This article appeared originally in the November 2001 – February 2002 issues of the Levitt Letter.
Part 1 — the following portion first appeared in the November 2001 Levitt Letter.
Todd Baker is one of two missionaries our ministry’s Messianic congregation sends to Israel twice a year. I’m not sure why every church doesn’t do this since the Gospel is supposed to go “to the Jew first” (Rom. 1:16). Invariably, these talented young men with a true gift of evangelism bring back fascinating stories from the land where the Messiah witnessed exclusively to the Jews. — Zola
On our most recent evangelistic outreach to the Jewish people of Israel, Kevin Parker and I learned the importance of the seed faith principle of witnessing. We sowed much Gospel seed in Israel to see some eventually come to the Lord when the reaping begins. We cannot reap Jewish souls for the Messiah Jesus until we first plant that seed and wait for its growth. Patience and persistence has been given to us by God and is needed when preaching the Gospel to the Chosen People. With that said, our sowing of the Gospel began the very day we arrived at our hotel in Jerusalem. As we were checking in, we got into a discussion with two of the desk clerks about God’s plan for Israel and the Messiah’s soon return.
Kevin and I briefly shared how the birth of the modern nation of Israel on May 14, 1948, was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy in Isaiah 66:7–9 — an amazing prophecy that we often referred to in our witnessing on this trip. After we presented the historic and prophetic overview of God’s plan for Israel from Scripture, one of them, struck with amazement, replied, “That is heavy.” We left them with Gospel tracts detailing what we had shared. Throughout our stay at the Dan Pearl Hotel in Jerusalem, God gave us the opportunity to share the Gospel about Yeshua the Jewish Messiah with staff and guests staying there. They were open, appreciative, and received the Gospel tracts and Hebrew New Testaments we gave out.
On this trip we tried a new witnessing method on Jaffa Street that put us in a passive role, allowing the Holy Spirit to take the lead (as He always should in every evangelistic activity) in literally bringing Jewish people to us. After prayer one morning, prompted by the Holy Spirit, Kevin suggested we go and sit on a sidewalk bench along the street where Israeli pedestrians pass. When we arrived, we laid out our Gospel literature and Hebrew New Testaments. Several Jewish people came up to see what we had laid out and this afforded us several opportunities to share the Messiah with them. Before our very eyes God was drawing those He wanted to hear and ultimately believe (see John 6:44). While we were witnessing to an American-born Jew and an Ethiopian Jew, two young Orthodox Jewish adolescents who were from an anti-missionary group suddenly came riding up on bicycles to disrupt our conversation.
They began yelling in Hebrew and strictly charged the two men not to listen to us. We told them that Israel was a democracy and that we have the freedom and right to express our views there. Then to our amazement, Kevin and I stood back and watched how the Spirit of God waged and won this battle for us. Instead of yelling back at the anti missionaries ourselves, the two we were sharing the Gospel with came to our defense and we simply watched as they brushed them aside. Yes, our God does fight for us (Nehemiah 4:20). The anti-missionaries were frustrated and finally left while the other two remained behind to hear the rest of our message, receiving Gospel tracts and Hebrew New Testaments.
On Mount Zion we came across an Orthodox Jewish organization called The World Center for Peace. The group offers a free twenty-minute presentation on why Jesus is not the Messiah. Kevin and I felt led by the Holy Spirit to challenge and provide sound rebuttal from Scripture on why Jesus is the Messiah. We entered the place and listened to the twenty-minute presentation by an Orthodox Jew named Eliyahu. The sum of his argument, which was quite weak and unconvincing, was that Jesus could not have been the Messiah since He did not overthrow Israel’s enemies and establish a successful rule. We counter-argued that the Messiah came the first time to suffer and die for the sins of Israel and the world in order to bring redemption and reconciliation to all who accept Him. Our texts were Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. We said further that when He comes again, the Messiah will rescue Israel and establish His universal rule at that time (Zech. 12, 14; Psalm 2). The man could not answer the fact that the specific prophetic details about the suffering, death, burial and resurrection of the Servant of the Lord made in Isaiah 53 fit exactly with the manner in which Jesus suffered, died, was buried and then raised. He further had to admit when pressed from Scripture that the Messiah should have come before the second temple was destroyed (see Malachi 3:1; Haggai 2:9; Daniel 9:25–26), which Jesus as the Messiah did.
