Friday, April 3, 2015

Sounding the Trumpet Call: An Interview with William Levi Part 3

I was thrilled with the response to the Monthly Book Giveaway for a copy of George Muller's biography by A.T. Pierson! Congratulations to Carolyn M.! You will be notified by e-mail so that I can send you your copy of this wonderful book!

This week I'll be continuing with Part 3 of my interview with Messianic Jew, William Levi, Founder and Director of Operation Nehemiah Missions--Rebuilding the South Sudan. I pray that you were blessed by Parts 1 and 2 of his inspiring story. If you haven't read Part 1, please click HERE for Part One and HERE for Part 2 for a little more background information. His story is a fascinating one, heavy with grace, and I pray that it will touch your spirit and resonate with the trumpet call of Christ's calling upon your own life.

In your autobiographical book, The Bible or the Axe, you write about suffering persecution as a believer in the Sudan. Would you mind briefly describing the persecutions that you endured for the name of Christ

I have dealt with Muslims all my life. I was born and raised in Islamic dominated Sudan, a portion of that country has now become my country called the Republic of South Sudan on July, 9, 2011.   I had lived through  the relentless  Islamic  quest to control, dominate and take over  individuals, a family,  a community and a country and turn them over to  Islamic faith  by all the means available to them as prescribed by the Koran: Jihad,  by deception following  after the father of  deception, biologically by outnumbering "infidels," anyone outside  "Islamic camp" in birth rate and now by outmaneuvering the post Judeo-Christian West by overwhelming the system  by which these countries govern themselves without an anchor which is Jesus Himself.  

 Between the age of  14-18, early 1981-84, I came from the village and lived in Juba, South Sudan to attend an intermediate and a high school.  While in the village, all of our schooling system was done in English and I attended my grandfather’s church.  I felt my first persecution in the hand of Sudan Islamic academic system in Juba that target bright Christian students and fail them in the country through academic purging. When you are smart in science,  Math. and English,  the system will find a fault and fail a Christian student  by  giving them a low grade  in Arabic which is a language  which the Islamic regime to the north tried to shove through our throats whether we like it or not. They had wanted us to learn Koran early on so that we could become Muslims.  So in my case, during my last year in Intermediate school in 1982, the Sudan Intermediate regional examination board in Juba gave me score of  (F)  in Arabic out of 50 points in comparison to all other excellent points  which I had score in other subjects other than Arabic.  The funny thing about this grade was, I was exempted from Arabic by the Southern Sudan part of the Board of Intermediate examination for students who did not take Arabic and so officially and legally, I did not sit for the paper.  Now in retrospect, I can see even God’s hand in that as in the situation with Joseph in Egypt.  “But Joseph said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." 

Their denying me a place in an Islamic controlled public education system of the Sudan, forced me to take a private examination in key subjects to enter a private Catholic high school.  While there at Comboni High school in Juba, the persecution continue as Jesus says “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. “But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not keep My word.” One of my teachers was a Muslim name Osman and he taught Arabic class in this private Catholic school.  I just did not know, how he got in there.  By all indication, he had an agenda against my faith as Christian and he laid a siege of pre-emption against me because he knew I was young and he could mold me into Islamic faith. But He had no idea who he was dealing with, Christ in me.  He knew I was dedicated Christian young man leading Bible studies in the school and sharp in his Arabic class which he was teaching. During the Ramadan, he missed no opportunity to invite me to celebrate Ramadan with his family. But I found no interest to go.   His goal was to get me involved with Islam so that that I can join Islamic school and move north to Khartoum and be brainwashed there and soon to return to persecute and persuade my very family to do the same. He told me everything about Ramadan and the goodness of Islam and irrelevance of the people of the book (whose fate ends in Islam) and wanted me to join them in Islamic prayers at the nearest mosque in the city. But that only precipitated my resolve to speak about who Jesus was, is and who He will be.  He tried to refute all of that and blaming the western world for bringing Christianity to Sudan.  

