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The Urgency of Saving Souls

written by Asher Intrater
October 05, 2006

Here is a dream I had on October 11, 2006, 2:00 AM, which was the night before teaching at the Sukkot (Tabernacles) conference in Jerusalem with Barry Segal and Frances Frangipane:

We were at a large family conference at a retreat center, country style, which reminded me of the Cabin John Regional Park at Seven Locks. It was morning, and I was feeling a little tired and stressed, because I had to preach again at what seemed like an endless line of teaching engagements.

Chaim Varshovsky was to lead worship that morning. Suddenly I felt relieved as I realized that everyone else was going to breakfast and that would give me a little time to prepare for the message if I skipped breakfast to go pray. I suggested for Chaim to come with me, as that would give him time to get the music ready for the morning as well.

Chaim and I walked down a path along side a little stream away from the building where the families and children were gathered for breakfast and went downward toward the area like a baseball field with bleachers and a platform where the meeting would take place. 

We were getting close to the bottom when we heard a man’s voice yelling on an outdoors loudspeaker system. He was calling almost hysterically for Chaim to return toward the main building where the others were gathered. He was calling, “Doctor Chaim Varshovsky, please come back to the main building immediately.” I realized that because of the tone of the man’s voice and that he was calling Chaim, “Doctor,” that something had gone terribly wrong.

I called for Chaim to follow me and started running back up the path. As I got a little higher I saw a huge body of water flowing down from that main building. It took me a moment to surmise the situation, but then I realized that there must have been a reservoir up by the building, and that the wall on the dam had broken and because of the break, water was flooding downward.

Note: In retrospect it strikes me that there was meaning in Chaim’s name – which means “life.” The fact that Chaim (who is an engineer) is being called to be involved, not by becoming a doctor, but by saving lives, is a message for others who are working hard at their profession, but whom God is also calling to renew the part of their destiny in saving souls as well.

Then I realized what the problem was. There were many, many children who were caught in the water and were floating with the flood downwards. I jumped into the water near a bridge and tried to help the children get to the side, out of the water. Most of the children were just floating along with the stream of water, although a few were starting to drown.

I tried to grab the ones who were drowning first, as some of the children seemed to be half swimming normally along with the current. But then I looked downward under the bridge where the water was going and realized that on the other side of the bridge was a huge drop off that had turned into a waterfall, and that moments after the children got past me and went under the bridge, they would shoot over the waterfall to their death.

I started screaming frantically in the water, calling the children to stop, to turn back, to get to the side, out of the water. I started to swim toward the waterfall to get the children that were going over the edge, but I realized that I could NOT get to them physically in time. I yelled at them to turn around. Some of them heard me and tried to get to the side, but for most that had gone past me under the bridge, it was too late.

I noticed here that many of the children in the water had kipah’s (yarmulkes) on their heads. And I thought they must have been from modern orthodox Jewish families or Messianic Jewish families or a mixture.

So I turned back to those who hadn’t gotten under the bridge yet (there some of them reminded me of my nephews here in Jerusalem) and tried to grab more and scream at others to get to the side. There were many children. They didn’t seem to understand why I was yelling so frantically for them to turn around, and why I was pulling at them to get to the side.

Note: In retrospect, it seems that more were helped by what I was screaming than were helped by my physically pulling them out (which was less efficient in numbers), but that both were necessary.

The children weren’t resisting me, but they didn’t understand why it was so urgent for them to stop. It seemed to them the natural thing to do was to swim along with the current. (Ironically, some who seemed to swim the best were moving more quickly down stream and made it almost impossible to save them. Others, who could not swim at all, were going down under the water before we could get to them. The ones we were most successful in getting out were the middle level “half” swimmers, not drowning yet, but not swimming onward “successfully” toward the waterfall.)

