History of Outreach Israel
To have arrived where we are today, we quite naturally have a definite history and trail that has been faithfully chronicled by our family. We often refer to our journey as a “spiritual scavenger hunt” and for good reasons. We, as a family, would not be doing what we are doing unless we had the faith to follow the cloud of the Lord’s leading. From point A, where we then received instructions on where to find point B, then from point B where we learned what we were supposed to learn and receive instructions on how to find point C, the “walk of faith”—as exemplified by our spiritual forebearers—has been both a unique and awesome experience for our entire family. Before sharing some of the details of where God has led us, I first would like to give Him all of the glory and honor for His mercy toward us, and His choice to consider using us as vessels in His Kingdom’s work. Without question, our family can testify that our immediate history is simply one of many similar accounts, which confirm that He is able to use anyone who is willing to seek His face and discern His voice.
Two Become One
Without going into the minutia of our respective backgrounds, I firmly believe that the union of Mark and Margaret Huey was ordained by the Lord. The challenge, when looking at our personal history, was ultimately getting us together so that we may now fulfill His purposes for our lives. Even though we had one brief encounter at our alma mater, Vanderbilt University, in October 1972, the timing for a union was delayed until nearly twenty-one years later in 1993. In that process, two separate families emerged in the 1970’s that had different spouses. Thankfully during that time, Mark in 1978 and Margaret in 1983, both had personal repentant salvation experiences before the Living God. The departure from darkness into light has never been questioned by either of us.
During this interim period, I (Mark) married and fathered two daughters, and Margaret married and had a son and two daughters. But it was not until the early 1990’s, when divorce and death altered the marital landscape for both of us, that we would reunite. In an almost premeditated fashion, my marriage succumbed to the ravages of an unwanted, lengthy divorce. Margaret’s husband, the father of John, Jane and Maggie McKee, contracted a fatal case of malignant melanoma. Within five months of Maggie’s birth, Margaret was a nursing widow at the graveside of her then, eleven-year old son, nine-year old daughter, and infant daughter’s father. As a widow at thirty-nine with three young children, Margaret thought that her life was temporarily over as she called out to God for sustenance. He mercifully gave her “a word,” which came from the Prophet Jeremiah:
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
She clung to this Scripture and the infant child—who to her represented new life—and simply sought the Lord for His guidance and comfort.
While this was happening, I struggled for almost three years to avoid the inevitability of separation and divorce that my first wife instigated and pursued. My strategy was to continue changing attorneys and use other stalling tactics, in the hope that our marriage could be salvaged. But after depleting my financial and emotional capital, and living apart from my daughters Danielle and Marielle for almost two years, resignation came. By the spring of 1993, capitulating to the demands of the court only required a final signature for the divorce decree to be final. During this grueling ordeal, I found solace in the Savior. The brokenness of rejection and disdain channeled me into the crucified life that was my only way to cope with the pain. In a similar fashion to Margaret, I found comfort in the Scriptures and the Lord gave me a verse from the Apostle Paul that gave me hope and understanding about this era of my life:
“[T]hat I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).
In a providential way, the Holy One allowed these two broken souls to become reacquainted at a college reunion on May 28, 1993. It took over a year, but with Divine confirmations from a series of unique circumstances, our decision to marry was realized on June 10, 1994. The previous hiatus of over twenty years was soon forgotten, as the union forged ahead when Margaret and the children were relocated from Northern Kentucky to my domicile in Dallas, where I could maintain close contact with my daughters.
A Time of Refreshing
After Margaret and I were married, our journey to where we are today began in earnest. The spiritual scavenger hunt—as we now commonly call it—began with our new family concluding that we knew there was more to God than what I had received with my Bible Church background, and Margaret had received with her Methodist background. Since we had both been avid readers of modern Christian literature, and active leaders/participants in our respective church settings, we were simply hungry for more of what God had for us as a couple. When you have witnessed His hand upon a variety of circumstances that have ultimately led you into a marriage dedicated to His service, you are open to His leading. As you pursue Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, He reveals more and more of Himself. Yet as we discovered, in our relative blindness we are not always sure what His communications necessarily mean at the time of reception.
One prime example of this was when one day in hot pursuit of truth, the Lord impressed upon me some verses concerning the sons of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32). In this moment, I received in my mind’s eye an image of the valley of Megiddo from the heights of Mount Tabor. I was able to look at the Scriptures and understand many of the significant events that historically took place at this location, as well as the ones that are prophesied to occur. In an exuberant moment, I designed a silk screen image that was entitled “Issachar Warrior.” It was not until months later—when we were standing on the summit of Mount Tabor—that we were able to receive even more understanding as it related to the significance of Israel and what God is having us do today.