I stood on the authority of the word of God and pointed him to the root of my faith, The Bible, the 800 years of Christianity in the Sudan and Israel from where the Bible came, the land from where the Great Commission started.  During the school breaks, we vigorously debated the fallacy of  Koran and infallibility of the Bible. "This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree." (1 John 5:6-8 RSV).   But when he asked me to come to the mosque that was where I drew the line. Nevertheless, the Gospel went out and the seed was planted in his heart. I could not convert him but I bore witness to the truth about the Messiah. Only Jesus has the power to transform him.    

Fast-forward to 1984, as the war of Islamic persecution targeting Christians was escalating in the Sudan, I was arrested in Juba by Islamic forces for leading a peaceful protest in Juba for opposing sharia Islamic law which was imposed on the Christians and the whole country by the Sudan’s Islamic regime and forcibly killing people to convert, and joined the Islamic army so that I could go and kill my family, destroy my church and community for Islamic causes. Like Meshech, Shadrach and Abednego, I refused to bow down to Mohammed.  I was arrested, and tortured in Islamic military prison to renounce Jesus’ name and convert to Islamic. I stood by faith on the word of Jesus where he says in Matthew 10: 28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.…" After enduring torture and humiliation, I miraculously was let go by an officer who could not find an evidence linking me or my friends to a crime.  Our only crime was that we were Christians and led a peaceful protest against Sharia Islamic law.   We tried to escape to Kenya for safety, we were re-arrested on South Sudan- Kenyan border by the Sudan Islamic forces. On our way back to Juba in their vehicle, knowing that could spell the end of our lives, we escaped in the middle of the night as the vehicle developed problems and stopped for repair in the pitch of the dark. “They set watchers by the gates of the high wall which surrounded the city, and commanded these men to kill Saul if he should try to escape through one of the gates. Then they determined to seize him before he could even try to get away.  But Saul knew about their plans, and so did his friends. These friends believed that God had much work for Saul to do before he should die, so they hid him until night darkened the city. Then they brought him to a building that stood on top of the great wall and let him down to the ground in a large basket. Once outside the city it was not difficult for him to find a place of safety.” Acts 9:25

The Lord allowed me to escape that persecution and led me to USA via Egypt. I found myself stranded in Egypt for two years, before getting here.  I was right in the belly of the beast. This was during Mubarak’s era. Muslim Brotherhood were active but in the background. I spent 10 months in Cairo and 8 months in Alexandria. I spent my times in debating with Muslims, giving an account of my faith, and asking them to give me a reason as to why they should want me to convert to Islam. Discussing the Bible versus the Koran was the norm and the rule of engagement when the Lord saw it fit. I simply wanted them to give me a reason why I should deny Jesus and become a Muslim.  They have nothing to convince me to believe.  Even during this relative calmly era in Egypt during Mubarak's rule, Muslims were actively engaging Christians in spiritual fight to abandon their faith through intimidation.   

Here, there was not a middle ground. A  Muslim man  could walk right up to you in a bus or train station etc. and ask  you point blank if you were a Christian or a Muslim?   Here at numerous times, I had the audacity to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior and risked scorning, stoning, and verbal abuse for blaspheming the name of the prophet. I told them my Bible does not mention anything about Mohammed and I don't think he is a prophet.  

Two weeks before I left for Turkey, in September 1986, in Alexandra, Egypt at the shore of Mediterranean Sea, while working as a technician with a British–Irish electrical engineering company, wiring a 12 story building called SUMED, I was ambushed in an isolated room on the 7 floor by a Muslim-co-worker who accused me of insulting their prophet.   It was here where I came close to see death in the hand of an Egyptian Islamic jihadist.  He tried to lock the door of the room and grab a plier trying to cut my throat.   He asked his friends in the hallway to join him but they were afraid to do so fearing for their job and left the room. So it was he and I struggling over the control of the door knob and the plier.  He tackled me, thinking he could overcome me and inflict a fatal harm on me.  But God was with me. God gave me such an extra-strength to pull the door wide open with one hand and with other hand tried to keep his plier off my neck. As soon as the door was wide open, he stopped and ran away in panic down the stairways.  Remembering what Jesus says “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10: 28-30.

