Peter and Yarden Nasser met at a festival in Akko (in the Western Galilee region of Northern Israel). Unlike most of the participants, they went to celebrate Y’shua and to tell festival-goers about Him. In the course of evangelizing, Yarden, a Jewish believer, asked Peter, an Arab believer, to translate something to help her witness. They made such a good team that they continued witnessing together at other events following the festival. Soon they were telling one another about books they had read and things they had thought about. Peter wanted a wife who loved to evangelize, but Yarden, who really did love to witness, wasn’t thinking of marriage at the time. Still, she couldn’t help being interested in the fact that Peter was not only a great guy, but obviously cared for Jewish people—and wanted to tell them about Jesus. He eventually won her heart, and three years later they were married.
The Jewish-Arab couple encounters various reactions. Yarden, who moved to Israel from Ukraine when she was 15 recalls, “When I was at Haifa University, I invited a couple of friends to visit me. Peter and I were engaged at the time, so my friends of course wanted to know, ‘Who is the nice guy?’ I explained that he was my fianc?. They asked if he was Russian and I said, ‘No he’s Arab.’ One said ‘Oh, that is so wonderful; Arab and Jew together!’ The other said, ‘That’s scary; are you sure he’s a believer?’”
In some ways, Peter has the advantage in witnessing to Jews, while Yarden has the advantage in witnessing to Arabs.
Yarden says, “I am not fluent in Arabic, but I have learned some words, and when I witness to Arabs I use them as much as possible. People are very surprised and ask me where I learned Arabic. I tell them that I’m married to an Arab guy who believes in Jesus, like I do. I would say that 90% of Arab people are quite open to me at that point, making me feel very much at ease with them, and listening to what I have to say.”
Jewish people are not as impressed when an Arab speaks Hebrew, but Peter says what does impress them is that he, an Arab who was born and raised in Israel, approaches Jewish people with their Bible to speak about their God. Yarden explains, “Many Israelis assume that all Arabs are Muslims, so they think they only read the Koran.”
Peter laughs, “When I tell them, ‘My faith in Jesus is coming from your Tenach,’ and I begin to show them prophecies, they’ll say, ‘How do you know better than us? We’re Jewish and we don’t know these things. How do you know these things?’
“Then when it comes up that I’m married to a Jewish woman, some are incredulous. They wonder why she would marry me or why I would marry her. I say, ‘It’s God’s plan for us. I love Jews and she loves Arabs and we have peace with each other.’”
Some try to judge, telling Peter that he needs to convert to Judaism; if not, they say, his wife is not a Jew anymore. But others are really fascinated. Peter explains, “It gives them ears when they know I am Arab. They want to know more when I tell them I went from being someone who did not like Jews to someone who married a Jewish woman. I always tell them that the Messiah did it.”
Yarden witnesses by telling both Jews and Arabs that we are all sinners, and we all need the Messiah to bring peace. The life that she and Peter have built, with Y’shua at the center, is a case in point that peace, love and forgiveness are possible between Jews and Arabs.