To the ends of the earth

As new Christians with Israel on our hearts, we were convinced that Israel needed to know about Jesus. We felt that the Lord’s command to ‘…be my witnesses in Jerusalem…Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ made it clear that the Lord was directing us forward with the message of the gospel. It was the mid sixties and we were living in New Zealand, the part of the globe known as ’the ends of the earth’!

In 1967, Ernest Lloyd visited New Zealand for a series of meetings in towns and cities across the country. Having learned of our interest in Jewish evangelism, he invited us to join him on his tour. Shortly after this we became full time workers with CWI having been recommended by Ernest and commended by our local home church. A year of deputation across the North and South Islands followed. Many of those we met during that time became our faithful supporters over the coming years. A committee of the Lord’s people prayed for us and planned our deputation meetings, just as they had done for Ernest when he visited New Zealand. Over the years that followed we saw much fruit in the lives of Jewish people coming to know the true Messiah.

In 1969 the committee arranged for us to travel to Israel to meet and work with fellow labourers there. Our home had become central to our outreach and, not wanting to leave it empty, we prayed that the Lord would send a Jewish family along as tenants in our absence. This prayer was graciously answered and a Jewish couple from England, with two young children, moved in. We asked a Christian friend to visit them regularly and share the good news about Messiah. During a trip to London some months later, we received the news that the Jewish man had knelt on our kitchen floor and received Messiah! His wife also responded and they were made one in Christ Jesus.

Back to the mission field

On our return to New Zealand we moved to a more central location for our outreach work and personal visits. One elderly lady in her seventies appreciated the friendship we showed her but wanted nothing to do with the gospel. We invited her to stay with us at weekends and one Sunday evening she asked, ‘How can I be born again seeing as I am so old?’ We explained to her how a rabbi had asked another rabbi the very same question many years before. Sally accepted the Messiah that evening. Several years after she passed away, we attended an event hosted by the local Jewish community and several people asked about what had happened to Sally before she died. She was well known in her community but not particularly well liked. People had noted an obvious change in her life after she had come to faith!    

We are convinced that prayer is the best way to bring Jewish people to a saving faith in Jesus. By 1980, thirty prayer groups had been established across the two islands. Every time a new group was established we would see a new Jewish soul come to faith in Jesus! One day our phone rang and a young couple who had attended one of our deputation meetings wanted to bring their Jewish friend Miriam to see us. That same day, while sitting in our lounge, Miriam came to know Jesus as her Saviour. We were overjoyed to later receive a photo of Miriam being baptised at her local church.

Studies in the Torah

One elderly grandmother we met in Liverpool asked us to contact her son and other family members who were living in New Zealand. Her eldest grandson Darryl enrolled on our Studies in the Torah Bible correspondence course for Jewish people and came to stay with us during the school holidays. One day, years later, the phone rang and it was Darryl, now aged 30 and married with two young children. He had called to tell us that he had come to faith in Messiah and was about to be baptised at his church. He was so enthusiastic about the role the Bible study and our fellowship had played in his coming to faith.

In addition to a weekly Bible study we established for elderly Jewish folk in the early 70s, towards the end of the decade we started two youth events for those aged 7 to 19, the Shalom Camp in December and the Pesach Camp in April. One year at Pesach, three young people who had been regular attenders from an early age, came to the Lord.

In 1983 we started the Hatikvah (The Hope) School of Jewish Studies and Evangelism which has proved a valuable resource for Christians who have gone on to work in pastoral and missionary fields. One of the young men who came to know the Lord at camp also became a Hatikvah student. Through the Hatikvah website Orthodox young men studying to become rabbis have been in touch for information on their biblical studies. We have now begun an email outreach, distributing gospel messages on important feast days.  

Over the years we have been especially challenged by the following words of Robert Murray M’Cheyne: ‘It is only said of the dead in the Lord that they rest from their labours; and I fear I must not think of resting till then. Time is short, my time especially, and souls are precious; and I fear many are slumbering because I watch not with sufficient diligence, nor blow the trumpet with sufficient clearness.’ 

We are very grateful for those who have upheld us in prayer over these years and faithfully supported our work for the sake of Israel.

This article was first published in the Winter Herald 2011

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