Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

This used to be a golfball. My 9 year old Golden Retriever Bailey decided that it looked tasty and he decided to make it a snack. I am not sure how long it took him until he realized that he had made a mistake. A golf ball is obviously not very edible.

Often as church planters we can make the same mistake. There are so many needs and opportunities out there that we can bite off more than we can chew. We can overcommit ourselves and find that we are really busy doing activities that do not help us achieve our calling in life. We find ourselves serving on boards of organizations that take valuable time and energy from our family and church. We find ourselves leading mission trips and local service projects. We end up going to denominational meetings and pastoral networks multiple times a month. All these are great activities and events but may not be the best use of your time. Here are 4 ways to clean up your calendar.

Prioritize

1. Family. You have to put your family first. So many pastors put their church ahead of their family and eventually find themselves in a personal crisis. There is a divorce or a child goes off the deep end. What is the point of ministering to others if you cant lead your own family. God has given you your family to shepherd. Your people are looking to you to model what a Godly family looks like. Many of them have never seen what a godly family looks like and they are taking their cues from you

2. Sermon. Many times tasks are more urgent than your message. However, the most important time in your week in your role as Pastor, is the 45 minutes you spend teaching your people on Sunday mornings. I know that you may not like the pressure of making your message a major element of your ministry but your people see it that way. They want to be taught God’s word and want to grow. If you spend the time every week to study, prepare and practice your message you will always struggle as a church planter. I have found that inspiration in writing a message is not on demand so I have developed a process that allows me to spend time every day on my sermon and have it manuscript by Thursday afternoon. That allows me the mental space to rehearse and ponder my message so both I and the sermon are fresh on Sunday morning.

3. Key Leaders. A mistake we make is that we spend time with whomever demands it from us. You have to make time for your people, that is part of shepherding, but it is vital to prioritize time with your key leaders.  You need to spend time with leaders and develop them into being great servant leaders. If you do this you will find exponential ministry. I recommend discipling a new crop of leaders every 2 years. I meet with promising young leaders in our church once a week for a two year cycle. We study theology and practical spiritual disciplines together. I also once a month keep in touch with key leaders who have graduated from my discipleship program in a morning breakfast. Lastly I spend time with our small group leaders once a semester.

4. New people. New members and attenders are the lifeblood of your church. Often the only person that they feel that they know at church is the pastor. It is important to find ways to meet them, learn their name and invite them to join the vision. We make an effort to do dinner or coffee with new visitors who are choosing to make Green Hills Church their home. This is one of the most encouraging parts of your job. Its exciting to see people ‘get it’ and be excited about what God is doing at your church.

Delegate

1. Hire someone who can help you. This may not happen as soon as you would like it to happen but at some point you need to hire some help. I think everyone works better when they are part of a team. Find someone who believes in you and compliments your strengths. Don’t hire someone just like you. Having different personalities and gifts makes your church stronger.

2. Develop volunteer leaders. If we are going to ensure that the church will withstand the generation change we need to develop leaders. Leaders aren’t just born. All leaders need someone to invest in them and believe in them. Find faithful people and come alongside them. One of my favorite things to seen in ministry is when people realize that serving a church is exciting stuff. That really only happens when they are given real responsibility.

3. Let people help you. This is so hard for me. I want to make sure everything is perfect. It is so important to allow people to help you. It may not be done exactly the way I would  do it but often it is done better.

Fire Yourself 

1.Evaluate appropriate time investment parameters. Examine how much time you are investing. Often we allow time to slip through our fingers. We can spend too much time traveling to and from meetings. Sometimes we meet too long. Sometimes we have meetings that no longer serve their purpose but we still go to them. You have to consistently evaluate what your calendar looks like.

2. Reduce how long you spend in meetings. Often we let our meetings go too long. Plan on having better meetings and finish them on time. Be ruthless about it.

3. Fire yourself. If you are spending too much time on things that are not important then stop doing it. Often I don things I don’t want to do longer than I should because I feel guilty letting something go. Often when I am holding on to something too long I realize I am trying to be the savior of the world. There is only one savior and that is Jesus. So often I have to be content with doing what I can do each day and let things go that I can’t prioritize.

