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20 June 2018

Jews for Jesus says, “Behold your God, Jerusalem”

Jews for Jesus says, “Behold your God, Jerusalem”

Throughout the month of May, Jews for Jesus said, "Behold Your God, Jerusalem" in an unprecedented way. More than 200 staff members and volunteers from our mission stations around the world gathered in Jerusalem to share the good news of Yeshua (Jesus) and demonstrate the love of the Messiah through acts of compassion and social relief.

Along with speaking candidly of the Messiah's atoning death and resurrection, we sought to serve the people of Jerusalem in very practical ways, such as providing emotional support and reaching out to men and women trapped in addiction and prostitution. By the end of the month-long outreach, we'd engaged in more than 5,000 one-on-one conversations with Israelis about Jesus. Some 200,000 Israelis checked out our social media posts. In addition, we received the contact details of 1,747 Israeli seekers who want to know more about the Lord.

Tough climate

Most encouraging of all, 58 Israelis embraced Jesus as their personal Saviour. All of this took place against a backdrop of extremely charged political and emotional events, including the United States' decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, and the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the rebirth of Israel as modern state.

Our Jerusalem outreach was actually the culmination of a project that started 18 years ago. At that time, we felt a need to take the words of Isaiah 40:9 in a personal way: "…say to the cities of Judah, 'Behold your God.'" So, we launched Operation Behold Your God, phase 1 – a concerted plan to bring saturation evangelism campaigns to every city outside of Israel that possessed a Jewish population of 25,000 people or more.

That took us to 66 cities around the world, from London to Toronto, from Moscow to San Francisco, culminating in the summer of 2006 with a four-week outreach to the largest single Jewish population centre in the world, New York City.

Then, in 2008, we launched Behold Your God, phase 2. We divided the land of Israel into 12 strategic regions, and by 2017, we'd conducted campaigns in 11 of the 12. But one region remained: greater Jerusalem.

We set aside the entire month of May, this year, as a time to bring the good news to as many different types of Jewish people in Jerusalem as possible: Yeshiva and university students, artists and intellectuals, the destitute, victims of human trafficking, Russian-speaking immigrants, and certainly ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women.

Many might assume that very religious Jewish people are unreachable, but that isn't true. Our campaigner Tsameret related a wonderful story about her encounter with an observant Jewish woman named Hannah*. "I first met Hannah at a small women's gathering, and she agreed to meet again privately in a park to talk about the Lord. When she saw me approach the next day, she started to cry.

"Just that morning, her husband had told her that he planned to get a divorce. Hannah was broken and terrified by the thought that she and her children would be abandoned. When I told her about Yeshua's promise to be with those who believe in Him, even to the end of the age, a faint but genuine look of hope seemed to come into her eyes. At the end of out talk, she let me pray for her in Yeshua's name, and she accepted the copy of the New Testament that I offered to leave with her."

A new era of outreach in Jerusalem

It's easy to think of Behold Your God, Jerusalem as the grand finale of 18 years of intensive evangelistic campaigns. But in many ways, this recent campaign was less of a grand finale and more of a launching pad for what lies ahead. David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus, has pointed out that, "This is just the beginning of a new era of outreach for our 45-year-old organisation." How so?

In the first place, there's so much more to be done in Jerusalem, both in the realm of direct evangelism, as well as in the area of ministering to people's needs. The follow-up work began even while the campaign was still underway, and we're continuing to see strong interest from the contacts we gathered as well as growth and grounding in the lives of those who made professions of faith.

Reaching out to the needy continues as well. Many people don't realise that of all the cities in Israel, Jerusalem has the highest poverty level and is fraught with a multitude of social ills. "As believers in Jesus, we see how our Messiah lived for others and we want to follow in His footsteps" says Dan Sered, director of our efforts throughout Israel. "We're feeding the poor, cleaning up parks and renovating houses, and in the process, demonstrating that the One we believe in wants to heal that which is broken or in need."

Secondly, we're busy with the work of adapting and applying the innovations we tried during Behold Your God, Jerusalem to the work of our ministry around the world. Behold Your God, Jerusalem is a fresh start, because the Bible makes it clear that "the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3). Precisely what that "going forth" will look like is the mystery and the adventure that we Jews for Jesus are committed to pursuing and to seeing unfold.

*Not her real name.

Avi Snyder, European director at Jews for Jesus, and his colleague, Susan Perlman, communications director, wrote this article.