Futers:

Welcome to the podcast today and I am excited about my guest today you are going to enjoy this interview. Actually, this became two podcasts, and David and Leah Ortiz are ministering in Ariel, Israel. They have been there for a number of years, probably close to 30, I would say (more actually). And they're going to share a little bit about their story about what takes them to Ariel, Israel. And then they're going to share a very powerful testimony about how they were the... they were the victims, their son actually was the victim of a terror attack there in Ariel, and a story about the incredible power of forgiveness. So let's watch this interview together. Well, welcome to the podcast today. And my guests today are David and Leah Ortiz. And David and Leah, you're from Ariel, Israel. And tell us a little bit about your work and mini...., first of all, introduce yourself to us and then tell us a little bit about your work and ministry there.

David Ortiz:

Okay, we were originally from New York. We immigrated in 1985, with three children. Afterwards, we had another three we have six children altogether. Today we have 8 grandchildren. And the reason why we moved to Israel is because both of us had a calling. With myself, I'm not Jewish, but I grew up with ah Jewish religious Jews. I also grew up with Holocaust survivors. And when I was 18 years old, I became a believer and God spoke to me not in my heart. He spoke to me with audible voice to come here to Israel. I was 18 years old, I just became a believer. So the Lord gave me the verse, do not go into the ways of the Gentiles but go into the lost house of Israel. Now, for me, that was kind of strange for the reason, the logic behind it, I thought that God chooses Jewish people to speak to Jewish people. That's the logic. But then I started, as I started reading the Word, I saw the logic that the Bible had...God had, which is, I'm going to use the Gentiles, I'm going to use the people that are not a people in order to make the Jewish people jealous. Then I thought I was overqualified...overqualified for the job. So I made it my point to come here. Yes. And at that time, I was I was not married. And I prayed to the Lord. I said, Lord, Lord, lot, I want a nice view. I said to the Lord in Yiddish, (Yiddish words...). Lord, give me a nice Jewish wife. And by God's grace, I just opened up the Bible, I said I was a new believer. I just opened up the Bible, put my finger there, like a good theologian. And it said, it said Psalm 128. Said, blessed is the man that fears the Lord. The Lord will bless the labor of your hands. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, by the side of your house, your children be like aloe plants around the table. I said Lord, I'm not going to pray for wife. What I'm going to do, I'm just going to believe that you spoke to me. So I'm just going to claim the promise you just gave me. So I said, Lord, just prepare me. And by God's grace, in a couple months, we met at a Jewish Messianic assembly. And when we met, we spoke. We started going out for a couple months. And I told her I'm on my way to Israel. She said no. Then she she said yes. Then she said no. Then she said yes. At the end. She said yes.

Leah Ortiz:

Well, I think I can clarify that a little bit. I'm Leah, I'm a Jewish believer. I was raised with a family that had a very strong Jewish identity your conservative Jews. We celebrated all the holidays. We grew up around the table discussing Israel and the wars in Israel and everything like that, and I went on a trip with a Jewish group to Israel when I was... it was in 1971. And I found it very difficult because there was a huge cultural difference between American Jews and Israeli Jews. And when I came home, then, you know, I got saved. I was saved in 1976. And when I met David, and he said that he wanted to live there, at first, I said, No, because my experience with the Israeli people had not been a good one. Even though I loved the land, it was interesting, because as I toured around the land, I had an emotional response to it that I had never experienced in the United States. And but the Israeli people were something else. So the Lord really had to...had to work in my heart. By the time we left in 1985. I was, I just loved the Israeli people. But Israel was always in my heart, the land, which I find, which I find is just a very interesting thing as a Jew. And at that time, I didn't know anything about anything, the Bible, nothing. But you know, there was something in my heart for the actual land of Israel.

Jeff Futers:

That's great. Now, so you came to Israel, you came with three children. You've had three since you've been there. And now you said eight grandchildren. You're very blessed...very blessed. Yes.

