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,
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.
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.