Sharing Christ in Three Countries
During the past couple of months, the Lord has given me the opportunity to serve Him in several countries. God has called me to preach the Gospel, and He has allowed me to do so fruitfully no matter where I’ve gone. My most recent evangelical trips have taken me to the Netherlands, Iraq, and in a few days we go to Athens to meet refugees and give them the Gospel, and of course, I continue to serve in my home country of Israel. I would like to share with you a little of what the Lord has been doing in these nations during these evangelistic outreaches.
Speaking and Preaching
I have been to the Netherlands many times in the past eight years. I go primarily as a speaker, as my ministry supporters invite me to speak at various churches and schools. Though I enjoy speaking, the main purpose of my visits is to share the Gospel.
The Netherlands is very secular, with a small evangelical population. Many of the churches I visit are very traditional, meaning that some of the congregants may not be converted – it’s very difficult to know where people stand. Therefore, I have two audiences I’m talking to, believers and unbelievers.
The most important thing I do with the believers is encourage them to do evangelism. I ask them, “Have representatives from other religions ever come to your door?” Of course they’ll say “yes.” I then ask them if they have ever been to anybody’s door. The answer is “no” because they don’t take the Gospel out of their four walls and don’t think about doing evangelism.
Reaching the Youth
I also had the opportunity to speak to a church group of about 400 young people, the goal being to teach them the Gospel. I really had to drive home to them that though they and/or their parents attend church, it does not mean they are saved. I make clear to them that they have to come to true repentance and accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. He is not just the God of our fathers, He needs to be our God.
Besides this meeting, I had another wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel with young people at a few Christian schools. Whenever I do this, the teachers are always very happy. Again, I explain the Gospel and repentance, and encourage them to have a personal faith and relationship with the living God.
On the Streets
One day after speaking, I had my driver take me to a crowded street where we handed out lots of Bibles mainly to Muslims, and later on in the day I travelled to De Hag and was able to meet many other people. That day we handed out many New Testaments in Dutch, English, Arabic, and Persian. Among the many people we handed Bibles to, one, a woman, was Palestinian. (There is a large Muslim population in the Netherlands.) A little later, it was a great blessing to be able to speak to people about the Gospel.
In general, the Dutch are very particular people and hardly religious. They won’t accept a Bible just like that; you have to challenge them. When they tell me they’re not interested in the Gospel, I tell them, “Listen, you have to think for yourself. You can’t just reject something because everybody else does. Don’t just blindly follow the crowd. At least take the New Testament I am giving you and see what it says.” Most people will at least take the Bible from me.
Overall, sharing the Gospel on the streets in the Netherlands this most recent trip went very well; I was greatly encouraged.
Besides ministering in the Netherlands, the Lord also gave me the opportunity to serve in Iraq, where I have an ongoing ministry. It, too, was a very successful outreach as I got to talk with many people and frequently share the Gospel, particularly with Muslims as well as nominal, or at least professing, Christians.
I was able to preach for four evenings at a church I have been working with, and the people were very receptive. We (my team of volunteers) were also able to minister to the Muslims, bringing them aid and food. Looking after the needs of those who are struggling always opens up a path for communicating the Gospel, and this was the case during my most recent trip.
We were able to go to the nominal Christians from caravan to caravan delivering aid and telling the people about Christ. “Caravans” are like mobile homes in which three to four individual refugees or entire families may reside. They have two bedrooms, a small kitchen, and a bathroom. Some refugees just have one room and share a bathroom with others. During these visits, we distributed a few hundred audio Bibles.
We were also able to visit a refugee centre which we had previously been to and had preached the Gospel to about 150 people. This time, we went to a new section of the centre where we were able to deliver aid – primarily cleaning products, of which there is a great need – and speak with even more people about redemption in Jesus.
Another aspect of our ministry in Iraq is occasionally assisting those who require medical attention. For instance, there was a boy who needed a heart operation, and we gave him $1,000 for that purpose. There are many children with medical problems. We met a young girl who needs to have surgery to restore her sight. As you can see, our ministry work involves both the physical and the spiritual.
The Work Goes On
One thing I want you to understand about my ministry in Iraq is that I am always involved in it, even when I am not in Iraq. I continue to work by phone with my Christian partners in Iraq, making sure that food and audio Bibles are being distributed to the refugees who have fled from ISIS, as well as permanent residents.
