Kingdom Talk!

Kingdom Talk! with Peter Tsukahira

May 28, 2022 Mark Banyard Season 2 Episode 5
Kingdom Talk!
Kingdom Talk! with Peter Tsukahira
Show Notes Transcript

My guest today is Peter Tsukahira. Peter is one of the founding pastors of Kehilat HaCarmel (Carmel Congregation) in Israel. He is also the executive director of the Or HaCarmel (Light of Carmel) Ministry Center as well as founder and director of the Mount Carmel School of Ministry. Aside from his local ministry responsibilities, Peter teaches in various countries. He has also written several books, his newest one being “EQUIP - Your Personal Journey to the Kingdom!”

https://www.petertsukahira.com
https://www.carmelcongregation.org.il

Books by Peter Tsukahira (Available on Amazon)

  • My Father's Business: Guidelines for Ministry in the Marketplace
  • God's Tsunami: Understanding Israel and End-Time Prophecy
  • Equip : Your Personal Journey to the Kingdom
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Mark Banyard:

Welcome to Kingdom talk, the podcast where we talk all about things kingdom. I'm your host, Mark Banyard, and I'll be interviewing a variety of people who through their lives and ministries have been committed to advancing the

kingdom of God:

church planters, church leaders, pioneers of missions and ministries both at home as well as abroad. So let's go straight to today's episode of Kingdom talk. My guest today is Peter Tsukahira. Peter is a Japanese American who has pioneered churches in both Japan and Israel. As cofounders of Mount Carmel congregation, Peter and his wife Rita continue to minister in Israel where they have lived for the last 35 years. Peter, welcome to the show.

Peter Tsukahira:

Thank you, Mark, I'm glad to be with you.

Mark Banyard:

Well, I'm delighted to have you today. And I'm really looking forward to our conversation. We had a chance to chat about a week or so ago. And it was so good that I couldn't wait until today. So I'm looking forward to what the Lord is going to do through you and through our conversation; and, as we just prayed, that he would say exactly through you what our listeners need to hear. So I'm going to begin by just asking you some basic questions about where you were born, how you came to faith, the early beginnings of your life - both earthly life and spiritual life.

Peter Tsukahira:

Okay, well, Mark, first of all, I'm a Japanese American Israeli. And I often describe myself as a person who looks Japanese, I have an American sounding voice, and today an Israeli passport.

Mark Banyard:

Wow, you're an unusual fellow.

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, I was born in the city of Boston in 1950. Okay. My parents were the children of immigrants from Japan. So it was my grandparents who immigrated to the US from Japan over 100 years ago. They settled in California. My parents were born there and went through the Second World War as Japanese Americans. My father was a became a history professor. He taught the Japanese language to American military intelligence during the war, okay. And then received his doctorate from Harvard University after the war. And I was born in Boston, because he was finishing his studies. After that, he decided not to pursue academia, and became a diplomat for the United States government. And in the 19, early 1960s, we were sent as a family to Japan. And so I, I actually grew up as this kind of a foreigner in in Japan, in the 1960s.

Mark Banyard:

Was there any Japanese spoken in the house?

Peter Tsukahira:

Yeah, my parents spoke Japanese when they didn't want us to understand. But it was not the primary language. They wanted us to be English speaking, my sister and I. And their hope was that we would go to American universities and be a part of American culture.

Mark Banyard:

So when you got to Japan, you were you were really in every way an English speaking American arriving in Japan.

Peter Tsukahira:

That's correct. I looked exactly like everybody else. But I was a complete foreigner.

Mark Banyard:

Was that harder for you, perhaps than it would have been for me?

Peter Tsukahira:

It was, there was a difficulty. However, it was kind of a privileged status because we were Americans. Japan had lost the war. They were restructuring, recovering, trying to become a prosperous, modern nation back in the 1960s. People may not remember but MADE IN JAPAN meant poor quality, right. After graduating from high school, I went back to a university, again in the Boston area. And this was in late 1960s. So it was the height of the Vietnam War. And the counterculture. My parents were not born again believers. I certainly was not. It was a very dark, a confusing and chaotic time in America, in history, but also just for me personally. I came back to the United States thinking that maybe I was returning home. But America was no longer my home. And so I was like a foreigner again, in the United States. So it was very difficult. I fell into just a terrible time of confusion. It was drugs, rock and roll music. And I didn't do well in school, obviously. But it was, it was through the death, actually, by suicide of my best friend, that really shook me out of that, I realized that I had to find some truths if I was going to survive and and live some type of meaningful life.

Mark Banyard:

What year was that?

Peter Tsukahira:

That was, by then it was the very early 1970s - 1973.

Mark Banyard:

And your friend died.

Peter Tsukahira:

My friend died. And that was the last straw. So I I left Boston, I hitchhiked to New Mexico, and tried to start my life over again, as a kind of a spiritual refugee. I was making adobe bricks outside of the city of Santa Fe, really, My Jewish girlfriend came to visit me. And she got picked up hitchhiking by a woman who took her to a coffee house ministry called Shalom. And there she heard the testimony of a Jewish man who, like us, had been part of this hippie counterculture generation, like us had encountered tragedy, and had been brought to the Lord. And he was invited to give his testimony that night. The first time he'd ever spoken, a Jewish man. Yes. Well... So he gave his testimony. He had been raised in California, from a Jewish family and then had been confronted with Jesus at the, you know, in the darkness of his despair, came to the Lord, told his testimony for the first night, first time that night, and my girlfriend got saved.