In Cairo 1985 – 86, for six months,  I lived and worked in a farm outside Cairo Airport run by a Japanese-Egyptian family.  My co-workers were zealous Muslims peasants who by all means wanted me convert to Islam or be subjected to abuse in the farm.    It was there where the rubber met the road for me.  One of the conditions to survive in that environment as a Christian was to acknowledge that there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet. You have to verbally say that to get along.   Secondly, you have to work on Sundays and join them in the mosque on Fridays. Or simply pretend that you never know anything about Christianity and you are open to learn Islamic faith.  I rejected all three conditions and asked the family that own the farm to allow me go to church on Sundays if they wanted me to work for them as their daily milk production recorder.  “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” Mathew 10: 33 

I spent 3 months in Turkey in 1986. I could go on telling you my encounter with a young zealous  Turkish Muslim student at the University of Istanbul who could  not resist proudly showing off the Museum of Istanbul depicting the Islamic conquest of  the Byzantine Empire, the fall of Constantinople, which they changed its name to Istanbul, the conversion of its basilicas to mosques. etc.   He rested his prideful display of Islamic power of conquest of the Byzantine Empire at the site of one historical anti- fact containing a sword believed to be a belonging of Mohamed himself.  Where he stopped talking, I started to discuss with him the sword of Mohammed versus the Cross of Jesus. An earthly weapon versus the heavenly weapon.   Redemption Versus condemnation.   Sins versus repentance and forgiveness.      

End result, he got saved that day in the land (Asian Minor) where Apostle Paul wrote most of his epistles.  “And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, 'Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?'…”  Matthew 26: 52- 53.  A week later, I left for France and left Ahmet with Some Canadian missionaries to be disciple.

Please describe the ministry that the Lord has called you to, Operation Nehemiah and what Operation Nehemiah is and does. 

OPERATION   NEHEMIAH:  VISION, GOAL, VALUE   FOCUS, And And DISTINCTIVES & IMPLEMENTATION NEHEMIAH 2:18--The main Vision of Operation Nehemiah Missions is to promote the Gospel of Yeshua Hamasciach  that brings people to repentance and Eternal Salvation. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4-- the Word Brings Salvation…for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" Romans 10: 14-17. We seek to minister to the body, soul, and spirit.

Operation Nehemiah Mission focuses on the Great Commission in the South Sudan on Family, Church, and Community rebuilding: This is done through establishing genuine long term indigenous leadership among the South Sudanese national’s pastors through family discipleship. Our objective is to reduce the resources coming from USA and other countries by increasing the resources within the country. Our success has been measured by communicating the biblical framework of discipling new believers into spiritual maturity and planting them into the family-integrated church where men play their pivotal and decisive roles in the home and in the church and women are taught their proper sphere of influence in the home, church and in the community.  Along with that comes the local pastoral leadership, on conducting workshops on the sufficiency of scripture; Christ centered worship, and biblical peacemaking and work ethic to deal with physical need of their flock in society. We encourage men, women and children to play their proper roles in the home, church and community by working with their own hands. New believers are exhorted to make their calling and election sure, putting on the new life and identity in Christ.  

We endeavor to implement our vision and mission through indigenous church planting, Pastoral discipleship training, medical relief clinics, gospel radio broadcast, agricultural development, micro business start-up, polytechnic training, and repatriation assistance to families returning from exile. Our goal is to reduce dependence upon imported food and U.N. feeding programs by encouraging the local farmers in entrepreneurial organic farming, producing both healthy food and a stable local economy, thus raising the overall standard of living.

Would you tell us a little about your family and how they support you in your work? 

As a husband, a father, and Christ Ambassador, and Hannah as a wife and a mother, and Christ ambassador,  in order to be effective witnesses of Yeshua (Jesus Christ) in the South Sudan and in the USA, over the years, we realized that first we need to be ambassadors of Yeshua in our own home and in our community here in the States.

