Encounters In Israel
I recently had a wonderful opportunity to travel with the Liberated Wailing Wall on an international tour. During the tour we spent six weeks ministering in South Africa, Israel and England. One of the highlights of the tour was the opportunity to do evangelism on the streets of Haifa, Tel Aviv, Eilat and Jerusalem.
Just to be in the Land was exhilarating. The sights, sounds and atmosphere continually awed me. I felt as though I were walking through the Bible. I found Jerusalem especially moving. As I walked through the Old City I thought of the Messiah Yeshua walking down the same streets and speaking to those he loved so much–my people, the Jewish people.
I felt a sense of emptiness as I saw many of them praying at the Western Wall, the last visible remnant of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. I knew that without Yeshua they could have no relationship with God and no atonement. It broke my heart. I thought of Yeshua as he wept over Jerusalem, and it gave me even more of a desire to go out and proclaim the message of peace, joy, and a relationship with God through Jesus to my people.
In Jerusalem our chief place of evangelistic outreach was Ben Yehudah Street, a pedestrian mall in the middle of the new city. At lunchtime and in the evening thousands of people walk up and down Ben Yehudah to look in the shops and eat a leisurely meal. We would stand on the street, distribute our literature and talk to the people as they walked by.
One of the people to whom I spoke was Aaron, an Israeli soldier who was in Jerusalem on leave. I asked Aaron what he thought about Jesus’ being the Messiah of Israel. His response was much like that of many other Israelis to whom I had spoken. Aaron did not believe in the Messiah and was not even sure there was a God. Aaron said he was much more concerned about Iraq and Jordan than about God and the Messiah. He said he really did not think much about spiritual things because he was busy defending the country.
My heart broke at his words. I explained to Aaron that God cared about our land but that it grieved him when people put the Land before him. I told Aaron that God wanted to have a personal relationship with him and that he had sent the Messiah Yeshua to be our atonement. I said that the only way he could truly understand God’s plan for Israel as a nation and for the Jewish people was to know the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. Aaron listened to what I had to say, but I felt as though there were some kind of wall between us. As I spoke with Aaron, I prayed inwardly that God would break through to his heart. I asked Aaron if he would consider what I had said and read the literature that I gave him. He assured me that he would.
I spoke to many other Israelis. Over all, most of them are not religious. They are neither agnostic nor atheistic, merely secular. But God can and will break through to my people. He has in the past, and he is at work now. Jewish people are coming to the Messiah. In fact, the same day I spoke to Aaron, a Jewish man prayed with one of our team members to accept the Lord just down the street from where I was standing!
Like many Israelis, Aaron does not think about God very much. But God wants my people’s attention. He wants them to know the Messiah. May he help us to proclaim the message of Yeshua clearly to our people so that they can know the salvation that comes through him.
Editor’s Note: At this time Murray Tilles is on a year’s furlough or leave of absence from Jews for Jesus. He is one of our hardest working evangelists. We look for his return.