In The Land With Jason
“Trust in Him at all times, O people – pour out your heart before Him; God is a Refuge for us. Selah.” (Psalm 62:8, NASB)
Last Saturday (18/6), Jeff, Rob, and I visited Len and spent some time with him. He seemed pretty out of it, though he was obviously very happy to see Jeff again. Later that afternoon I went to Sukkot David (where Zvi pastors) with the Beit Ha-Yeshuah guys, and it was a neat service. ‚
God has blessed me and the guys in the program to have a really good relationship, and it’s awesome to see what The Lord has done in their lives. At the church I was blessed to meet an older Japanese believer who is studying in Ulpan now; it was a treat to meet her, because there are very, very few Christians in Japan ” especially evangelical ones. After telling her of my hope to someday visit Japan and South Korea, she urged me to go to Japan since there are so few believers there. May God will it!
On Monday, I visited some with Osama ” the owner of the electronics shop across the street. He and a relative explained some things to me about Arabic, and Osama also told me more of Beit Zafafa’s background.
There were three Arab families from which the neighborhood sprang out from, and what’s amazing is that almost everyone in the neighborhood know each other’s family history ” even from many, many years ago.
I headed towards the Old City, and walked through the village of Abu Tor, and then went down to Silwan. In Silwan, I went to a small Felafel caf ƒ ƒ ‚ © and spent some time talking with the Arab owner. He is Muslim, but not very religious. We talked about the return of The Messiah, and he told me that The Messiah was to kill the Jews after His return. I asked if Jesus would also kill the Christians, but he said, ‹ œno ” just the Jews.’ God opened the door to share with him how The Torah and The Injeel (New Testament) both say God took the Jewish people as a special people. I asked him if the Quran also said that, and he replied, ‹ œI don’t know.’ I also visited my Arab friend, Shaadi, who helps run the tourist center by Hezekiah’s Tunnel (his father owns it, but is in America at the present time), and I brought him some cookies. Shaadi had apparently been looking through some of the archeological-dig areas, and he showed me about 7 ancient coins that he had found. He gave me a small coin which was from the Roman Era, and I asked if his doing so was legal, which it was – their shop has a permit both to search and sell old artifacts. Although his shop was closed, he unlocked it and we went in and sat down and talked for awhile. He’s a nice guy, and I really hope God uses The Gospel of Luke that Gary recently left with him!
Shaadi will be leaving for the US in a few weeks, and he’s hoping to enter medical school there. I entered the Old City, and talked a bit with an Arab teenager working in a small coffee hangout. He told me that he was Christian, but he also criticized the born again Arab church that meets close by ” saying they’re ‹ œnot real Christians.’ He wasn’t really able to explain his idea, but it seemed that he’s one of the older, traditional denominations. Regardless, I left him a bilingual Gospel of Luke. Ruth had called me asking to see if I could check some of the shops in the Old City for sandals like Jesus would have worn ” Jeff had told her there were some right by Jaffa Gate. I looked, and God provided a great opportunity! I met a 19-year-old Arab kid named Yazan, and spent about an hour in his shop. He didn’t really have the kind that had been described to me, but he seemed interested to talk with me.
When I found out I was an English tutor, he told me how he’d like to start studying with me, and so we’ll probably try to do so once a week. Glory to God! May God use this open door to share The Gospel with Yazan! As I returned to Beit Zafafa, some younger guys from the neighborhood asked me where my (actually CCJ’s) guitar was, and one of them said he’d like me to come to his house and play for him and his friends, and that he’d call me later if they wanted me to that night.
On Tuesday morning, The Lord blessed Tami and I to help teach English to a few of the believers in the church here. After lunch, I helped Anya with some of her English coursework, and later taught Vanessa, a newer immigrant from Peru. We were blessed that evening to have our brother, Bill Koenig (an author and White House Correspondent), share with us, and it was a very interesting time. You can see his website at: http://watch.org/
On Wednesday morning, God enabled me to spend a good amount of time with the Arab neighbors across the street. Later in the day I spent a few hours with the taxi guys up the street, and they helped teach me more in Arabic, telling me to come again. At night, The Lord blessed me to meet up with Yuhanna (the Arab young man that has put his faith in Jesus), and he seems to be doing good. He had been in Jordan for a few weeks visiting family, and he told me that his family there didn’t like The Injeel (New Testament) he had brought to read. Yuhanna wants to go to the born again Arab church this Sunday, and I told him it’s important for him to talk with Paul Dorr and a Muslim-background-believer named ‹ œYazo.’ God willing, I’ll be returning to America in about 5 weeks, and I told him he needs friends in the faith.