In January, 2002 after we got married, our family’s dream and prayer to have a family integrated ministry came to pass on both sides of our family here in the USA and in the South Sudan.  As an ambassador of Yeshua, a husband and a father, I began managing Operation Nehemiah full time from home and have the ability to oversee the growth of my new family and ministry growing together harmoniously. Hannah relinquished her midwifery aspiration in 2002, to devote her time as a full-time wife and mother for our new growing family.  We asked God to show us  how to live by faith and by example as we implement and impart the vision of ONMI  to the families in the USA and the  South Sudan that embody our commitment to restore these nations to God.

The family is a blessing and central in advancing the Kingdom of God if all the family members are believers in Christ and obedience to carry on their own Cross and follow Yeshua. If they are not saved, it is the responsibility of the saved family members who are in the Lord to disciple those who do not believe in Yeshua. As a husband and a father, I see this to be my central role to guide my family biblically to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness so that God’s Word is not blasphemed.  The family can also be detrimental in advancing the Kingdom of God, if the family members are not walking in obedience to Christ.  If the husband and the father does not play central role in guiding his household, the family will suffered spiritual attacks.

We embraced Biblical instructions which God has put in place in the book of Deuteronomy 6: 3-9, Hebrews 12, Colossian 3: 12-18, Ephesians 5: 21-31.
God has used the centrality of the family from Adam, Noah, and Abraham through to Joseph and Mary to implement his redemptive plan for humanity through Jesus Christ.

We began homeschooling from the day we have our first baby.  Now 13 years in marriage, God blessed us with six children; we thank God for the wisdom for integrating the family into the ministry.   Even though this is not her primary role, Hannah has been very helpful in helping with editing our newsletter and managing the database. The children are now trained or are continually being trained to help us in mission website design, mission video editing, and bookkeeping.  Currently. they are helping us in writing the second phase of my book. The Bible or the Axe.  We have been traveling to South Sudan as family since 2009. This in itself alone is a testimony for the community there to see we are ministry to them as a family.

From this side, my in-laws, Hannah’s parents, have come alongside the mission and lifted our arms over the years. They have represented, spoken and raised support on behalf of Operation Nehemiah from various churches and individuals. My father-in-law is our current Coordinator for Sustainable Development. He has been to South Sudan for at least 13 times.   

While in the South Sudan, until 2003, for 10 years, Operation Nehemiah was run and managed by some South Sudanese Christian leaders in exile who had various commitments to other things other than Operation Nehemiah in their lives. They were not fully on board with Operation Nehemiah’s vision and goal and they could not fully implement the vision of the mission because prior commitment.  So during this time, the ministry suffered because we did not have godly leaders to guide and lead the mission from the other end.

During this time, my own family members who were living in the refugee camps themselves could not be part of the day to day managing of Operation Nehemiah because they were not walking with the Lord and their conducts were worldly. For ten years, Hannah and I committed ourselves in disciplining my brothers’ and sisters’ households who were then living in the refugee camps to surrender their lives to Yeshua and live as new creations in Christ.  That effort bore fruit.  In 2004, we saw a breakthrough with my entire household coming to the Lord.   It was like Acts Chapter 16:33-33 coming true for my family. "When the prison guards asked Paul and Silas 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.' And they spoke unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour." So one by one they came to the Lord. Soon after that as they sought first  the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, God was able to open their eyes to see what  he has in store for them. 

In 2006, we began to see the fruits of their involvement with the mission.  My elder brother Michael Levi is now a Pastor and the spiritual advisor to ministry and his third son, Timothy Levi is our country Director and the entire family is now involved in the day to day management of Operation Nehemiah’s leadership from that end. His three sons are directly involved with the mission work and his third born is our current. In 2007, after 15 years in exile, all of my eight brothers and sisters have returned to South Sudan from the Ugandan refuge. My brothers and his sons are working with us in the ministry from that end and taking care of their family the same way we do here in the USA.  They are all grounded in the word of God who is our provider and protector.

How long have you and your family been laboring in this ministry? 