 

Church Planting Talk By Randy Draughon

A dear friend of mine, Randy Draughon, spoke at a Church Planter’s conference several weeks ago. I was really challenged by the message and wanted to pass it along. He shares an authentic approach to church planting that is moved by the spirit. If you are a church planter or thinking about planting you need to listen to this.

Here is the link: http://bit.ly/sEgWWy

 

 

How To Develop Volunteer Leaders.

 

Every church need to reproduce leaders at every level. However, developing leaders not something that is easy to do. It takes a lot of time and effort to be able to develop leaders. I want to share with you how to develop leaders strategically in order to make a difference in your community.

This week we had a breakthrough Sunday at Green Hills Church. We had several key volunteer leaders who were out of commission. One had a medial condition that kept him from serving, another was on his honeymoon. These were guys who had been carrying the baton of leadership over the last 3 years. Instead of catastrophe we had something really exciting happen. We had several new volunteers step up and fill key roles that they had never filled before! These were not volunteers that showed up and were plugged into roles that they had never filled before, these were young men who had gone through an apprenticing process. It was exciting to see a new set of servant leaders spread their wings! From every ministry area we had new volunteers serving this past sunday.

As a church that depends on volunteers to set up and tear down our church every sunday it is a huge undertaking to do church every Sunday. We get to Cabana Restaurant in Nashville at 7 every morning and turn it from a high end nightclub into a church. We move tables, sweep and mop the floors and set up our sound system and children’s ministry. We can get it done usually in an hour. Over the years we have had certain key lay leaders who have led the charge sacrificially. But recently we have seen that we have needed some new blood to be able to continue ministering with excellence.

1. Recruit Relationally. The best volunteers are those who are your friends. I think the best place to recruit is among people who you are already friends with. Ask your volunteers to invite their friends to volunteer. Also remember that whomever you invite to your team is now a friend. I think many leaders do themselves a disservice by keeping people at an arms distance when they are working together. Many of my closest relationships have developed through serving alongside my volunteers.

The best way to recruit someone is to get to know them personally. Take them to coffee. Get to know their story. Invite them to join you in making a difference. I make it a point to personally recruit people when they indicate that they want to serve on one of the teams that I am personally leading. I have realized that men need someone to invite them personally to serve and tell them why they are needed.

2. Establish Parameters One of the temptations when you are recruiting someone is to be vague about what their responsibilities will be. Its easier to just shoot from the hip when you are dealing with volunteers. Personally I find that to be really lazy leadership. You will not develop or attract strong leaders that way. For every volunteer you need to clearly define what the role will be. You need to be able to answer the following questions for every volunteer you put in place. What will they do? How long will it take them to do it? Who do they report to? How do they request change? How long will they be committed to serve in this position? All these questions should be written down on a job description when you hire a volunteer.

3. Model the Role Leadership is caught more that it is taught. Your volunteers learn by your example. So make sure you set a good example in how hard you work. Set an example in how you deal with stress. Be active and diligent. Do the dirtiest jobs.

Volunteers should never be dropped into a servanthood position cold turkey. We do an apprenticeship for every role at Green Hills Church. We have someone shadow a volunteer at least one Sunday before they start to do the role on their own. Whether that is on our hospitality team or running sound we have people shadowing someone so they can replace themselves. What is so exciting about that is today we have multiple gifted leaders who run sound on a rotation. We have a list of volunteers who serve only once a month in our children’s ministry. We have a rotation of musicians who donate their time and talents to make a difference for the gospel.

4. Develop a community of servants People like to serve alongside their friends. We realize this and are trying to do things on Sundays that develop community while we serve. One of the things we have tried to do is to make sure that we all leave together. We make sure that we have a final time of prayer with our tear down team and then one of our members will close us in a cheer. On Sunday set up often the volunteer team will head out for coffee or breakfast after setting up. All these little things change serving from being a chore to being family.

