Have you ever been so engrossed in a new television series that you feel let down when the credits roll on the last episode? Disappointment turns to anticipation – maybe even a little impatience – for the next season. Some of us experienced that as May 2018 drew to a close, ending the first season of Jews for Jesus in Jerusalem.
Ninety staff and 150 volunteers had flooded Jerusalem in an all-out effort to bring the message of Messiah to the people in that city. Our teams had more than 5,000 gospel conversations with Israelis; 1,700 gave us their contact information to hear more, and 63 prayed to receive the Lord! That season was the highlight of my ministry with Jews for Jesus so far, and I felt a bit melancholy when the campaign ended.
But let me tell you about season two! While the cast is far fewer, the story lines reveal God opening doors and transforming lives.
Aviel, who works with our Israel team in partnership with Christian Witness for Israel, relocated to Jerusalem after the campaign. One of the first people he reached out to was Baruch, an Ethiopian Jew who had requested a copy of the New Testament from an outreach website last May. Aviel phoned Baruch and arranged to deliver it in person.
Baruch was 12 years old when he and his family came to Israel, hoping to find the Messiah. He attended an Orthodox Jewish school and went on to study Judaism’s sacred texts and teachings full-time at a yeshiva, an Orthodox Jewish seminary. Along with many others, he found the religious lifestyle he was being taught more stressful than meaningful – and eventually became secular.
When Baruch’s mother fell ill with cancer, he found himself longing once more for the Messiah – and he began looking for answers on various websites. That’s when he requested the New Testament.
A week after bringing Baruch the Bible, Aviel returned to visit him. He writes: “Nothing could have prepared me for our second visit. Baruch’s eyes were like fire; he was so excited. He'd already read the entire New Testament!” Baruch prayed with Aviel to receive Jesus then and there. He now asks prayer for his mother to receive the Lord and also for her physical healing.
Sahar, from our university team, writes: “Avi was a taxi driver I met during the BYG Jerusalem campaign. I got to share the gospel while riding with him, and he accepted an invitation to our Shabbat dinner. Since last May I have visited Avi in Jerusalem more than half a dozen times; we talk about the Scriptures and why I believe in Jesus. He wants to come to visit us (my wife, baby daughter, and me) in Tel Aviv. Please pray for his salvation.”
Danielle, one of the pioneers in our ministry to the homeless, addicted, and trafficked souls of Jerusalem, writes: “We partner with a local soup kitchen and with a shelter for young men in Jerusalem. City officials have also asked us to coordinate volunteers for the homeless. And they know that we are believers in Yeshua!”
We now have four couples working permanently in Jerusalem, two among Russian speakers and two among the ultra-Orthodox. And, as mentioned above, our street team in Jerusalem works alongside many volunteers, to love and serve those who are so often overlooked.
Next month Israel will celebrate “Yom Yerushalayim” (Jerusalem Day). It’s the annual national holiday commemorating the reunification of that city. We long to see the people of Jerusalem united with the Messiah Jesus, and we’re grateful to those of you standing with us to that end. Please pray as we head into the next season!
What is next? We want to open our own half-way house for the street team to use as a base of operation, should God provide the funding. We want to bring more staff to live in Jerusalem to help build our team there. We expect more episodes leading to more seasons. Because, unlike a TV series that lasts only as long as the ratings, the story of God’s work in Jerusalem will continue until that glorious day when the clouds are rolled back, and the Lord of glory touches down upon the Mount of Olives. Until then, stay tuned!
Names are changed to protect privacy