Only once before have I traveled from Lebanon to Israel via
Jordan. It is the only way in, and it was by car. This time, it was by plane.
Since I was this close to Israel, I decided to go through the check points and stop
by and spend time with one of my former students. He is leading a national
effort to reach Jewish unbelievers. No one else is having the impact he and his
team are having.
I also wanted to get a sense of what God is doing on this
side. It’s not that far from where I was yesterday, but you might as well be on
two different planets. The alienation between Jew and Arab in this part of the
world has created lines and walls, barriers and checkpoints. And yet, in the midst of it all, there is the
body of Christ, in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Ephesians 3). We are
all on the same mission.
On both sides, there is a gaining of traction. On both
sides of these two worlds, one hears the same thing: Muslims in increasing
numbers are coming to Christ; secular Jews are becoming more convinced Jesus is
the answer. I hear spiritual leaders dreaming of a day reconciliation brings
many to Christ, and many to each other. Imagine a day thousands of villages
throughout the Mideast are bending their knees before Jesus and receiving His
love. Imagine a day Israel has a complete turning to Jesus, the Messiah. This
is what these believers are dreaming.
Last night I met with a Jewish pastor, wearing multiple
hats (publisher, organizer), who told me few if any evangelicals come to Israel
to join in efforts to reach the unbelieving. They are far more interested in
coming as tourists. I hear this over and over. However, I was down south this
morning at a kibbutz with believers from New York, Ukraine, California, Tel
Aviv, Louisiana, etc, all meeting to prepare to go out and stand together in
the streets and proclaim Jesus. It was such an honor to be with them. This
afternoon, I was with an academic dean (also wears lots of hats—writer, pastor,
etc), committed to reaching the next generation of young Jewish believers to
lead tomorrow’s church.
What most (including myself) did not realize is that the
Holocaust decimated most of those Jews who were committed to Christ. 250
thousand Messianic Jews lost their lives. The church is still recovering today.
But there is explosive growth—from two congregations not that long ago to 125
today. The college and its master’s level program is the only real seminary
here in Israel. Jews and Arabs make up the student body. And much is on the line. There is much to be grateful for. God is
What remains in my heart is the call of a secular Jewish
lawyer and an Arab Christian—“We have given up on governments. We are looking
to the church.” Hopefully we will be
there to help.