5. Avoid the tyranny of the urgent.  It is so easy to short circuit a good process of volunteering because you need help today. I think being patient is the most important attribute to have when you are trying to develop volunteers. Often you can rush someone into a leadership position before they have fully committed to the role or before they are ready to lead. This causes more harm than good. Often you will lose other volunteers when your leaders crash and burn. The way you overcome the tyranny of the urgent is by projecting your future needs and sacrificing in the present.

Sometimes you have to do the hard work of sacrificing your own comfort right now so you can develop a great team. That may mean that you as the leader will have to do things you don’t want to do for a season. That is normal and healthy. Every leader has to carry the weight of their responsibility more heavily at times. If you remain patient you will reap a harvest that will pay off.

Projecting your future needs is vital to any volunteering effort. It takes time for people to commit to serving regularly. But developing volunteers is worthwhile. It gives people an opportunity to serve the kingdom and often gives them a platform for spiritual growth unlike everything else.

Feel free to add your suggestions on how to recruit and develop leaders in the comments!

Resources for Staying in Touch Internationally

Many times on mission trips people struggle to stay in touch with loved ones. Honestly one of the biggest spending mistakes I have had happen on a mission trip was on phone calls. We had several devoted husbands on a trip in South America who rang up a $1500 phone bill calling home every night. They were using American calling cards to try to minimize expenses but were calling the US through the hotel’s switchboard and being billed $3 dollars a minute by the hotel. I think we all learned a valuable lesson on that trip about being careful on how different and difficult it can be to communicate while in a different country.

Here are some great options that I have found for communicating back home while abroad.

1. Email, blogs, twitter and Facebook.

I know these are almost no brainers today but I am always amazed by how helpful they are to keep large numbers of people connected with your team while you are abroad. Most hotels have free internet overseas so it is easy to keep people connected with what is going on on the trip by daily communicating through blogs and Facebook. On our last trip to Israel we had several people even tweeting and checking in on Facebook.

2. Skype

Skype allows you to do a couple of cool things. First of all it is free if you are connecting to someone else online either through voice or video. However you can also get a really cheap calling card option through it to call land lines and cell phones. There are other great options like skype out there as well like Face Time, Google Talk and Qik.

3. International calling cards, international phone plans and rent a phones

There are several options for calling cards and international phone plans. Many times you can get a roaming package through Verizon or ATT for about $30. Usually there is a limit to how much information you can download (usually about 20 MG) but you can use your iPhone or Blackberry that way while you are overseas. You can also get some calling cards through other online sites. I recommend http://www.nobelcom.com/ and http://callbacktoday.com/ . One thing I have seen be really helpful too is having a cell phone for use in the country you are serving in. I recommend  http://www.mobal.com/international-cell-phones/. They will actually mail you a phone and assign you a phone number.

Nick’s Post

What’s going on everyone? This is Nick. Just gonna give you a quick update about what’s going on. The past few days, for me, have been tough. And as whole, people haven’t been very receptive about what I have been saying. And I’m trying to keep my head up but it’s tough when you’re working so hard but see very little if any fruit from what you’re doing. So last night the guys got together and prayed for me. (It’s been amazing how close we’ve gotten; How tight we are now as brothers, sisters, and friends) today was totally different. My group was passing out flyers and talking to people on the streets. God put us on a path that we never knew we were on, until afterward, and amazing things happened. We would unintentionally start conversations (one in particular started because we were trying to find a bathroom).  Another story, we were going in a building to get lunch, and a guard was outside to check bags. (there are a lot of guards like that to keep weapons etc out). I went through the check no problem, even though I had a ton of tracts and new testaments and stuff in my bag (a lot of places like this dont let those kinds of items inside because they dont want people passing them out). Then my team member opened her bag and the guard saw her Hebrew new testaments  and asked her if by chance, she had an extra that he could have. She obviously gave it to him and his face just lit up. He was so excited about receiving that and that it was free. Our guide aaron was shocked by this because most of the time guards wont let people in with materials like that at all. Amazing things happened and people were reached. It was awesome in the most real and intended use of the word.