With seeking hearts, the Lord led us to a charismatic church in North Dallas to experience what was then being described as a “renewal” or “refreshing” (cf. Acts 3:19) in the Body of Christ. We were open to hearing His voice, but when the enthusiasm led to people making frequent treks to Toronto to “receive the blessing,” our spirits were admittedly troubled. It did not appear that all of the manifestations that we were witnessing were Biblically based.
One day as I was jogging and reflecting upon the concept of God pouring out His blessings on the world, I conversed with Him that led me to ask this question: “If God is pouring out His blessings all around the world, where in the world would you want to be to receive His blessings?” As I pondered that query, my response was almost levitating. I could not imagine a more perfect place to receive His blessings than in the streets of Jerusalem and in Israel. I concluded that God was indeed pouring out His Spirit for a time of refreshing, the city He has chosen as His own should be receiving an abundant amount of His anointing. Israel was where we should go, if He was indeed pouring out His blessings upon the Earth!
When I got home to tell Margaret about this encounter on the jogging trail, she was elated. After all, we both had innate love the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. We were both familiar with much of the Old Testament, and Margaret herself was very familiar with the Hebraic Roots of the faith as her late husband Kim McKee conducted Passover seders in various Methodist churches in Kentucky. We both appreciated the ministry of a Messianic Jew named Zola Levitt, who happened to be based in Dallas. So without any hesitation, we made reservations to join Zola on his next tour to Israel (1994).
On to Israel
When our Father gives you an invitation to visit Israel, I believe it is a special moment that all should cherish. We were only six months into our new marriage, and Margaret and I were euphoric. A few months earlier, during some deep prayer and meditation, the Lord had again given Margaret some Scriptures that she nurtured in her heart. She believed that these particular verses were going to be like a “roadmap” for our new life together. But there was one caveat: she could not be the one leading this, so I was going to have to confirm what was happening. To further complicate the matter, Margaret was not allowed to share with me the verses she was given. I also had to have the same powerful witness of the Spirit. I look back on this, and see that God was starting to teach us the necessity of having things confirmed by multiple witnesses.
You can imagine what a challenge this represented to two newlyweds. The pressure was on, and so I went to the Lord with what I thought was an impossible task. But in His inimical way, the Spirit directed me to Isaiah 43 as the Scriptures for our new life together. When I described this to Margaret, she said, “Yes, did you get the first twenty-one verses?” At that point I said, “No, we have the whole chapter!”
Even though we both believed that Isaiah 43 spoke to our life circumstances and what was ahead for us, we did not know how to interpret what it meant. So, we simply treasured these words in our hearts and looked forward to more times of intimate communion with Him.
Our trip to Israel was a pivotal moment in our lives. From the moment we landed on the tarmac in Tel Aviv to the departure some twelve days later, we felt the physical presence of the Spirit of God wherever we went. At times, His presence was so intense that we wept in joyful recognition that we were in the Promised Land on a tour that He was personally guiding by His Spirit. We had confirmation after confirmation that we were “home.” But neither one of us were Jewish, we were only sincere Believers in the Messiah of Israel. We simply loved the Lord with all our hearts, and wanted to serve Him to the best of our abilities.
Many wonderful things occurred on our trip to Israel in 1994 that are too many to elaborate. But one very dramatic thing that is better understood today—in light of our current work with Outreach Israel Ministries—should be mentioned. This incident occurred during our tour visit to the ruins at the fortress of Masada. After our Israeli guide gave a very emotional description of how the surviving Jewish residents of Jerusalem had made their last stand at Masada, following the Roman destruction of the city in 70 A.D., we were given some time to wander around the ruins for about thirty minutes before leaving. As Margaret and I walked around, we were led to a small enclosure that was located on the northern wall of the ancient structure. Inside was a small plaque that indicated that this was the former synagogue of the compound, where archaeologists had discovered some parchments from Ezekiel 37, a passage of Scripture describing the dry bones of Israel and their resurrection.
In an attempt to more fully understand what happened in these ruins millennia ago, I opened my Bible to the Ezekiel passage and began to read it aloud to Margaret. There just happened to be a few open stone window casings that looked out to a rocky valley to the north, so I positioned myself in front of one of the windows and started reading. Then as I read the words of Ezekiel, the Spirit seemed to take over my elucidation. All of a sudden, I was reading the text loud enough for most in the small sanctuary to clearly hear me. I remember reading the entire chapter and then sheepishly closing my Bible, and almost apologizing if I had disturbed anyone during the reading. Little did we know at that time—and did not realize it until years later—that I was reading one of the many texts that today has affected the growth and development of not just Outreach Israel Ministries, but also the Messianic community of faith.
