Before we tell you what is happening in India right now, we promised you a summary of the first group’s time in India. To help you understand the summary, an "interaction" means that a team member has been able to mention his or her faith, albeit briefly to the person. It becomes a conversation when the other person is engaged and interested to talk a little more. A visit (in the context of Massah) is a lengthier conversation of at least fifteen minutes where the team member is able to share more, including a particular Bible verse (or verses).
So while in India, the US team had interactions with 249 unbelievers, 170 of whom were Jewish. They also had conversations with 118 unbelievers, 85 of whom were Jewish.They visited with 21 unbelieving Jewish people and 16 Gentiles.
They gave out ten Hebrew New Testaments and received contact information from 20 people to follow up. Praise the Lord!
The Israeli Massahniks began August 20 and their journey will end September 27. Like the first team, before heading off to India, they had some training and opportunities to do evangelism in Israel.
The great thing is that when they return from India, they go back home to Israel … where they will hopefully be able to continue ministry to other Israelis they met in India.
One Israeli participant said: "One of the reasons I decided to go on Massah was to get over the hidden fear that caused me not to share the gospel. Fear which existed because of the lack of confidence and knowledge, fear of not being able to answer hard questions. This is why I came to Massah.
"The first week of preparation for India challenged me mentally and spiritually, and the lessons that were taught and questions that were asked allowed me to understand WHY….Why we need to share the gospel, the reason this needs to be done. The first night we were told that we would go evangelize on the streets by handing out literature for a two-hour period.
"When we came back it was clear that others handed out many more than I did. I was still afraid and lacking confidence. But after learning and studying, by the third night of outreach in Israel, I was singing songs on the street, handing out flyers, stopping people to talk to them and praying with them on the streets. The people of Israel are hungry and they are searching. I know the truth and hopefully God can use me to show them the way."
Another team member said of the training week: "I’ve come to realize that we as believers don’t evangelize enough, which is really sad because we have the freedom to do so, and many people, I learned, at least in Tel Aviv, are very open to hear new things and to talk about almost anything."
| Team leader Eli Birnbaum teaching
during the first week
Team leader Eli Birnbaum describes one of the outreaches during the Israel phase of Massah: "Our Friday night outreach was intense. We spoke to 150 people about the gospel. A really crazy idea was to set up a ping-pong table in the street! We also had an easel, a big canvas and small canvases for people to join us painting. In addition, we put up the cardboard ‘wall of thanks’ and invited people to write on it while some of the team sang and played guitar. Some other Jewish believers joined us, and I was encouraged to see more people wanting to join in with the evangelism.
"The ‘wall of thanks’ was a great opportunity to challenge our culture – which is about celebrating ourselves really – to stop a moment and give thanks to God. This left me with a great opening to tell them what I am really thankful for – Yeshua! It was a truthfully honest expression of thanks for me, because as I see the reality of the gospel, I realize that is what I am really thankful for. Of the 50 people I talked to, almost all were touched by our desire to thank God, and some people even told me that we must do this in more places. Many were touched that our faith caused us to thank God, and to ask others to thank God.
"During our week of training in total we spoke to about 300 people about the gospel and gave out ten New Testaments. Every team member got into more than one gospel conversation on the street. The focus of the training was putting the gospel at the center of all that we do. We had several great teachers, including several former staff of Jews for Jesus. Two or three team members commented to me on the quality and content of the training and how much they needed and appreciated it."
Team member Boris describes his witnessing experiences toward the end of training: "As we were worshiping and inviting people to thank God on our ‘thank you wall’ I noticed an older man, looking at us intently, with tears in his eyes. I approached him and asked how he was doing. He told me, ‘I thank God for every clean day’ as he confessed that he is addicted to a substance (likely alcohol or drugs) and has been fighting it for many years. He shared how he has hurt his wife from his behavior.
"I told him I believe in Yeshua and there is nothing His power and grace cannot do. I told him the gospel and how we can have a relationship with Him and He changes us completely. I asked him if he wanted to receive Yeshua into his heart, and he agreed. At that moment his phone rang and he smiled and said, ‘My wife first.’ He answered his phone and disappeared into the crowd.
|Some passersby wanted to pose with our literature|
"On our last night out, I started talking with an older Arab man who was walking with his wife on the Tel Aviv Promenade. Hassan was his name. I asked him if he had ever heard about Yeshua. He looked at me with a smile and said, ‘There are many religions in the world, but only one died for all.’
"’Do you know Yeshua?’ I asked. ‘Of course!’ he answers. Hassan still considers himself a Muslim. He lives in Nazareth. He told me Yeshua appeared to him in a dream not too long ago, and he described the glory that was revealed to him in the dream. I then prayed for him and encouraged him to begin to fellowship with the body of Messiah. I gave him the number of a pastor in Nazareth."
After the training in Israel, it was off to India!
Eli reports from India:
"Everyone was in high spirits as we headed up to Manali. We all agreed to stay together as a team through Rosh Hashanah. After that, we would consider splitting up. We also decided to volunteer at the coffee house where we spend a lot of time meeting other Israelis, so every day there has been a waiter from our team. This immediately brings a gospel interaction as people can see we are visitors and ask us why we are here doing this. 50-60 Israelis come to the coffee house during peak hours. After a few days, there was rarely a customer who did not hear the gospel. In general, the team found their pace the first week and didn’t need a lot of coaxing as to when and how to engage people in conversations.