David Ortiz:

But our oldest daughter is 41. And our youngest son is 27.

Jeff Futers:

Okay, wow. Wow. Now, tell us a little bit about about what you went there to do. I mean, you you've landed in Israel. Now you're, you're there. What, what did you go to do?

David Ortiz:

Well, I'm a dental technician by profession. I've been a dental technician since the age of 22. I wanted to come to Israel as a tentmaker. I did not want to be a missionary in the sense of coming, being supported by an organization for the reason. I was here in 1983. And as I started, witnessing to the Jewish people here, the Israelis, I met up with someone in the Old City, and he said something interesting to me. He said, You know something, you could talk about Jesus, you could talk about so many things, because you live under a very comfortable, good economy in the US. We here in Israel have 400% inflation rate, we have wars, everything's basically unstable. But if you could bring Jesus here, if you could bring your gospel and live under our situation, our economy, our state of war, if you could join the same army I fight in, then I might think about accepting Jesus. So this is why I came as a tentmaker. Meaning I came, I opened up a business, I worked in a couple of dental labs, I opened up a business, and I witnessed and I had a business at the same time. So when I spoke to Israelis, I was not a person that was here to gain points. I was a person here building up the country, working, I did the army for 15 years through reserves. And, in fact, when I first got here to Israel, there's a verse in the Bible. It says, When you come here, if you're a stranger, you're not Jewish. It says, Moses said, you should treat him as a native born, even if he's not Jewish. So they treated me as a native born right away by giving me the tax forms. I had to pay taxes, and I had to go to the army.

Leah Ortiz:

But I'd like to say also that we were we were sent out from a congregation. It wasn't as if we came here all on our own. We were sent out. We chose to be tentmakers. Instead of, you know, coming out as missionaries.

David Ortiz:

Our children went to school. We took them to the clinic. Our children became a window, and a vehicle even into Israeli society. Parents meetings, everything that goes on into the society. Yeah. Being part of the society. That was very, very important for us.

Jeff Futers:

That's great. And we could probably talk for hours just on that part of you coming to Israel and beginning to be a lighthouse and a witness there. But what brings you to Ariel, how do you get to where you are now?

David Ortiz:

We lived in Beersheva for a year and a half then we moved into the Tel Aviv area, then we knew we wanted to live in a permanent place. So the reason why we chose Ariel is because we been seeing the believers here, and how things operate. It's interesting, Moses told 12 spies go into the land, see how the walls are high, see how the people live, and come back and bring a report. So we did, we checked out basically was taking place. We saw that there were many giants in the land. But we saw God's promises ahead of us. And so what we did when we started thinking about Ariel for a reason, we didn't want to live in Jerusalem. Reason why? Jerusalem has so many believers. Tiberias has so many believers, and so many cities have so many believers, I felt like a baseball game where everybody was on first base, and there was nobody in the outfield and different places in the field. So I felt like Paul, when Paul says I don't go to places where this a foundation where somebody has worked there already, but I go into places where the gospel has... doesn't have an influence. So this is why we picked Ariel because we saw there was no church here in this city. And also we saw there was basically nothing taking place in the area. In fact, someone told us, there hasn't been a church in this area since the days of the Crusaders. Very, very true.

Jeff Futers:

Wow, that's incredible. I said, we'd talk first about current conditions there. But let's leave that to the end, because we're sort of moving along a storyline here. So you move to Ariel, something extremely traumatic happened in your family while you were there and trying to build a bit of a fellowship and lead people to the Lord. Tell us a little bit of Ami's story.

