TOM & LEAH BLAKE
By the Blood of the Lamb & the Word of Our Testimony
We started attending Kingdom Living in 2006 and shortly thereafter, along with several people from this home congregation, attended classes at a local Messianic Synagogue (Jews who follow Jesus as their Messiah). These classes opened our eyes to the Jewishness of Jesus and the Hebraic roots of the Biblical faith. By viewing the Word of G-d in the context of the first century we began to ask ourselves, ironically, what would Jesus do? We realized that we had been reading our Bible backwards, starting with Matthew instead of Genesis, ignoring much of the necessary context to the coming of Jesus. We began to see that the Scripture presents a Jew/Gentile worldview and not a Christian/Non-Christian worldview, and this opened up so many questions about our identity and how we should function within the Body of Messiah. Our faith and hope were taken deeper as we saw the continuity from Genesis to Revelation as some of the strongest evidence for the ultimate authority of the Holy Scriptures and that Jesus our Messiah is the same yesterday, today, and forever! The LORD was faithful in leading us in the right direction as a community as we journeyed through these questions and many others.
Not even a year after we started attending these Jewish roots classes Tom had a powerful encounter with the LORD in the Heavenly realm. He was taken up and experienced a classroom setting in Heaven and saw himself teaching in a classroom on the earth. Toward the end of the experience, the “people” in the Heavenly classroom began singing/imparting “The Spirit of the sovereign LORD is upon you for He has anointed you to preach good news…” This old Vineyard music song Tom grew up singing comes from Isaiah 61:1-3,
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
It was becoming very clear that Tom was called to be a Bible teacher. He formally continued his studies and eventually completed 25 classes at the American Institute for Advanced Biblical studies and recieved a Master’s degree in Religious Education in Middle Eastern History. Additionally, he had previously earned an undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Kansas and another Master’s degree in Education from Rockhust University. And it now seemed obvious that G-d had his hand in Tom’s life preparing him to teach.
However, we did not realize the other revelation from this Heavenly encounter. As the Isaiah 61 passage continues it says “He will comfort all who mourn, He will provide for those who grieve, He will pour out the oil of gladness, Instead of mourning you will praise.”
In the midst of all of our learning and growing our family grew as well. Our son Wyatt William was not quite one year old when we began our adventure in the Messianic Movement and in February of 2007 his sister Cassidy Faith was born. Barely 15 months apart they enjoyed life together and were best buddies. In the winter of 2008, we found out we were having another child and we moved Wyatt and Cassie into the same room. The time they spent together before their little brother arrived, staying up in the dark, sharing the same toys, waking up early together, was priceless and wonderful.
On August 14th, 2009, our third child Ezekiel John was born. He was a large baby and we rejoiced at his birth being on Sabbath and his Aunt Lauren’s birthday. Our joy was short-lived as 9 days later Zeke became very sick. When we took him to the hospital they informed us he was more than just sick and his chances of surviving were 50/50. We contacted everyone and the prayer and warfare that happened on Zeke’s behalf was powerful. We felt confident that the LORD would move in a miraculous way and heal our beautiful son, that would be our testimony. As we battled through the night we could sense the presence of G-d, and knew the doctors and nurses were doing everything they could to help our child. As little as Zeke was his body could not handle the sickness inside and it became evident he was not going to recover (we found out later he had myocarditis, a virus of the heart). As our family gathered around us in the hospital we grieved to a depth we had never experienced before. The only consolation was the knowledge that our son was now with the Creator of the universe.
The next nine months were filled with sadness and longing and support. The LORD continued to move in our lives, wrapping His arms around us through our family and friends. Tom encountered the LORD through intimate times of study and felt his hope renewed every time G-d showed him something new in the Word. I felt the LORD deliver me from a fierce anger that I struggled with for several months, which was so intense it affected my physical body. No doctor could touch my heart the way the Healer of mankind could. I realized that trusting the LORD with my heart didn’t mean everything would go smoothly, or how I wanted. I continually had to surrender my heart and my plans to the LORD.