Mark Banyard:

Wow. Praise the Lord!

Peter Tsukahira:

She wasn't fully aware of what had happened. But I knew within 24 hours, she was completely different. And so within two weeks, I wanted to meet the people that she had met. And they led me to the Lord.

Mark Banyard:

Wonderful. So this was - I bet you didn't see that coming.

Peter Tsukahira:

It was really completely unexpected. We had tried everything. Back in those days, there was a spiritual smorgasbord of different religious faiths and creeds and cults. And we had, we had looked into so many of those and and didn't think that there were answers to be found. It was a big surprise to find out that, that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Mark Banyard:

So I'm betting that experientially, it was pretty transformational right off the get go.

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, we were radically saved. In other words, we had already, we had given up on life. And had given up on the privileges that we'd had, the education that we'd had. And so when we came to the Lord, we told him we would do anything, and go anywhere. And I think for that reason, perhaps that reason alone, God spoke to us very clearly within the first six months of our believing lives. Yes. He told us three things. He said, One, you're getting married, two, you're going into ministry, and three, you're going to Israel.

Mark Banyard:

Okay. Wow.

Peter Tsukahira:

I went on a long, fast in those days, and that really kind of helped us to hear clearly from God.

Mark Banyard:

Well, that's amazing. So in the first six months, you heard that clearly from God.

Peter Tsukahira:

Yes. And I, you know, I tell younger folks today, it was that abandonment, that was the good side of our generation. We had many dark and bad sides to what self indulgent sins that we were involved in, but the abandonment and this seeking for truth, was really something that many in our generation had.

Mark Banyard:

I want to ask you quickly as an insert to our conversation here, your wife, was she from a Jewish believing family, were they practicing Jews?

Peter Tsukahira:

Yes, she came from a Jewish family. In New York, we had met and in university and known each other for several years before we came to the Lord, her family were not Ultra religious, but they were very traditional. And they were the kind of Jewish family that lived in a Jewish community all their lives, they, all of their friends were Jewish. And the idea of their daughter believing in Jesus was anathema to them. And then the idea of their daughter marrying someone like me was also anathema. It was, you might say, two atomic bombs in their lives.

Mark Banyard:

A double anathema?

Peter Tsukahira:

Yeah, it was, it was very difficult for them.

Mark Banyard:

Well, I'd like to hear more of this. But let's just keep moving forward in terms of what happened next.

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, you know, for me, it was kind of a reconnecting to some of the things I learned earlier, my parents had been nominal Episcopalians. And so I knew something about the Bible. I knew something about Jesus, and it all of a sudden, came to life. For my wife, it was discovering the Jewishness of her identity. She never felt like she became a Christian in that sense, but that she, as a Jew had found her Messiah, her Jewish Messiah, and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had brought salvation into her life. So we knew that something really remarkable had happened to us. And that we had to learn a lot very fast. I ended up going to a Bible school, I hitchhiked to Bible school in Dallas, Texas, called Christ for the Nations. And we were there for two years, which was a kind of spiritual bootcamp that really got us, you know, walking with the Lord, understanding, what is the Bible, how to read the Bible, how to live a holy life to get on that path. Important, and most importantly, how to pray. Right. And after two years, we were functioning in our in our beliefs, but I still had many intellectual questions. And so we looked for a place where I could get more training. And we found a seminary attached to a large charismatic church in Southern California. Okay. And so in 1976, we went out to California, and we were there in California for about six years

Mark Banyard:

What was the name of that? Was it a seminary?

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, that church was called Melodyland Christian Center. Oh, and maybe the first, you know, charismatic mega church. Yes. In America, it was 1000s of people were attending. And the seminary was called Melodyland School of Theology, and later changed to American Christian Theological School. Okay. It was, it was remarkable. For those few years we were there we were taught by really excellent teachers, many of whom, because of the Charismatic Renewal had been, you might say, thrown out of their denominations. Back in the 1970s, this was the early 1970s, mid 1970s. It was the beginning of the charismatic movement and the renewal of the supernatural and the spiritual gifts. And we just kind of caught that wave, but I did receive a really sound theological foundation from those excellent teachers.

Mark Banyard:

You must have felt during those days, you were daily eating bread from heaven.

Peter Tsukahira:

Yes, I mean, it was, you know, some people whose names are like legendary now, like Jack Hayford, and Oral Roberts, and they came to the center there and taught us. And we grew on that. And this was before the many excesses of the charismatic movement that came in later. What a privilege. We were part of that excitement. And you know, the whole idea of worship music, Maranatha Music and the early Keith Green, people like that who were writing songs to the Lord and really breaking the barriers in music, the Vineyard movement, all of this was just taking off in Southern California in those years - incredible - and we were exposed to all of it. And we're just really thankful for that kind of exposure helped us grow, and helped us to focus on our ministry calling and for me it was I was realizing that I had a teaching and pastoral calling. And, and my wife's understanding of her identity as a Jewish person who had found her Jewish Messiah was reinforced because we began to meet more and more Messianic Jews. And we began to see Messianic Jews who were building congregations and writing books. And so there was a growing revelation that was being restored to the church, we knew that back in the 1970s.

Mark Banyard:

So you found yourself in this incredible time in history in the church in terms of what the Spirit of God was doing. And in all of that, you were not only learning and preparing, but you also came out with a sense of calling. Can you tell me a little bit more about your sense of calling, how it came, how it changed you and how you entered into it?

