Today my guest is Ofer Amitai… he is a Jewish pastor and Bible teacher in Jerusalem. The recent flood of refugees, particularly although not exclusively from Syria, into Europe has created new opportunities for believers in Jesus to help Muslims … many of whom are disillusioned with their faith due to war within the house of Islam. Here Ofer describes how his small congregation in Jerusalem has sent out three missionaries…
This programme has one aim: to bring you the stories of believers in Jesus who live in Israel and the West Bank – both Jewish and Arab or Palestinian believers – to help us understand not the politics of the region, but rather what God is doing there despite the politics! That is the reason I travel to Israel regularly to record these programmes… and this week finds me in Jerusalem talking to Ofer Amitai. He is a Messianic Jewish pastor and Bible teacher.
This week we return to The Gathering, an event that occurred in late 2016 when thousands of Christians from many nations of the world, the majority from China and the Far East, gathered in Jerusalem along with local Messianic Jewish believers and Arab Christians. My guest today is a Palestinian Christian from Jerusalem. He was one of the organisers. I asked him whether, as a Palestinian, he felt fully accepted by the rest of the mainly Jewish leadership team.
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.