Return to Reality
Prior to our return home, and even during the remaining days of our tour and the immediate days thereafter, we talked about how we could possibly make a trip to Israel every year. Certainly we believed we would have future opportunities to go back and experience more of the country. But then the reality of the responsibility for rearing five young children began to require our full attention. Prior to our marriage, I had been a successful commercial real estate broker with some residential development experience, consulting expertise in golf course and resort developments, and mergers and acquisitions of publicly traded corporations. Margaret had formed her own cross-stitch design business in 1985, and also had extensive business experience developing her accounting and marketing skills with various family-owned businesses. Since we were concerned about the future educational needs of our children, we decided that we would develop a business together that would allow us to work and spend time with one another, so we could recapture a part of the time we had lost during those twenty years apart.
This was a good plan, because as experienced entrepreneurs, we were both used to working for ourselves. Our financial obligations certainly gave us every incentive to work long and hard on the projects we developed. But one thing we learned along the road: our ways are not necessarily His ways. As the Prophet Isaiah puts it:
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Before long, our passion for truth and the experience of the tour to Israel got the better of us. By the time we were pushing into new business ventures, we were also eventually to a Messianic Jewish congregation in Dallas. By the Feast of Tabernacles in 1995, we were introduced to the Hebraic Roots of our faith on a weekly congregational level, and within a month we made the decision to drop our Sunday church attendance and become members of the synagogue. We took a new members course, studied introductory Hebrew, learned Davidic dances, and began singing the Shema and Messianic songs in Hebrew. This was coupled by us beginning a more consistent study of the Torah, we started to remember the weekly Shabbat (Sabbath), and we cleaned up our diet by eating kosher. We fully immersed our family in the culture that dominated the congregation. Once again, much like our experience when we traveled to Israel, we were very comfortable with the environment, the people we met, and the customs we began observing.
In our zeal for more knowledge, we even traveled the next summer (1996) to two Messianic Jewish conferences, representing the two major Messianic Jewish denominations (MJAA and UMJC). Like most non-Jewish Believers who have shared this experience, we were scouring over our ancestral trails to discover some Jewish Roots. And although not necessarily confirmable without a considerable amount of work, we realized that both of our backgrounds probably had some very limited Jewish ancestry. But in short order, as we continued to grow in our new Messianic faith, we were communicated the disparaging news that since we were not verifiably Jewish, then we were not allowed to be full-fledged members of either denomination. This did not make much sense to us, because after all, the words of a Jew named the Apostle Paul declared that because of one’s faith in Yeshua the Messiah, all are to be considered equal:
“[B]ecause as many of you as were immersed into the Messiah have clothed yourselves with the Messiah, in whom there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one” (Galatians 3:27-28, CJB).
Something was just not right with some of claims that were made, limiting the participation of non-Jewish Believers in Messianic Judaism. But at the time we were very new to it to all, and we just kept quiet and continued searching for the answers to our questions.
It was not long into our initial time in Messianic Judaism that we were introduced to some individuals who were extremely conversant on end-time prophecy. They followed the geopolitical atmosphere of the Middle East peace process and Oslo accords from 1993 very closely. Some of these individuals in their eagerness to follow current events were expecting some prophetic occurrences to take place. Being somewhat new to the Messianic community at the time—as well as being naïve—we seriously considered some of the things being proposed. Over a series of several months, I took some of my coordination gifts to begin producing and directing a variety of prophecy related conferences in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. In due time, we were introduced to an even wider variety of teachers and preachers who claimed to have various bits and pieces of the “prophetic puzzle.”
By early 1997, we officially named our prophecy conference enterprise: The Remnant Exchange. Before long we were broadcasting a weekly radio program on shortwave under the name “The Remnant Report.” As I undertook these responsibilities, one of the “calls” to enter the ministry came without much notice. An opportunity arose to help with Christian shortwave radio. As I felt the Lord ask me one day: “Are you willing to uproot yourself from the comforts of America, and come follow Me to Central America?” After a long and agonizing period of prayer and deep reflection, the answer finally came when a Messianic Jewish brother from Hawaii asked me to seriously consider the cost. Then he reminded me of these critical verses that Yeshua stated when He declared, “Follow Me!” They will forever be lodged in my mind:
“And He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’ But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.’ Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.’ But Yeshua said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59-62).
