Last summer marked the fourth year of our Massah program. “Massah” means “journey” in Hebrew. Our team of twelve young adults plus four leaders gathered from all over the United States (and one from Mexico City) and journeyed to Jaffa, a city on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. We lived in a guesthouse for six weeks and ate breakfast together every day: simple meals of bread and cheese and tomatoes and olives. Oh, and instant coffee—how could I forget?! Fortunately, some Starbucks singles had made it into our luggage.
Each day was a journey that required an adventurous spirit. During our first week there, the Behold Your God Israel campaign was already in full swing. Our “novice” evangelists received a crash-course from Jhan Moskowitz on how to witness to Israelis. We handed out tracts near bus stops and busy shopping areas. We walked along beaches and chatted with sunbathers and picnickers. We went to malls and conversed with those who were curious about our campaign T-shirts that boldy proclaimed, “Yeshua.”
Perhaps our biggest challenge was doing evangelism at the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv. Our young team did not flinch or hold back one ounce of the truth as they engaged the parade revelers in conversations about Yeshua. I am proud of the Massah-niks for the bold stand they took.
As the days wore on, team members grew visibly stronger in both their desire and their confidence to witness. Though the days were long, at 11:00 PM we often gathered on the front steps of the guesthouse to pray and prepare for nighttime evangelism in Tel Aviv. Some of us sat in cafes or yogurt shops, engaging Israelis in conversations about spiritual matters, while others from our team sat near the outdoor fountains or on park steps, also seeking to engage those around them in evangelistic discussions.
There is something about the atmosphere in Israel that makes it easy to talk about spiritual things. No matter how far along each team member was in their own spiritual maturity, engaging in conversation after conversation about Yeshua fortified their faith as well as their confidence in witnessing. Those who had never witnessed publicly saw that it wasn’t something weird or odd. Most Israelis are willing to discuss spiritual matters. Massah enables team members to spend time in lengthy conversations, which is a different approach from the “saturation” method of handing out as many tracts as possible. It is not an either/or choice; they are just different approaches for different times and places. Massah begins in Israel and prepares team members to move on to other countries where Israeli trekkers tend to gather, especially those who are seeking to “clear their heads” after completing their term of military service.
As the weeks progressed, I saw tangible changes in our Massah team. I saw each person become better and better prepared to go to India for the last four weeks of the program, and I knew they had passed from casual conversationalists to a strong army of evangelists.
Later, I heard reports on the team’s effectiveness in India. (I did not go on that part of the journey.) Again, this was not marked by high numbers of tracts passed out or how many names received for further contact. But I was pleased to hear about the depth of conversations team members had with unbelievers over long cups of coffee. Israelis who had traveled to India to further their “spiritual quests” were met by our Massah team with the truth in Messiah.
We are doing Massah again this summer, and once again I am helping to co-lead the team for the first part of their trip. Journeying alongside a group of young adults and helping them stretch their evangelistic wings is part of my own personal quest as a minister to young adults in Jews for Jesus. As we prepare these young men and women to witness, we pray for those we’ll meet with whom we can engage in conversation. Pass the Starbucks singles, please!
Learn more about Massah from those who’ve experienced it first hand at http://jewsforjesus.org/join/massahisrael