It just hit me yesterday that we have been here for three weeks now! Crazy! This past week has been full of lectures, Hebrew lessons and traveling. We got to go up to Caesarea and Haifa and do some study touring and learning about the different historical events that happened in those places. Also we got to do some [evangelistic] surveys on the streets while wearing our Hebrew "Jesus Lives" shirts. It was actually really cool and was my favorite time of evangelism that we have done so far. In the short amount of time that we were out there, I was able to get three people to fill out a survey and two of them gave me their contact information because they wanted a copy of the New Testament. That was the first contact info I have gotten since we’ve been in Israel, so it was very encouraging to me. We stayed overnight in that region and then the next day headed ‘home,’ making a short stop at the Sea of Galilee to swim and go to a water park (with two slides). It was really cool to swim in the sea with the realization that Jesus had walked on water there . . .
Week 4 of Massah is upon us!
Time is absolutely flying by. Last Wednesday and Thursday Massah went on a road trip. We left early for Caesarea where we meandered through the ancient city and enjoyed the beautiful Mediterranean shore. From there we left for Haifa where we broke into smaller teams and did some evangelistic surveys there. Initially we found it difficult interacting with people, as fewer spoke English than in Tel Aviv. Yet the team surprised me again. We had great conversations about Yeshua with around 30 or so and received contact information from fifteen people (most of whom were Jewish unbelievers). On my team Isaac, Stephanie, Malka, Ariel and Liz really stepped up and engaged people with the gospel. I played translator for a good chunk of the time. During one of my conversations with a Jewish Canadian woman, an Orthodox Jewish man came up and asked if she was aware of what we were doing. She confirmed that she knew who we were and continued to speak to me. I flashed him a big toothy grin and he wandered away a little deflated.
From there we headed north to Akko and Naharia, where we swam in the Mediterranean and wandered around the town. That night we slept in a nature reserve near Mount Meron. The next morning we headed up the mountain for a two-hour hike up to a beautiful view of the Galilee. I loved coming alongside and getting to know people better during that time—just hearing from each one how God is moving in their lives. Many are in the process of grappling with the direction God is taking them. Others are processing the different experiences and perspectives they are encountering. Israel (as usual) is making a significant impact upon their worldview. I am certainly looking forward to seeing how God will use them.
Tonight the first stage of Massah officially ended. On Monday morning the team will take off from Tel Aviv and fly to Delhi. Tonight we ended with a session by Richard Harvey [long time friend and former Jews for Jesus staff member] about how to lead a person to faith and "point" them in the right direction. After that I led an orientation on India and on evangelism there. Afterwards we had a little going away party.
This past week has been an amazing week of evangelism and preparation for India. The team went boldly out to the Tayelet (boardwalk) in Eilat and started playing guitar and talking to everyone in sight. Yesterday we had a day of prayer and fasting in which we took time to look back and memorialize what God has done in each of our lives in the past month or so. Later that Friday night we hit the streets of Tel Aviv and all the teams boldly preached the gospel in the club and pub scene. They were amazing!! I have never been with this kind of team with such courage and boldness in proclaiming the Gospel!
God has brought together an outstanding group of people to lead and take part in Massah! He has been working in each one of our lives preparing us for India and beyond. I am very excited to see the team proclaim the gospel fearlessly to Israelis and others in India!
I thought that since we talked so much about India before coming here, I wouldn’t really experience culture shock–but I was wrong! India is so crazy! It’s definitely the most different place I’ve ever experienced. But despite the initial shock, this is a really cool place. And now that we’ve begun to travel a bit, I’ve been able to appreciate India more and really feel a sense of purpose in us being here. Just tonight we got into a great conversation with some Israeli trekkers in a coffee shop, just hanging out. It’s amazing how open the Israelis here are. After I shared the gospel with one girl, I asked her what she thought about all of it and I was really taken aback by what she had to say. She told me she thinks the Bible is good stories, but she’s afraid to "get too into religion." She said she feels like if she takes a real interest in it, it’s going to turn into this life-changing commitment. I couldn’t believe how right she was! It was really encouraging talking to her because I’ve realized that all we’re here to do is present the truth, and sometimes people will accept it, and sometimes people won’t—whether it’s out of doubts, selfishness, or simply fear. But regardless, it’s really a blessing to be able to be here and get into these conversations with people. I’m meeting that same woman and her friends tomorrow to hang out so maybe we will be able to talk about it more.
Keep us in your prayers!
Wow!! God has really been moving here and it has been so exciting to be a part of His work and His plan. It has been such an amazing time that I know I won’t do it justice but will try anyway.
We split up from the other two teams Friday morning and took an eight-hour jeep ride to a town really high up in the mountains, where a lot of people are on very spiritual journeys. We arrived in the afternoon and right from the start God was present in our actions and we were able to find a good guesthouse with a lot of Israelis staying there, and ten minutes after we found the place it started pouring. Later on we split our group into two teams of three and went off in search of Israelis to talk to. My team found a secluded little cafe and decided to just sit down at this big table of people and start conversations. It was really cool, all three of us had really good conversations about who we are and our belief in Yeshua. Before we left, the people invited us to come back for breakfast and talk more.
The next day was full of conversations and the crazy thing is that we didn’t even have to try very hard to talk to people; we just had to be obedient in taking advantage of the opportunities God brought about. In the morning two Israeli girls came and sat with us and once again we were able to share with them about Yeshua and they were really interested. Later that night Rem and I played our music for one of the girls and her boyfriend. After some of the songs we talked about the meaning of the lyrics and about our relationships with God and His work in our lives. When we were done, the girl asked us, "Okay, what does all this mean? What do you believe?" Aaron proceeded to share the gospel and we listened and responded to her doubts and questions. Rem asked her if she wanted a Brit Hadasha (New Testament) before we left and she said yes. We all went back to our room and just praised God for using us and being so present.