We’re going on some adventures in the next few days so it’s gonna be very exciting. Please continue to keep us in your prayers for safe travels, for more opportunities to share the gospel and really reach people, that we will not forget what we have done here, and to not forget that missions are not one or two week things, it’s a life style. Pray that we will live this way back home as well. Thanks for reading!! See you all soon!! Nick

The Spirit is Moving

Hello everybody!
This is Bobby McDonald, and I’ll be your Israel Mission trip ambassador for today. First and foremost all thanks be to God! Today has been a miraculous day with God working through us in great ways. First, I have to share the testimony that my mission partner for the day, Rebecca, and I experienced.  Again, many of the events of the day were miraculous, but I’ll let you be the judge.  We started off the morning going door to door in apartment buildings.  We went to five buildings over the span of about 2 hours and of all of those units only one person answered and she did not want to speak with us.  So our first few hours were pretty discouraging.  However, the sixth building is the one that God had planned for us.  At this particular complex we walked to the top floor and knocked on the doors, working our way downstairs.
Finally we make it to the 1st floor (which was the last floor floor since we started from the top) and there was only one apartment left. Due to our lack of success we were just about to leave, but then the owner of that last apartment was coming into the building as we were walking out.  We told him who were were and what we were about and he invited us into his home.  It was the home of a young bachelor, charming and decorated for the social night-life with pictures of friends having a good time all around.  His name was Nimrod (not quite good for America but a strong name here in Israel). Nimrod and I connected a lot because I’ve been in his situation. He was a nice young man who loves to have fun, loves to have a good time and was not thinking about God much because life was good thus far.  I mean, why think about God when you have a career path, friends, and get to enjoy life so much?  Sadly, that story is far too similar to countless people, and they have a veil of comfort to hide them from reaching the truth.  There are many times though when that veil will be lifted by God, and the truth will be exposed.  I strongly believe that this happend to Nimrod, and others that the members of our team reached out to today.
Anyways, we were inside Nimrod’s home and after learning basic information about his life we started to share the gospel.  We were talking about who Jesus was and then all of sudden I felt urged to share my testimony.  When I started sharing the story of how I prayed one Saturday night almost 2 1/2 years ago and asked that Christ would reveal Himself to me if He was real, and then He did, I had a confidence greater than any other point on this trip.  The words just kept coming.  There was no hesitation, no delay, but just a flow of words.  I don’t remember a lot of it, but Rebecca told me that Nimrod all of a sudden leaned in with great interest and was totally absorbing everyting God was saying through me.  It was as if God answered our constant prayers, that He would open the hearts of those whom we meet so that they would listen.  When I was finished, I couldn’t believe what just happend, and you could tell Nimrod almost couldn’t believe my testimony either.  I mean, how cool is it that you could pray to God that He would reveal Himself to you, and then He does in ways that go beyond what we could fathom.  Then Rebecca shared her testimony, and he was just so moved that he accepted a New Testament in Hebrew, allowed us to pray over him, and gave us his information so that Aaron could mail him a book about the Messian and the prophecies He fulfilled.  We were able to leave our first “door-to-door” meeting of the day with knowledge that God came before us, put someone in our path, and opened their hearts to hear His message.  It was very powerful.
