Recently, stories of Muslims who have become followers of Jesus have emerged. In the West Bank, where Palestinians live, the towns and villages are entirely Islamic. One man who took it upon himself to take Bibles into these villages is called David Ortiz. Originally from Puerto Rico, he married Leah, a Jew, and they moved from the United States to live in Israel in 1989 and eventually settled in Ariel, in the centre of Israel, in 1985.
Recently I visited the town of Ariel in central Israel to meet Leah Ortiz. From an American Jewish family, Leah and her husband David came to live in Israel in 1989. In 2008 their son Ami was seriously injured when a bomb hidden in a basket of fruit by their door exploded in his face. Thankfully he survived, but for David and Leah this was a defining moment in their lives… should they leave the work they had started and return to America, or stay in Israel?
My guest today is called Rita. A few years ago she would never have dreamt that one day she would be running a shelter in Israel for abused women … but that’s exactly what happened.
The news is frequently dominated by stories of terror and conflict from the region and hopes for peace seem impossible. But what about the believers who live there – is there any coming together of Arab and Jewish believers? Evan Thomas is a Messianic Jewish pastor in Israel. He has always had a desire for strong relationships with Israeli Arab and Palestinian Christians and has gone out of his way to achieve this.
The subject of Israel and the Middle East invokes strong reactions! How important it is therefore to understand, as Christians who believe the Bible, what God is doing there. It can come as a surprise to hear how few believers there are in Israel and the West Bank… their numbers represent a tiny percentage of the population. Yet, in the past 40 years those numbers have grown from a handful to several thousand today – so something is going on!
My guest today is Rod Powell. He and his wife Margi were missionaries in Russia for many years. They left Russia not by choice but because the authorities threw them out of the country as you will hear.
They found themselves in Israel… listen now as Rod shares his story…
Maala Thomas was born in New Zealand to Finnish parents. She married Evan, a Jewish man, and they left New Zealand and moved to Israel. They settled in Netanya. Evan became the pastor of a Messianic congregation in Netanya and Maala taught in a nearby school. Recently Maala retired from teaching and when I met her recently, she had just returned from Africa where she had been on a short mission trip. Although this was her first trip to Africa, it turns out that Africa had been in Maala’s heart for many years as she now explains.
Sharbel Dakwar is an Israeli Arab from northern Israel and we met recently in Haifa. His early life was beset with trouble which made him angry and he wanted revenge – particularly on Jewish people. But then his life changed … he became a follower of Jesus… and then something else happened, as he now describes.
My guest today is Sharbel Dakwar. He’s an Israeli Arab from northern Israel and we met recently in Haifa. His story moves from hatred to love… his early life was troubled and full of disappointment and feelings of injustice as he now describes.