Mission News from Israel

Munir Kakish and his wife, Sharon, FCA missionaries serving in Ramallah, Israel (ten miles north of Jerusalem), report on the situation they are currently facing there. “Missiles do not reach our area,” says Kakish, but many challenges still remain. They are unable to leave their town for now, and when the army enters Gaza, they will be unable to leave their home.

“There will be violent demonstrations,” Kakish explains. “We will remain at home and not even be able to go to stores or school.” While they have extra food and supplies set aside in anticipation of the worsening situation, they are also packing food boxes for others and hope to distribute 50 boxes of food (about $100 each) for those who cannot get what they need. Kakish invites any who may feel led to contribute to project.

Kakish urges believers to pray for all those who have been impacted by the war.

A Prayer Guide
Spiritual needs:
For the peace of Jerusalem.
For the salvation of all Abraham’s children (both peoples).

Physical and emotional needs:
For those who lost family members.
For the healing and recovery of the injured.
For children raised in Kakish’s boys’ home—and their families.
For children deeply affected psychologically by the violence.
For Muslim kids Kakish supports.

Safety needs:
For Kakish’s congregations in Ramla and Ramallah.
For their church people and elders who live in Gaza.
For a Baptist church (and other historical churches) in Gaza.
For the Council of Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land.
For several parachurch organizations in the area.
For open roads and safe travel for those moving to safer places.

For miraculous resolution:
For hostages to be freed.
For the destruction to stop.
That local and international leaders might find some solution.
That Palestinians and Israelis may live in peace.

Some hope to fan the flames of hatred, says Kakish, who is praying that God would intervene and thwart those plans to escalate violence. He recalls the well-known devotional by John Donne: “…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

“There is only one name under heaven whereby we might be saved,” Kakish notes. “We need to accept Jesus in this lifetime. If either side controls the land from the Mediterranean to the Pacific but does not have Jesus, it is all for naught.”

About Gaza

Gaza is a narrow strip of land 25 miles long and from 3.7 to 7.5 miles wide. Gaza city has a density of 9,683 people per square kilometer, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It has an unemployment rate of 46.4 percent.

Dr. Munir Kakish is President of the Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land and Pastor of the local church in Ramallah and Ramla.

Note: Learn more about RCO Ministries (Ramla | Ramallah Christian Outreach) at www.rcoministries.org. You may also donate on the website for needs mentioned above as well as additional needs that are sure to come.

Where Are the War Artists?

by Rosemarie Adcock

Editor’s note: This article formed the basis of Rosemarie Adcock’s breakout session (along with her husband, Ed) at the 2023 FCA Convention in Minneapolis. Rosemarie followed this background material with a 7-point strategy on how to introduce an arts ministry in your church.

Discipling Nations with Paint

In Northern France, one may stand in front of one of the most famous altarpieces of all time, the Isenheim Altar, painted by Matthias Grünewald between 1512 – 1516. The panels measure over 18 feet tall, soaring high into the stone surroundings of the monastery. The artist’s gleaming pigment made from ground precious stones is itself worthy of mention; but the history behind the commissioning of the piece is so remarkable, it must be explained to grasp a full understanding of the painting’s purpose.

During a period when Europeans were dying of the plague, monks in a monastery in Isenheim, Germany commissioned Grünewald to paint an altar that would cause all who looked at it to be healed. Before the patients were taken in and washed, they were brought before the soaring, grisly painting of the crucified Christ, about whom Isaiah proclaimed, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquity, surely He bore all our sorrows, and by His stripes we are healed.” The monastery would eventually become known as a place of miraculous healing for the terminally ill.

Such a commission is almost unthinkable today. Yet there was a time when all the arts were done for the glory of God, depicting the life of the Scripture, calling man to reflect on his own mortality. From massive biblical compositions to still life, everything was done with a passion for the mission of the day, to communicate the truth of the living Word of God to the illiterate masses of people for whom the Savior died.

It was during the Renaissance period that paintings began to take on a realistic rather than flat, decorative appearance. As perspective was discovered and people were painted in the costume of the day, paintings began to take on accurate depictions of life. People saw themselves in the biblical images portrayed. Purposefully, the life of the viewer was wrapped up in the life of the Scriptures.

Chiaroscuro (the contrast of light and shade) was incorporated into paintings and carried on through the 1700’s to the Baroque period. This chiaroscuro was not only light and shade in the execution of the painting itself, but it was used as a symbol of spiritual light and darkness, spiritual life and death. The people of the day clearly understood the meaning.