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, we learned early on that prayer was really the key to walking with the Lord. And I just I can, I'm so thankful for the early teachers and the teachings we received about prayer on now that's developed into a huge prayer movement and 24/7 and houses of prayer. But back then, about the only book on on intercessory prayer was Norman Grubb's book called Intercessor, about the life of Rees Howells. Yes, the classics, you know, of an earlier age, and E.M. Bounds, and so many others. We read all of those books, and learned to pray. And we were taught. And I think this was one of the benefits of the charismatic movement, we were taught to hear and recognize the supernatural voice of the Lord, we were. And that took years. And it really takes a lifetime to develop that ability to hear accurately. But we were already started on that. And so our calling just got stronger and stronger and clearer and clearer. So by the time we finished up in California, in the very early 1980s, we'd been walking with the Lord, almost 10 years, we knew that we would go to Japan, and that we would from there go on to Israel, we didn't know how, we didn't know when, but we knew clearly that that was God's plan for us.

Mark Banyard:

So you identified that you had a teaching gift and a pastoral gift. So you were kind of working mentally with this idea that you would be a pastor in a church.

Peter Tsukahira:

Yes, I mean, that was our paradigm. That's changed somewhat, you know, over the decades, all right, but that that was the paradigm. And, you know, perhaps later in the broadcast, I'll talk about how we, how I grew beyond that. But what we saw was, was church growth, and and we accepted that as, as the way God was building his kingdom. Okay, we were exposed to the teaching of John Wimber. And I volunteered to be the driver of a Korean minister, who came for a conference and got to know him. His name was Yonggi Cho.

Mark Banyard:

Wait just a minute have I heard of him!

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, then his church was only about 100,000 people. But he was already kind of being, you know, used as an example of a successful pastor who was extending the kingdom of God through church growth. And so we at that point, that was the model that we, that I accepted. And so I saw myself as a pastor teacher, and that I wanted to build a congregation.

Mark Banyard:

So you graduated from your final set of studies, and even though you're obviously a lifelong learner, graduated from your final studies. What year was that?

Peter Tsukahira:

That was 1981. So,

Mark Banyard:

so in 1982, you got to Japan

Peter Tsukahira:

that following year, we were in Japan.

Mark Banyard:

When you went to Japan, did you go to an existing congregation or did you go as a church planter?

Peter Tsukahira:

Okay, well, you know, we were completely out of the mold. We hadn't grown up in believing families, we didn't have any kind of support system. We didn't have any churches that were supporting us. So while I was in seminary, I ran out of money, and I begged the Lord for a job. And I got a job in the mid 1970s, in California programming computers, through a classmate in one of my counseling classes.

Mark Banyard:

Did you have any previous experience?

Peter Tsukahira:

None. Absolutely not.

Mark Banyard:

So that's why my computer doesn't work!

Peter Tsukahira:

so, you know, I was working as a bank teller, and I wasn't making, I couldn't pay my tuition and pay our bills and fix our car. So my friends said, well, maybe I can hire you, but you have to prove that you belong. So I learned how to program computers, okay. And, but by the time I finished, I got my, my degree in theology, I was ordained, and they were ready to send me out, I had this ability to, I could get a job. And back in the 70s, you know, there wasn't, you couldn't go to a university and get a computer science course. We were reading in magazines about these young guys, who, in the Bay Area had some dream that they would put a computer in every home. And I remember thinking, what would you do with one of these machines? And the guy who was writing that article was named Steven Jobs. No kidding. I mean, it was so new. And, but by 1981 1982, I realized I had, that was my only way to get to Japan. No one was going to send us, no church was backing us. So I wrote letters, and I got hired by a Japanese company called NEC.

Mark Banyard:

Oh, amazing.

Peter Tsukahira:

And I knew enough Japanese from my teenage years, so I could basically function in an office setting. And so they moved us to Tokyo. And I worked in the Japanese, I became a salaryman, you know what that means? dark suit and tie and the whole bit. And we met an experienced missionary, a man named Bob Hoolahan, who had been there for years and years. And he saw in me, he said, "Wow, you grew up here. You're born again, you've got Bible training. You're just what I'm looking for." He wanted to start or he was just, maybe he had already started one or two meetings. He wanted to start an international congregation in downtown Tokyo. And he said, "Let's do it together." So I became his associate. It was my first real pastoral experience. And we built this little congregation from about 25 people to over 300 over the next five years.

Mark Banyard:

Now, that's an incredible story.

Peter Tsukahira:

And I, for me, it was it was God's gift of experience. Certainly, you know, so I didn't have total responsibility. But Bob would, he was in charge of all the missionaries in his denomination in Asia. So he traveled a lot. And then he went back to the United States on furlough for an entire year, and I had to run this church. So it was tremendous. It was great experience, great experience. And we grew a lot. After after I left, they did relocate, and they went through a lot of changes. But we had the joy of the thrill of that, those first those early years of tremendous growth.

Mark Banyard:

One of the things we talk about in Kingdom Talk, in this podcast, is church planting as an expression of the kingdom, but also pioneering. There are some people in ministry who haven't actually planted a church, but they certainly have pioneered ministry. Loren Cunningham, for example, who pioneered YWAM. All said, there's something about the apostolic and how it's expressed through these things.

