2016 Ministry Report
The year 2016 has been a blessed one for our ministry as we distributed tens of thousands of Bibles, met practical needs for the poor, and most importantly, shared the Gospel with numerous individuals on the streets of Israel and Judea and Samaria, Greece, and in the refugee camps of Iraq.
We distributed huge amounts of Hebrew Bibles to those we spoke with on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It isn’t always easy being on the streets trying to talk with people who are going from one place to another, but it’s crucial that we get the Gospel out to those who are dying in their sins.
However, though difficult, we usually find that when people are willing to stop and talk with us, we have very good conversations and they are happy to receive a free New Testament. I tell Israelis that the New Testament is for Jewish people, and that Jesus Himself is Jewish. In fact, a short time ago, some Korean young ladies were working with me as volunteers. When they stop people on the streets, I told them to say, “At one time, we used to be pagans. We used to worship idols, but now we worship the true God thanks to you Jewish people.” And from this approach most of the people take new testaments.
Fridays are usually the biggest nights as two teams of volunteers – we usually have just one on the other days – go out onto the streets of Tel Aviv. On very good nights, we have given away as many as 400 Bibles, New Testaments and other literature. This is quite an increase from weekdays when we will generally give away about 50 to 60 Bibles and New Testaments in various languages in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel. Sometimes when people visit Israel they spend a few days with us and join us in Evangelism, which encourages them to continue when they return home.
One of the reasons we hand out so many Bibles in Tel Aviv is that we encounter people from different nations. Our bibles and literature is in various languages. Some of these people have come to Israel to work, quite a few of them from China, and the Philippines and many African countries, legal and illegal, Nepalese and India and Sri Lanka. Of our two volunteer groups, one focuses on Israelis, the other on foreign workers.
In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, we also reach out to tourists. There are quite a few Japanese and Chinese, Germans and French and many French tourists take Bibles from us. Many of the European and American tourists are Jewish, which gives us a great opportunity to share the Gospel not just with Israeli Jews, but also “world Jewry.”
The West Bank
Besides Israelis, foreigners, and tourists, we also minister in the West Bank, at Mount Gerazim near the city of Nablus. While driving, we hand out Arabic New Testaments to people who are standing along the road. This past year, we distributed many thousands of New Testaments in Arabic not only on our Samaria trips but also as we move around and spot Arabic speakers. Many Arabs living in Jerusalem take the New Testaments from us , if they refuse we try and persuade them by telling them that we are Christians and love Muslims and they need to know what we believe .
We offered people also gifts for Christmas and Christmas Eve we went to hand out New Testaments to the many Israeli visiting several carol services , many took it was a great blessing .
The weather does not stop us
Recently while driving to Mount Gerazim, it was raining the entire time, but as soon as we arrived, the rain stopped. It’s amazing how many times this happens during the course of a year. We will be driving to a certain location with rain coming down on us the entire time, but when we reach our destination, it stops. This is the Lord in action. But even if the rain persists, we continue to minister; we don’t let the weather interfere with the work of sharing the Gospel.
Some people are surprised to hear that we minister to the Palestinians who, of course, claim Islam as their religion. You might expect them to be hostile to the Gospel, but the majority of them are not. The truth is, most Muslims don’t know the Koran. Islam is a cruel religion, a religion of violence. The word “Islam” means submission, and that concept permeates the religion of Islam. So, when we share Christ with them, they have something to contrast Islam with.
Also, because most Muslims don’t read the Koran, they don’t read those parts which denigrate other religions such as Judaism and Christianity. They don’t know that they are supposed to be hostile to anything opposing Islam; therefore they have no real problem accepting New Testaments. In fact, many Palestinians are happy to accept them, especially since they are free.
I often ask Iraqi Christians, “What would you do if you found an ISIS soldier who was wounded?” Many say, “We would kill him.” I reply, “No, that’s wrong. As Christians, the Bible says we ought to help them. The Bible tells us to love our enemies.” This is the attitude we minister with in Iraq, whether to “Christian” (nominally, or in name only), Muslim refugee, terrorist, or ISIS soldier. We share the Gospel and distribute Bibles to whoever will listen to us.
My friend said who was an unsaved nominal Christian, ISIS is a good thing that happened to us Christians (nominal ) sent by God to save us, and even my Muslim colleague who would not listen to the Gospel now after ISIS when asked where is the true Islam says he does not know , he is lost .
Yet we are sending aid through big aid agencies, some ran by eloquent speakers and they help people physically but there is very little or no spiritually aid which comes through the gospel . The door is open, let’s preach Christ and some of us will die and some those who abandon the Islamic lie for the truth will also die, killed, let’s obey and leave the rest to God . He is the living God , isn’t He ?