We argued our case well for Jesus as Messiah, and for every objection he gave, Kevin and I gave him ten reasons why He was, in fact, the long expected One. By doing this we simply followed the apostolic pattern by debating with the Jews to prove Jesus is the Messiah from their own Scriptures (see Acts 9:22; 17:2–3; 18:5). After an hour and a half debate, we left having planted a seed of doubt in his mind about his position. We pray that seed will yield faith in Jesus as the only true Messiah of Israel.
During the latter part of our stay in Jerusalem we decided one evening to go back to a restaurant called The Rosemary Café to follow up on a young lady we had shared the Gospel with in April. She no longer worked there. But the Lord gave us an excellent opportunity to share the Gospel with a new waitress — a young girl named Miach. We discussed with her about the special and divine destiny God has for the Jewish people revealed both in the Tenach (Old Testament) and Brit Hadashah (New Testament), both books written by Jews from cover to cover. She listened with great interest. We explained that God created her to have a personal relationship with Him through the Messiah Jesus, which is experienced through faith in the fact that Yeshua came as the Messiah to die for our sins on the tree so that we could have forgiveness and that He rose from death to give us eternal life and a home in heaven with His heavenly Father.
She responded by telling us that she was unsatisfied and empty going to the synagogue. She was visibly touched by what we said and told us, “You are both special.” In reply we told her that her people were truly special because God chose them to record His revelation to man and to redeem the world through the Jewish Messiah Jesus — the Jew of all Jews (John 4:22; Romans 3:2; 9:3–5; 15:8). As we left she said she would read the Gospel tract and Hebrew New Testament and seriously think about accepting Jesus in her life.
Part 2 — the following portion first appeared in the December 2001 Levitt Letter.
The providential timing of God and the sovereign way the Holy Spirit led us as we witnessed throughout Israel was powerfully evident every day. One example of an event in Galilee illustrates this. Kevin and I decided to walk among the shops in Tiberias. As we walked for some time in that area, there seemed to be no opportunities open for us to witness to the Jewish people. Frustrated over this seeming impasse, I began to silently pray that unbelieving Israel would come to faith in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and that someone in that area would be open to our testimony. The Holy Spirit then led me to claim the promise of Joshua 1:3 so that the Gospel we proclaim would have a ruling influence in that place wherever the soles of our feet walked. The verse in Joshua in its historical context was given to Joshua and Israel as they were about to go into the hostile territory of Canaan to claim ownership over the land God promised them. Little did we know how quickly this would play out in a spiritual manner.
Shortly after this silent prayer, Kevin and I stopped at a restaurant called “Cherry’s.” When our waitress came to our table to take our order we started talking to her about the World Trade Center bombing. This tragic event, more than anything else, was a constant door opener to witness and share the Gospel with Israel. At some point in the conversation, we discussed the soon return of the Messiah and she became hostile and flat out said she did not believe in Him. She then left momentarily.
A mother and daughter sitting at the next table overheard our conversation. She expressed her appreciation about what we said. She was an Orthodox Jew. We talked to her about the restoration and central role Israel will play during end-time Bible prophecy that is a major sign of Messiah’s return. We attempted to give her a Messianic Jewish tract showing Jesus is the Messiah. She declined, at first, and said that they had to leave to catch the bus. But about a minute later she surprised us by coming back into the restaurant and said she would in fact take and read the tract we offered.
The waitress saw this and took offense. She came back to our table and said in a tone of obvious hostility, “Is there a problem here?” Instead of taking offense, we replied softly and tenderly what we had just told the lady and her daughter about God’s plan for Israel as revealed in Scripture and how it shows Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. To our great marvel her hostile demeanor toward the Gospel began changing to an openness and willingness to listen. The Holy Spirit through our witness and testimony was transforming her attitude right before our eyes! Such a change was especially indicated by the fact that we asked if she wanted a free copy of a Hebrew New Testament. The first time she outright refused. Later on, when we asked her again, she said she would think about it. After we finished our meal, we asked a third time. She not only took it but also took a Gospel tract and thanked us for them! May God continue the change in her heart and produce the new birth by faith in the Jewish Messiah as she reads the Brit Hadashah and receives the words of Jesus in the original language He spoke them in.