Currently, it seems that his relationship with his family is better than before ” praise Yah! ( ‹ œYazo’ had earlier told me that Yuhanna had other problems at home, so his parents weren’t just angry at his decision to follow Jesus ‚ ¦ there were other things going on, too.) I saw one of my friend’s (Mahmoud’s) brothers, who told me that he would like me help teach him English, perhaps on some evening when he was working at his family store (it’s a really laid-back atmosphere). I went to Pizza Love and got a cappuccino, and The Lord opened the door to talk with a customer (maybe 35 or so) and a 20-year-old worker named Ibrahim. The older guy asked if I could read Arabic quickly, and I said I couldn’t really do so ” but since it was a great opportunity, I read them both John 14:6.
I talked about faith, and even after the customer left, God blessed Ibrahim and I to continue talking and we had a good conversation. He said he goes to the mosque, and he prays five times a day ‚ ¦ something most of the young Muslims here don’t seem to do. Ibrahim has family in Los Angeles, and he has six siblings ” he also has a girlfriend, but he said it’s kind of a secret ‚ ¦ Beit Zafafa is pretty small, and word travels quickly. He was studying accounting, but he said he didn’t like it; he also knows Yuhanna.
Thursday morning I headed out to Tel Aviv to pick up my passport and see if they had approved my application for a multiple-entry visa for Russia ‚ ¦ praise God, the door has been opened! I’m excited to return to Beslan, and I’m trying to decide whether to go there before I return to Pittsburgh at the beginning of August, or whether to just wait and go afterwards. Either way, I need to leave Israel to comply with the 3-month-maximum stay here before I go back to Pittsburgh.
Please pray that The Lord will make His desire clear. At this point, it seems very clear that it would be best to keep laboring here, since He has provided so many opportunities here. But I want to make sure that’s what He wants.
Thursday night, God gave some great open doors; there was supposed to be another party at Kaan Zemaan (the local Arab pastry/coffeehouse), and I went and took the guitar. On the way, I had several opportunities to talk with different youth here in the neighborhood, and played some songs. At Kaan Zemaan, I was also able to share a few of my songs, and they were well received. I talked with a young Arab guy named Shaadi, who was there playing the oud (sort of like a small guitar). He was also interested in learning more English, and I gave him my card. God blessed me with a great opportunity to talk with another guy named Shaadi, too ” he’s from Hebron, and he has two young kids. I asked him the question about since Muhammad didn’t know where he would go, how could another Muslim know? Shaadi hadn’t heard about that before, so he gave me his email address and said he’d research it if I sent him the reference. He was really opening to listening, and he seems to be one that really thinks things through. He told me that though he’s Muslim, he doesn’t pray ‚ ¦ he knows that if he does, he has to follow many rituals and things to do it ‹ œcorrectly,’ and he realizes that he either needs to do it ‹ œcorrectly,’ or not at all. He said that acting religious while living otherwise is a bigger offense to God. Shaadi told me that when other Muslims ask him why he doesn’t pray, he tells them the same answer. They tell him, ‹ œGod is Compassionate,’ but Shaadi told me that he thinks, ‹ œGod is also Just ” you can’t just always talk about His mercy.’ Shaadi may be close! He said that if there’s a question mark about something, that’s the direction he goes to try and find the answer. Shaadi agreed when I told him that though I want peace, there won’t be any until Yesua returns. He told me that he sometimes says, ‹ œO Jesus, when will You come back? You need to come soon.’ Wow – may God open his eyes to Yesua! It was really cool, because later that same night, a group of around ten teenage Jewish kids came in, and some of them started talking with me. God blessed us to end up hanging out for about an hour or so, and they were really happy to meet someone that loves the Jews. There were several opportunities to clear up things they had questions about or had wrong ideas of, and I really praise God for giving that opportunity. They told me about a party they were going to have at Kaan Zemaan in two weeks, and they invited me to come. All in all, The Lord blessed me to be at the coffeehouse from about 9:30 to around 2 AM! He graciously gave many open doors to talk with both Jew and Arab alike, about many different things ” some spiritual, and some about everyday life. The night was really interesting ” Shaadi told me a lot of his criticisms of Israel, and the Jewish youth voiced theirs about the Arabs. It’s so awesome how God has placed believers as a bridge often-liked by both parties. Many Arabs don’t like the Jews but do like Christians, and many Jews don’t like the Arabs but do like the believers. We know that it’s not us that bridge the division, but rather Jesus within us ” He Is The Light and The Love which can bring peace to all hearts ‚ ¦ glory be to His Holy Name!