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, you learn. I think if you accept the call to go places and do new things, you learn how things are planted and grow. It's not everybody's path. So many, many people you'll be called into something existing and you'll be called to extend it to grow, to serve to help to support. There's all kinds of callings, as many callings as there are believers

Mark Banyard:

and all legitimate

Peter Tsukahira:

And all legitimate if, if you're obedient to it, and I think that was our, our save Saving Grace, God kept us on track. Because even at the height of it, we knew we weren't going to stay in Tokyo, that God had called us to Israel. And this was at a time, Israel was less than 40 years old as a modern nation at the time, and not accepted in the Christian world as it is today. So 35 years ago, people when we said to people we were going to Israel, they would go, "Why? What are you going to do?" They just really - and we couldn't answer those questions other than to say, "Well, we believe God has called us."

Mark Banyard:

Okay, now, your wife Rita, was she co pastoring with you? During your Japan time church planting in Tokyo time, what was her role in all of that?

Peter Tsukahira:

No, she she was not a co pastor. And she was, she taught in a local university. She had a teaching position at ICU in Mitaka. And we, we had a wonderful outreach to students from the universities. And at all this same time, I was also working in the computer and telecommunications industry in Japan. And we found, we found out that NEC in those years was the number one company that graduating Japanese college seniors wanted to work for. So when if she told her children or her students, why don't you come to our home? And my husband, who is a manager at NEC would like to, we'd like to talk to you about our lives. I mean, they jammed the place. So we had just a wonderful time, we made incredible friends, we saw young Japanese people come to the Lord, who are our friends to this day,

Mark Banyard:

it was a God set up. It was it was a God-ambush, and they didn't know it.

Peter Tsukahira:

And this was before, we didn't, no one had taught us about tent making. The only reason I was working in industry was because no one else would send me. No one was going to support us. Nobody knew us, we had done nothing in ministry. And so it was just the only way, the only thing we knew is that God wanted us to go to Japan. And so I just had to solve the problem. And it ended up being through industry.

Mark Banyard:

And ultimately, the person who sent you was God.

Peter Tsukahira:

I looking back I think we we can say yes, it really was.

Mark Banyard:

I think there's an important point here for those who are listening, who might be praying and seeking a word of direction from the Lord. Because they feel they're supposed to be doing something or to be somewhere. There's a kind of partnership we have with God, which when to agree to that as a step, we step out in obedience and faith. It's not always a red carpet that's rolled out in front of us. Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and do the human stuff, trusting that God is going to do the bigger stuff as you do your work in

Peter Tsukahira:

Absolutely, Mark. It's God's wisdom, to not faith. to show us the whole plan. And that's the function of faith is when you don't really know for sure, that's when you need faith, and hope and love, you have to step out trusting that God will fill in the missing blanks. And there were there were times looking back, you know, I really struggled with my calling. I wanted to be only in ministry or only in the marketplace. And for years, particularly in those years in Japan, I had to do both. I see the wisdom now. I couldn't do

Speaker 2:

I understand that now because I just don't have the energy.

Peter Tsukahira:

Then it was a matter of time management. You know, we'd have pastors meetings in a coffee house near my office. I met people constantly at lunch hour, I would teach Bible studies and after hours, but then when you're in your your 30s you have boundless energy.

Mark Banyard:

True. I know we discussed earlier before the show about your involvement in marketplace ministry. But what I'm hearing in your story is you were looking for a way to get yourself to Japan, as well as having money to live on as well. You were being launched into marketplace ministry, you were coming into a kingdom understanding there was a paradigm shift for you. It wasn't just making money when nobody else would give it to you. Again, I've just heard so many people say, "One day, I want to be in full time ministry. I don't want to do this anymore." And they don't actually see that the place, the profession, the vocation, the trade, whatever it is that God has given them is actually the place they're supposed to be to bring the gospel and advance the Kingdom of God.

Peter Tsukahira:

Absolutely, we're the ones who put an artificial barrier between ministry and the marketplace. Certainly, the apostle Paul didn't, didn't do that. No, and, and God looks at a whole life. And we have to OBEY HIM with all of our strength, all of our soul, everything that is within us. So you know, if he tells you to do this, that and the other, you have to, you have to find a way to make it work, you know, whatever, whatever it takes from out of your life. And that's, that's what I learned in those years.

Mark Banyard:

And that's excellent insight, learned the hard way. That's my experience. Over the years when I'm looking to God for some direction in my life. I've had a sorting grid I used to, or I used to have a sorting grid, it was either this or that. But over time, I found that most of the time God doesn't think that way. He doesn't think either/or, he tends to think more both/and. I don't know about you, Peter, but it took me a long time to figure that out. Because when I forced everything into the either/or grid, I actually wasn't getting the bigger, bigger picture that God was releasing to me

Peter Tsukahira:

This uncomfortable, those uncomfortable years of being stretched between what seemed like two sometimes opposing vocations really planted the seeds in me for an understanding of God's kingdom that took me beyond the church growth model. I began to realize in the years later, that God's objective for His kingdom is he intends to rule society, not just the church, the church is his instrument, so that he will rule society. And I realized why I took and it took me years because I had to unlearn many of the things that I had, consciously and unconsciously accepted about church growth being God's goal. I had to learn that most of the people that I will, will reach out to that I will teach and serve as a pastor and teacher will never be called to the professional ministry.

