Tel Aviv means Spring Hill.” This time of year is so beautiful in Israel, with flowers blooming and the scent of jasmine and orange blossoms in the air. What better time to introduce you to our Tel Aviv branch?
Did you know…
Contrary to popular belief, it is perfectly legal for an Israeli to share the gospel with another Israeli—whether by handing out tracts, asking people to answer a survey about faith, or using various other means.
In fact, Jews for Jesus is now a registered non-profit charter organization in Israel. We have official status and our legal documentation states that our purpose is to proclaim the message of Yeshua (Jesus)! However, that does not mean that it is easy or popular to share the gospel on the busy streets of Tel Aviv.
Whenever certain religious people see our staff and volunteers witnessing on the streets they call a toll-free hotline number, and often several anti-missionaries will quickly appear. At times we have had to call the police for assistance. Yet, the opposition keeps us on our toes, helping us develop new strategies for evangelism.
Most Israelis are secular—dissatisfied and disillusioned with the Orthodox Jewish movements and political agendas that have failed them. They are really seeking answers.
We have various friends who are also at work in the Land, some of whom were laboring faithfully long before we came on the scene. We’ve been working with one group to distribute the “Jesus” film. We have hand-delivered 400 films in the past 12 months or so, and we’re still in the process of calling to follow up with those who received them. At the time of this report, one of those contacts has just prayed to receive Yeshua—and he is by no means the first.
Our staff regularly write gospel tracts and flyers in Hebrew to address various subjects and occasions. (Our Tel Aviv ministry is conducted almost entirely in Hebrew, with an occasional English or Russian interaction for variety.) But the heart of our ministry is personal evangelism—phone conversations and one-on-one visits with unsaved Israelis. Most people in Israel have never really heard the gospel. When we sit face-to-face with a person and open the Scriptures, we can share freely and they can respond openly and honestly.
Jews for Jesus currently has six full-time people serving in Tel Aviv, the largest city in Israel—and the city with the highest Jewish population in the world. Tel Aviv is quite modern. Cell phones and computers are as common as the traditional yarmulkes (skull caps worn by Jewish men).
MEET OUR TEL AVIV STAFF
Efraim & Jeannie Goldstein
Ever since he first lived in Israel as a student in the early 1970s, Efraim has dreamed of proclaiming the gospel in Hebrew to the Jewish people there. He has served with Jews for Jesus for almost 25 years. The Goldstein family immigrated to Israel eight years ago and Efraim has overseen the work there since its inception.
Jeannie has spent the last 15 years raising her children and working in youth ministry. For the past four years, she has been leading afternoon Bible Clubs for children of believers. Each week Jeannie teaches five classes in three different cities in central Israel. She is investing in Israel’s future by helping to strengthen the faith of these little ones.
Efraim and Jeannie have two sons, Daniel, age 19 and Gabi, 17. Daniel currently serves in the Israeli Army (mandatory for all Israelis his age). Both boys love the Lord and seek opportunities to grow in their faith and to share the love of Yeshua with others.
Moshe was born in northern Israel in 1974. His parents are both deaf, and Moshe lived in foster homes for most of his childhood. At 15, he returned to live with his mother in a Haifa suburb.
Moshe completed his required service in the Israeli Army and set out to make a life for himself. While working as a salesman for vacation time-shares, Moshe had a “chance” encounter with a local evangelist. A year later Moshe began searching for truth. He re-read a book the evangelist had given him and became convinced that Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel. Since coming to faith, Moshe has prayed with both his mother and father to receive the Lord!
[Note: in the May 2002 Newsletter, we printed a correction to the above paragraph: “In last month’s newsletter, we mistakenly printed that Moshe Shuai had prayed with both his parents to receive the Lord. While both his parents have received the Lord, they had help from other diligent believers in Israel in coming to faith.]
In 1998 Moshe joined the Jews for Jesus staff, becoming the first sabra (native born Israeli) to serve with us. He will graduate from the Israel College of the Bible this June with a bachelor’s degree in theology. He is a gifted evangelist with a heart to serve God.
Miriam & Shlomy Abramov
Miriam was born in America and comes from a non-Jewish home. She has lived in Israel for 11 years. Miriam was the first person to share the gospel with Shlomy. That took courage, and it certainly bore fruit!
Shlomy is a sabra from a traditional Jewish background. However, as a teenager he turned away from his religious upbringing. He tried a career in the army, then in the Israeli police force before entering the lucrative field of personal security. He even had stints as a personal bodyguard for Sylvester Stallone and Ariel Sharon. Through all of this Shlomy found no personal peace or satisfaction.
