Recently, whilst in Jerusalem I visited a large conference called The Gathering where 5,000 Christians had gathered from the nations – many of them from China and the Far East – to worship God together with believers from Israel, both Jews and Arabs. As you will hear, this was an enthusiastic and noisy event! However one of the most significant people there was a Palestinian Christian … his story is both brave and unusual and for his safety, he remains anonymous.
Whilst in Jerusalem recently I met Meno Kalisher. His father was a holocaust survivor, his mother a Jew from Iran. Meno was born in Israel – his parents were amongst the first Messianic Jewish believers in the land and Meno had to decide whether or not to believe in Jesus – not an easy decision for a young Jewish person, especially in those days. However, today he is the pastor of a congregation in Jerusalem that has grown from 13 to over 350. Are these people all new believers, I asked him?
Whilst in Jerusalem recently, I met Meno Kalisher. He was born in Israel. His father was a holocaust survivor. His mother came to Israel from Iran. Growing up in troubled times when Israel was emerging as a newly formed nation, Meno’s family became one of the earliest Messianic Jewish families in the land. Meno describes those early days.
Recently, whilst in Jerusalem, I met Nihad Salman who is the pastor of an evangelical church in Bethlehem in the West Bank. Life is hard for Christians in the West Bank because they are a tiny majority within a strong Muslim society. Nevertheless, for Nihad, this is a challenge and he is a man of vision. Recently, several members from his church went as missionaries to work amongst Syrian refugees in Berlin, Germany. I put it to him that this was a bold thing for them to do.
My guest today is Nihad Salman, who lives in Bethlehem in the West Bank where he is the pastor of an Evangelical Church. Bethlehem today is a majority Muslim city where evangelical Christians are very much in the minority. We met recently in Jerusalem – and over breakfast Nihad described the situation he finds himself in.
Israel is a rich mix of people who have come to live there from all over the world. In recent years many Russian Jews have immigrated to Israel including my guest today Miriam Chernasov. I’ve been following Miriam’s story for a few years … she finished school, went into the army and then trained to be a nursery teacher. When I met her recently in Netanya, she had just returned from Armenia … she told me what she had been doing there.
Today I’m in Tel Aviv talking to Eli Birnbaum. He is a missionary with Jews for Jesus with a particular focus on reaching young adults, especially those who have just finished their army service. Jews for Jesus are well known for their creative ideas and Eli’s story demonstrates this perfectly.
Recently whilst in Beersheva, I met Myra from Puerto Rico. I found her working in a Bible book shop. It turned out she was living in Israel and had married a Jewish man… She shares her fascinating story.
On today’s programme we return to Netanya, a city just north of Tel Aviv, on the shores of the Mediterranean to talk to Brian Slater. Many people think Israel is a country full of rich people and are shocked to find out that the poverty level is very high. Brian runs a charity and each week he runs a soup kitchen feeding 50 – 60 people and prepares 350 food packages that he delivers to poor families living in the city.
My guest today is Brian Slater who gave up the good life in Los Angeles to come and live in Israel and work amongst some of the poorest in society. He’s been through some very hard times but he’s resisted the temptation to return to America.