Mark Banyard:

Right? The vast majority, and that's a huge paradigm shift

Peter Tsukahira:

Exactly. The vast majority of people that we serve, their vocations are elsewhere. They're doctors, they're lawyers, they're businessmen, they're homemakers, they're educators, they're scientists, they're entertainers. God sends them all to us. And for many years, I tried to make them all into ministers. And every year I failed, and every year, I was sure that I was doing something wrong. And finally, I realized, wait a minute, that's not what the kingdom is, the kingdom is consists of all kinds of people, because God intends to rule the whole society.

Mark Banyard:

So when there's that paradigm shift, when you flip flop that when you turn it around, and let's say I don't know, rough figures, 90% of all the church, people who identify as believers are meant to be in the world and not of the world, advancing the kingdom of God. That not only that changes how you think, but how you disciple?

Peter Tsukahira:

Absolutely. For me, that paradigm shift was theological. Okay, after we moved to Israel, and we moved to Israel directly from Japan. And we've been there ever since. So we went to Israel in 1987. From Tokyo. And we've been here in Israel for 35 years. So almost half of my life. It's really because of Rita's Jewish identity. We became citizens. And we co founded a congregation on Mount Carmel. But it was what we learned from the Bible, what I learned from the Bible after coming to Israel that changed my paradigm of the kingdom. I realized what the Bible teaches is that Israel is chosen by God for one great purpose. And that is to be his example of the kingdom. They're not, the people of Israel were not chosen because they were superior in any way. God just created them as his example for every people. So he had, he would have people on earth. And the their example is to be the kingdom of God. And that's when I saw that in in the scriptures, I realized that it's it's very plain. And a lot of things really began to unravel, I realized we're in a big restoration, a return to some fundamental biblical truths, about God's intentions for the world. I and it, you know, I have the scriptural basis, I've written books about this, and taught extensively about Israel as God's paradigm of his kingdom and the implications that has for the mission of the church.

Mark Banyard:

There's so many things here that just in the last few minutes, particularly, you've talked about. I really want to go a whole lot deeper. But before we do that, can you connect the dots for us on your jump from Japan to Israel, leading up to the jump? And would you fill out that little time period for us, please?

Peter Tsukahira:

Okay. After we'd been in Japan, for a little bit more than five years, you know, it became clear to me that either we would stay in Japan, and continuing to do what we what we were doing in ministry there, or we would go on with what we knew was God's plan. And, and so knowing that our hearts were to complete God's will, we started meeting as many Jewish people and as many Israelis as we possibly could, we became friends with the local rabbi in Tokyo. We learned more about Messianic Jews, we began to take steps. Since I had by now a reasonable amount of experience in the computer industry, I realized that this again, could be a vehicle that would take us to Israel. One of the things I did was I went to the Israeli embassy, and I asked for a list of high tech companies that might be doing business internationally. And I began to write them letters. I got a lot of rejections. But one company in the city of Haifa, which was the city that we kind of felt would be our target, where we should land, wrote back and said they were interested in meeting me. So I worked out a way to stop in Israel. This was our first visit ever to Israel. And they interviewed me and right away offered a job. Now we had to wait to actually get from Japan to into Israel. And again, industry provided a way for us to arrive as immigrants in Israel, and it was really, really much needed. Because our ignorance was great. I had no idea what Israeli culture was like, we had no idea of what kind of challenges we'd face. We just knew that this was part of the call. It turned out to be much more difficult than we thought it would be when you're an immigrant. It's not like being a missionary, or a visitor or a tourist. Those kinds of people have homes somewhere else. But an immigrant is like a refugee in a way, you don't have a home, you're not going back. And you're, it's the big reset button. You're starting your life all over again. And that's what happened to us in 1987. We struggled for a number of years. And then the Gulf War came, oh 1991. And there was a dictator in Iraq who was threatening to burn half of Israel with weapons of mass destruction. And the Israeli government was giving us all citizens instructions about preparing for possible nerve gas attack from missiles that would be landing in our cities from Iraq. It was a very dislocating title. And we were really tested like we'd been in the country more than two years by that time and it's hard to describe how different Israel was 35 years ago. I'm sure there were hardly any believers in our city. There were less than 200 believers in the entire metropolitan area of Haifa. Yes, and all of two small fellowships. Most of the believers really weren't a part of any fellowship. And we, we were trying struggling with the culture, with the language. We had two small children at the time. And we really had to ask the Lord, is this what you called us to? And we didn't get instructions from the Lord to leave. There were opportunities where there were no instructions. And so we stayed, and the missiles fell, and we learned to seal our room and protect our children. And well, but after that war, somehow, we felt like we turned a corner. It was a funny thing. It was just a feeling, a deep inner feeling, that somehow our roots were now beginning to go down into the rocky soil of Israel, and that the decision that we'd made to become citizens of the nation was actually taking place. And that we were, we were beginning to feel like we belonged here. And, miraculously, right after that war, God put us together with another of couple immigrants like us, Americans, immigrants like us, and like us, a Jew and Gentile married together. They were pioneering Israel's first Bible based rehabilitation center for men, reaching out to both Jews and Arabs. We began praying with them. And in the spring of 1991, God spoke to us to start a new messianic congregation on Mount Carmel, the Carmel congregation that's been growing now for more than 30 years.

Mark Banyard:

So the two couples, the four of you came together. A Bible based rehab was being established. But at that time, you sensed that there was also a congregation that you were you were going to establish?