We often spend a lot of time teaching Iraqi “Christians” the Gospel. They have no idea what it is. I find myself having to explain to them about grace, forgiveness, and how the Lord Jesus invites us to come to Him as we are in our sin with repentance and faith, and not through Mary or the Pope.
Besides educating Iraq “Christians,” we also minister to Iraqi soldiers. We give them New Testaments and audio bibles, and they accept them with gratitude. They are very open to the Gospel, and our experiences with them are good. Serving in Iraq as a soldier is not easy if any of the soldiers are wounded and need care, the Iraqi government does nothing for them. Some of the Christian forces don’t have enough food so we are trying to help them a little, at least, try to help who when can, while telling them about the love of Christ.
When in Iraq, we primarily minister in the area of Erbil and the refugees from Qaraqosh and the Nineveh area that fled from the ISIS. Many of the areas have been liberated, but sadly, the majority of the returnees find their homes and businesses destroyed. The people are disappointed and disillusioned that though their cities have been liberated, they have nowhere to go. Many are wondering about what the future holds for their children. Compounding their woes is that there are no jobs available to them. The latest news is that they will soon start rebuilding and they are trying to repair electricity and supply water.
Besides sharing the Gospel and distributing Bibles and audio Bibles, we show the love of Christ to these dear people by helping to provide for their physical needs. Our teams of volunteers bring heaters, cooking stoves, food, blankets, medicine, propane, children’s books, diapers, cleaning materials, and sanitary products to meet the pressing physical needs of these desperate people.
Earlier in the year, we ministered in the city near the Iranian border. We were able to speak to a group of refugees – among them women wearing hijabs – about the Gospel before distributing heaters and food , New Testaments [the languages of] Kurdish Sorani and Farsi. We also distributed New Testaments in Kurdish and in Farsi (Persian) as well as audio Bibles.
We work with a people group called the Kaka’i. Also known as the Yarsan, their religion, founded in the 1300s, is a blend of several beliefs and philosophies. There are between 500,000 and 1 million Kaka’i in the world, located mostly in Western Iraq and Eastern Iraq, and are primarily culturally Kurdish. A few years ago, one man among them, Farzeen, became a believer. Among his people he was declared an outcast, but when ISIS attacked the Kaka’i causing the vast majority of them to become refugees, he began helping his people by meeting their needs and sharing the Gospel. Now, rather than being an outcast, he is almost viewed as a saint. He has become of great importance to us as well. Because of his connections, he can help us in the distribution of aid and share the hope of Christ with the Kaka’i people.
We are looking forward to continuing our work in Iraq in 2017.
This past year, I made two trips to Athens, Greece, where we always hand out lots and lots of New Testaments, hundreds of them. Athens is one of those “melting pots,” like Israel, where people from many nations are drawn to. We distribute Bibles in Arabic, Persian, Albanian, and, of course, Greek. Mostly, however, Athens has many Arabic people, and they are very open to the Gospel. We’re even finding that Greek nationals are becoming more open, probably because things there are so tough economically. We also gave out many Persian (Farsi) to refugees from Afghanistan.
We do a lot of evangelism in Athens. The last time we were there, we went to Mars Hill and met many some Yazidis from Iraq. We offered them Bibles and they accepted them. Athens is a fruitful place in which to minister, and we plan more trips there this year. As well as Berlin and some other places.
There is an enormous need for New Testaments in Urdu and Bengali as there are thousands of them residing in Athens and as far as we know no one is reaching them .
It is amazing how many Bibles we have distributed over the years. The Lord has been faithful to supply us with them. Many of them come from the Bible Society in Israel, while others come from various sources. Besides Hebrew and Arabic, we have Bibles in such languages as English, Chinese, French, Japanese, Thai, Polish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Greek, and German.
We do have a need for Japanese new testaments.
And don’t forget audio Bibles, which are a true blessing for those who do not read well, or who have trouble reading because of poor vision. I estimate that in 2016 we gave away about 12,000 to 15,000 of these.
We also distributed a large amount of children’s Bibles which were accepted with great excitement and thankfulness.
Overall, 2016 presented us with great opportunities to share the Gospel with people from many different walks of life. Of course, it’s always a challenge, and it’s never easy. People aren’t always receptive to what we have to say, while others seek to hinder our efforts. Also, Satan, our great adversary, is always out to stop us. However, we serve a mighty God who demands that believers preach the Gospel and “make disciples of all nations.” We are obedient to do as the Lord Jesus has instructed us, and, as He enables us, we will continue to do His work in 2017.
The centre of everything I do is sharing the Gospel, and I take every opportunity I can to preach it to as many people as the Lord brings to me. I also take every opportunity I have to teach believers how to share the Gospel. My goal is to visit Iraq 8 times a year. It is an ongoing work that must be done, and the doors have never been as open as they are now.
We covet your prayers and support, and thank you for all you have done for us in the past, are doing for us now, and will continue to do for us in the future.