Leah Ortiz:

Well, that that actually happens in 2008. We moved into Ariel in 1989. And so really, the first things that happened were the outreaches that, you know, that took place. But if you want me to talk about the 2008 First,

David Ortiz:

Let me just say that before the incident took place with the bomb, we had a fellowship, we had demonstrations, they tried to take our children out of school, we had posters like this against us, saying Residents of Ariel be careful. Protests, this was thousands, thousands, every four months, every six months, in the supermarket in the post office. I have people coming up here and threatening me. We have posters like this in town. We have posters like this in town, telling the people to keep away from us. Then we had another one like this all over the town. It took me about three hours just to pull that down. Same dangerous material, the New Testament. We had all kinds of meetings against us, and all kinds of threats against us. But by God's grace, we kept on going forward. But then it came to be the point that somebody actually took action against us in a form of a bomb.

Jeff Futers:

And forgive forgive me, I realized that I kind of glossed over 20 years of your history there. But just for the sake of time, I want to get to this story. I know that it was hard and and for 20 years you labored and and led people to YESHUA and built a fellowship. But then this day came. And I want our listeners to hear what happened.

Leah Ortiz:

Well, it was March of 2008. It was the eve of Purim. And we were um a month before I had made a plan for David to take some Danish believers who were volunteering at the hotel in Ariel, to Jerusalem. And I never go on those trips, I make the arrangements but I never go. They wanted to go to Jerusalem to see some sights and they were going to hear a lecture. And I never ever go because I suffer from MS and it's too hard for me to walk up and down the hills of Jerusalem. But that morning I got up I got dressed and I went. At that point, all my children were not living at home. I had one in the army and the rest had, were out of the army and they were going on with their lives. And army was the only one that was left living at home. He was 15 years old at that time. And somebody you know, on Purim is it's a tradition that people give one another gift baskets filled with, you know, all the traditional things that you eat and everything. And that somebody left a gift basket at our door. And we had a housekeeper that was that was cleaning and she brought it in. And then she left for the day. And Ami called me up and asked me if he could open it. And I said, Yes. And 15 minutes later, my son who was in the army called me up, and said that there had been a terror attack that took place in Ariel. And he said, it took place on our street. And I called up Ami, and he didn't answer and I called up the housekeeper. And the police answered, and they said that there had been an explosion in our house. And our son was on his way in an ambulance to the hospital, we had to get there immediately. So we took a taxi, we just flew to Ariel to the hospital. And we were met by the doctors and they said that, that he was in, in Hebrew the condition is called 'anash. It's a biblical word that means uncurable. And they said they had to take him in for a for an operation immediately. And David had to had to identify him. And he said he could identify him by his clothes, and by his height, because he's very tall, he's six feet six inches, because he's a basketball player. He was a basketball player. And so they took him in. And at that time, you know, the police came, David was speaking to the police, you know, trying to tell them who possibly could have done this. And at that time, the Lord began his work in our family, preparing us for what was ahead. And what was ahead was that he was... that the Lord was preparing to use this incident as a very big testimony in Israel, and in the world. And of course, it was so traumatic, and we were so in shock, and so traumatized. But he began by really ministering to me concerning forgiveness. And he had done a very, very dramatic work of forgiveness in my heart. David, when we came to Ariel, he began witnessing to Palestinians, in the Muslim villages. And that's another story that he'll tell, but it was very difficult for me because these were my enemies. And it was very deep in my heart. So He had to change my, my heart towards the Palestinians through giving me His love for my enemies. And then I always say, in an instant, when he gave me his love, my enemies turned into my brothers. But as I was sitting there, He was ministering to me through Psalm 36 and in the end, it says, you know, though, it talks about the workers of iniquity, and that they've, they've already fallen, and they will not rise again. But the Holy Spirit was speaking to us from the very beginning, very strongly during this, this situation, and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, the one who has done this to your son is already destroyed, but I want him to be saved. And then I'm feeling this love of God that He gave me for the Palestinians, above my head, and I realized that he wants to do and this is a picture of what happened to Ami, a neighbor came in and took this picture. This is what a bomb does. This is what a bomb does to a human being. And he had he had over 100 pieces of shrapnel in his body, his eyes, his eardrums were blown out, he had his skin and his muscle were ripped off of his, his stomach and his thighs. He lost three toes, he had extensive nerve damage in his in his arms. Oh oh, he was he was blind, because he had so much metal and shrapnel in his eyes, he has second and third degree burns over over his whole body. And then and the Lord is telling me I want you to forgive the one who did this to your son. And I feel that love of God and I and he, it was in ess... In essence, he was asking my permission, he wasn't just going to give it to me. And I remembered the glory and the and the honor that came to the name of Yeshua, when I was able to forgive my enemies and they forgave us and we had this glorious fellowship. That was also a testimony. And I said yes, and the Lord just flooded my heart with love and forgiveness. And the Holy Spirit just gave me a commission to pray for this person's salvation. We didn't know who he was. A year and a half later we found out but Ami went through a very, very difficult season of recovery, which included 15 operations. He was in the hospital for five and a half months he was he had very painful surgeries and very painful rehabilitation. And when he got out he But But the Lord was with him and I began to send out newsletters. I had 1000 people on my mailing list and they sent it out to thousands more. And every step of his recovery, people were praying. And every, every, by a miracle, the Lord restored his eyesight and up, but up to this day, he's had to have surgeries, and but the Lord really did a work.And I don't have a picture of him,

