Does Rural Ohio Lead the World in Love of Israel?

“Pray for the well-being of Yerushalayim; “May those who love you be at peace.” Psalms 122:6 (The Israel Bible™)

The phenomenon of Christians loving Israel is powerfully evident in rural north-central Ohio, where blessing Abraham has brought bounty to the region and resulted in a recent visit by a prominent Israeli politician. These blessings may increase ten-fold next month if the state passes legislation that could make it the first state to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.

North-central Ohio lies just outside of the Bible Belt but when it comes to belief in blessing Abraham, the region is a crown jewel. On Saturday evening, Knesset Deputy Speaker Yehiel “Hilik” Bar spoke at Sar Shalom Center in Ontario, Ohio for a “Stand With Israel” event. Bar is the highest-ranking Israeli official ever to come to the area, though his connection to the region goes back to 2015 when he became the fourth person ever to be given the “Keys to the State of Ohio” by the Ohio Speaker of the House.

Israeli Leadership Institute Founder & President Mr. Eeki Elner told the 200 attendees, “I travel extensively throughout the States, and I have never seen anyone like Ohio, more specifically, north-central Ohio, who loves Israel more.”

Though it may seem exaggerated to claim that rural north-central Ohio has more love for Israel than any other place in the U.S., there are many reasons to believe this is entirely accurate.

“There is something about Ohio, but we here feel a close brotherhood to Israel,” Benjamin Mutti, one of the organizers of the Richland Community Prayer Network (RCPN), told Breaking Israel News. “Maybe it is our closeness to nature that allows us to see God’s presence clearly.”

After elections in November, the Ohio legislature will be taking a vote on a resolution recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mutti co-authored the resolution.

“We expect the resolution to pass since we have a conservative legislature,” Mutti said.

HCR 26 was co-sponsored by Republican Representatives Candace Keller and Keith Faber. It will be presented for a vote next month. The resolution recognizes that Ohio is Israel’s 28th largest trading partner. It also notes that archaeological evidence proves Israel’s historical connection to the city as well as Israel’s sovereignty since 1967. The resolution cites the Jerusalem Embassy Act adopted by the Senate in 1995 as well as President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem in December 2017.

RCPN may seem political but its basis is purely Biblical.

“We organized RCPN because we believed that Biblical values should be in our culture,” Mutti explained. “This includes Israel but also involves issues like rejecting judicial tyranny. There are all denominations but what we have in common is simple: the Bible.”

RCPN believes strongly in blessing Israel and has seen these blessings returned. In January 2017, RCPN, led by Mutti and Reverend El Akuchie, sent a letter of solidarity to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2017. Signed by 103 north-central Ohio clergy from many denominations, the letter apologized for the lack of support of former President Barack Obama; in particular, his ordering UN ambassador, Samantha Power to abstain instead of veto Security Council Resolution 2334. The resolution – which passed unanimously – declared Israel’s presence in “east Jerusalem,” Judea, and Samaria to be illegal.  

Upon sending the letter, the region began to witness the results of blessing Israel. The Rover Pipeline, a 713-mile natural $4 billion gas pipeline, that had been mired in lawsuits was approved ten days after the letter was sent. The project brought an influx of money and jobs to a region that had been economically stagnant and was ranked the fifth worst in the country.

Mutti also attributed significant increases in the spring turkey harvest and the whitetail deer harvest to this letter. The dairy industry, essential to the region, registered the largest cattle herd in thirty years.

The Ohio Christians continued to connect to Israel. In May 2017, 42 Christian clergies petitioned the Richland County treasurer, requesting that he invest community funds in Israel bonds. Purchasing the bonds was seen as an expression of solidarity with Israel as well as a way of combating the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Mutti also reported blessings that came out of this move.

“The day the county treasurer announced that the county government would invest in Israeli bonds, was the same meeting that half a million dollars in unexpected revenue were reportedly discovered to alleviate a budget shortfall!” Mutti shared.

Ohio now holds more than $200 million in Israel Bonds, making the state the largest holder of Israeli bonds in the world.