Note: In retrospect, it strikes me that the non-swimmers who were drowning first symbolized the secular who were so caught up with the sins of the world, (television, lusts, foolishness) that they had no physical ability to swim; while those swimming faster toward the edge were those with a more orthodox Jewish religious education, who had more ability, but it was not helping them in the long run and in some ways even reducing their chances to be saved. The ones that we were more successful in helping out were those in the middle. Interestingly, among those in the middle were my nephews, even though their education is quite religiously orthodox, just not extreme. This may have meaning concerning secular Israelis, religious Israelis, and also Messianic Jews caught up in Jewish identity issues.

I was both screaming with my voice and pulling with my hands. It was extremely tiring, and in a sense dangerous; although the urgency of the situation was so overwhelming that we couldn’t pause even for a moment to think of the fatigue or the danger. I was yelling at the children either to turn back or get to the side, and also at the adult figures on the shore to do something to help.

Everyone was more or less willing, but very few understood the urgency of the situation or why I was so “intense” as to what I was saying and doing. People were gently, slowing, casually cooperating, but it wasn’t enough. We were saving many, but there were also many others who could have been saved that were not – had we moved faster, more energetically, or with more wisdom. With all that was happening so fast, there was not much of an opportunity to plan out more efficiently the best way to get to the most number of children.

Finally we had done about all we could. David Shishkoff was near me on the shore with the children who had gotten out of the water, who were wet, cold, and bewildered, but nonetheless safe and sound. I yelled at him to get the children to move quickly up away from the water. (My comment to him was partly unnecessary since those children were out of the water already, but I was trying to make room to get others out of the water. David seemed a little perplexed by my yelling at him to have to the children move quickly up away from the edge – partly his not understanding the urgency of what was happening below, and partly my not communicating well what the fullness of the situation was in the midst of the flood.)

Note: In retrospect, it struck me that David was in a role here of “pastoring” these children; that the name “David” was a role of a “shepherd” and as a person of personal devotions. The perplexity between us was the uncomfortable but unavoidable tension between the pastoral-family role on the one side and the evangelistic-prophetic-apostolic role on the other. Through the resolution of pressure (or in spite of it), David was doing (or ended up doing) what he was supposed to do. His name is symbolic of other “shepherds with David’s heart,” whom God is calling to pastor His people at this time. That role also includes discipleship, in having the children move away from the water to safer and more stable ground.

I was cold and totally exhausted. Almost all of the children had either drowned or been rescued. I realized that there were a few left who had gone under the bridge and were trying to keep from going over the edge of the waterfall. I turned to jump out deeper into the water and swim toward the edge to get them. I realized the danger but felt we couldn’t just let those children go. Someone called to me not to go out there as it was dangerous, and that I was already cold and physically drained (I think it was my wife’s voice).

As I got under the bridge, I was able to pull a few more toward the edge of the bridge, but the ones who had gotten further down past me and the bridge were past the point of being able to be helped. I was sad as I watched some of them go over the edge. However I realized we had done all we could, and we wouldn’t be able to save any more; and that it wouldn’t help for me to go any further toward the edge, as I was already in danger of drowning myself.

I barely got to the edge of the bridge, and could not really get out alone. Some on the bridge gave me a hand as I pulled myself out. Christina Ward was sitting there on the sidewall of the bridge as well where I was climbing out. (She was wet and cold and had come bravely to the area that was most dangerous. She had helped many but had also lost some efficiency as I saw her trying to readjust her lipstick or makeup or something. I had to half climb over her and she half helped me to get out.)

Note: In retrospect it strikes me that this had a symbolic meaning related to her name Christ-ian-ah’s, referring to many young women disciples in our midst, who are bravely serving with us where no one else is willing to risk their lives to go, but that they are all losing effectiveness in getting caught up in girl-type concerns. Some are saving my life and furthering the ministry, but often we have to spend extra effort to “get through” or get them through some of their young women insecurities issues.

I couldn’t tell whether I made it to the top of the wall by myself or whether others had pulled me up out of the water. I was half unconscious at that point, and as I lay down on the top of the bridge sidewall and drifted off to sleep, I woke up from the dream. I felt wrung out from all the different emotions and the physical effort from the experience in the dream.

Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.

He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.

Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.

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