Finally, in 1992 Shlomy came to know Jesus as his Lord and Messiah. This was through the faithful and persistent witness of Miriam. A year after Shlomy came to faith they were married.
In 1994 Shlomy and Miriam enrolled at the Israel College of the Bible and both went on to receive their bachelor of arts degrees in theology. Shlomy was the first sabra to graduate from Israel College of the Bible.
The Abramovs work well as a team of gifted evangelists with tremendous hearts for God.
Dan & Dinah Sered
Dan is also a sabra, born on Yom Kippur (the holiest day on the Jewish calendar) but brought up in a secular home. When he was 14, his father’s job relocated to New York. And so Dan graduated from high school and college in Long Island, New York.
Dinah was brought up in a believing home. Her mom is Jewish and from Columbia. Dinah received the Lord when she was 12. After graduating high school, Dinah joined the U.S. Army and became a nurse. She participated in our 1996 New York Summer Witnessing Campaign and was a part of the Jews for Jesus New York Singers. By the time she met Dan in college, she was a spiritual live wire! God used her witness to draw Dan to Himself. A year and a half after Dan came to faith, he and Dinah married. In January 2000 they began missionary training with Jews for Jesus, and the following August they moved to Israel to serve Him in the Land.
On December 1, 2000, Dinah gave birth to their first child, Yael Sered.
The Sereds are presently in San Francisco where Dan is receiving additional leadership training and is helping to plan this summer’s Atlanta Behold Your God campaign.
UPDATES AND PRAYER REQUESTS
Our February newsletter mentioned how Miriam prayed with a young woman named Danit to receive the Lord. After six weeks of discipleship and tender loving care from Miriam, Danit is now in the Israel Defense Force and seems to be doing well in both her faith and service. Please keep Danit in prayer.
Libby is another young Israeli believer Miriam has been discipling. She is now in the air force and comes to fellowship with the branch over the Shabbat. Please pray for her physical and spiritual protection.
Shlomy had lost contact with a new believer, Roman. Having an idea of the neighborhood in which he lived, Shlomy went looking for his name on the mailboxes in the general vicinity. After much prayer, Shlomy found Roman. Roman wants to continue with the discipleship and now asks prayer for his wife, Rina, to know Yeshua.
Moshe met Elad through his two friends Yaniv and Eitan, both of whom Moshe has been discipling. The second time they met, Moshe led Elad in the sinner’s prayer. The chain of Yaniv and his friends continues. This is the third of five friends who have prayed to receive the Lord!
Some of you were praying for Project Joshua this past December/January as we brought a number of college age Jewish believers to Israel. It was a time for them to get connected with aspects of their Jewish identity, as well as a time for them to step out in faith to witness to fellow Jews.
One afternoon the group was handing out tracts in Tel Aviv, along with our staff. The outing went well and they received the names and addresses of 10 Israelis who were willing to receive additional literature from us.
The next day a man named Ilan called our office and spoke to Moshe. He had received a pamphlet from one of the Project Joshua group the day before. Moshe arranged a meeting with him for the following week.
Two of Ilan’s friends came with him to meet Moshe: a woman named Chaya and a man called Yosi. Yosi was wounded while serving in the Israeli Army. He told Moshe that he was the only one who survived a helicopter crash, and that it was a miracle.
Ilan seemed to understand much of the gospel message and just needed encouragement to move ahead. Yosi was surprised to see the prophecies that spoke of Yeshua, and he wanted to see the Bible himself to be sure Moshe wasn’t making it up! By the end of the visit Yosi seemed to be opening up as well. As for Chaya, she sat quietly for most of the visit, but as Moshe prepared to leave she told him that she was interested in meeting again, and that some of her friends would want to come along as well. Moshe arranged for her to meet with him and one of the women on our team.
Moshe says, “I was so blessed to see how much the Lord accomplished on one visit. I hope that the students involved in Project Joshua are encouraged to see how much the Lord used them and that one broadside Ilan received. Thanks to all our friends who prayed for these college students. Their boldness is bearing fruit! Please pray for Ilan, Yosi, Chaya and Chaya’s friends.”
ALSO FROM PROJECT JOSHUA:
While the group was getting strapped onto their camels for the ultimate in desert experiences, the Israeli guide noticed the sweatshirts that some were wearing. (The front of the shirts say, “Jews for Jesus, is there such a thing?” and the backs say, “Jews for Jesus: There is such a thing!” all in Hebrew, of course.) The guide mentioned that he was familiar with Jews for Jesus from having spent a year in San Jose, California. He said that Ruth Rosen came to speak at the church where he had stayed. (They allowed him to use their parking lot for his camper, use their facilities, etc.) He and Ruth discussed the issue of the Messiah afterwards. He told Efraim that he is still considering the matter.