An annual event called, “Houses From Within” has many Israelis touring through some of Israel’s historic buildings. One such building is Immanuel Lutheran Church, known for its wonderful stained glass windows. The church allowed us to exhibit paintings from our “Multitudes”* series so that visitors would be able to see artistic reflections from the gospel of Matthew.
The event began on the last Friday in May, and 230 people arrived at the church to view the windows and the paintings. The following day, a record-breaking 1,385 visitors came to the series of four brief (20-minute) Shabbat services. After each service, someone from the church got up to give a talk about the windows of the church and the paintings. For the last two services, our own Yoel Ben-David gave these talks. After the last service, several people came forward with questions and Yoel had some good conversations.
Yoel says, “Some were confused that I am an Israeli who’s come to faith in Jesus. Eventually I was asked to sit with three women who had particular questions. I listened to their questions and stories and was able to share my story and explain the gospel in its Jewish context. A few other unbelieving Israelis sat nearby and listened to the conversation.”
The pastor of the church heard a wide range of comments from the visitors, including:
“This was fascinating. I must read the New Testament.”
“This is what I don’t like about foreign organizations. They exploit every opportunity to missionize.”
“Very interesting talk – until he began to talk about Jesus…”
“This was very insightful. Where can I learn more?”
Meanwhile, many of the paintings were set up at our Moishe Rosen Center as well, though our neighborhood really didn’t get the overflow of visitors that we had hoped would come from the event. Eli Birnbaum, who leads our young adult ministry from the center, says, “A few neighbors did walk in to see the paintings. One of them, Isaiah,** mentioned that he was having a spiritual struggle, trying to find God in the midst of Tel Aviv. He is a secular French immigrant who is studying Judaism. He seemed to long for the Messiah, but said that Jesus could not be the one because He claimed to be the son of God. I challenged him to think about the fact that Messiah was supposed to save us. Wouldn’t it be idolatry to expect a mere man to save us? He turned to me and said, ‘I never saw it that way; I will be thinking about this.’ Please pray for Isaiah.”
*“Multitudes” is a series of paintings by a Jewish believer in Jesus who depicts the very Jewish matrix of the Gospel of Matthew. We’ve had numerous Multitudes exhibits in the U.S. and we are excited to be showing it now in Israel. We also have a beautiful art book featuring a Hebrew translation of the Gospel of Matthew in full color, with all the Multitudes images to illustrate the text. We’ll continue to show Multitudes at the Moishe Rosen Center, as well as several other venues in Israel. Please pray that God will use it to touch many hearts.
**not his real name