Then in May of 2010 our lives shook again, this time with our 4 1/2 year old, firstborn son Wyatt going to be with the LORD. We awoke one Friday morning to the reality that our oldest had died, suddenly and without any warning. A friend of ours who is a nurse was staying with us and she tried desperately to revive him, but when the paramedics came there was nothing to do. We called his spirit back to us, to come forth like Lazarus, and we believed throughout that weekend before his burial that his resurrection would be our bold testimony. To our deep sadness, Wyatt stayed with his King and his little brother.
Our lives seemed unbelievable at this point. Just when we were settling into the mysterious and unpredictable ways of the LORD we were thrown back into a world of sadness and questioning. The LORD was faithful, even in this time, to speak to us through other people. A handful of people, unknowing each other’s accounts, said they had dreams and visions about the LORD coming to Wyatt like a lion and asking him to “come take a ride”. They all emphasized that they believed Wyatt knew he would not be returning to life on earth. It was a hard idea for me to accept, that He would ask my son to come with Him. But knowing Wyatt, and his excitement about the LORD, and particularly the Lion of the tribe of Judah, it made perfect sense that he would say yes. Wyatt pretended his little action guys were the 12 disciples and that they were witnessing to Romans who would begin to follow Jesus. He very often carried around a shield with a lion drawn on it and acted like Judah the Maccabee, defending Jerusalem. He pretended to be David and used his wooden sword to cut off Goliath’s head, shouting, “I’m not afraid! G-d is on my side!” Everything within Wyatt reflected the power and love of the LORD and that of a “little warrior”. It makes sense he would want to go be with the Lion of the tribe of Judah. But his absence, on top Ezekiel’s, was almost unbearable.
Several months after Wyatt’s death we began to feel the LORD call us to the land of Israel. After all we had endured, it seemed unthinkable to move so far away from all of our loved ones, and yet both of us felt this was His will. We consulted with our parents and spiritual authorities, and all felt the same thing: GO. Even Cassidy, only 4 at the time was excited about it, stating, “I like to go new places and meet new people.” In a way that only the Creator of the universe can provide, we quickly raised the financial support we needed for the first year and then some, Tom was accepted into the PhD program at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem to study the Bible, and we sold our house. So in February 2012 our little family of three moved to Jerusalem.
While in Jerusalem the LORD miraculously provided us a beautiful apartment close to Tom’s school and just outside of the city center. Several Israeli families brought us into their lives and we created wonderful relationships with families at both the Hebrew-speaking and the English-speaking congregations we attended. We gained a new appreciation of the struggle Messianic Jews face and our hearts became even more set on seeing the Church unify with believing Israel and the return of Jesus to Jerusalem.
In 2013 the LORD blessed us with another beautiful daughter, Emmylou Achinoam (her middle name is Hebrew meaning “My brother is a delight”). Though she was actually born in Jerusalem her passport does not list Israel as the nation of her birth — that space is left blank. The USA officially does not recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, and Emmylou, for many reasons, is a reminder of the injustice of this world and why we as Gentiles must stand on the side of G-d’s chosen people, regardless of what our culture or government says.
Surprisingly, the LORD called us back to Kansas City in February 2014 to serve at Kingdom Living, which had grown from a small home fellowship to a congregation with a public Sabbath service. Since then we’ve added another son (2015) to our family, Tobias Jonathan (TovYah being the Hebrew version of his first name, meaning “G-d is good”).
And though the LORD is mysterious, He is also faithful and good, and He uses the people around us to illustrate this. During our time of deep grief we fought to keep our hearts soft and listened to the tender words of the Father.
By studying His word, from Genesis to Revelation, we encountered the unchanging and covenantally faithful Almighty. We saw Him pursue Israel in her faithfulness and her unfaithfulness, and we realized He pursues us the same way. He is jealous for our hearts, and in our deepest pain all we could do was trust in His love for us.
Psalm 27 declares: “Surely I will see the goodness of ADONAI in the land of the living!” We have tasted and seen His goodness, on this earth — through our children, our families, our congregation and through many encounters with our Heavenly Father.
In sharing our testimony we hope you experience His goodness and faithfulness, and that you, too, see His goodness in the land of the living. Remember that the last verse of Psalm 27 encourages us to “Wait for Adonai. Be strong, let Your heart take courage, and wait for Adonai.” Our hope is to hasten the day of His return when the earth will be covered with the knowledge of the glory of G-d as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).