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Tikvah Israel was founded by the late Rev. Louis Sakolsky, a Jewish believer, and his wife, Carol, in 1990 where Denise was the Worship Leader and Eric was the Assistant Pastor and sound technician. Through the years, Tikvah has been held in various churches, hotels, and concert halls throughout the Tampa Bay area, teaching the Body of Christ to discover and embrace their Hebrew Roots as it pertains to their praise and worship and their understanding of the Father and the Word of God, especially the Torah. Under Shepherd's Heart Ministries, Tikvah Israel now meets every Friday night in Dunedin, Florida on Main Street! See our calendar for details.


... encouraging the Church to better understand its Hebrew roots ...


Pastor Lou's beginnings . . .


Lou Sakolsky grew up in Baltimore as a Jew and didn't have much use for Christians. He once wrote . . .

"Christians!? I didn't want to have anything to do with Christians. They were the cause of all my problems. They were the ones who called me 'Kike' and 'Christ-killer'. I couldn't understand Christians at all."

Lou carried an inner turmoil into adulthood. There was no peace inside him. The distrust of Christians softened enough so that he could fall in love and marry Carol, who was Presbyterian, and have his Catholic mother-in-law move in with them!

There was the discussion about what to do with the kids. It was a typical scenario in the mixed marriage, particularly between the Jewish male and the Gentile female. He said, "The boys will be Jewish, the girls it doesn't matter -- they can be Presbyterian. When they grow up, they'll marry and their name will change anyway!" Through the years he laughed at the memory.


All that changed when Lou became a Christian - or, as he puts it, "a completed Jew, a follower of Christ." Lou had heard of the Messianic movement and went to a service at the Hebrew Christian Church on Liberty Road. The minister was Theodore Klein, who spoke of how Christ destroys the wall between Jews and Gentiles, or people of different denominations. To Lou it was a revelation! He found that the words and ceremonies are not as important as the Spirit we all share.

Lou gave himself over to this new faith. He was a Christian with zeal. But as the years passed, and leadership in his church changed, he eventually found himself just going through the motions like many other people do who call themselves Christians. Lou's observation was . . .

"They go to church on Sunday and they put money in the collection, but there's no real commitment. They need something to jolt them!"


At the age of 40, Lou went into cardiac arrest while taking a stress test at the hospital. He recalled, "I was snuffed, just like that! All the work, all the worry - for what? Zap, just like that you're gone!"

The heart attack brought Lou back to Jesus. He said, "My heart attack was the best thing that ever happened to me, because now I am a happy man." No longer did people give Lou a hard time about being a Jew. Instead, they gave him a hard time about being a fanatic for Christ!


Pastor Lou's life . . .

Lou and Carol brought up their three children in Maryland and then moved to Brandenton, Florida and later to Clearwater. It was in Clearwater that Eric and Denise met Lou and Carol and became a part of the Friday night services of Tikvah Israel. The ministry of Tikvah Israel has reached Jews and Gentiles of almost every denominational background.


In 1994, Eric and Denise, through Shepherd's Heart Ministries, Inc., assisted Lou and Carol in setting up their own non-profit ministry, Christians United for the Holy Land, Inc. Under their new covering, Lou and Carol took numerous humanitarian trips to Israel and delivered gifts to the needy Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians. Many churches and individual supporters helped make these trips possible.


Pastor Lou's homegoing . . .

On Father's Day, June 20, 1999, Pastor Louis Sakolsky went home to be with the Lord. As a Jewish believer in Yeshua, Pastor Lou was a very precious brother in the Lord, and he touched many lives with his zeal and passion for God and the things of the Spirit. The cry of Lou's heart was for the Church to be awakened to their Jewish roots and to see the need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and have a heart for Israel. He wrote . . .

"What should motivate a Christian to pray for Israel as a country? Our motivation should come from the fact that Scripture admonishes us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and by implication, the State of Israel. We must pray that the spritual eyes of the Jews would be opened to the truth of The Messiah as revealed in Scripture. We must also pray that the Nation of Israel would realize that it was the Hand of God that helped them regain the Land and to rebuild and prosper in their efforts. Nevertheless, we see Israel as a people beloved by God - so beloved that He promises blessings to those who bless Israel." (Genesis 12:2-3)


Pastor Lou's legacy . . .


Tikvah and Pastor Lou were two words that always went hand in hand. He was a man who blessed our lives by introducing us to the Jewish roots of Jesus Christ over ten years ago. One of our first visits to Tikvah was when our daughter Lisa, then age eleven, was invited by Denise to sing. From that night on, we develped a hunger and a thirst to learn more about the Jewish roots of our Christian faith. After only going to Tikvah a few times, Dan was diagnosed with a fatal blood disorder. God used the faith of Pastor Lou and others at Tikvah to pray for Dan to receive his healing. When Lou prayed over Dan, we knew Dan was going to be fine. Watching many people receive healing at Tikvah has been awesome, as well as seeing others being delivered from bondage. Each time Pastor Lou was under the anointing, all we had to do was stand near him and God's presence would touch our spirits. We will always remember how much he loved to praise and worship the Lord. He was a true servant of God and will certainly be missed.

Dan and Maryann Behrend


I truly thank God for letting me meet Pastor Lou. God used him to bring me into a deeper love and understanding of Israel and the Hebrew people. Through Tikvah Israel, I learned the meaning of worshipping in Spirit and in Truth. Nowhere have I ever been able to worship so openly and freely. The ministry of Tikvah and Pastor Lou have been a tremendous blessing to me. A blessing that I thank God for and will never forget as long as I live. And because Pastor Lou was a believer in Yeshua, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will have the privilege of being with him again in God's Kingdom. Thank You, Lord!

Frank J. LaPorta

*Note: After graduating from the Brownsville Bible School, Frank and his wife, Carol, now serve in the Land of Israel.


Pastor Lou will be so missed. He gave so much love and wisdom, always moving through the Holy Spirit. May God bless and keep Carol and the family in the love of Yeshua. Praise God for His goodness.

Barbara Brenner


I remember when my sister was dying back in 1990, Lou and Carol prayed for her. She passed away with joy in her spirit. It brought me comfort at a sad time. Lou also encouraged me to attend CCTC (Countryside Christian Training Center). I learned so much and developed into a stronger Christian. I also remember the Seder we had at the church. It was a memorable experience. Lou had so much faith. I know he affected many by this faith. It brought me through some hard times. As the Word teaches, God delivers us out of our trials. God richly blessed me by knowing Pastor Lou.

Janice Sowa

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