It is even more rejuvenating to our faith to hear other stories similar to Rebecca’s and mine that happend to our peers while they were out today.  Kelsey experienced the same thing that I did, being overtaken by the Holy Spirit and God preaching through her.  Her partener for the day, Nick, said it was astounding what he witnessed.  All of a sudden Kelsey just started preaching, and didn’t skip a beat.  Jeff met an Israeli woman that spoke fluent Hebrew obviously, but extremely little English.  He, having a very meager background in Spanish, asked if she spoke Spanish and she did fluently.  He was able to share the gospel with her, but used spanish words and grammar that in his own description said that he should not have even remembered at all.  The level of spanish he spoke was far higher than his current knowledge of the language, and the same goes for his understanding of it as well.  Another amazing aspect is that it is not only God moving in us as we share the Word, but also in those who hear it.  When the group got together over dinner tonight to share our experiences of the day, everyone gave witness that the people all of a sudden leaned forward, and were paying attention with amazing interest.  God saved us from death, God brought us to the Holy Land, and God used us to preach.  I implore those who read this blog to reach out and ask God with all your heart how can you do His will, in old ways or new.  He will use you.
Now, there is another important aspect of the experience that Rebecca and I had.  After we left Nimrod’s home we walked and found a wallet in the middle of the sidewalk just a few dozen steps from his building.  We picked it up and asked passerbys where a police station was, but didnt really get much help.  Finally, we asked one lady and she told us that we could take a bus to the nearest station.  We being foreigners said that would could not do that because  our knowledge of the city was too limited.  So she decided that she would take the wallet, and call its owner to inform them that we found it.  It was lunch time and we were all on our way to lunch, so we invited her to join us.  She did and we had such a delightful conversation with this Israeli woman.  She had been here for quite some time after living in Chicago and New York due to her husband’s accounting career.  We spent a good hour together and had a wonderful time at one of the best falafel spots in Tel Aviv (falafel is fried hummus, quite the arabic delicacy). This experience was extremely familiar because the testimony that I had just shared with Nimrod was how God brought an older woman across my path and revealed Himself to me through her.  And now here we were, after sharing the gospel with him, we find a wallet, meet a lady through that event and then are having a wonderful time getting to know eachother.  However, whilst at this same Falafel restaurant someone taps me on the shoulder, and its my new friend David.  David is a 90 year old Israeli man that looks 70.  Calla and I met him yesterday when going door to door.  We were with him for about an hour and shared with gospel.  He too filled out a card to receive the book on how the Messiah fulfilled the prophecies in the Old Testament.  Anyways, he invited us to meet him in his home after Rebecca and I left the falafel restaurant.  So we went there and had great conversation for 30 minutes.
After that we went to a tent city that I had visited last night.  For a quick background, there is a protest going on here in Tel Aviv.  People have left their apartment homes and condos to live on the streets in tents together to protest the high cost of living and low average salaries.  There I had met two individuals, Mayan and another David, both students in college. We talked last night for over an hour.  So today, Rebecca and I cross their paths and were able to meet with them for about 45 minutes.  At each of these meetings we were able to reinforce an observation that Mayan had shared with me last night.  She said that although she is not religious, and does not believe in religion, Christians seem to have a peace about them that is unsurpassable.  They seem to really know God.  So us sharing the words of the gospel is not only how we reach people, but through our witness.  Through our day to day interactions with others and letting them know that we are Christians, God uses us to share the way Jesus lived because we strive to live by it.  I love you all and thank you for letting me share our testimonies with you.  Good night.
– Bobby