A few days later Kevin and I were in the Yardenit Gift Shop. Led by the Spirit we initiated a conversation with two young Jewish ladies — one was named Hagar. They were eagerly open to our witness and teaching about Jesus, the Gospel, and the divine role of Israel in history. They were simply amazed about what the God of Israel has done, is doing, and will do for the Chosen People. They were thrilled about us giving them free Hebrew New Testaments. As we left the gift shop, another young lady, one of Hagar’s friends, came up and wanted a Hebrew New Testament, too. They invited us to eat with them and other friends in the cafeteria. All together there were six young Israeli girls who joined us for lunch who were all working on the Kinneret Kibbutz.
Kevin and I spent over an hour with the group discussing the existence of God and Jesus being the true Messiah of Israel. They asked why we believed this about Jesus. Our clear answer was because He fulfilled all the prophecies made in the Tenach [Old Testament] that foretold events of His first coming centuries before He was born. Four of the girls were secular and two were nominally religious. When the hour had past and our conversation concluded with them, one of the secular girls exclaimed, “You have opened my eyes!” No doubt God’s Spirit is at work again in Israel. The veil and partial blindness of un-belief over Israelis toward their Messiah Jesus is beginning to lift as the coming of the Lord draws very near and the fullness of the Gentiles during the Church age is quickly coming to a close (see Romans 11:25–26; 2 Corinthians 3:13–16).
The work of taking the Gospel to the Jew first has just begun. Lord willing, Kevin and I plan to go back to Israel and continue this work in April 2002. Thank you for your continued prayers and support in this vitally important evangelistic enterprise. Kevin will share more of the experiences that we had speaking and witnessing to groups of Jews we met in Israel in a forthcoming article.
Part 3 — the following portion first appeared in the January 2002 Levitt Letter.
For those of you who supported the “To the Jew First” evangelistic outreach through your prayers and financial contributions, Todd Baker and I extend our sincere appreciation for the great opportunity to proclaim the gospel to His brethren in the land of Israel (Romans 10:14–15). Even though we are fools for God we are assured our labor is not in vain (I Corinthians 1:25; 15:58).
I’m writing this 3rd installment of the fall 2001 mission trip after the latest installment of terror in our beloved Israel, the land of milk and honey (Exodus 3:8; 33:3; Numbers 14:8).
Todd and I walked the streets of Zion Square many times during our stay in Jerusalem. From our experience, Saturday night after the observance of Shabbat, Zion Square is packed full of young people who are eager to hear the gospel.
You will encounter many young people in Zion Square on a Saturday night post Shabbat. They are vibrant and intelligent youth, full of curiosity and wonder. They respond with tear-filled eyes to the assurance that God has not forgotten Israel and they are a people of Divine choice (I Kings 10:9; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Psalm 98:3; Psalm 33:12; Exodus 9:5; etc.). Many eagerly receive the gospel with anticipation of a new life of hope in the good news of Y’shua.
Sometimes, though, you may encounter one whose teary eyes are of a different order. Those are the eyes that have encountered the results of terrorism firsthand and up-close. They are the tough cases that have difficulty believing that God exists, let alone comprehending the prophesied Jewish Messiah. When your best friend was blown up on a bus and another killed while serving in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force), the stark reality of the situation is one of hopelessness. But even this reality of senseless deaths can be shaken to its core by the gospel according to Y’shua. If the situation permitted, Todd and I would be on a plane tomorrow to spread the healing balm of Christ to the children of Israel, and the first place we would go is Zion Square. That is not because we are innately courageous; it is the love of God in us for His children in Israel. As Todd would say, “We walk by faith and not by fear” (Ephesians 6:16; Hebrews 11:1–39).
Early in our stay in Jerusalem we determined we would visit Sbarro’s Pizzeria in order to show Christian solidarity with our Jewish brethren. Approximately one month earlier a suicide bomber had destroyed this popular eatery in Zion Square, resulting in the loss of fifteen Israeli lives. Against the odds and with much courage, Sbarro’s was back in business.
To the manager’s amazement Todd and I recognized the courageous act of rebuilding the pizzeria in the face of constant terrorist threat. We explained how Zola Levitt Ministries and Shalom Shalom Messianic Congregation had sent us to Israel to comfort and encourage God’s people during the trying times of the PLO Intifada, and we were at Sbarro’s in particular to show American Bible-believing Christian support to the people of the Book. We concluded our conversation with posting a Christian encouragement note to the staff and giving a Hebrew gospel tract to the manager.
