The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. John 16.2.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Messiah,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour. I pray you are doing well. I want to update you on the work the Lord is doing through us as we share the Gospel with unbelievers in the Middle East.
The Gospel in Iraq
I have been to Iraq twice recently – the first time for ten days with a brother from Kansas and two from Germany, the second for four days with my son Yoel and another man – and the Lord gave us many opportunities to speak to people (through translators) about the Gospel. Most of our team’s sharing occurs at church meetings and house-to-house visits.
Though on my mission trips to Iraq, I often preach in refugee caravans where “cultural” Christians come to after fleeing ISIS, this time I worked in a neighbourhood where refugees have settled. They rent houses and divide the house in to three or four and each family lives in a room. In the evenings Gospel meetings take place at the neighbourhood church we work with, and it is nice to see that the congregation is growing. In fact, they have recently left their old building for a new one.
Whenever we go on these trips, we show the love of Christ by not only sharing the Gospel, but providing for the spiritual and physical needs of the people. We distribute audio Bibles in Arabic with messages on them, as well as diapers, milk powder, oil for cooking, food, women’s hygiene products, and cleaning materials.
Not everyone was happy I was sharing the message of the greatness of God. A local priest tried to hinder us, saying the refugees didn’t need the Bible, that they would be fine so long as they believed in God. I countered by telling Him that the Lord has called these people to be loosed from their spiritual bondage. The priest became very angry with our team and told us to leave. He then tried to take away the audio Bibles from those we had just given them to. He also wanted to complain about us to the local intelligent agency.
Despite this, we continued sharing the Gospel. The two German young men I worked with – ages 23 and 21 and the man from Kansas – were extremely helpful. While I was speaking at the church meetings, they were going door to door. Sometimes we split into three groups. Our goal was to explain the true gospel, Sin , repentance and the Lordship of Christ . Overall, our preaching in Iraq went well and we were very encouraged by the response of the people and openness to listen to the message of the Gospel.
On to Turkey
We, I and the man from Kansas, then flew to a city in central Turkey. We worked with a man who had been in the United States who teaches at the local university. There, we were invited to speak at a meeting of the Islamic Society where there were about 35 to 40 Muslims.
I began talking to them about the fall of man, Adam and Eve, sin coming into the world, and God’s promise to Abraham and Isaac. I explained what Christians believe, specifically that all people are sinners because of the fall, and that we need a Saviour. I told them about what Christ did on the cross and how forgiveness of sins comes only through Christ’s shed blood.
I then opened the time up to questions. They asked about the Bible and wanted to know more about what we believe. We said to them, “Muhammad says, ‘I don’t know what will be with me, or with you, his disciples.’ He had no idea.” They also asked about the Koran, if it was God’s Word. I said, “Sorry, but Christians only believe in the Bible. If you can prove to us from the Bible that Muhammad is the prophet and that the Koran is the Word of God, we will believe it.”
The meeting went very well and we had a great opportunity to present the Gospel. I know several of you are wondering how things could have gone so smoothly. After all, aren’t Muslims supposed to be hostile to the Gospel? The thing to remember is that Turkey is a very “cultural” country, and this particular city is friendly to foreigners. It is located in the middle of Turkey and very rarely gets visitors. For this reason, the people tend to be polite to visitors, even if our views are different from theirs.
I mentioned this term earlier. “Cultural Christians” are not saved; they have never given their lives to Christ, never read their Bibles, and don’t understand they are sinners in need of a Saviour. Basically, “cultural” or “generic” Christians are Middle East residents who are not Muslim. I urged these “cultural Christians” to read the Bibles or listen to the audio Bibles I gave them. I told them, “You need to know what the Bible says, especially if you are calling yourself a Christian.” I encouraged them to examine what Christianity is really about.
A ‘Lost’ Experience
When I returned to Israel, a couple of people from our congregation and I went for a hike around the vicinity of the Qumran Caves. We came across two young Israeli women who were lost, and we tried to help them. We introduced ourselves, telling them who we are and what we do.
We tried to lead them to the main road from where they could hitch a ride. But because it was dark, we could not find the path to exit at Qumran. We decided to take them back with us and we would drive them to their car. We took a wrong turn and then we had to return to the trail. By this time, the women were getting worried and ended up calling the police. The next thing I knew, a helicopter came overhead to locate us. Then the mountain rescue came and returned us to our van, even though we had found the path and could have walked back. It was publicity for the mountain rescue they took pictures and it ended up on the news. One of the young ladies gave us her contact number, and we had given them each a New Testament and a woman in the group is in contact with one of them.
This is an example of how the Lord can take a bad situation for them – getting lost – and an unexpected situation for us, and use them as Gospel opportunities. It also shows the Lord’s care for His creation: had we not found those girls, they could have been in trouble. They were walking in the direction of a town where the people may have mistreated them. They could have wound up in a dangerous situation.
Evangelists of All Ages
I mentioned earlier how two of my companions in Iraq were ages 23 and 21. Here in Israel, I am working with three street-evangelist volunteers more than 50 years older; one is 72, one is 78, and third is 80. Though it is difficult for the 80-year-old to walk, he does his best as we talk to people and distribute Bibles in Jerusalem and at Hebrew University.
These men are good at evangelism and are enjoying it. These men are also American, and preaching the Gospel here requires a different approach than in the States. In the U.S., many Christians begin by saying something such as, “Do you know that Jesus loves you.” Here, however, a different approach is needed, especially when evangelizing to Jewish people. I have instructed the men to say, “I’m not Jewish, but I love the Jewish people.” We then explain that the Bible is a Jewish book and that reading it is crucial. Most Jewish people accept the New Testament we offer them.
We do the same with Arabs and Muslims. When we approach them, we say, “We are not Arab, but we love the Arab people,” or, “We are not Muslim, but we love the Muslim people.”
Please Pray For Us
We are in a spiritual battle, and the battle must be waged in a spiritual way. I ask you to please be in prayer for our teams as we do the Lord’s work in Israel, Iraq, Turkey, and anywhere else He leads us.
- We leave soon for a ten day trip to Iraq to distribute audio bibles and aid.
- An organization has provided 1000 audio bibles a month starting from May.
- Daily evangelism among Jewish people and Arabs and tourists.
- Planned trips to Jordan to help the nominal Christians and also Muslim refugees.
- Training in evangelism for volunteers and short term volunteers.
- My son Josh married Linoy in Cyprus and will have the official ceremony in on June 9th in Israel.
Thank you for praying and your support – we are eternally grateful!