Trees from the Forest: The State of Evangelism in Israel
Here in Israel there are no experts” on evangelism. There are many believers who are doing the work of evangelism, but most of us are in the middle of the task and cannot see the trees from the forest. While there are no experts, there is no lack of opinions or perspectives.
Our Jews for Jesus staff does evangelism as our vocation and therefore there is an intentionality to our witness. We meet regularly with those who want Bible instruction and prayer. We engage in conversations with unsaved Israelis on the streets. There are also those in all the congregations who are witnessing on a regular basis. Certainly, I would not expect an Israeli leader or pastor today to say “no” or “not now” to evangelism. Most evangelism is done locally and privately. It is not “friendship evangelism,” but rather witness by opportunity. Believers are standing up when the opportunity arises to share a story or a word of witness. Many are taking a bold stand for the Lord.
One such story was told to me by an Ethiopian believer who served in the IDF. His story demonstrates courage and boldness when it counted. This young man was brought into the police station and told that he was being questioned for murdering two acquaintances. They were friends of his who were mysteriously murdered; now he was under suspicion for their deaths.
While sitting in the interrogation room, he was filled with shock and horror, and could hardly speak. However, he gradually felt emboldened to speak despite his surroundings. He blurted out that he couldn’t have murdered his friends because he is a believer in Yeshua the Messiah, and followers of Yeshua are forbidden to murder. The police detectives were taken aback by his response. They asked him questions about what it means to be Jewish and believe in Yeshua. They said that they had heard the very same statement from someone else who had been questioned in the murder investigation.
This young man was released without any further questioning! It is not known if the officials ever found the people responsible for the terrible murders. However, the display of faith on the part of this young man is typical of the many hundreds of incidents that happen daily in Israel as believers stand up for their faith, taking the chance and sometimes the risk to privately proclaim Yeshua.
The climate is ripe here for all the witnessing that can be done. The last three years of suicide bombings and terror have created a lot of doubts, fears and isolation on the part of the people of Israel. Certainly the youth of Israel are disillusioned and looking for hope. May God give us more opportunities to witness and the grace to be prepared and able when the harvest time comes.