November 2013 – When Nehemiah looked about the burnt and broken stones that remained of Solomon’s temple, he knew God had a purpose for them. Tony Hooper, music pastor of Cornerstone Family Fellowship in Amory, Mississippi, sees a similar purpose in the people of Israel. For Hooper, the burnt and broken stones are the people in Israel who have not yet found their place in the kingdom of God.
Since his first visit in the early 2000s, Hooper has been to Israel nine times with a vision to use musical excellence as a platform for building up the kingdom. Hooper believes that “every burnt and broken stone, every human life has value, whether they’re Jews, Arabs or otherwise. And if they accept Christ, they have value in the kingdom. We want to connect with them and help them find their place in the kingdom.”
Being a lifelong musician himself, Hooper feels music is the bridge to connect with these people. He told AFA Journal, “Music is universal, and if you play it with excellence, you will draw out everyone – Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists alike. While we perform music, believers can mingle with the crowd and talk about life and build relationships to have a bridge to the gospel.”
However, in order to perform excellent music, one must have excellent equipment. And that is not readily available in Israel. By his estimate, any given brand name instrument costs five times as much in Israel as it does here in the United States. Hooper knows all too well the importance of having quality instruments, and the consequences of not having them. He told a story of two occasions on which he and his team were asked to play music for Israeli college students.
“We could have filled the street with college kids and spread the gospel,” he said, “but we couldn’t because we didn’t have the equipment.”
Hooper’s ability to minister was paralyzed by the lack of resources. And at the point that ministry becomes paralyzed, the gospel is kept from ears that would hear. The people of Israel are in dire need of the gospel, and Hooper’s ministry is eager to bring the gospel to them.
Along with bringing music and evangelism, Hooper and his teams also seek to meet practical needs of the people of Israel. On his last trip, Hooper and his team worked to clear out bomb shelters in Tiberias and stock them with MREs (meals ready to eat). Given the near constant threat of bombings in Tiberias, this is a huge service. A mere $500 can stock a bomb shelter with enough MREs to feed a family of five for an entire month. And the people served are truly impacted by these acts of kindness.
According to Hooper, “The people of Israel don’t even have a context for that kind of love and heart of service. Some just broke down weeping.”
It is Hooper’s vision to continue serving the people of Israel by meeting their practical needs, putting instruments in their hands and music into their lives. As this vision is realized, their music will resonate through the kingdom and the people of Israel will hear the gospel – they will hear the sound of broken stones.
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Needed resources include name brand guitars, keyboards, instrument amplifiers, drums and sound system components. Financial gifts are applied to shipping costs, MREs and maintenance on missionary housing.