"We wanted to plan a Rosh Hashanah dinner, but didn’t really know where to turn. I was able to connect with an Israeli who runs a restaurant in Manali, and she also was thinking of doing something for the holiday. Once she heard from us, she decided to put something together. We decided to join her. This was a risk, as we didn’t know how much freedom we would have. But it worked out really well, and she basically let me lead the whole service, where 40 Israelis showed up. Most of them had been invited by us, and they are now calling us "The 12," in reference to Yeshua’s disciples.
"I got up to share, did some Rosh Hashanah blessings, and then gave a short gospel message about how the traditional reading from Genesis 22 (the binding of Isaac) points to Yeshua. Everyone seemed to be listening. Our team members were spread out through the tables, so they soon got into many conversations, as people responded to the brief presentation with many questions and a desire to know more. Two people received a New Testament that night.
"At the end of the evening, the restaurant owner and her friend Hadass (a woman we had shared with during the American Massah earlier this summer) profoundly thanked us for bringing ‘our spirituality’ to the evening. There was a real sense of a different environment than usual.
"Another idea that has emerged from this trip is an India photography show I want to put up in the Rosen Center when we get home to Israel. This will give us a great chance to connect with people we have met during the trip and invite photographers that we meet to show their work. I am giving "Uriel 23" (the gallery at the Moishe Rosen Center) contact cards to everyone with a camera, and inviting them to like our Facebook page.
"Having the Center back home and having a team of Israelis who are making real friends has me very excited for our follow-up this year. Never have I gotten into so many deep conversations where people are just curious about our faith, and are really considering what we have to say. Living at the Center I am constantly inviting people to come.
|A lively conversation with team members
David and Daniel
"I met one young man from a religious [Jewish] background who was really sympathetic to our cause, and also believed that we need to be free to express our faith. He was really excited to meet us and wanted me to know that he had read the New Testament. He was a brilliant photographer; I was excited to invite him to come show his art at the Rosen Center.
"While I was sitting in the coffee shop a couple approached me; she had already met some of the team. I got to share the gospel with her, and she was excited to hear. She told me she also ‘likes’ Yeshua. She is in a searching phase of her life. Both she and her boyfriend listened intently to what I had to say. At the end of the conversation I gave her a New Testament on the condition that she would promise to read it, and she told me of course she would. She will be traveling to the same places we will be, and I know she will continue to meet more of the team.
"Shoshana (my wife) and I were sitting next to a young man named ‘David’ (name changed), and I struck up a conversation with him about life. He already knew we were from Jews for Jesus, and he asked me how I believe what I believe. I took a deep breath and shared with him why I think the accounts of the Gospels are quite accurate. He listened intently, asked lots of questions, and was happy to receive a New Testament.
"As I was sitting another Israeli approached looking for me: ‘Who is Eli?’ I sat him down and listened to him tell about what he believed. Then I pointed him to the Tenach, and the great hope of the prophets for redemption and the longing for a ‘prophet like Moses.’ We then opened Jeremiah 31, and at first he didn’t believe that it was part of the Old Testament. He was really excited to come visit me at the Rosen Center. I asked him if he would take a New Testament, he said no, so I offered him a Yeshua book (which I didn’t have with me), and he agreed. Then he left, but not long after I ran into him again; he was so happy to see me and to receive the book. I hope to follow up with him when we get back home."
Highlights from other team members:
David J.: "After we prayed for our evening, that God will give us a chance to share, I returned to my guesthouse. A girl asked me if I have a book to exchange with her because she had just finished reading her book, which talks about the blindness that exists in the world. I told her all I have is a New Testament that explains how the blind will see. She was happy to receive the New Testament. It’s great to see how God answers our prayers so quickly!"
|Team members David and Chaim handing out
broadsides and engaging passersby
Chaim: "The story of the power of God is not only in words. Quite a few people have told me that they are jealous of what we have, and the faith that we hold on to. Shir (name changed) told us that we have made quite the impact in Manali. She told me she is jealous of our worship, and asked us if we play often. Praise God for the ways He impresses people with what it means to know Him."
David M: "This same ‘Shir’ continued to talk with other team members. She explained that from a very young age she wanted to be true to herself, and decided to pull away from religion. She told me she had heard about faith in Yeshua, but had never met anyone who could explain it to her. She was excited about our relationship with God in every aspect of our lives. I hope that she will find a real relationship with Him through Yeshua as we continue to be in touch with her in Israel."
Randy: "After Eli shared a short gospel message with our holiday meal, I sat down with a few people who immediately began to ask me: ‘What is a Messianic Jew?’ ‘What kind of worship songs do you sing and can we hear some?’ ‘Do you always think about God?’ ‘Why are you so happy and energetic?’
"God gave me strength and courage to answer every question. We played some worship songs, and people seemed to see something special in the group.
Some less sincere people tried to derail the conversation but God helped me redirect it back to the gospel. People are calling our group ‘The 12.’ Thank God for the ability to reflect the glory of God."