We hand out our unique gospel tracts here in Tel Aviv on a regular basis. However, in February, senior missionary Dan Sered, along with Yoel ben David, one of our approved students at Israel College of the Bible, wanted to have a special morning-to-night intense day of street evangelism. So in faith and despite the winter weather, we did.
When we woke up that Thursday morning the sky was clear and a bright Middle East sun was shining down upon us. It was almost as if the Lord was welcoming us to go out and proclaim His glory. So three of our staff and four volunteers went out to greet thousands of Israeli commuters on their way to work.
We were particularly visible that day via the bold blue and white sweatshirts we all wore. The slogan on the sweatshirt was emblazoned in both Hebrew and English. The front of the shirt read: Jews for Jesus, is there such a thing?” The back of the shirt said: “There is such a thing, Jews for Jesus!” (It reads better in Hebrew than in English.)
Not everybody who notices us during an evangelistic sortie (tractpassing expedition) stops and makes comments. Some people might call into our office, or go to our Hebrew web site: www.jewsforjesus.co.il. But the sweatshirts seemed to increase the number of tracts we handed out and conversations that we had.
This day of campaign evangelism in Tel Aviv lasted from 6:30 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. Dan Sered summed it up like this:
“This was a very good experience for us. We learned a lot. We had some opposition especially during our P.M. rush hour sortie. A few of us were pushed and hit. We praise God for being considered worthy to suffer for the cause. Personally, I feel exhausted because of the intensity of the sorties here in Israel. Emotionally, the day was draining, but it goes without saying that it was well worth it.”
That day we handed out 6,300 tracts and received the names of ten Israelis who want more contact with us.
My team began next to the Israel Army headquarters. This massive complex is similar to the U.S. Pentagon in Washington. Thousands of soldiers were making their way to their work. Some young recruits would not face much hazard that day—perhaps just the accidental spilling of a hot cup of coffee. Then there were the officers and commanders who have experienced the full burden of war, including the awesome task of sending soldiers off into combat. To this group of commuters we were able to distribute almost 2,000 gospel tracts, and we had a number of conversations.
I was thrilled to meet a civilian who quickly identified himself as a believer in Yeshua. Harel had received the Lord during a trip to the U.S. He had just returned to Israel, but didn’t know other believers here and was looking for a place of fellowship. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet and be of service to this new believer.
Now it happens that sometimes the Lord gives certain passers-by a second chance to meet one of us and have another opportunity to hear the gospel. This was the case for Yakov (not his real name) two days after our day of evangelism.
Yoel and Dan each have a dedicated wife and both families have a four-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. The Saturday after our day of evangelism, both the Sereds and the ben David family planned a family day at the Jerusalem Zoo.
While at the zoo a religious man, Yakov, approached Yoel and said, “I know you, don’t I?” After a few moments the man realized that he had seen Yoel distributing gospel tracts at the train station two days previously.
It turns out that Yakov works at a shop in the same building where we have our Jews for Jesus office. He “happened” to be at the zoo that day with his wife and children, along with another couple.
Yoel and Dan opened up a deep conversation about faith in Yeshua and Jewish practice with Yakov and his friend. It must be understood that a visit to the zoo on the Sabbath is not a usual occurrence for an Orthodox Jew, nor is it religiously acceptable in that community. This gave our evangelists a good opening for conversation, as the Orthodox men admitted that they sometimes fell short of the religious standards.
I am amazed by how the Lord arranged a divine appointment to follow up on the day of evangelism—at the Jerusalem Zoo of all places!