I read it through the Grapevine

Since Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve chose to believe a lie and forsook their loving, caring Creator, we have lived in a fallen world. After the Fall, things went from bad to worse. In Genesis 4, one brother killed another out of pure jealousy and later, another brother would sell his birthright to his deceitful younger sibling. Evil became so pervasive that in Genesis 6:5. ‘The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’

As we turn the pages of the Old Testament, we see evil pressing forward and prevailing, infiltrating all aspects of life and society. You don’t have to look far in the Old Testament to observe the consequences of sin.

We continue to see the effects of sin throughout the New Testament, even where the light of the Messiah shines in the first churches. Imagine the pain that Paul experienced as he wrote to the churches in Galatia or to the one in Corinth. Fast-forward through history and we can hardly imagine the terrible acts that were committed in the name of Christ and Christianity during the Crusades, the Inquisition, the various pogroms and the Holocaust. In our own times, we see evidence of the total depravity of man in African genocides, ethnic cleansing in Europe and the massacres taking place in Syria.

The work Messiah accomplished through the cross was to reconcile us to God and to undo the effects of sin (2 Cor. 5:18). Christ came to break down the walls of enmity between Jews and Gentiles, men and women, and masters and slaves. Often reconciliation takes place not in large crowds or at big conferences but in more personal, individual ways. Although Jesus regularly spoke to large crowds, his work was more often carried out through quiet, one-to-one encounters with people like Nicodemus, the woman of Samaria and Zacchaeus.

In Israel we live in a region that desperately needs reconciliation. Israeli Jews and Arabs need to be reconciled to each other but, above all, the great need of both parties is to be reconciled to God. The gospel has not made the same inroads in our area as it has in some other regions. The Muslim world in the Middle East needs to hear the gospel and see it in action and we, the Jewish people, need to return to the God of our fathers and our Messiah. We thank God that in many ways we are seeing a paradigm shift in Israel (see I read it through the Grapevine in the Spring 2012 Herald) with regard to young people coming to faith but there is still much work that needs to be done. Additionally, we need reconciliation in the midst of the animosity generated by historical power struggles and wars.

The work of reconciliation cannot be accomplished through conferences such as Christ at the Checkpoint, which was recently held in Bethlehem. It will be done through meeting one another, understanding and appreciating the other person’s point of view, and sympathizing with the pain and suffering the other side has been through. There is no lack of pain on either side and for this reason we at HaGefen have been developing closer personal relationships with our Arab brothers and sisters. We are working shoulder to shoulder with them in different aspects of the ministry and are trying to reach out together. At the moment we are in the process of publishing an evangelistic booklet in Arabic and, by the end of the year, will have completed a discipleship book published both in Hebrew and Arabic. The Scriptures are clear: true peace comes only through the reconciliatory work of Christ who, by reconciling us to God paves the way for reconciliation to one another.

We are so thankful for your prayers and support for our work. May we realise these goals of reconciliation and see more people in this region coming to a saving knowledge of Messiah.

This article was first published in the summer edition of the Herald 2012

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