Rebecca’s Post in Tel Aviv

Hey y’all!

This is Rebecca, and it’s my first time blogging, so bear with me! Today was our third day of evangelizing on the streets of Tel Aviv, and God never ceases to amaze me. After our day of rest yesterday, I was feeling pretty good and ready to share the gospel today. However, the morning started out with a little opposition, which honestly made me feel slightly discouraged. Robert and I were handing out tracts together and putting them on any cars that we saw. Robert handed one to a particular man, and he trash-talked it and tore it up right in front of us. A few minutes later we were putting them on cars in a parking lot, and we handed one to the parking attendant. When he realized who we were and what we were doing, he quickly told us to take them off of every single car. That was discouraging. Because God is so good though, he definitely lifted my spirits a little while later when Aaron was giving us a last minute pep talk before sending us out for door-to-door evangelizing. Aaron reminded us that even when people reject us in the name of the Lord we will be blessed.
Robert and I were invited into two homes, where we had some pretty interesting conversations. The first man, Eyal, admitted that the only reason he invited us inside was because of how nice we seemed and the fact that we weren’t looking for a donation. He offered us apricots, and we learned that he had lived in Tel Aviv for about ten years, but he was not religious at all. He said he believed in the energies of the world and good and bad forces. Sadly, he was not interested in hearing about Jesus, but I am confident that God will use our visit with him in some way. To our surprise, the very next apartment we visited invited us in as well. It belonged to a sweet old couple, Aviva and Elie, who were probably the friendliest people I’ve ever met. We talked with them for nearly an hour about various topics, surprisingly even politics, and  we learned that they are very firm in their Jewish beliefs. We were, however, able to give them a copy of the New Testament in Hebrew. Aviva seemed very hesitant at first to take it, but she eventually did and even told me quietly that she plans to read it so she can find out more about what we believe. To say the least, I was beyond excited when she told me that! Ironically, she seemed to be more interested in what we were saying once she found out my name was Rebecca, because her mother and daughter are named Rebecca as well.
One thing that God has also laid on my heart lately is how much people actually notice your actions and attitudes. Since I’ve been in Israel, numerous people, especially in the market in Jerusalem, have commented on how happy and joyful I seem. I have realized that the words I speak to people about Jesus are certainly important, but simply the way I live my everyday life can be just as powerful of a testimony. I am so thankful for each person on this trip and for the unique talents that God has given to each of us. God has certainly strengthened all of us way beyond what we thought we were capable of and blessed us way more than we deserve. Pray that God will continue to open up the hearts of the people we come in contact with and give us the words that they need to hear.
–Rebecca

Day of Rest in Tel Aviv

Today was Shabbat. The day of rest in Israel. Although Tel Aviv is secular, sometimes surprisingly so, the city still lives its life by the Sabbath day of rest. In Israel the days don’t start at first light. Instead they start at dusk the evening before. On Sabbath days people do not work here and it is a city wide day of rest. The weird thing is that other objects also rest. Apparently machines also have to rest here in Israel. Last night when Tabitha and I were trying to leave our hotel we were told we couldn’t use the automatic sliding doors because they were resting on the Sabbath. This morning the coffee machine was also resting. Some stoplights in the city are resting. One of the elevators in our hotel was supposed to rest too while the other still worked.  Its kind of confusing as to why some machines can work and others cant but I think it is very cool that they value a season of rest. Most people I know in America never rest. Everyone works 7 days a week. There is a huge value in choosing to cease from our labors to reenergize and focus on God, family and life.

Because of the Sabbath our team also chose to rest today. We have been actively sharing the gospel the last several days in extreme heat and difficult conditions and we have become both physically and emotionally tired. So, today we enjoyed Tel Aviv. We got up late, and me for a worship service on the beach. We then went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. This evening we went up to the nearby port of Jaffa. Its the same city that Jonah found a boat to flee from the Lord. It was very quaint and beautiful.

We are looking forward to a great day tomorrow and great opportunities to share the gospel. Please pray for us that we will have eyes to see the people that God wants us to interact with. I have been so excited to see the boldness of this team. They are unified and encouraging. I have seen every single person on this team grow leaps and bounds spiritually. Please continue praying for us.

Christ is All,

Mike

Day 2 in Tel Aviv

Today was our first full day of evangelism in the city of Tel Aviv. What a unique city: there is incredible ethnic and cultural diversity here. And while it’s a bustling urban city, people are very friendly and open, especially compared to what you’d find in New York or Chicago.

For the morning and early afternoon, we went out into the city in pairs and initiated conversations we people we came across. With five pairs and a combined total of 25 hours, we had countless conversations with people of all ages and backgrounds. For now, I can share with you a few stories from my day sharing with Bobby:

Slava lives in a nearby city with his family and was in Tel Aviv today, trying to give away their three kittens. He doesn’t consider himself religious but believes there is some nameless, faceless higher power. While we can’t every hope to know this “God”, cutting ourselves off from his love does harm us, both in this life and future reincarnated lives (very similar to the Buddhist perspective). We talked about many different theological issues and were able to share the gospel with him, but he is very confident in and satisfied with his current world view. His father-in-law is a messianic Jew and has repeatedly encouraged Slava and his wife to read the New Testament. Perhaps, after talking with us today, they’ll give it a try?

