Bimini Cohen (pictured above) said, "I think that one of the biggest surprises for me was the openness of so many Arab and Bedouin women who, more often than not, accepted a tract from me." Please pray for the gospel seed that was sown in these women’s hearts. Maybe the other two surprises should not have surprised us at all, nevertheless …

A second surprise: the opposition we had expected did not materialize. It’s not that we’re surprised that God answered prayer, but this region is known for a fringe group of Orthodox who are particularly aggressive in opposing Jews who believe in Jesus. So though we did face opposition, the Lord answered prayer dramatically and, on one day, even miraculously.

Laura (in red) handing out tracts
and getting contacts

Laura Barron reported, "On one particular sortie (tract-passing expedition) to an area known for outright hostility towards believers, our team prayed, ‘Lord, please show us who needs to hear Your Word today and make us invisible to those who would try to stop us from reaching them.’ We entered the busy marketplace, spread out, passed out gospel tracts and engaged individuals in conversation. The first person I talked to was a young mother who had heard the gospel and thought that Jesus might be the Messiah. She gave me her contact information and asked for more information.  

"We were standing right in front of a table where a religious group was trying to get people to be more observant of Judaism by putting on tefillin and keeping the Sabbath. This group has been known for anti-missionary activity, but they didn’t seem to see our interaction at all.

"Several other people from a sect known for persecuting believers aggressively  were passing by us without a glance. It would have been unbelievable if we hadn’t prayed so specifically on the way to the city that day. We were as good as invisible to them."

David and Leah Ortiz

Third big surprise: That the believers in this region, who are among the most persecuted of all Messianic Jews in Israel, have also been the most enthusiastic and supportive of our Behold Your God Israel campaign. In fact, our campaign chaplains, David and Leah Ortiz, are local believers whose family has suffered greatly for their faith. But when you think about it, the help and support we received from our brothers and sisters in the Negev should not come as a surprise. The fear of persecution will sometimes immobilize those who hope they can avoid it, but when persecution actually occurs, it often strengthens believers. The Ortizes really taught the team a new level of what it means to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.