David Ortiz:

Just, just for his eyesight. The doctor came in, and she said, he is blind, especially in one eye but I see a little piece of metal in the cornea and the cornea. If I go in, I destroy the I, if I don't go in, he'll be blind. What do you want me to do? I said go in and do it? 10 minutes, she said his eyes woke up,

Leah Ortiz:

Are responding to light or responding to life. But it was it was true. I didn't know that there was there was churches that were that were fasting and praying for his eyesight. I mean, the Holy Spirit was working. This one, okay. But um, he he went through an amazing recovery we had, we were in the newspaper, Jeff for about three and a half years, with many, many articles. And the theme, the main theme was forgiveness. The first article was in big letters, titled NO REVENGE, and Ami's recovery was a miracle. He came back from the dead, because his life was in danger. The Lord ministered to us and told us that he had basically allowed it to happen for His glory, and that Ami was going to be fine. And I could go into the whole story, but three, three and a half years later, this was him. Two and a half years later, this was him (picture of Ami doing a slam dunk). He was back to basketball, and believe me, all of our enemies and Ariel came to visit us in the in the hospital. Everyone would go to every basketball game, and when he would make a basket, everybody was on their feet cheering. And it really gave hope to people. But yet also the most important thing was that the whole land of Israel knew that there were Jews that believed in Yeshua, that he was the Messiah, as prophesied in the Old Testament, we had an opportunity to witness to the whole country through every media form that there was.

David Ortiz:

We did 60 minutes, like a 60 minutes program.

Leah Ortiz:

Yeah, they did an amazing, amazing compassionate like presentation of the case. One of the things that happened was that the NBA came to visit us. They were... They were here for it was a group of them believers that were here for demonstration shows, you know, throughout Israel, and they came to visit us. This guy is like 7' 6", or something like that Ami is 6' 6"... or he was 7' 3", I don't remember. And we look like his children. We look like their children. But um, we just had amazing experiences. And it was it was really something but a year and a half later, the person who had put the bomb was arrested. The American FBI was involved because we're also we're dual citizens. We're...and he's also an American immigrant. He said that we were false prophets and that we were stealing Jewish souls and we deserve to die.

Jeff Futers:

So I wanted I wanted to ask about that because most people listening when you say bomb and terror attack will immediately jump to a conclusion about the perpetrator would be in terms of race, but that was not the case here.

Leah Ortiz:

Yeah, from the very beginning the police asked us who do you think did this and David said Palestinians you know cuz who builds bomb because

David Ortiz:

I work among the Palestinians and I was I forgot what year but I was issued a fatwa. Yes. against me. It was in the newspaper Al-quds newspaper. It said, the head of David Ortiz... This is a he's still the Mufti today. He said, the head of David Ortiz should be removed from his shoulder. That was in the newspaper. Right. So, but I thought it was him.