What we really want to see is more local believers stepping up to help the refugees. Right now, we are providing about 500 audio Bibles to Iraq and soon it will be 1000, but the goal is that people will listen to God’s Word and that many people will come to have their sins forgiven through repentance and faith.
As usual, we faced opposition during our time in Iraq, and not of the kind you would expect. The opposition we face is most always from Christian organizations who disapprove of us sharing the Gospel. One particular organization – a well-known one – asked us, “Who has given you the authority to preach the Gospel?” When they say “authority,” they are referring to the government of Iraq. I usually answer them, “Yes, the government has given us the authority to preach the Gospel – the government of the Lord.”
Sadly, many well-meaning believers don’t know that the money they give to international Christian organizations often does not go to preaching the Gospel; it only goes to humanitarian aid. To me, this is a waste of money. Yes, aid is absolutely necessary, but the Gospel is crucial. The aid will be used up very quickly, but the Gospel is eternal.
The Ongoing Work
Naturally, when I’m not traveling, I’m doing street evangelism in Israel, with most of the work centring on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. One of the main components of the Israel ministry is the volunteers who join me from the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom. People love the idea of sharing the Gospel on the streets of Israel, and will set aside time during the year to do so at their own expense. They come for a few weeks or a few months, depending on their financial situation and how much time they have.
Every day is a new challenge. We begin by gathering to pray, determine an area to go to, then head out to the streets to hand out Bibles, literature, and to talk with anyone who is willing. If we can have a conversation, that is great, but the most important thing is to get a New Testament into the hands of the people – Jews, Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians.
We usually find that quite a few people are very interested in talking. In Tel Aviv, for instance, one man came up to us and asked if we were handing out New Testaments. He was eager to have one, and began asking us questions. Then there was a young woman who was wearing a shirt with three crosses on it. It turns out she wasn’t a Christian, but she was willing to talk with us, and we ended up sharing the Gospel with her.
Because Israel is such a melting pot of different people and cultures, we always try to be ready for anyone we come in contact with. We have Bibles in about 20 languages and usually have one in a language any given individual can understand.
Another group we focus on is tourists, particularly American Christians. You’d be surprised how many of them don’t know the Gospel. What I like to do is ask them if they are Christians. If they say yes, I ask, “Do you have a message for me?” But they never have a message. I give them the opportunity to share the Gospel with me, but they either don’t or can’t. I then take the opportunity to share the Gospel with them. Some say are appreciative, but others are offended and get angry with me. One man got very angry with me, accusing me of judging him because I told him that the Gospel is not just a prayer or signing a paper. It is about repentance, faith, and believing in the Lord Jesus. Some people don’t like when I tell them this; they like an easy believism.
While I am here in Israel, I will continue to engage in street evangelism. At the same time, I’m always looking forward to my next out-of-country outreach, including another visit to Iraq this summer. Besides Iraq, I am also planning to go to Athens to preach the Gospel to refugees. I’m particularly looking forward to this as I have not done ministry work in Greece for about fifteen years. I’m excited about what the Lord has in store for us there.
So, please keep us in prayer, asking God to put us in contact with those who need to hear the Gospel and to open the hearts of those we have the opportunity to share with. I also ask your support regarding our Bible and audio Bible distributions. We are in constant need of Bibles as we are constantly handing them out; the need for Bibles and audio Bibles never eases.
May God bless you richly in these very challenging and exciting days.
Shalom and be blessed,
Antony and Dona Simon, and the Voice in the Wilderness team
Here is a note from a friend who has been coming over from South Africa to help in ministry.
I have known Antony for twenty years now, and for virtually every one I’ve had the privilege of spending part of the year with him. I think a great problem believers face over the years is a “diminishing of zeal.” This is not the case with my friend – his enthusiasm is forever fired up and because of this attitude he is able to excite those keen to get out and help with evangelism. Antony seems to have a mind programmed to see nothing other than a need for salvation in those he comes across in the streets. He rarely misses an opportunity to engage people and is not easily shrugged off or discouraged. If I have to attach a passage of scripture that embodies his person it is this.
“So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3
Everything about Antony is Kingdom focused and nothing gives me greater joy than being together on the streets engaging in the gospel. More than ever, we are witnessing a willingness for Jewish people to not only take Bibles, but also sit down and talk about the LORD. These are precious days to be in Jerusalem and Israel, and there is no better place to be than with Voice in the Wilderness playing a part in the great commission. He, Donna and the family deserve our support and prayers – maybe more than ever.