This theme was so widely understood that it even made its way to still life painting where it was commonplace to see a picture of beautiful fruit painted together with rotting fruit, or paintings that included human skulls posed with foods on an otherwise beautiful table. These were intentional depictions of biblical passages to remind the viewer that he, too, was perishing, and in need of a decision regarding his eternal destiny.

The Reformation and the Discard of the Arts

In a fervent desire to extricate the faithful of all influence deemed Catholic, the Reformers of the 1500’s, such as Zwingli, cleansed the church of images and relics as well as the organ, and in some churches, music was disallowed entirely. Calvinism abandoned symbolic forms of worship, embracing the thinking that the alliance of religion and art represented a lower stage of religious and human development. The Word and the intellect alone were considered the only valid ways to commune with the Spirit. The practice of entering into worship through other senses having been denied, the Church came to abandon the use of art in its worship.

War Artists

But the heart of man hungers for worship—and uses symbols to do it. Four hundred years after the Reformation, the National Socialists of 20th-century Germany strategically permeated the mindset of an entire culture to transform thought using art. Before and during  the time they came to power, in early 1933, the first project Hitler embarked on as Chancellor,  even before building Berlin, was to build the House of German Art. It was to be a massive museum containing the art that would depict the philosophy of his new religion, National Socialism. All other art that did not depict the thinking of the Third Reich was outlawed, and the artists labeled as Degenerates, ​which is an extremely derogatory term in the German language.

Goebbels, the master of Nazi propaganda, appointed Kriegsmahler, War Artists, to bring back images from the front lines; images of “bravery and courage” which were selectively chosen for printing in the newspapers to stir the hearts of the people with their “great victory and mission.” Hundreds of these war artists went out to the Front with the soldiers and boosted their morale. By the end of the war there was an organized division of Staffel der Bildenden Künstler—a German Combat Artist Unit. This staff of 100 fine artists, War Artists, was appointed the task of developing art that was not even for the purpose of propaganda, but for posterity to depict the great “victory” that was sure to come.

So where are the War Artists? Not the Nazi painters of perversion and death whose art was used as evidence in the Nuremberg trials and eventually banned lest it stir up the mind of war and hatred in a brain-washed Germany. Instead, where are the War Artists who are called to fight the Good Fight, called to press on to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? Our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and artists don’t take up the fight.

Where are the War Artists? Where are the gifted artists and musicians who believe the call of 2 Corinthians 5 that says we no longer live for ourselves but for him who died and rose again on our behalf? Where are they who believe we became new creatures and we are now  ambassadors for Christ? Who see a primary purpose for art is not to seek the glory offered by this world’s system, but rather seek to glorify the Creator who has freely given us all things?

Where are the War Artists who see art as parable, as a tool and method of communication of the Gospel?

Where are the War Artists who believe the Great Commission is a mandate, who believe deeply in their calling as artists, deeply enough to seek a purpose that will live on after them?

Where are the War Artists who are ready to band together with the army of the Church, to go to the front lines, leading the army in worship, glorifying the One who has already won our victory at the cross? Where are the people who “die daily”, who take up their cross and follow the Savior to death if necessary to fight the battle that rages before us?

We have accepted the massacre of our culture before our very eyes, watching creativity replaced by depravity and then renamed “art.” We have accepted as normal what is perverse, and we struggle in isolation to survive the spirit of this age, when our God and Father in heaven calls us by name to be adopted into the family of his Church, as a vital part of the Body. Perhaps we are the eyes, but we are in need of the hands and the feet and the Head. We cannot do this alone.

God called an artist by name in Exodus 31 to build what would assist people in worship. God knew his name. He prepared his work beforehand and appointed this man​, whom he filled with the Spirit in craftsmanship. If we hold artistic gifts in the same way that we hold other spiritual gifts mentioned in Scripture, we would see that these were given for the edification of the body, not for ourselves. We no longer live for ourselves. We live for him.

Who are the soldiers weary of raising up a flag displaying their own name and purpose? Who now sense the voice of God proclaiming a purpose higher than themselves? Who reject the self-willed immaturity and narcissistic self-importance that lead only to spiritual shipwreck?