Leah Ortiz:

And they said, they said that to us from the very beginning. We're not looking in that direction. We're looking towards the Jewish side. And so he was he was arrested. He's an Orthodox Jew. And yeah, the the trial actually took three years. And he was he was we were there every year and and in the end, he was sentenced to 90 years in prison 90 plus, because he had killed also two Palestinians in cold blood just because they were Palestinians. And then he had attempted murder charges.

David Ortiz:

He said, I give honour to God, that I tried to kill someone in his name.

Leah Ortiz:

Yeah, he believed he was doing God's work. And yeah, so we pray for him, we pray for his salvation. Yeah. Our whole family prays for him, everyone in our family had to come to that place of forgiveness. And if we hadn't, including Ami. Ami was in an induced coma for eight days. And when he woke up, the first thing he said, The doctor said, he might be a shock, you might not remember, Ami remembered everything that had happened. And when he opened his eyes, he said he Orthodox Jews do this to us, did this to me. And and I said, Yes, Ami, we believe so. And then David said to him, but you have to defend yourself and you have to forgive. And he said, forgiveness was just given to him. Because if we had not forgiven, we would have been victims twice, we would have been over by hatred, by revenge by bitterness, especially Ami. And none of us would have been able to heal, especially Ami.

David Ortiz:

When you don't forgive you stop the hand of God, for moving dealing with the other person. Right...

Jeff Futers:

Yeah, That's right. That's right. Well, I'm sure that you've shared the story often. And I know that it must bring up all kinds of painful memories, but at the same time, the amazing testimony that has come about because of this, and I was going to ask you about Ami, you know, how is... how is his heart? And for you to say that, that he came to the place of forgiveness right away. That's just miraculous to me, especially knowing the recovery he had, you know, ahead of him.

Leah Ortiz:

Right. He never had any flashbacks. I had flashbacks. He never had any nightmares. They wanted to give him anti anxiety drugs. He refused, absolutely refused. He said, I have no anxiety. The most...I think the most miraculous thing besides his physical recovery, was the fact that he just returned to emotional normalcy very, very quickly. And he ended up going to college in the United States. He He graduated his bachelor, his undergraduate degree was in psychology. And then he went on for three years to work in social work. He worked with, what was his first Oh, he worked in child welfare for a year, then he then he worked with what's it called? Veterans who had returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and were homeless. It was a project to prevent homelessness in the US. And then he worked in a in a prison for juveniles who were murderers

David Ortiz:

At the age of 13 they killed people.

Leah Ortiz:

Yeah, and many gang members. And then he's now he's studying for his Master's in social work, and with a emphasis on counseling, and he has a dog even that's going to be a service dog. So he's really going, you know, all the way. But he really has, you know, he's just he's recovered. I mean, you can even see, yeah he's just a normal guy. But, I want to say something about him. He's more than normal, because he went through the fire and he really came out like gold. He has an amazing outlook on life and an incredible compassion.

David Ortiz:

I asked him why he wanted to go into social work psychiatry. It was interesting the answer he said, for two reasons. Our house has always been a house where people have come, lonely people, the unattractive people, people that don't really are people that are very attractive, they come here, and they've been ministered to number one, number two, he says, I realized that the church is a hospital. And number three, he said, I didn't read about trauma in a book. I experienced it myself. Well, I didn't read how to get out of trauma from a book. He said, I experienced it to myself, by forgiving.

Leah Ortiz:

So so his heart is really for the youth. He wants to work with children and youth at risk. And this is a picture of how we went through this experience. Yeah, it's Yeshua in the boat in the storm. We were in...We were going through this amazing storm. And he said to the winds and the waves, peace be still and that's what he did in our lives as well. But it was really the forgiveness. Everyone in our family went through a... had an encounter It was a sovereign work of God that we knew we had to forgive in order to go forward in life.

David Ortiz:

When you don't forgive you become a victim a victim twice, three four times.

