Bits from the Branches
Sarah Ascher reports, “If you didn’t know, our branch office is right across the street from the campus of UCLA. Students pop in on a regular basis to inquire about who we are and what we do. Recently two students, Karen* and Adam*, came in and said, ‘We saw your sign and we want to know more about Jesus.’ Turns out they were both raised without any particular religious focus; in fact, both said their parents are atheists. They have begun attending our Tuesday night Bible study regularly. Usually they sit quietly and listen. But as we were going through the Gospel of John, we came across a verse that talked about one of Jesus’s miracles and the text said ‘and the disciples believed.’ The question arose: Hadn’t the disciples seen other things Jesus had done before this point? Hadn’t they believed before? Suddenly Karen piped up, ‘I think it is human nature to have doubts and questions. I think it is cool that God continues to confirm that Jesus is God for the disciples over and over again.’ Perhaps that was a window into this young woman’s heart as she doubts and questions, but recognizes God confirming truths for her about Jesus. Please pray for Karen and Adam.”
* Not their real names
Olga Ammossova reports, “I have an elderly contact, Esther, who has been attending our Shabbat meetings for about two years. I wrote about her in the past, when she had just received the Lord into her heart sincerely and with joy. Many things have changed in Esther’s life during these two years. She has drawn closer to God, can understand His Word better, and tries to trust her life to Him. The Lord strengthens her faith through answered prayers: Esther’s son found a job and got married. Also, her elder sister, Rebecca, came to our Shabbat meeting and received the Lord. Esther still has her difficulties, but little by little, Yeshua is becoming the center of her life. Thank you for praying!”
Oded Cohen reports, “Our deep thanks to you for your precious prayers. Just the other week my wife Bimini asked me, ‘How is Eli? One of our supporting friends wants to know. She is praying for him.‘ After eight long months of not being able to reach him, just that small reminder encouraged me to try calling him again. This time he actually picked up the phone and reassured me that his faith is still strong. (He is the Hassidic Jewish man I discipled weekly for over a year before he suddenly ‘disappeared’ last fall.) That same week, I reconnected with three other people I hadn’t been able to reach for months, including another Hassidic man who is not yet a believer.
“We also invited my photography friend Dudi* over for dinner, along with his girlfriend. Neither of them are believers (yet). Since Dudi has been trying unsuccessfully to explain what we believe to his girlfriend, he asked me to! So almost our entire time together was spent discussing the Gospel. They are both very open and curious about the possibility that Jesus might be the Messiah. Please pray for them!”
Alex Adelson reports, “I had a visit with Yosi. He is open to the gospel but he is very much influenced by his rabbi. He believes that being born Jewish and trying to keep the mitzvot (good deeds) guarantees him a free ticket to heaven. I spent some time trying to help him understand that it’s not true, but it was very difficult for him to even think that he might be wrong. Still, he agreed to continue to meet and study the Bible. Next time we will learn about the sacrifices and the Day of Atonement. Please pray for Yosi to understand the need for a Savior and not just rely on his good deeds.”
* Not their real names
God is full of surprises, as Oded Cohen found out on a recent sortie (tract-passing expedition): “I gave a broadside to two young men who were walking past me. One of them became quite angry. He said, ‘What is it, Yeshu?‘ (*the incorrect name that Israelis know Jesus by). He gave me back the broadside and furiously asked me, ‘Do you want me to burn it?‘ I reassured him that he was free to do whatever he wanted to do with it, and that I gave it to him out of love. He then took his friend’s broadside and tore it into small pieces, scattering them on the ground. I saw how his anger was about to burst, so I began to disengage, remarking, ‘Well, okay; it’s your choice.‘ I started to walk away.
“But suddenly he made a 180 degree turnaround! He gently said, ‘I am sorry..so sorry. I didn’t mean it.‘ We then had a deep and meaningful conversation about Jesus, and he politely listened with interest and sincerity. I visibly saw how God grabbed hold of his hardened heart. It was truly a ‘God moment’!”
Oded Cohen, part of our Tel Aviv team, has shared some of his copyrighted wildlife photography for your on-line viewing pleasure. We hope you enjoy seeing these animals in their natural habitats in Israel, and feel free to share this link with others. Please do not download or reproduce these photos.
Click on thumbnails for larger picture