The next day was again filled with more conversations about Yeshua and God and life’s purpose, and it was amazing how many truly significant and meaningful conversations we had with these Israelis. We decided we were going to play music that night and started telling the friends we’d made, and so around 10:30 the lounge/restaurant had about 20 people in it and we started our set. After every song we talked about what the songs mean (almost all of them have to do with our relationships with God and struggles we’ve had in that area). The Israelis were loving it! It was crazy, and we even played some worship songs. Then around 11:15 we stopped to take a break, and then a whole bunch more people showed up. There were about 40 at that point and they wanted us to play again, so we played through everything again and gave more testimonies about Yeshua. We finished around 12:00, and at that point we just hung out with all these people and talked. It was amazing how God really gave us an avenue into talking with these people because they had connected with the music and wanted to know more about us and our beliefs. There were so many incredible conversations with unbelievable opportunities to share testimonies of God’s work and both pairs ended up praying for the girls.
Over those next two days our guest house lounge was filled with Israelis who had heard our music or talked with us or heard about us and we had neverending conversations, one after the other. We really became friends with so many of these people and we love them so much. And those next two nights they made us play more music for them and again we played our songs and gave testimonies and God continued to open the doors for us to speak truth and life into these people.
By the end of our time, we played for them one last time and then had to say goodbye to all of our friends. It was so hard, they begged us not to leave. But after many pictures and hugs and farewells we left.
God is incredible and we were so honored to be a part of His work these last five days. He was with us there and He answered all of our prayers about going ahead of us and preparing hearts for us. He gave us so much favor and it was so exciting and encouraging and fun just to be used by Him during this time. And He is soooo in control and has such perfect timing, it doesn’t have to take a long time to see people affected or touched; He can do it in three days if He wants, and it was amazing to witness this. We came to India feeling somewhat inadequate, but God empowered us for every work He set before us. We still have almost two weeks here and we look forward to what else God has in store for us.
I had been feeling sick the whole day, and we were all ready to go to bed. But God had other plans. We were literally walking back down to our rooms when we saw this couple we had talked to earlier go back up to the roof. We felt God urging us to go back and talk to them. I am so glad we listened. This couple, the woman especially, talked with me and the others for hours about Yeshua. At the beginning we had been talking about a few spiritual matters and the conversation wasn’t really leading towards much when Nina said, "Well, what about people who believe in Jesus?" It was so obviously God was working in her heart, because after that we had such an amazing discussion. And not only that, but there were three others at the table behind us listening to every word we said! The next day I was able to give Nina a New Testament with a little note and verse that we had written to her and her boyfriend. She was so grateful. I have no doubt that God has a plan to save Nina, and I was so happy to be used in the process.
At an open mic night where others were playing and singing and reading their poetry, I decided to recite a simple poem that spoke to God about my faith in Him. When I first wrote it, I was a bit unsure of whether or not I wanted to read it. A couple of people on the team have been writing poetry for a while and were going to read theirs, so I felt a bit silly being compared to them. But after consulting with a friend or two, I just went for it. It was an interesting experience, being vulnerable in that way.
After reading it, I didn’t give my poem much thought. But after the event, an Israeli guy came up to me and said something like, "I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciated what you had to say. I’m not a religious person, but I really respect what you believe, and I liked hearing about it."
Aaron, our minister-at-large, who piloted the first Massah with Daniel, wrote:
I just want to say Hallelujah!
God continues to shine through and exceed our expectations. Despite fatigue, heat, strange foods, bad toilets and the vast unknown that is India, Massah has kept their focus, their cool and their unity. We spent a couple days together connecting with Israelis as a larger team and adjusting to the dynamic here in India. While sitting in a cafe, I met three Israelis (Victor, Mark and Fistook) who found our community and faith interesting. People are always surprised that we are committed to serving God and do not smoke and get high like the majority of people here, and yet we relate to them. They told us they would be heading to another town that we happened to be heading for as well.
The following day we broke up into groups and headed to different villages and guesthouses. As soon as we arrived, doors opened before us and we went from conversation to conversation. We met Roi and Omri as we arrived. Later we sat with them and articulated the gospel in a powerful way. They were so curious and asked us many questions. We asked if we could keep them in prayer as they traveled, and they were happy for us to do this. We also met Ayelah and her friend Neta while getting lunch (often the best place to reach out) and spoke to them (while they taught us to play Taki, a version of Uno). They were amazing, serious, intelligent, humble women who were interested in the gospel. They heard that Remy and Ster were musicians and said they would come find us later.
We decided, as it was Friday night, to visit the Habad Shabbat celebration. It was a little strange but our friends were there and invited us to sit with them. Later, as we were leaving, I ran into Victor and Mark. They were so happy to see us and invited us to spend time with them. We ended up heading up to the restaurant to eat and hang out. Eventually Ayelah and her boyfriend came up to hear Remy and Sterling play. I was so amazed to see Remy and Sterling speak God’s words to her between each song. They gave beautiful, powerful story of Yeshua and she couldn’t help but ask us about our lives and faith as Jewish believers in Yeshua. I was able to share the gospel with her for around fifteen minutes and to articulate our need for God in our lives. She listened and asked important questions. The restaurant owner was so excited about the music that he let us stay late and invited us to come back and play again.
That is just a snapshot of the favor God has given this group with Israelis and other travelers. There have been many other such interactions that I do not have the time to write just now.
Please pray that God would protect these seeds, and use us as we continue to step out.