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

Life on the Biblical “Times Square”

Hello all. So we just finished our second full day here in Jerusalem. What an amazing place. One thing that really took me back was the number of different people groups that are here. This is truly a melting pot – Northern, Southern, and Central Europeans are all over this city too along with the Jews and Arabs. We have met some Americans here as well. There’s such a bond when you see people in a foreign land that you have something in common with. I can only imagine how Jesus felt when he was here. He was so relational to the people that he interacted with. I guess I’d have to say that’s one (of the many) things that God has been putting on this teams’ heart – to be relational with the people we encounter so that we may be Jesus to those that don’t know Him.

One thing you can pray for us about is that God helps us do just that. We need to find common ground with the people we’ll encounter so that they’ll be more receptive to our message – that Jesus is the Son of God and that He saves! Being in Jerusalem can be overwhelming in many aspects: cultural, religious, and even the heat. Despite these things, we definitely know that God brought us here for a reason.

As you’ve probably already read, we’re staying in an incredible place on the Via Dolorosa where Jesus walked on His way to be crucified. Also close to us is the Dome of the Rock, which is an absolutely gorgeous building, but is also a spiritually dark place. By seeing such a building, I can’t help but think of what a stronghold this place is for the devil. We’ve been to some “significant” spiritual places while we’ve been here, but honestly, the spirit of some of those places was pretty dark. I can’t think of a better way for the enemy to take ahold of people than by disguising himself in “holy” places and leading people astray in false beliefs under the guise of “religion.” Please pray against this.

On a lighter note, we went to the Garden of Gethsemane and once again up the Mount of Olives. The garden was truly peaceful and had olive trees that were 2000 years old. I could see why Jesus would go to such a place when going through so much mental and emotional torment before being crucified. Praying there was truly an amazing experience.

Tomorrow – Tel Aviv! And we start doing street evangelism. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, and we’ll keep you all updated on how the evangelism goes.

– Jeff