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Aaron [one of our staff leaders]:
I think we have faced more issues this year during our pre-Massah planning than on any program in the past that I have been involved with. IT GIVES ME HOPE!! Seriously, it excites me to think of the logistical problems that we have been facing, because it is the perfect reminder that I need to trust in God’s strength and provision and not my own. I have never been so driven to prayer on a Massah project and I hope that the posture of prayer and waiting on the Lord continues in our program over the summer. Going to a foreign country (a Jew I am, but an Israeli I am not!) and being driven out of my comfort zone is such a perfect reminder that I am not in control, but God is! I am forced to grapple with God’s sovereignty and furthermore, I am forced to grapple with His GOODNESS! While I would never choose difficulty in life in general, I take joy in relying on the Lord in ways that seem unnecessary when life is comfortable and I am in my own element.
I’m writing this blog post about 25 minutes before we depart from [where we're staying] to Jews for Jesus headquarters in Tel Aviv and I must say, God is Good! The past few days have been both amazing and trying due to the twenty hours of travel time from New York to Tel-Aviv and inconsistent sleep in the past four days. A challenge for me is not letting physical health interfere with emotional and mental health. I chose last night to surrender that challenge to God and waited on His peace, rest and serenity-and boy, did God answer! I feel refreshed and renewed after a solid night’s sleep, and look forward to beginning the evangelism part of Massah today. I want to encourage everybody to look to God’s strength, mercy and peace whenever we truly realize our human limits. Our strength does not come from our own will, but rather comes from merciful, powerful God (Joshua 1:7-9).
It’s already been one week starting tomorrow. We just got back from going into different parts of Tel Aviv to try and start conversations with just the late-night crowd. So far, Israel is fantastic and I love it. We have done three different types of outreach: visibility, which is wearing our colors (Jews for Jesus shirts) and walking around a mall; survey sortie, where we ask people to take a survey on spirituality to start conversation, and the last is the normal handing out broadsides (gospel tracts) sortie.
I have learned a lot about how to answer different questions in different scenarios and I feel more confident about it [than I did a week ago.] Today, we thought of ways to do creative evangelism. I am going to be a part of a group that will play music on the beach with either a small bonfire or grill and be like a cover band. We’ll play some Bob Marley, since they love him here, and also some David Crowder or Relient K, [with their] godly lyrics. We’ll have some s’mores and try to get some instruments so people can play along with us.
I already feel so close to the people here and it’s been a great community so far; I am excited to see how God uses each of us in each others’ lives.
I really need to trust in God with everything I do and go through in life, ESPECIALLY the hard stuff. This trip really stretches you in so many ways. I absolutely love it and am so grateful I was given this opportunity.
Our first week was pretty much hard-core evangelism. We had training through [role playing] scenarios, background understanding of the Israeli people, and we have come up with four plans of action to creatively share the gospel through drama, photography, music and food. We had an awesome time learning and doing “sorties”-blocks of time where you break into teams and share the gospel using tracts and surveys and collect contact information for followup. Usually, I am not a fan of tracts. However, in Israel many seem willing to accept them and read them for themselves. Surveys are great, because you can get people’s opinions, but it also serves as a tool to find out where the person is at in their life and lead into the gospel. The Israeli branch of Jews for Jesus has been more than kind to us to help us and be with us.
A Turkish cab driver asked for a broadside and showed it to his friends across the street and started getting angry. He tried to be dramatic by burning it, but the paper was not burning well, so he just threw it to the ground. We understand why many people get mad when they see our Jews for Jesus shirts. However, we must share the gospel and give them the opportunity to hear the truth and make a choice for themselves. The last day of the week, we shared the gospel with people at the Tel Aviv Gay parade. We shared our own testimonies of struggles with sin and how the gospel of Christ offers forgiveness … [it was a chance to explain that] we have to commit daily to being a new creation, not living our own way, but His way.
Rebekah: Consecrated … for what?
We had our consecration service after a really full and challenging week. We’re learning how to live in community with new people, learning to share our faith on the spot, learning to deal with foreign currency, learning to ask everyone if they speak English … and the list goes on. I think it is really appropriate that we had this service a little way into our adventure, if for no other reason than we know how to better ask the leaders to pray for us now than we would have a week ago. We know a little more of the character-building growth experiences we’ll be facing this summer. Maybe most of all, we know better what it is in us we need to ask God to help us set aside so that He can be fully at work in our lives this summer, as we are willingly uncomfortable so that we can grow in Him.
Also from Rebekah: Team Work Makes the Dream Work
Today [Jews for Jesus staff member] Melissa talked to us about the power of our testimony as a team unified because of the love of Jesus-especially as we prepare to fly to India. We are all excited, but we are all nervous, too; to travel to a country we know nothing about, to be in an environment [where many we hope to reach] are running away from the realities of their lives and to be uncomfortable together. Please pray for us as we mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepare, that we would be empowered to love one another as a response to the love that Jesus has for us and as a testimony to the unity of our God. We know that the gospel is life changing and we know that the unity of our group is attractive to those who are far from God-but the reality of living it isn’t always so easy. Please pray that we would love one another in an extravagant way and that we would be willing to die to ourselves so that Jesus might be glorified in us.
We are going out tonight for Tel Aviv’s “White Night.” I am not sure exactly what it is, other than it has something to do with Tel Aviv and independence. We will be writing surveys and challenging people to consider what it means to truly be free.
Molly: United for a Purpose
As our time in Israel draws to a close, we are preparing for what will prove to be the most spiritually, emotionally and physically trying time of our summer-the weeks spent ministering to traveling Israelis in India. While our community is growing closer, I think, it has been brought to our attention that we have a whole lot of work to do. We are going to be in smaller teams in India, and we will need to rely on our team members more than ever. In the meantime, our team needs to be one-where we all build each other in our relationships with God, where we can fully operate as a group who is united for a purpose-to lift each other up in community, making our testimony so much stronger to those who we meet here in Israel and in India.
Please continue to pray for the unity of our team and our relationships with each other. Pray that God will knit our hearts together in a way that can allow us to stand up against anything we might encounter in India. Pray for the hearts of the Israelis we meet, that they will be moved by the collective testimony of our group.