Who are the pastoral allies who will walk beside the next generation of gifted artists and musicians, discipling them as they would a missionary or pastor sent to seminary to plant a church or preach the Word? Where are the seminaries that will equip those called to put a living face on the Gospel of our living Lord?

A soldier sent into battle empty-handed can do nothing but retreat or surrender. We will not retreat, nor will we surrender. We are calling the War Artists and the musicians and the teachers of the Word to form a new army. You know who you are. We will answer the call of our King, moving across this barren landscape that is our culture, empowered by the wind of his Spirit. We will not surrender. We have declared war and we will win.

Rosemarie Adcock, an award-winning artist, founded Arts for Relief and Missions (ARM) following an international art exhibition tour for evangelism that sparked $1.25 million in humanitarian relief donations for orphans and impoverished families.

A Call to Pastors: Persevere!

Threatening Wave

By Thomas Yerman

Recently, I attended a regional gathering of pastors where we were to discuss how to “replenish” the Church. I shared my thoughts prior to the meeting with the host pastor who said, “You need to share this.” What I write here includes a few more thoughts than what I shared with the gathering that day.

We are living in a culture in which many are turning away from the Church—away from a belief in God. We’re in the midst of a war against truth. The reality of this war reminds us of the importance of God’s call to persevere.

Sound Doctrine

Sound doctrine affects people in different ways. Some respond to solid biblical teaching by feeling encouraged and strengthened in their faith. The same teaching, however, puts others off, impacting them in negative says. Timothy was warned of a coming time when people would not put up with sound doctrine. They resist it, some even to the point of leaving a church.

Whatever the Holy Spirit does through the teaching of God’s Word, our part as ministers is to preach and teach it correctly. This is so important in fulfilling our call.

Paul encourages us through the words he spoke to Timothy:  “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3, 5). Days of hardship or lost attendance should not distract us from how we are to teach God’s Word.

Even when we’re feeling weak, we have promises encouraging us to keep God’s Word and not deny his Name. God’s promises admonish us to endure until Christ’s return. “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:19).

The promise Christ spoke to the church in Philadelphia, he speaks to all his Church: “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on earth” (Revelation 3:10). If we hold on, we will escape the Great Tribulation and gain the imperishable crown of life. That is a big deal!

Whatever we plan to do to replenish our local assembly, we must continue to build the Church upon the biblical foundation God has given us. That ensures us of the help of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Church must hold steady in being a “house of prayer” (Luke 19:46) even as pastors hold firm in teaching the Word of God without compromise as absolute truth. The healthy function of the Church depends on it (Matthew 4:4).

As you know, the Holy Spirit moves in conjunction with the Word of God through the enabling of people with lifestyles of prayer and biblical devotion. It doesn’t get much simpler or more powerful than that.

No Fear

We must not fear people. We must not confuse their feelings of conviction by the Holy Spirit with their feelings of being offended. The Holy Spirit inspired and authored the Scripture (2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16). So we must speak it clearly and correctly, allowing him to do the work he wants to do in the lives of people (Hebrews 4:12-13). We must speak the Word boldly and correctly with love, courage, and application for our day.

The Church needs to learn how to handle what we are facing today in America. We are being threatened with persecution and the loss of our God-given freedom, not to forget our security and prosperity. The goal of the enemy is to stop its opponent from resisting him. The enemy will do everything in his power to wear people out and discourage them—with the ultimate goal of causing people to lose hope, be silent and afraid, and walk away from God and his Word.

If pastors are not careful, we can begin to accommodate fear, water down God’s Word, or become overly distracted with finding a plan to “feed” the people in a way that will grow our congregation for the sake of increasing numbers or paying the bills. This can lead to other problems and adverse consequences. We must be alert to any wrong, misleading influences. God is not so concerned about impressive appearances. His concern is about the glory—the glory of his harvest. He is concerned that people are fed the truth so they can mature and be discipled to be more like his Son. That is why, when distractions and disputes arose in the early church, the apostles determined to keep their attention focused on the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4).

Bottom Line

To replenish God’s Church, we must continue to build on the biblical principle of persevering in preaching the Word and prayer at all costs—even in the face of death. We are running to the finish line! There is yet one more hill to climb, one more vista to encounter. This is not a time for timidity or compromise!

God has called us to see the growth and maturity of his Church. Pastors are not called to feed the world, but to feed God’s Church. The Church needs God’s truth, God’s strength, and God’s leading in order to stand, resist, and persevere against its opposing forces. As we do our part and fulfill our call, Christ will build his Church (Matthew 16:18). Slip your name into that verse and hold your head up high!