By Fall 1997, I made the decision to put “my hand to the plow.” As the conferences wound down, I got involved in an attempt to build a shortwave radio station that was to be located in the central highlands of Honduras. Ironically, the location where the station was to be built was equidistant from the northernmost part of North America and the southernmost part of South America. If we had been successful, we would have been able to broadcast the gospel to the north in English and to the south in Spanish, covering the entire Western Hemisphere. But once we got to Honduras we found out that this enterprise was not to be. Having sold most of our assets in the U.S., we struggled for direction. The Lord never told me that when I put the hand to the plow, that I would encounter some rocks and immovable roots that would bring the plow to a grinding halt.
When we arrived in Honduras, we had shipped our belongings to the small island of Roatan, off the north coast. While there, having seen our initial commitments faltered, we half-heartedly pursued some ministry, and even business options, in our desire to be productive. I certainly wondered if I had heard God accurately.
In retrospect, I saw the hand of our Father move through a variety of situations, which continue to confirm in my heart that I had indeed heard from Him on the move. But ironically, the most vivid memories we cherish from our stay in Honduras were not some relaxing or exuberant times we had on an exotic Caribbean island—but instead the family time when we gathered on Shabbat reading and studying the Torah. For whatever reasons, this discipline gave us a weekly activity of bonding and interspection.
As we came to the end of the hurricane season in 1998, the Lord demonstrated how He can protect anyone from whatever natural disasters may show themselves. Hurricane Mitch was a Class 5 storm that ripped in to the Caribbean Basin and devastated much of the island, being responsible for the deaths of over 10,000 Hondurans. While “marooned” on the island of Roatan, living in a sea level rental home during this massive storm, we and our belongings were never threatened by the 150+ mph winds or the surging seas. The promises of Isaiah 43, for God to be with us and protect us during torrential waters, flooding rivers, and even fires, confirmed in our hearts that His promises were without revocation:
“When you pass through water, I am with you; through rivers, they will not wash you away; when you walk through fire, you will not be singed, and no flame will burn you” (Isaiah 43:2).
The experiences of our trek to Honduras prepared us for the next stop on our spiritual scavenger hunt. We learned what we needed to learn and met whom we needed to meet on our sojourn. We had our cross cultural experience. As the waters were receding from the battered mainland, I was off to visit my daughters in Texas just before Thanksgiving. During the weeklong visit, I took a short day trip up to Oklahoma to visit with a Messianic Jewish friend who had a ministry that we had helped over the years.
After he heard my testimony about our recent experiences in Hurricane Mitch, he offered me a consulting job to return to the States and come work with his ministry. I told him that I would pray about the offer, and let him know after I had returned to Roatan and discussed and prayed about it with Margaret. Well, needless to say, when I mentioned the opportunity, the unanimous chorus coming from Margaret and the three children did not warrant a long drawn out prayer. Within a few weeks, we—and our two containers and two cars—were back on a freighter heading north to Tampa, Florida. Our business as “ministry consultants,” which had an inauspicious start, was now going to be paid a sorely needed monthly fee.
Back to the States
Once back in the United States, our family was able to return to a routine of life that was not typical on a small island. Our children, who had bounced from Christian schools to secular schools to home schooling while we followed the cloud, were now back into a regular routine in an environment that was comfortable for them. In spite of some of the educational challenges, none of the children missed a beat in their pursuit of academics. Our son, John McKee, one of Margaret’s the three children who I adopted in 1994, was accepted to the University of Oklahoma while we were living in Norman.
As I approached my new position, I knew in my heart that we would not be staying in this place for much longer than a year. Rather than looking to purchase a home, we simply signed a one-year lease on a small house in a nice neighborhood. The Year 2000, or Y2K, was on the horizon, and I believed that my ministry consulting skills were only needed for a one-year window of time. As it turned out, my premonition was correct. But during our tenure in Norman, we did begin networking with a variety of other Messianics who were experiencing a surge in the swelling numbers of non-Jewish Believers who were attracted to a Torah observant lifestyle. This was becoming a major issue for the Messianic community to deal with.