Jeff Futers:

That's right. Yeah. No, that's, that's exactly right. And no, nobody understands that more than you guys do.

David Ortiz:

Bitterness is a killer, is a killer. And it gets worse and worse throughout the years, the roots go down so deep, that it takes a miracle of God to take out those roots of awareness.

Leah Ortiz:

Yeah, we were just talking. The guy. His name is Jack Teitel.

David Ortiz:

We were just talking about him last night,

Leah Ortiz:

We were just talking about him thinking how many years he's been in prison. And you know, we pray for his salvation, we just, we have a burden for his salvation.

Jeff Futers:

Yeah. Now, that was the the metaphor that I was looking for, like, like eating poison and expecting the other person to die. I mean, that's, that really is the irony of unforgiveness. But there was a case recently they were trying to to release him early. And we all prayed. How did that resolve?

Leah Ortiz:

Well, the thing is that he was, he's in jail with other what they call Jewish terrorists, which are Jews who have done acts of terror against Palestinians or other people basicall. Have burned, murdered, set their houses on fire, you know, injured them very seriously. And they put in a petition to be released early, and the one who can give them that permission is the President of Israel. But the thing is, that there are people in the in the Knesset that are in favor of that,

David Ortiz:

They're religious religious extremists. Yes, within our government itself, right. But at the same time, it's amazing how everything works out for good. They bring out this petition, what happens? The newspapers, again, talks about who...who Yeshua is, all of a sudden the gospel comes back in the media.

Leah Ortiz:

and people are writing in and they're sending, you know, letters. And finally the President's office did respond, and said, We have not even considered this petition. So thank God, you know, they're, they're not even thinking about it. At this point, you know, anything could happen in the future.

Jeff Futers:

Wonderful. Hey, great story. Thank you so much for sharing. And I know there's so much more you could say, but I want to, David, quickly Have you share. One day, and I don't know if this was before Ami's situation happened or after I can't remember the timing. But one day you and a friend went to visit in a neighboring Arab town and and you had a little bit of an incident. Tell us a little bit about that? Well, if you want to hear the rest of that story, you're going to have to tune into the podcast next week. And I'm sorry, I know that's probably not fair. But we had a great interview and had enough material to be able to share two podcasts with you. And so I hope you enjoyed this first segment, the story of Ami Ortiz and the terror attack that could have taken his life, and could have turned him sour towards the Jewish people and towards Israel. But instead, God's worked a wonderful miracle of forgiveness, not only in his life, but in the life of the lives of his parents and the rest of his family. We have just seen together, as David and Leah shared just how amazing this miracle has been. And we're so grateful that God has placed them there in the land of Israel, you know, they're doing an incredible work there. They have a ministry that helps Holocaust survivors helps to feed them and provide some of the necessities that they need. And it's a beautiful thing that First Century Foundations has been able to assist them with, we provide the funding so that they can reach out to the Holocaust survivors. And they also do food distribution to many of the Palestinian believers who have come to faith over the years. And if you can help us with that, man, I would just love to encourage you, to challenge you today, to think about how you can help us help ministries in the land of Israel. Your donation will go a long way towards sharing the love of God and the love of Yeshua with those who have never heard. And we would just appreciate so much if you would lean in and help us in that way. What we provide is funding for humanitarian aid for food and clothing distribution and some literature. And God is using that to really touch the hearts and lives of people. So if you can, would you please go to our website, firstcenturyfoundations.com/donate. And you can click there either if you're from Canada, from the United States, we can receipt you for your giving. We have charitable status in both those places. And I know that you will be blessed because you have blessed Israel. Thank you for considering that today. And we would just encourage you to lean in and help and support in that way. And we just appreciate you being with us today. Thanks for listening to the podcast. Don't forget to tune in next week, when we'll hear that incredible story about David and his friend going into the Arab village and what happened to them there. It's quite a remarkable story. I want you to tune back in next week, but God bless you for listening. And remember, as Christians, we stand with Israel.