David has lived in Tel Aviv for many years and has very poor health. We met him while he was sitting on a park bench and he asked us for money – he’s collecting donations on the street to buy medication. He doesn’t consider himself part of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim faiths but he does believe God exists. We did share the gospel with him, although he said his current physical problems prevented him from considering religious or philosophical issues in his life. We prayed for him and left. Later, Bobby returned to offer him a copy of the New Testament. As they were talking, an Orthodox Jew came out of a nearby store and told him to leave: “I know what you’re doing, and you need to stop now. This is your only warning.” After he left, David passed by us again and encouraged us not to heed the Orthodox Jew’s warnings, and he thanked us for talking to him.

These are just two of the many encounters we all had today. While we can’t ever know what impact the conversations might have had, it’s encouraging to think about the ways God might use them.

Later on today, we went out as a group to distribute some literature about Jesus and sing in the streets. The self-conscious person in me cringed a little bit at the prospect of singing Chris Tomlin songs in front of malls and in parks, but it definitely got the attention of those passing by – and it was a lot of fun. Before we leave this place, there will be many other opportunities to reach people, both one at a time through conversations and many at a time by singing and passing out flyers.

-Sarah

1st day in Tel Aviv

Hey everybody!
This Bobby and it’s my first time blogging. On top of that I’m doing this all from an iPhone, so please give me grace because there will be spelling and grammatical error. Today was a pivotal day in our trip. We left Jerusalem and traveled to Tel Aviv. The Jerusalem chapter was a pilgrimage and also training. We were coached on how to evangelize, but also being in the place where God walked this earth was inspiration in itself. Two nights ago we saw a sunset from the Mount of Olives that was miraculous to see.  The sky turned blood red and it was as if Jesus’ blood was blanketing the same city where it was shed for our sins. In short, seeing these places is the ultimate spiritual awakening and we are all thankful for all of the help we received to go here.

So this morning we left for Tel Aviv, the second chapter of this trip, where we will be sharing the gospel.  Ofcourse there are forces against us, and we were delayed about 1 1/2 hours due to a slight inconvenience at Austrian Hospice, our hotel. Although we were delayed our spirits were not diminished and went to Tel Aviv knowing that God is with us.  So we arrived in Tel Aviv safely, and after checking in and having lunch we went to a busy marketplace and prayed before we left to meet people in the streets. As we prayed in a circle, some orthodox Jewish people surrounded us (about five). They would not dare physically harm us in such a populated place, but they tried to intimidate us with their presence. We stood our ground, and finished our prayer without haste and with confidence in God our protector.

Despite these things against, we all have testimony and that God came here before us, and pointed us to people whom He is trying to reach. Rebecca and I met a young woman whom is Jewish and from Michigan, ironically. She has been strongly surrounded with the Jewish faith but yearning for more. She felt something missing in her life. She told us that she’s been wanting to hear more about Christ, but she’s been too naive to actually look for herself. So we came to her with the Word, and she graciously listened to it and accepted a new testament. We could see the joy and love in her eyes. I believe her spirit truly was awakened in that moment.  Then there was Moti. He is in his 30s, homosexual, and believes in a Creator and does not associate himself with any faith. Yet, he heard the Good News that all fall short and will sin, no one is perfect, and that Jesus in His love for us died for us.  That is the concept that was tugging at his heart, love. He gladly gave us his information so that our contact here can mail him a book about Jesus fulfilling the Messianic prophecies.  Then there was Maya, the store owner who does not believe in anything, but heard the Good News and whatever door she had on her heart was finally being opened up. She thanked us for stopping to talk with her.  So this is the testimony of us on this trip. We were rejected plenty of times, but only if we reached one soul our journey is fulfilled. But today God used us to reach atleast 10. Pray for those individuals that we came into contact with. Pray that they accept Christ and grow in Him, especially because they live in a land where it is challenging to do so. Thank you and God bless.

Bobby