On Friday, I visited Len and spent some time with him. He was doing quite well, and he read some from The Book of Mark. Afterwards, I stopped by The Promenade (the outlook point) to pray a bit, and there was a younger Arab kid there with an older brother and we all talked together for awhile. They wanted to know why I wasn’t Muslim ‚ ¦ what an opportunity! I shared the story about Muhammad not knowing his future, but Jesus promising eternal life. They both listened. The younger brother told me that The Bible had been corrupted, but I asked if it would be possible to change the Quran. They said, ‹ œNo,’ since they believe it’s God’s word. So because they also believe The Injeel (New Testament) and The Torah to be God’s Word, how could anyone corrupt them? Both boys seemed to get the point, and praise be to God ” they have some things to think about. Friday night we were blessed to have Carl Westerlund and CC Costa Mesa’s School of ministry join us as we gathered to worship our Lord; their team did an awesome job in leading worship, and Pastor Carl shared from The Word. I was teaching the kids (ages 7-11), and there were three of them that evening. It was funny and challenging: one of the kids was American and had come with the visiting group, one of the girls could speak Russian and Hebrew but couldn’t really read Russian, and the other girl didn’t know much in Hebrew but could read and speak Russian. ! So, with lots of mistakes, I spoke in Hebrew and in English, and then the one girl translated it into Russian for the other girl. After service, I spoke with a young guy named Pedro ” he goes to a CC in the States, but he had come alone. He had an interest in sharing with Arabs, so I gave him some of our bilingual Gospel of Luke booklets, and some tracts in Hebrew (as most adult Arabs here can usually read Hebrew). There was also a couple from a CC in Phoenix who were visiting that night, and they asked if anyone could show them around Jerusalem the following day, and I told them I’d meet them at noon by The Jaffa Gate.
On Saturday, I met up with the couple ” Robert and Karen Wagner ” and we walked through the Old City to the Western Wall. They both went up to the Wall, and Karen was very visibly touched at the sight of everything. We then headed through the Sooq (Arab market), and exited through the Damascus Gate. The Lord blessed us to visit the Garden Tomb, and they both were really amazed to be there. They treated me to lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then we walked over to the Mount of Olives. We entered the Garden of Gethsemane, and later walked to the top of the mountain, where we sat and listened to some Scripture. After we parted, I briefly talked with two Arab men at the bottom of themountain; finding out that I was Christian, they asked me if I was going to Paradise. I said,’ Yes, and you?’ They replied, ‹ œNo,’ and I told them that Jesus promised eternal life if they’d believe in Him – they were leaving, so the conversation basically ended there. I headed back into the Old City and met up with one of my Arab friends named Akram. I brought some Kannafa (an Arabic dessert), and we both ate and talked some. I had an Arabic bilingual Gospel of Luke with me, and asked Akram what he thought of Luke 9:25 (which asks what profit it is if a man gains all the world but loses himself). He answered pretty well, but I don’t know that he got the real application, which speaks more about eternity than just about this life.
Praise God! He is doing awesome things here, and please keep me in prayer ” that He’ll continue to use me for His glory, and that He’ll keep guiding and directing me. The Lord Is Amazing!
Glory to Yah,
God’s love is eternal