Peter Tsukahira:

That was our dream. And but by then, we knew we weren't, we couldn't, we weren't doing it alone. And God put us together with David and Karen Davis. And it, the rest is history. We, we've worked together for 25 years, David, sadly passed away five years ago. We're still working together with Karen and another generation of young leaders that we've discipled and raised up are now stepping in the ministry, which was maybe 25 People 20 People, when we began is now a network of ministries. And we've seen actually a small explosion of growth in Messianic congregations all over the land wonderful, in the last 30-35 years.

Mark Banyard:

What a history, what an experience and a testimony of what the Lord's doing. In Israel and through Israel.

Peter Tsukahira:

It's been, it's been really a privilege, I we somehow, by the grace of God, we caught a wave of his purposes. And because of that, we were allowed to be in this generation really just see the first visible, Israeli Messianic congregations where, where Yeshua, Jesus is being worshipped in his own land, by his own people, in his own language of Hebrew, for the first time in 2000 years. Incredible. We we are part of those who are called to to build that now visible expression. So it's it has been a an incredible adventure, a pioneering call. And now we realized what God was up to, all those years earlier, when he spoke to us so clearly said, you're going to Israel. That's my intention for you.

Mark Banyard:

Again, so many things I want to pick up on and ask you, which I probably don't have time to do today. So you'll just have to come back on the show another time.

Peter Tsukahira:

Sure, any time you say.

Mark Banyard:

We'll do part two. But let me ask you again about the kingdom because so many people ask us about the kingdom. I'm sure it's easy for you as it is for me to think that just everybody's got the revelation or they they think in a kingdom kind of way. I'm talking about Christians in the church, but the reality is, there's not a lot of people who they may have some understanding to it. But, but knowledge is not revelation. And transformation only really comes from revelation. It doesn't come from information. And so when you talk about the church, how do you understand that with regard to the kingdom?

Peter Tsukahira:

I see the church as an organization, the organization of believers working together. That church, of course, the word church is ecclesia, which means the people who are called out by God, when we're called out, we organize, we come together, those communities that have called people that we, that we know as, as the church are God's instrument, to bring his kingdom to Earth. So his purpose is not the church. But the church is the instrument that God uses to bring about his purpose, which is to rule the world. And the world is society. It's every person, it's every family, it's every tribe, it's every nation. And, and we will not, and we do not expect to accomplish this by getting everybody from society into the organization. You know, I think that the whole idea was more chairs on the Sabbath. You know, you every week, you put out more chairs, and you filled those chairs. And when you if you kept doing that, ultimately, you'd win everybody. But you know, if you think about it, that's totally unrealistic, it will never happen. But instead, what God sends is people to fill those chairs, who then go out into society. And our job as apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists, according to Ephesians, chapter four, is to equip them for their work of service, they bring the kingdom, to their offices, to their families, through their vocations through their sphere of influence. And our job is to equip them and enable them to do that.

Mark Banyard:

So the kingdom wasn't created for the church, but rather the church, in a sense was created for for the Kingdom.

Peter Tsukahira:

Exactly.

Mark Banyard:

Well, let's talk about equipping because you've written several books. In fact, your recent book, your most recent book is called Equip. And that's what we're talking about right now. So let me ask you, how do you equip people not to be faithful sitters on chairs in the Sunday morning service for the rest of their lives, because they believe that that is the best way to outwork their Christian calling, but to be Kingdom minded people who understand that they're called to advance the kingdom in the world. How do you do that? Where do you begin?

Peter Tsukahira:

The paradigm that I went through and you might think, boy Peter, it took you a long time to realize what is so clear, but, if I have a chance, I can explain, but the the paradigm, the truth that has been restored to me personally, is that we equip through discipleship. And, and discipleship is more than just learning who is God? What is the Bible, how to pray, how to begin living a holy life. That's the basics. I like to describe discipleship as two different things. There's socks and shoes. We need socks, and basically, one size fits all. So everybody that becomes a believer and needs the socks kinds of discipleship, which is the basics. Who is God? What are the scriptures, how to pray, how to live a holy life? Okay, many churches, most churches do a reasonable job of this. But you don't even send your children to school wearing just socks. You gotta give them shoes, and you wear different shoes, depending on the different kind of work you're going to do. You don't give the same shoes just to someone who's studying modern dance to someone who's going to work on a construction site. Okay, so we after we give everybody socks, we need to start giving them shoes. And we need to say okay, look, you're a scientist, you work in a laboratory. Here's what you've got to here's how you act as a disciple of Jesus, the King of Kings as a scientist. Okay, you're going to teach a second grade class Okay, here's how you're going to do that as a disciple. Your your call, you're an entertainer. How do you portray Jesus through your through your craft through your calling you that's a challenge. Today's entertainment

Mark Banyard:

Well, good question.

Peter Tsukahira:

Think about this, Hey, God, God may send you a politician, someone who's gifted someone who is called by God to work in a vocation like that. How do you how do you disciple a person like that? Or a lawyer or a judge? How do you disciple people like that? To make the decisions a doctor, doctors come to me and they say, we make life and death decisions for our patients every day. Where is the pastor who's helping me make those decisions? They've actually challenged me say, how do you as a pastor, help me make make the decisions I have to make as a disciple? And I think that is the challenge for the church. It's not about filling chairs. It's about the quality of the people that we produce. And I think that, in many ways the church growth paradigm is that we gather lots of people, but we don't produce a high enough quality output to actually change society. So I think this is a challenge and a call to the modern day church.

