Shalom my friends,
I was going to send this letter a few weeks ago but was busy.
And now I am at the Istanbul airport waiting for my flight to Iraqi, Kurdistan.
We plan to be there for around 9 days, please pray for our trip, I have 200 audio bibles and also will be distributing aid.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we approach the end of 2015, I can look back and see how much God has blessed our ministry. Because of all He has done, I am encouraged for what awaits in 2016. With this in mind, I’d like to share with you my plan for the coming year.
For twenty years some associates and I have done walking tours of Jerusalem for Russians who immigrated to Israel. One of the purposes for these tours was to introduce people to the Gospel. We started small, but as word spread, more and more immigrants joined us, and the tours grew in popularity. At first, I would lead the tours in Hebrew, and my associates translated into Russian. In time, however, we began conducting all tours in Russian.
We offer these tours free, the focus always being on the Gospel, and to show where Jerusalem and the Bible come together. When the tour is over, we encourage people to start reading the Bible for themselves.
One of our tour guides with whom I have worked for two decades, Lisa, has earned her tour guide certificate. Another woman who is about to earn her certificate very much wants to join us, her desire being to take Israelis for a tour of the city for the purpose, ultimately, of sharing the Gospel.
Another goal we have is to encourage more groups to visit Israel from the West to do street evangelism. Visiting westerners evangelizing is much more effective than local people evangelizing because it has a greater impact on our citizens. When Christians from other countries come here and tell Israelis, “We love Israel; we love you,” it makes a deep impression. We then hand them a New Testament and say, “This is your book, and it is about your Messiah. Please read it and discover what it says.”
The Women’s House
Another ministry of ours, one that my wife Dona oversees, is our Women’s House where we offer a home to women in difficult situations. We currently are housing a 17-year-old with a baby, and our challenge is to be firm while also being kind and loving. We seek to guide her the best we can and, hopefully, lead her to faith in Christ. We are currently looking for more Christian women to serve in the house and provide guidance for women in need.
Serving All People
Though we work primarily with Jewish people, our ministry extends to all who live in Israel – Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians among them.
On Friday nights, we take two teams to Tel Aviv, which is very secular. One team works with refugees from Sudan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines, and other African and Asian nations. The other team works in a primarily Jewish area on Rothschild Street. There we have many good opportunities to talk to people, always offering them a New Testament. There is a very strong homosexual presence in Tel Aviv, and whenever we encounter them, we offer them a New Testament as an “alternative lifestyle”.
Our Friday night work in Tel Aviv has been very productive.
We are always on the lookout for books with strong Bible content we can translate into various languages. One such book is The Truth About Man by Paul Washer. It’s a very good book on theology. We have translated it and are now in the process of editing it. Our hope is to give them to Russian congregations. We’re looking to have it ready in about a month. We’re also working on a Hebrew edition of the book.
I’m always looking for funding to acquire Bibles to distribute to different people groups. It is so important that we get Bibles into the hands of as many people as possible. Once unbelievers begin to read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will work on convicting them and the Lord can draw them to Himself and save them.
One of my biggest dreams is to get a good translation of the New Testament from the Greek into Hebrew. Most of the versions I’ve seen that have been translated into modern Hebrew are not very good. It is crucial that someone comes up with a clear and concise translation of the Hebrew New Testament.
The same holds true for the Old Testament. You’d be surprise how many Israelis can’t understand ancient Hebrew; it is not clear to them, and this is unfortunate. It is so important that we translate the Old Testament from old Hebrew into modern Hebrew so that the unsaved can easily understand it. This is another dream of mine.
Work in Iraq
I am planning a four-day trip to Iraq next week, followed by ten-day trips in January and February. I’ll be focusing on two projects.
The first is purchasing heaters for Syrian refugees now that the weather in the part of Iraq they escaped to has turned extremely cold. They are staying in very small housing units called “caravans” (approximately 15 feet by 20 feet) and are only allotted about ten hours of electricity a day. But the colder it gets the less electricity they are allowed because the power stations in their camps can only produce a limited amount of energy.
My goal is to purchase about 350 low-wattage electric heaters at a cost $15.50 each in Iraq; they are three times as expensive in Israel. We will distribute the heaters from one location. Families will come one by one. When we hand them heaters, we will also hand them a New Testament and a children’s Bible. We will tell the recipients, “This is a gift for you. We want you to know the story about Jesus. We know that you are Muslim, and we love you, but you need to read this.” We don’t require them to take the Bible in order to receive a heater; we don’t want to “force” the Bible on anyone. But most of the refugees will accept it.
The second project is blanket distribution to Christian refugees. For next week’s trip, I will be distributing 350 blankets and holding Gospel meetings in the evening.
During our 2016 Iraq trips, we plan to distribute food, Bibles, and audio Bibles to as many refugees as possible. Beginning in January, I will be distributing 500 audio Bibles. I will be doing this caravan to caravan – handing out audio Bibles while sharing the Gospel.
IS and the Gospel
The persecution of Christians and Muslims by the Islamic State (IS) has contributed to the spread of the Gospel. Yes, Islamic State is evil, but they have caused Muslims to flee to places where they can hear the Gospel. Islamic State has created this opportunity.
Whenever Islamic State commits evil acts, such as the massacre in Paris, they help spread the Gospel in that Muslims see this and want to distance themselves from such atrocities. Though Islamic State loves bloodshed and murder, God uses it to reach people for Christ. It is so important to love the Muslims; not the wrong they do, but as people for whom Christ died.
It’s All About the Gospel
Everything we do is about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost, whether they be Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Palestinian, or anyone else God brings us to. The Gospel is the only answer for the problems that plague the Middle East and the world, and I consider it an honour to be a messenger of it.
Thank you for your generosity in prayer and giving for making our ministry possible. May God bless you richly in the challenging days ahead.
Thanks and be blessed.
Antony and Dona Simon and the Voice in the Wilderness Team