WHAT A JOURNEY!

Some people say, “It’s a miracle!” whenever God does something out of the ordinary. I believe in miracles, but they occur when God suspends His physical laws of order. Many wondrous, out of the ordinary events He orchestrates are what we’d call “Divine Appointments,” which can be just as faith building. Take for example Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. No doubt this was a divine appointment:

“Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert.” (Acts 8:26)

What a journey that must have been! Philip walked out into that desert with no clear agenda or destination. As he stepped out in obedience, he discovered that God wanted him to meet a specific someone—someone in whose heart He was already at work. What is the likelihood that an Israeli believer in Jesus would meet up with an Ethiopian man in the Gaza strip, let alone that this Ethiopian would at that very moment be reading from Isaiah 53, and wondering of whom the prophet was speaking? That truly divine appointment may well have launched the first church in Ethiopia.

Divine appointments happen when we go where God sends us. A team of college-age Jewish believers in Jesus has been sent quite a distance from home and they are experiencing divine appointments of their own this summer. They are part of a relatively new Jews for Jesus adventure called “Massah,” which is Hebrew for “The Journey.” As you read this, they are just returning to the U.S. from Israel and India.

Each member of the Massah team felt God’s calling to make this journey, not knowing exactly where in these two countries they would go, or whom they would meet. They traveled from cities to deserts to mountain villages, praying for God to use them, praying for divine appointments with Israelis—and God answered those prayers.

You would expect those kinds of encounters in Israel, but India? Well, there is a whole movement of young Israeli backpackers and trekkers making their way through parts of India. They are on a quest, searching for fulfillment, seeking spiritual enlightenment. We designed Massah as a way to encounter and engage these young people.

Massah is very different from the normal kinds of street outreach we conduct in Jews for Jesus, and it is also different from the one-on-one visits we conduct with the seekers we meet. We’ve got small groups of believers encountering small groups of seekers. They minister as a group of friends, making new friends to minister to as they go. It is highly relational and highly experimental (this is only our second year) and we are finding it to be effective.

I am especially encouraged by what is happening with Massah because one of our urgent needs and prayers to God has been that He will raise up the next generation of evangelists to the Jewish people. You may have noticed this monthly request in our print newsletter under “Prayer Prompters.” It seems that God is answering those prayers. He hasn’t been dropping scores of new missionaries into our midst, but He’s given us some great young people to care for and encourage and invest in through opportunities like Massah—and some are responding with a desire to serve Him with us.

Massah is getting us back to some of the best of the original Jews for Jesus ministry of the ’70s, but with innovations made possible and necessary by a new generation.

Jews for Jesus began with a core group of enthusiastic young Jewish believers looking for creative ways to tell other Jews about Jesus, under the leadership of Moishe Rosen. We learned to talk about Jesus on the streets of Berkeley, San Francisco, and of course New York City. We were a small group and we’d all go together on our witnessing adventures. Gradually we wanted to have a story in a number of cities, so we spread out.

Massah brings together a group of talented young believers from various cities to form a small community like we had in the beginning. But Massah adds something to the close-knit community of eager young believers, and that is the cross-cultural aspect of missions. Massah brings participants first to Israel to learn the culture of the people they are reaching, and then on to India to meet Israelis in remote mountain areas. It’s a very different experience than our usual outreaches in major metropolitan areas like New York City or London.

This year’s Massah included several musicians who had played together before. Their creative energy is very much in keeping with our roots, yet their music is very different from that of the early Jews for Jesus. It expresses their faith and story in ways that attract others their age, and opens up great witnessing opportunities.

The early Jews for Jesus were nearly all first generation believers. Most of the Massah participants were raised in Jewish believing homes. Many have known each other through our Camp Gilgal program. They are a group of friends being challenged and challenging one another to live their faith as young adults, making that faith their own, speaking of it openly to others as they encounter them in their travels.

Some of you will remember the coffee house ministries of the ’60s and early ’70s. People would hang out and talk about important life issues. This is very much the way of Israeli trekkers as they travel throughout India. And it is in those coffee shops and night spots where a great deal of Massah ministry has been taking place. It is hard to capture all that God has done in the hearts of our team members, much less the unbelievers they have encountered.

Daniel Goldstein, part of the leadership team last year and this year, wrote the following during this Israel portion of Massah ’08:

“To be able to see Massah come to life the first year was amazing and now to see it continuing on for its second year has been even more exciting! We have an amazing leadership team and it has been great to work together.

“I am in the middle of my second semester at University in Beer Sheva and have a job there, but every free minute I get I have been spending with Massah.

“Everyone in the group is constantly asking me how to say this or that in Hebrew and trying to speak Hebrew at every occasion they can.

“There are about three more weeks before the group leaves for India and we have a lot planned. We want to continue encouraging people to think of creative ways to contextualize the gospel as we go out on the streets. We want to help everyone to feel comfortable enough to travel around India and share their faith with any Israeli we encounter. I think now is an important time to reflect on what has happened, on what God has been doing and how we can take what we’ve learned from this to India.

“Please pray that God will continue to work in the hearts of everyone who is participating in Massah and that each one of us will be seeking His will for whatever God has planned for us after Massah 2008 is over!”

I have been eagerly reading reports from the team and would like to share some of those with you, along with a few photos, so please click here to see them.

When you see what they have been up to, I think you’ll find yourself praising God and saying along with me, “What a Journey!”