Mark Banyard:

Yep, absolutely. I totally agree. There's some very practical thoughts I'm having right now, again, thinking about some of the people that I've, I've talked to have asked me questions about this whole thing. And you know, it gets for them, it gets right down to what do I say to my co workers at the

Peter Tsukahira:

Right, exactly. watercooler?

Mark Banyard:

Yeah, you can be there and you can have a teacher like you, let's say, and tell them that they're going to advance the kingdom in the marketplace, and they're carrying the Spirit of God into the workplace. But for some people, it gets right down to when the boss is chewing them out, and other challenges like this.

Peter Tsukahira:

Or, or, or when management wants you to do something that's unjust, or illegal, or immoral. Or when your client offers you a bribe, very challenging. I mean, this is the issues and you know, people in the marketplace, I learned, you know, in my years in the marketplace, that happens every day, really. And doctors tell me, okay, they have to decide what type of medication they're going to prescribe. If they prescribe this, there they are, they may make a lot more money, but it may not be the best for their patient, they have these there's a they have to deal with fine lines that have to do with the quality of the person, that the integrity, the character of the person making those decisions. That's the most important thing that disciples can display. As we go out, because that's what influences others. People watch, people know. And that's what produces leaders in any, in any area of society. And the church, as we produce higher quality disciples, our influence grows and grows and multiplies. And over time, it's exponential.

Mark Banyard:

I think those practical how-to questions will always be asked, but the bigger challenge will be the whole issues, the whole issue of character, and integrity, and maturity, so that you don't necessarily gain those things quickly. There are some supernatural moments where God seems to give us wisdom beyond our years, right? But clearly, from a teacher, pastor point of view, and I am thinking about those people who are listening to our broadcast today it's just simply, you've got to be committed to the long run in this you can't. It's just not a toolkit of how tos. It's to really disciple people lifelong, isn't it?

Peter Tsukahira:

Yes, it takes it takes time. And it almost never happens in a crowd. It's always going to happen with people that know you and that, you know, in fact, my discipleship was mostly because of my friends, it was the the few people who I became friendly with that really got to know me that I really got to know that I wanted to know who really wanted to know me. We helped each other. develop over time. Small groups, small, the successful churches. It's small groups of leaders who become friends who trust one another, who work together, who have each other's back. Then you create something together. Oh, I've seen this happen in business. And that's how disciples are made. And so that's why it changes our paradigm. We're very focused on producing crowds. true, very true. We almost rate our success based on the size of the crowd. But, but disciples aren't made in crowds. And, and, and successful people. And successful people aren't developed in crowds. If you want to be successful, you've got to have a few people that you're close with that, that you're working together, and you're helping each other and you're growing together. That's, and you know what, that's just that's called discipleship.

Mark Banyard:

So disciples are not made in crowds.

Peter Tsukahira:

Absolutely. The small small groups, small teams, committed dedicated people, you know, you see it everywhere in sports, right? Now, you look at the, the, you know, the Chicago Bulls in their day, you know, they, every one of them, they contributed that, and they, the Beatles, and music, you know, the entrepreneurs who, within their management teams, it's always some small group of highly motivated, well developed people who most of the time are friends.

Mark Banyard:

And that highlights fairly, very clearly the importance of relationship in all of this.

Peter Tsukahira:

And so then you look, then you look at Jesus and his disciples, and you see the same thing.

Mark Banyard:

Well, we don't have a lot of time left. And this is not fair to you, so I'm going to apologize up front. But I want to end with what I think is possibly a big question. And so it's unfair to you because you probably won't get a chance to answer all of it. But how does the effectiveness of discipleship, Kingdom discipleship, how does that relate to the restoration of the kingdom?

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, you know, I think, if we recalibrate the church, so that the church as an organization, so that we re envision the church as like a factory that produces high quality lives. So you go to that organization, if you want your life to improve, if you want to become a better person, and you want to be among people who are striving together to become better people together, then we create a paradigm that will be so attractive to the world. You know, I think the next the young generation, they don't want to sit in crowds, you know, I mean, that has its place, you go to a big concert, or you go to a sporting event, or you go to a big rally and hear an exciting speaker, okay, there's nothing wrong with that. But it's just that on a, on a regular basis, if you if you want to grow, you know, it's not going to happen there. It's, it's more for entertainment, for relaxation, for a vision, okay. But but for, for actual growth and effectiveness. And so when that when the church can be like that, it will, it will draw in people of all kinds. And once you start producing high quality people, it's it's like, I don't think I don't think you can quantify the results of that. But if we still keep focusing on crowds, in a way it's, that's, that's a model that's guaranteed to produce a large quantity of low quality disciples, We then leave the crowd and can't really can't Don't exemplify the life of Jesus in the rest of their lives. And that just produces a kind of, you know, among unbelievers, it produces a kind of a cynicism.

Mark Banyard:

And unfortunately, individuals who are a product of that kind of institutional discipleship, they actually think that they're scoring high, that that's a high level, that's the high bar that they've just jumped over when in fact, ranked, it is pretty low and for the rest of their lives thinking that it's actually it was actually pretty good.

Peter Tsukahira:

Yes. And, you know, this truth is, is already there. If you look at really successful groups, and if you look at them closely, you'll find a small number of people who are working at the heart of it, who are producing that success. And if we can now look at those small groups of people and kind of replicate that I and really try to produce more of that kind of person. And that those kinds of groups, I think the future is ours.