“If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:7–8).

Thomas Yerman is an FCA pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.

FCA’s “Fastest Pastor”

Don Wickstrum in his shop.



Don Wickstrum, youth pastor at Grace Church in New Glarus, Wisconsin, shares his story of racing to the top of Pikes Peak.

His story, however, is about much more than an adrenalin-fueled automobile race. It’s about running the ultimate race—and finding what matters most.

A newly released documentary film produced by I Am Second, a global storytelling organization, offers an intimate look at entrepreneur, pastor and racer, Don Wickstrum and his years-long journey to conquer the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, all the time leaning on his faith and battling an aggressive cancer diagnosis.

“Even though life may not always seem to present you with the best hand, the best place to put that hand is in the hands of God,” says Wickstrum.

With uplifting messages that encourage viewers in their walk with God, the film “Chasing Hope” releases just in time for families and friends to watch it together during the holiday season.

“This story is for anyone who is searching for hope,” said John Humphrey, Vice President of I Am Second. “We knew Don for several years before his diagnosis, and when we saw what he was trying to accomplish at Pikes Peak, we jumped at the chance to share his powerful story with a larger audience. Don represents his faith in an engaging, authentic way. He has a desire to share the eternal hope he’s found in Christ, and he puts his faith into action. That’s an example for all of us.”

Holding tightly to his childhood dream of racing Pikes Peak, he made a deal with his father to first go to college. Having experienced significant hardship growing up, however, Wickstrum wrestled with his faith and lacked a sense of hope. In college he declared himself an atheist and set out to disprove religion.

“Probably midway through my sophomore year, I was getting really fed up with this whole Christianity thing because what I started to discover is that it wasn’t as easy to prove wrong as I thought,” Wickstrum recalls. “I specifically remember coming across this moral dilemma, thinking, ‘Okay, I admit it, the Bible’s true and this is legit, but I don’t know that I want to give my life to it.’”

One unforgettable evening, Wickstrum had a powerful encounter with God that changed the trajectory of his life. He surrendered his life to Christ and felt true hope in his heart for the first time.

In the following years, Wickstrum became successfully involved in racing, ministry, and serial entrepreneurship, owning one of the largest robotic integrators in America. However, in late 2018, everything changed when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer, forcing him to sell his business and evaluate his future.

“As I prayed, I really felt like God was opening the door for me to race at Pike’s Peak,” explains Don. “I sought my wife’s counsel on it, and she asked me, ‘If eight-year-old you had heard of a guy like you that was facing a tough circumstance, and yet he was able to accomplish his dream of going to Pike’s Peak, do you think that would have given you hope?’”

In pondering his wife’s profound question, the Fastest Pastor, as he’s affectionately known by church members and fans, committed to put the wheel in God’s hands and pursue Pikes Peak, aspiring to share his faith and inspire hope in others.

The second-oldest motorsports race in America, the Pikes Peak race has no equal. Boasting 156 turns over a 12.42-mile course, beginning at over 9,300 feet and ending at 14,115 feet above sea level, the harrowing course has long served as a driver’s proving ground. Conquering the climb has been a dream of Wickstrum’s since he first saw the race on TV when he was eight years old.

Don Wickstrum serves as youth pastor at Grace Church in New Glarus, Wisconsin. He is a leader in ministry, a counselor, a mentor, a husband and a father. He continues to race and share the Gospel amid his ongoing battle with cancer, hoping to inspire and minister to others. To read more of his story, visit fastestpastor.com.

You can also view Wickstrum’s story by clicking iamsecond.com/film/chasing-hope/. And for other inspiring stories visit iamsecond.com. The website that features written and film-based stories of more than 150 athletes, actors, models, musicians, cultural influencers and everyday people who have stepped in front of the camera to declare, “I Am Second.”

My Unexpected Journey

by Michael McCartney

It began one day last April with blood in my urine. Concerned, I called my urologist and set up an appointment, which included all sorts of tests, scans, and scopes. Within a week the answer was confirmed: a tumor on my bladder.

Cancer, stage 3—not good. The doctor said it looked as if it had been there a while, though I had just seen him four months before.

Surgery was scheduled for Monday, just 11 days after the blood first appeared. The doctor removed the tumor and treated the site with a form of immune therapy. He said surgery went well, though it was extremely hard to get to the tumor because of its location. He most likely would have to go back in.

