09 Jan

God is working and moving

Jaffa House – December 2022

What a blessing… again. 

After meeting Jacob and Elisheva in 2000 on a group campaign, I have returned 4 times to visit, fellowship, and serve. This latest time (2022) was possibly the biggest blessing. It seems like a long time coming, but I am reminded that God is not slow. His timing is perfect.

Although I have prayed often for the Lord to gift me with evangelism, He has chosen to not gift me in that way… yet. However, He provides opportunities in other ways for me to be a blessing in the background, to serve, and sometimes surprises me with unexpected and unplanned opportunities to share the Good News about Yeshua with locals. When I expected it the least, He moved.

I was walking 45 minutes north on the beach promenade around 6:00 a.m. as I do each day to pray and thank the Lord (I wish I listened more… I’m still working on that one). After about a week of this routine, I saw a man that I realized I see each morning, sitting on a bench. He is overweight by about 20kg, probably 65 years old, and Israeli. Walking along the promenade at this time each day, one notices that almost everyone is in a hurry to exercise before the day starts. It is a very different vibe than 10:00 a.m. and later, when everyone slows down and just enjoys a stroll. L., the man I saw each day, was typical in some ways (doing strange exercises as many Israelis do), sitting on the same bench each morning, doing arm circles, some “sitting push-ups,” some leg extensions, etc. Yet, in another way, he was very atypical: he made eye contact and returned my Hebrew greeting. So, one morning, after seeing him for several days in a row, I saw him about 50 meters ahead of me doing his usual thing. “Lord, I’m going to say hi and see where You take this. Please go before me and prepare him.” I greeted him in Hebrew, said a few sentences, and asked if he spoke English. “K’zat (a little),” he said. We spoke a bit, and I jumped the gun. I said I had a gift I would like to bring him tomorrow. “Are you a Christian?” he asked me. I said, “I love the God of Israel, I believe the Tanach, and I’m trying to get to know God better every day. I’d love to give you a book written by my friend, Yacob Damkani. He lives just over there, in Jaffa.” L. accepted. I brought the book the next day. The day after that, I saw him, and I asked him if he had read any yet. He said, “No. On Shabbat.” I only saw L. one more time. We briefly chatted, and I told him I was leaving Israel tomorrow. He said, “It was nice meeting you.” I thanked him and left it at that. Missed opportunity. Possibly.

A few days later, I was at the Jaffa House alone. A pest control expert was coming to remove a… “guest.” There was a rat who was eating a lot from the food pantry and leaving his mark. The pest control expert showed up: M. He was very friendly. After he assessed the situation, he walked out to his motor-scooter. He looked at the house curiously and asked, “So, what kind of place is this?” I said it was a house where people come from all over the world to learn about Israel, the history of Israel, the God of Israel, and Yeshua the Messiah. That woke him up a bit. “Are all of these people Christians?” I said that most were, but there were Jews who come also. He looked interested. I told him I’d love to give him a book by the house owner, who is Jewish and follows Yeshua. I ran inside, grabbed one, and returned. He opened it and noticed many scriptures from the Tanakh. He said, “What is this book about? I see many writings from the Prophets.” I explained again that it was a book about the life story of the author and home owner, who as a Jew, realized that God introduced Himself through Yeshua. He said he could not read such a book because he was Orhodox. “Orthodox?!” I said with a surprised look (because he was not wearing the kippah, the tzit-tzit, black and white, nor did he have a beard. There was nothing that said “Orthodox” about him. Nevertheless, we continued to chat. He said he could not read the B’rit Hadasha (New Testament) either because it was a bad book. I asked him what was bad about it. He didn’t know. I told him it was simply a book about Yeshua’s life and activities… that Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly… all 613 instructions. M. looked shocked. He said he’d be willing to read it then. I ran inside to grab one, but in my panic, and NEVER thinking this was going to happen, I couldn’t find one (in the Jaffa House we have complete Bibles – Old and New Testament, we prefer to give the whole book). It was ok. He was at least willing. He took Jacob’s book AND my phone number. Hopefully we can chat down the road. 

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, God humbled me. That same afternoon, just 3 hours after the Exterminator, God blew the doors open on this non-evangelist. Elisheva had told me an atheist tour guide, Y., who is wonderful, will stop by with a “few” clients to see the grave of Thomas Hodgkins in the backyard. Cool. Normally, Elisheva greets them with her warmth and says something like, “We are glad you’re hear; we simply ask that as you leave you would allow us to offer you a book.” They always agree. They don’t always take a book, but they always agree to allow Elisheva to offer. Well, my phone buzzed. It was Y. “Ben! I’ll be there in 5 minutes.” Two minutes later (I thought Israelis were notoriously late?) I see a few people gathered at the end of the alley way that leads to the Jaffa house. I assume this is Y. It is. But, as he approaches, I notice he does not have a few clients. It is a mob… over 40. Oh my. They come in and Y. takes control, “Ben, I think it would be best if I just take them all straight to the graveyard. I’ll talk to them there, then we’ll meet on the back patio, and I’ll clean up the chairs later.” I agreed. But, so many came in so fast that I did not have time to offer them a book. I could only greet and welcome them. Ten minutes passed and I was a bit disappointed that I missed the opportunity. I wondered, “How can I fix this.” Within 2 minutes, God did. Y. came running in the house, “Ben, can you come outside (It wasn’t a question)? I want to interview you and allow my clients to ask you questions about Messianic Judaism.” Although I was shocked and nervous, no was not even an option. “Sure.”  