Mark Banyard:

So let's say that you have been, you've been effective as a pastor teacher to produce good fruit. So you've got these bunch of disciples that are ready to go out into the world, vocations, professions, trades, whatever. And let's say, the church is now running on all cylinders. You're in Israel, you have a sense of God's people in the land and the destiny on them. But now we're talking about the church, all around the world. So what do you think is going to happen next, Peter?

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, you know, Jesus describes it, I think very clearly in Matthew chapter 24. And the world, without him, without his rulership, it gets worse. And, and the people of God become more bride like, and more like a kingdom. Because no matter what your eschatology, I think most, most Christians who are or Bible based, will agree that he's returning as a bridegroom, to to be joined with his bride, which is the body of all believers, without spot or blemish. So he's returning for a bride-like church, and he's returning as a king to rule his kingdom, which ultimately will be every nation, every tribe and every tongue. And so I think the church is at this turning point of restoration, to restore that basic, biblical model, and that this is the last era of the church. That's why I believe we're in the end times, and that everything that the church does, from now on, needs to be focused on producing that spotless bride, and being the kingdom that he will rule. And the big prophetic sign for me that we've entered this era, and we're finishing the way God is finishing his work on the planet, is the fact that he's brought the people of Israel back to the land that he promised them, after 2000 years of wandering, and that he's restored the gospel now to the people who brought it to the world 2000 years ago, we're the generation, we're seeing this with our eyes, it's like we're the first generation in 2000 years to see this and miraculously participate in it. It's and it's a huge End Time prophetic sign for the church. Now things change. We're entering the last lap of the great race. We finished the work now from from now on, where we need to be thinking about finishing the bride and the kingdom.

Mark Banyard:

Ending Well,

Peter Tsukahira:

exactly. But but but the big, not just our lives, but the big. The big picture.

Mark Banyard:

Peter, one of the things you've talked about, is the church being attractive. And I think that's part of finishing well, the beauty of Christ, the polished the fragrance, the perfection of Christ and His body, as opposed to just being deliverers of the message until Jesus comes back.

Peter Tsukahira:

Mark, I think in these end times, there will be large churches that are remarkable in their kingdom like qualities, but there will be many, many small churches that are incredibly effective in and incredibly influential, because of the people that are that are that they are producing in the midst of their fellowship.

Mark Banyard:

Amen. I couldn't agree more. Now, we've run out of time today. Thank you so much, Peter, it's been a delight to talk to you. And I have so many more questions. So perhaps you will consider my invitation to come back. And we can discuss that later. But there are people who have been listening today or listening to the podcast when it comes out. And there's been something that you said in the last hour, perhaps your personal testimony, perhaps being in the marketplace, getting yourself to Japan, which which was God but but you know, being willing to work and taking a job and being bi-vocational for a while until God shifted you your paradigm. And but they're listening and there's some part of your message today that they're just saying, I'm not sure what the next step is.

Peter Tsukahira:

Well, Mark, that's for that very reason. That's why I wrote my most recent book, Equip. It's, it's basically a training course, for discipleship to bring this to a fruit bearing place where not only can we be disciples, but we can begin to contribute to making disciples, which is the kind of fruit that God wants to see in all of us, not just in church, not just in church leaders. So this book is Equip. It's 52, short chapters, you can read the chapter in about 15 minutes, but it's meant to be like a weekly study for a year. And this book now is available on Amazon, and I've sent you copies, but it's probably still in the mail on its way to Canada.

Mark Banyard:

I'm looking forward to reading it. And by the way, we will put in the show notes today, your contact information, website and information about all your other books as well. And so Peter, would you close our show today in prayer, praying for those people, in anything else, of course, that God would put on your heart to pray about.

Peter Tsukahira:

I'll be glad I began to pray. Because without God's anointing and the power of the Holy Spirit, of course, none of our efforts are going to amount to much. So Lord, I just thank you, for Mark and for this podcast. I pray, Lord, that you will use these words and the spirit of them to touch hearts and minds. You will establish your purposes in each one of us that there will be an alignment with God's endtime purposes in our lives. I pray, Father, that something that was said will be as a seed of life, a seed of truth that we planted in good soil, in our hearts, through this broadcast, and that a seed of truth that if nurtured, over time, will put down roots, grow and bear fruit in each of our lives. I pray this blessing. I pray for fruitfulness. I pray for Your guidance and protection in the days ahead. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Mark Banyard:

Amen. Amen. Well, thank you again, Peter. This has been wonderful. I'm looking forward to reading your book when it gets here. And hopefully, we'll get a chance in the near future to have you back on the show and and to continue our conversation.

Unknown:

Great, Mark, as I said, anytime, just let me know.

Mark Banyard:

Well, thank you, Peter. That's very gracious of you. Well, we pray blessings over you, your wife and family, of course over Israel, and the peace of Jerusalem. We look forward to seeing and hearing the testimony of God as he continues to reveal Himself through your life.

Peter Tsukahira:

Thank you. Thank you and Shalom.

Mark Banyard:

And that's our show for today. Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Kingdom talk. You can find all the notes and links for today's show at our website, www.kingdomadvanceministries.com/podcast. And once again, if you enjoyed our show, be sure to subscribe so that you won't miss any of our upcoming episodes. Bye for now, and may God bless