So my journey through cancer had begun. And I had enrolled in the school of higher learning—my unexpected journey through the valley of shadows.

The First Dove

When the doctor first examined me, I left his office in shock and walked out into a severe storm. I drove my truck home through the storm, went in, and sat in my chair. Looking out of our bay window at the raging storm, I started talking to the Lord about my cancer.

As I prayed, I opened my eyes and I saw…a dove! There in the midst of the storm was a dove looking back at me through the window!

The dove’s feathers were being blown around by the stormy winds, but it kept looking right at me. Pellets of cold rain hit the dove, and its eyes would close to shut out the pounding rain. But again and again the dove opened its eyes to look at me.

I knew from Scripture that doves are a sign of the Holy Spirit. In that moment, in the middle of a storm, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit! So I prayed, “Lord, I need your help with this cancer!” and I felt the Spirit say: “I will be with you through this stormy journey. You will come out the other end of the storm.”

The dove stayed around for about five minutes. Then the phone rang—it was Tiffany, my daughter, calling me to see what the doctor had found. When I turned around, the dove was gone.

The Second Dove

I hit another rough day in my journey when the doctor called me. I was in a church staff meeting at the time, but I had recently come through my second surgery and biopsy.

The pathology report said things were not looking good. Cancer was lining my bladder “like a carpet.” Explaining the results, the doctor suggested I should consider removing my bladder, my lymph nodes, and my prostate—the “Gold Plan.”

“If you don’t do this,” he said, “this type of cancer could take your life.” It was an aggressive, rapidly spreading type of cancer.

I left the meeting and went home to pray and talk with my wife, Kathy. We prayed and decided to stay on the same track—no removal of important parts. I chose the “Silver Plan”—and ask God for a miracle.

At one point in our talk and prayer, I said to Kathy, “It would be nice to get another visitation from a dove today.”

That night, Brock and Brittany, a young couple from church brought us a meal and with it, a heart-touching card. But most remarkably, they also gave me a small, glass dove.

They explained. The Holy Spirit had prompted them to stop at a store to get a dove as a reminder of the dove in my window and remind me of God’s promise: “I will be with you through this stormy journey. You will come out at the other end of the storm.”

It was another God moment—a second dove with a reminder of God’s promise and presence.


It was another God moment—
a second dove with a reminder
of God’s promise and presence.

Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”

I was struck by the phrase reminding me that I am just walking through a valley of shadows while the Lord is with me, right by my side! The valley has a shadow of death lurking off somewhere in the distance, trying to torment me, wanting me to resign myself to it—as if there were no hope.

But with the Lord by my side, all things are possible!

Years ago I saw the movie, A Beautiful Mind, starring Russel Crowe. It’s the true story of a professor who suffered from schizophrenia. “Voices” in his mind tormented him, luring him away from reality and creating havoc in his family, career, and life.

After a long battle, the professor learned to ignore the voices. He choose to live in reality and not delusion. He admitted to another professor, however, that the voices were always there, off in the shadows, beckoning him to come to them, tempting him to listen and pay attention. But he chose to ignore and even reject the voices. He chose instead to focus on his family and his work.

For me, the shadow of cancer is like those delusional characters in the movie. Cancer taunted me, standing off in the shadows. But Psalm 23 and other Scriptures reminded me, “I will be with you, Mike, through this unexpected journey and through the valley of shadows.”

I didn’t choose this journey. It was unexpected. But in my cancer journey I choose to focus on the Lord. I’m sharing my journey with my church and others. And I choose to focus on God’s promise—and the Doves. I choose to be positive, to be filled with faith, to hope in Jesus.

Every day I tell the Lord, “I will praise you through this valley and honor you! No matter what happens!”

Psalm 46:1-3 says, “1 God is our refuge and strength, an everpresent help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

I know my unexpected journey is not over! I have a year of maintenance immune therapy to go through, but the Lord has been with me through it all encouraging me along the way. I trust him as well as my doctors. Jesus repeatedly promises in Scripture, “I will be with you!”

He will be with you too! “God is no respecter of persons.” He will walk with you through your unexpected journey and be by your side to bring you out the other end. All you have to do is ask him to come help you too!

He will!

Mike McCartney is Senior Pastor of Christian Hills Church in Orland Hills, Illinois.