In June 1999, I helped coordinate a meeting of ministry leaders who came together in Norman to organize a conference that was to be held in Orlando over Labor Day weekend. Since I had extensive experience putting on conferences and seminars, and my client in Norman recognized this ability, he sent Margaret and me to Orlando in July 1999 to meet the local team of conference participants and see if we could be used in helping to facilitate some of the conference administration and coordination. This we did. After a very successful conference, it became apparent to me that our abilities to administer the growing needs of the emerging organization were a natural fit. When Y2K came and my services were no longer needed in Norman, I was offered a position as the administrator for an emerging group of Messianic congregations, fellowships, and ministries.
We then moved to Kissimmee, Florida and for three years worked diligently to build a harmonious group of Messianic Believers into a cohesive organization. But as a result of some differences of direction, opinions on how to operate the alliance, and some conflicts of theology, the owner of the alliance decided to terminate our position as consultants. By Fall 2002, we were challenged by our circumstances to once again ask the Lord what He would have us do.
I was already writing weekly Torah commentaries and Hue and Cry opinion articles. We had established ourselves as successful conference producers and directors. Our ability to network and connect with other Messianics was already proven. Margaret had used her business skills to handle all of the accounting and ordering needs for the organization, and her spiritual gifting and life experience was proving invaluable in ministering to the needs of the hurting, who were simply seeking love and acceptance in the Messianic community of faith. Our son John, a prolific writer and Messianic apologist, was in his last year at OU. We were already handling his book sales generated from the TNN Online website he had first developed in 1997 (now Messianic Apologetics).
As we prayed about our situation and implored the Father for direction, it became very clear that He had called us unto His service years earlier. Our slow, but steady desire to serve others was now being altered so that He could commission the work He now has for us with Outreach Israel Ministries.
Our Official Launch
In November 2002, we officially launched Outreach Israel Ministries and have never looked back. During our first full year (2003), our faith was tested in a variety of ways. There is no doubt that when you step out in faith to work in the Father’s fields, just about everything you can imagine will work against you to thwart your Divine commissioning. But we were not swayed from the path we have been on. From our previous experiences, we learned what we needed to learn and met whom we needed to meet. Today, this has given us a confidence that His will is going to be accomplished for our lives and that we will make a difference in the lives of His people.
Throughout our experience, we had been exposed to a great deal among many in leadership positions throughout the Messianic movement. Having started out in full time ministry, none of us were operating in a vacuum of knowledge. Our experience and acquaintance with many in the movement was first hand, and in many cases involved close personal interaction. We understood through many of the trials we have had to endure that God is very concerned about the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:19-24), a sizeable part of which is the development and maturation of the Messianic movement.
Spending only a handful of years in the Messianic community, it was plain to us that balanced and scholastic educational materials are critical for developing solid Messianics who would not be negatively influenced by every wind of doctrine that blew into the camp. In order to help out in this area, we continued in our work to produce written materials on a wide variety of issues.
I diligently and consistently produced weekly TorahScope commentaries that encouraged the Messianic community to return to the foundation of our Torah-based walk with the Lord. I likewise continued to write timely editorials under the Hue and Cry byline. Added to this in 2003 was the monthly publication Outreach Israel News.
The addition of John McKee to our team in 2003 has been quite a blessing. After graduating from college, he brought his energy and writing skills to compliment what we were already doing. During our first year of operation, we were able to add his existing books, finish a few others through perseverance, and also produce some collaborative efforts. He started to guide the production of our Messianic books and other materials. John definitely takes a theological approach that is quite unique compared to a variety of Messianic teachers.
We all believe that Yeshua is our King and Redeemer, and that the rest of us as His followers are called to emulate Him. In His governmental structure, He is at the bottom of the inverted pyramid holding all of us up by resting the apex of the pyramid on His shoulders. As His model suggests, the more your serve, the lower you descend on the pyramid. Thus, the primary goal of Outreach Israel Ministries is to serve you and encourage you in your Messianic walk of faith. It is our purpose to reach out and address the issues that face us day in and day out, and look ahead toward the future and the challenges that are awaiting us on the horizon.
Outreach Israel Ministries is constantly in a state of development. We are always going where few Messianic ministries or theological think tanks have been able to go. In following the Lord, we believe that He has given us a great Divine mandate, and a sacred trust, to reach out and proclaim the good news, being a blessing to others (Genesis 12:3; Deuteronomy 4:6; Galatians 3:8), encouraging others to obey God’s commandments so they too can be a blessing. As our mission statement summarizes it:
OIM is a Messianic educational ministry, which has been commissioned to reach, teach, encourage, and disciple those within the Commonwealth of Israel to return wholly to Him in spirit, soul, and body in the work of advancing His Kingdom until the Messianic restoration of all things.
Until the restoration of all things…
William Mark Huey