In some ways there is already a revival going on in Israel. It is not a revival toward faith in Yeshua (Jesus), but rather a turning of thousands of secular Jews in Israel toward ultra-orthodox Judaism. In August 2000 an ultra-orthodox “evangelistic” rally was held in the 22,000 seat Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.
There are many sociological and spiritual factors concerning this teshuvah (repentance) movement, but I would like to touch upon just one of them. The primary magnet or machinery of this revival movement is not the synagogues nor the street outreaches, nor the media blitz. It is, however, in the yeshivas.
The yeshiva is roughly the equivalent of what we would call a Bible college. There are both full time and part time yeshivas, both live in and off campus yeshivas. When a secular person is invited to consider ultra-orthodoxy, he is invited to attend a class at a yeshiva. When a person decides he wants to “convert” or “come back” to ultra- orthodoxy, he often enrolls full time in a yeshiva. The yeshiva students themselves are the ones who go out en masse as grass roots evangelists to convince others to join the fold.
It is those three activities, (1.) A place to invite new people, (2.) A place to absorb new “converts” in a structured program, and (3.) The marshaling of students as grass root evangelists that are very relevant to a strategy of evangelism and revival toward Yeshua in modern Israel.
Outreach and Invitation
Because of the cultural groundwork already laid by the yeshivas, a very effective tool for outreach can be to invite a new person to a yeshiva style Bible study. This is not only culturally appropriate, but it also provides an opportunity for biblical content to be conveyed and for questions to be answered.
This is not the task of Bible colleges throughout most of the Christian world. However, because of the history and tradition of study within the Jewish people, and also because of the suspicion toward salesman-like evangelistic techniques, a Bible college in Israel can be uniquely effective toward outreach as well as leadership training.
This is also true because of the language factor. Most theology and evangelistic strategies are being transferred and mentally translated from the west. However, in Israel that means translating words back into a language where the concepts originated. That is a complex matter. Since Israelis are native-born Hebrew speakers, much evangelistic and theological dialogue has been effective. A classroom type environment may be needed to deal with even the simplest issues of new covenant faith when dealing with native-born Israelis.
Absorption and Discipleship
Another factor we have noticed in evangelism in Israel, is that when a person does receive the Lord he becomes overwhelmed by a variety of social, family, cultural, spiritual and theological attacks. It seems that a person can hardly survive that first year or two without some comprehensive program that will include daily study, new friends as believers, a holy environment, and a sense of direction and identity.
If we are going to succeed at stabilizing new believers, we are going to need a program of this sort. I am reminded of programs for drug addicts, such as Teen Challenge, who know they need to provide a full service structure for the newly delivered person to survive.
This is also true because of deep-seated historical rejection of Yeshua within the Jewish community. It is somewhat like deciding to become a Christian in Mecca.
Grass Roots Evangelists
We are standing on the threshold of a breakthrough of evangelism in Israel. The key to this breakthrough will be having the new Israeli believers sharing the gospel with other Israelis. This is simply a hundred times more effective than a foreign “missionary” approach, which is so estranged from the people. The new wave will be “Israelis sharing with Israelis”.
We will need to equip, send out and support these new local evangelists. How can this be done? Again I think of the orthodox yeshivas, and how that could be similar to an Israeli school of revival and evangelism.
The new evangelists will need to have regular times of instruction and teaching. That obviously can be done through a school. There will need to be a strategy for coordination and supervision. This can also be done through a school. There will be a need for channeling prayer and financial support. This can also be done through scholarship, work study, and field work programs.
Revival and Evangelism
We don’t need a classic seminary. We need training that will not compromise on the power of the Holy Spirit, on direct evangelism and discipleship, and on the priority of reaching native Sabra Israelis (Acts 1:8).
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.