I have been serving as the Founder and Overseer of Operation Nehemiah Missions full-time, since 1993.  My beloved wife Hannah is a homemaker and a full-time mother of our six homeschooled precious children: Abijah, Nechemyah, Hadassah, Jemimah, Yehudah and Yerushah.   Hannah joined me in marriage in 2002. Hannah is a gift of God to me.  The Bible says, inheritance is passed from father to son but an excellent wife is a gift from God.  Hannah and I are homeschooling parents of six children and run the ministry from our home office based in Lanesborough, Massachusetts.  Our major responsibilities involved implementation of the multigenerational vision for their family and the vision of Operation Nehemiah in rebuilding the South Sudan in the areas of:
The Great Commission - Church planting, strengthening the family (raising up Godly men (husbands and fathers to be priests of their household, to provide and protect their families);  Gospel radio broadcasting- agriculture development, healthcare; family entrepreneurial initiatives.

As a family we conduct an annual mission trip to the South Sudan regularly to monitor the ongoing work in the field.

Here in the States side, we update people through newsletters, videotapes, website, e-mails, book-keeping, telephone calls and overseas correspondences with field staff. We are actively involved in educating people here in the USA about the plight of the persecuted church in the South Sudan.

We are available for speaking engagements and interview in churches, schools, radios, press and television across the United States of America. This is the ways we mobilize people to pray for our family and raise financial resources to sustain the ongoing mission in the South Sudan.

In various ways the Lord mercifully imparted a multi-generational vision to our family before we entered into marriage. We came to understand that it is God's will according to Hebrew Scriptures for the Gospel to be passed down and preserved through generational faithfulness and that His word contains all that is needed to equip us for this most excellent work...

One essential foundation to our life here is that children are a blessed asset to family and ministry and not a hindrance to us. The world views children as a burdensome drain on resources and opportunities.  We openly receive each child as a reward and a heritage from the Lord, irrespective of temporal circumstances--Psalm 127.

More helpful links:

Operation Nehemiah missions International Website: Click HERE
ONMI Facebook page: Click HERE

You might find me on these link-ups:

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, Missional Call, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, So Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every Season, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, A Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Messy Marriage, My Teacher's Name is Mama, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Count My Blessings, Beauty Observed, Christian Mommy Blogger, Renewed Daily, Soul Survival, Good Morning MondaysThe HomeAcre HopMommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth Linkup, Faith Filled Friday, Saturday Soiree Blog Party, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, SHINE Blog Hop, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday Link-Up, A Little R&R Wednesdays. TGI Saturdays Blog Hop


  1. This is deep and praiseworthy on your part Sister Rebekah Neal to layout the chronology of my journey in the order you have been posting it in your blog. Hannah and I are just humbled by how God works. He assigns different individuals with gifts and ability within the body to do His will and for His Glory. I'm in tears each time, I read through this very testimony of my life. I feel like reading spiritual journey and testimony of another believer and a follower of Yeshua other than myself. I get encouraged and inspired by it. I pray and hope, there will be thousands people out there who will read this blog and be encouraged and that their faith will be strengthened. May the Lord bless you and your family today for the rest of 2015. You have been such inspiration to my family and ministry and forever we appreciate God for you as He establishes your family firmly rooted as a pillar in His house. Rev. 3:11-3 'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. 13'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

    1. I was/am so blessed and honored to do this interview, William! May the Lord continue to use you and your family in His service and for His glory. You have been a blessing and an encouragement to me.

  2. How blessed I am to read this. I will go back and read the other two parts for this journey is touching and moving and powerful!
    Praise be to God.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    1. Linda, I'm so glad that you are enjoying his story/testimony! It has been such an encouragement to me; I know that you will enjoy the first two parts!

  3. Thank you Rebekah for sharing Mr Levis journey with us and for taking the time to do so. What an amazing testimony of God's grace and love. Thanks for taking the time to link up at Good Morning Mondays and sharing this with others. Blessings to you and your family.

    1. You're welcome, Terri; his story has been such an encouragement in my own life! Blessings to you, also!

  4. What a deep and poignant testimony of one who has so clearly experienced the Lord's hand on his life. Thank you for sharing this at Grace & Truth!

    1. You're welcome, Jennifer! His story and testimony of the Lord's faithfulness has touched me so deeply, too!

      God bless you!