For almost 40 minutes, mostly in Hebrew, Y. and his clients asked me questions about what Messianic believers believe, read, celebrate, emphasize, etc. They listened intently as I explained that the idea of one God came from Israel, the Messiah is from Israel, the message and knowledge of Yeshua left Israel to go throughout the entire planet, and is returning to Israel to make Jews jealous. The 40+ kibbutz residents were nearly all nodding their heads in a non-verbal “amen.” Y., the atheist tour guide was digging in deeper, defending me and explaining when there were challenges and misunderstandings, and being quiet most of the time (unusual for a veteran Israeli tour guide). After we finished, all came inside to use the bathrooms, sit and rest, and play the piano while Y. played the flute (like an expert). Many had more questions for me. Many thanked me. MANY took books. I could NOT believe it. “Lord, if I could not believe it, does that show lack of faith in who You are?” What a blessing. What an honor. What a sense of humor God has, too. “Ben, you wanted to evangelize? L. was warm up, M. was practice, this latest opportunity was the grand finale… for this time.”  

I asked Y. later in a text how it went. He thanked me and said, “Ben you showed them the “nice face of faith.”

Thank You, Abba. Holy Spirit, You moved through me. Amazing. 

When visible faces and main actors change in ministries, the ministries often die/disappear. Jacob, Trumpet’s main face, is currently not very visible; he is inactive (although he IS visibly listening). People from all over the world, who have heard of Jacob, met Jacob, and/or been blessed by him through his heart and teaching come to visit regularly. Although Jacob cannot speak, he CAN communicate a bit. He smiles, he watches you, he reaches out to you with his left arm if you reach towards him, he “dances” (taps up and down) with his left leg when he gets excited (especially when someone comes into the room), etc. One day, Joey (his gift from God in the form of a 24-7 caretaker) and I took Jacob on a walk to the boardwalk next to the beach… Jacob usually is only able to stay awake and alert for 20-30 minutes due to the medication he is on. Well, this day at the beach, he was watching people go past his field of view for just over an hour! He is taking information in, that is certain. Our prayer and hope is that He is also taking to heart what the Father is teaching him during this time. In addition to the beach excursion, I have seen Jacob interact with Joey during his daily physical therapy (facial expressions of discomfort as well as pleasure), I have watched him while he joined us as we took thousands of newsletters to the post office, and I have seen him make different faces at me and others at different times. They are slight, slow, and barely perceivable sometimes, but they are there. So, my recent experience has convinced me that the ministry has not died or disappeared; it has simply changed for the time being. 

In 22 days at the Jaffa House, I met over 20 people from almost 10 nations (Switzerland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Zimbabwe, Switzerland, United States, Brazil, The Netherlands, Uganda, Switzerland, Japan, and a few others… I think). God is working and moving. Elisheva is, too. Prayer, evangelism, teaching, fellowship, worship, brainstorming, etc., are all happening, and all are needed. COME!

08 Jan

My Time in the Jaffa House

I’m 20 years old and before starting Bible college I wanted to go to Israel to Trumpet of Salvation. When I first noticed that the times of big evangelism groups were over, I was a little disappointed, but I still felt I should come. I decided to come to the Jaffa House for a whole month without knowing anybody there and without having a clue what I would be doing there. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to serve God and evangelize. I thought if God is my employer and I’m the employee He will provide a job for me. Nobody hires a person if he doesn’t have a task for the person.
When I arrived at the Jaffa House in the middle of the night, I was so exhausted after almost getting lost in Istanbul and several other problems, but really thankful that God has brought me here safely.
And then a chain of blessings started. I immediately fell in love with the Jaffa House and the people coming and going, also with Elisheva’s food. I met lots of nice people that taught me how to talk to Jewish people about the Messiah and who took me to the streets to evangelize. We had conversations with a great variety of people, and we gave away many books.
During these times I learned a lot about the culture, the people and contemporary Israel. I also won a bunch of new friends from all over the globe. I have invitations to the Netherlands, Kyoto Japan, Los Angeles, Switzerland, Botswana…
One other team member took me to an organization in Tel Aviv that cares for prostitutes and women from the streets addicted to drugs. It’s a beautiful place where women help other women, they treat them with love by giving them food, clean clothes, showers, doing their hair and nails, safe beds and a peaceful atmosphere, I enjoyed helping.
I also enjoyed the congregation that Elisheva and Jacob are going to (Grace and Truth in Gedera). It’s a very welcoming, multicultural fellowship and the sermon is translated into English, Russian and sign language. Especially the Shabbat dinner there was very nice.
After church service we often went to the farm and had guests for lunch. Who hasn’t been there on the farm, has to go visit. It’s the most beautiful place in Israel and I hope and pray that some day there will be the Tabernacle where Jewish people can hear the symbolic meaning of all the items in a Messianic way, just like Jacob and Elisheva were always dreaming. God will provide a person that can organize this huge project.
One of the biggest gifts God gave me during my Jaffa House time was Elisheva’s Ukulele. I really wanted to pack my own, but I figured it wouldn’t fit into my suitcase. And without even being asked God made sure I had one and could go to the beach and play worship songs there and in the Jaffa House.