Our sovereign God (Daniel 4:25–26; Isaiah 61:11) had much more in mind for our trip to Sbarro’s. Our conversation was overheard by a Christian news anchor from Oslo, Norway, and his Messianic-Jewish cameraman. This prompted an extemporaneous interview for a documentary to be aired later in the month. During the interview the anchor informed us that we were actually sitting where the terrorist had detonated the bomb! From the exact location the enemy (Satan) had used against the Jews, we were proclaiming the gospel according to Y’shua [the Jewish Messiah] to the world. Our God is truly awesome and amazing in all His ways (Daniel 4:2–3; Isaiah 55:8–11). After the interview the Messianic-Jew embraced us with excitement and joy.
In next month’s Levitt Letter I will conclude with our visit to the Galilee region where we encountered a group from the generation of the Shoah (Holocaust).
Recently, Kevin sent an encouraging letter to Ariel Sharon concerning his love for Israel and his work for Zola Levitt Ministries in that land. Below was the reply from the Prime Minister's office. — Zola
Dear Mr. Parker,
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has asked me to thank you for your email of October 30, 2001.
We were truly touched by your genuine love and concern for the Jewish people and State of Israel. At a time when our nation faces one of its most critical challenges, it is heartwarming to know that we have friends like you, whose understanding, unwavering dedication and good wishes are a source of strength and comfort. Your prayers and kind words of support are much appreciated and serve to encourage the Prime Minister in these turbulent times.
With warm greetings from Jerusalem.
Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister
Part 4 — the following portion first appeared in the February 2002 Levitt Letter.
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1).
Last month I described the events surrounding Todd Baker and me during our mission outreach in Jerusalem and how the Lord gave us open doors to share with Jewish young people the love of Y’shua. In this final installment of our missionary report, I want to tell you of the warm response from a special group of Israelis we encountered.
Before leaving Jerusalem for the Galilee, we observed Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement; Leviticus 23:26–32, 25:9) at the Western Wall with the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews. I’m continually amazed at the zeal, passion and reverence these Jews have for God and the Tanakh (Old Testament). At the same time I’m profoundly saddened for them because they worship with no Temple, no Shekinah Glory, no High Priest, no altar, no sacrifice and with no recognition of the once and for all sin atonement Christ provided (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:7, 9:22).
In the Galilee region of northern Israel, our Lord Y’shua scheduled a special appointment with the Chosen People, an extraordinary meeting that will forever be imbedded in our souls.
After enjoying a hearty Israeli supper, our focus shifted to the group surrounding us at the restaurant. These dear people were witnesses of the Shoah (Holocaust) and the prophesized birth of the nation of Israel (Isaiah 66:8) and were gathered to celebrate Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles; Leviticus 23:33–36). Think of it. They've seen it all — the horrors of anti-Semitism, the struggle for independence and the continual barrage of attacks through six wars and the current PLO Intifada.
Todd and I, keenly aware that the Lord wanted us to minister to them, struck up a conversation with those at the next table, telling them that we were sent by American Bible-believing Christians to comfort and encourage them during the trying times of the Intifada. Astonished at our efforts, one man commented that “they” should be encouraging us after the WTC event. And indeed they were! Weeks after 9-11, they continued to donate blood for the victims in America.
The love of Y’shua was so wonderfully evident that we were asked to join them as they toured the Golan Heights in their chartered bus. Honored and esteemed to be witnesses to this group, some of whom were Holocaust survivors, God provided numerous opportunities to share that love with them. On the Mount of Beatitudes Todd shared the “blessings” from his Hebrew-English Bible with several members of the group. It happened that some two millennia ago in this very same area, Y’shua shared those same blessings with His brothers and sisters, the Chosen People of His generation.
Surely the Word of the Lord does stand forever (1 Peter 1:24–25). The seeds of the gospel are being sown throughout the land of Israel and the ground appears to be fertile. Pray that more workers are sent to sow His seed, for the harvest is great (Matthew 9:37–38; Luke 10:2; John 4:35–37). The Rapture is approaching, the Lord is near. Pray that God will bring fruit from these encounters when we return to Israel during Passover 2002.
Here are some items for intercession: