Greetings in the Lord, dear Christian! Have you ever read the statement “This do in remembrance of me” ? Maybe you have seen this phrase inscribed on a little wooden table at the front of your church. When I started going to church, I noticed this very statement on a table just under the pulpit. I wondered what it meant. Who are we supposed to remember? And what are we supposed to do? After coming to Christ, I discovered that this is something Jesus Christ told His disciples concerning communion for believers just before He went to be slain as the Lamb. He poured out His blood and allowed His body to be broken for our sins. Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross is what the Christian is to commemorate in the observance of the ordinance of Communion. I’m sure that most Christians can come close to the cross and really remember Jesus’ sacrifice in this way. But, how might the Old Testament saints relate so closely to the sacrifice they needed to be saved? This sacrifice for all mankind being such a prominent event in Biblical history, you would assume that God would give mention of it for people who lived before Jesus Christ. In fact, there is something in place in the Old Testament that was to be observed by ISRAEL as a picture and prophecy of our Saviors‘ death on the cross: the Feast of Passover. When you study Leviticus 23, you will see how the Lord commanded Israel to keep seven feasts once every year. This was a command from the Lord for the nation of Israel to observe as God would someday fulfill each feast in a very real way. When Israel was miraculously brought up out of Egypt by the hand of God, the last plague you see before departure is the death of the firstborn son. As God was freeing Israel from the wicked grip of Pharaoh’s hand, Israel was commanded to kill a spotless lamb and put its blood on the doorposts of their home. This would be a covering for them, and by the sacrifice of the Lamb, the angel of death would pass over their home. Israel was commanded to remember this salvation of God by keeping the Feast of Passover, and to this day, Israel keeps these feasts. Of course, much has changed in the way Passover is observed. Jewish people have made the commemoration into a worldly holiday, and because there is no temple in Jerusalem, a lamp is no longer used and the concept of blood sacrifice is glossed over.
This year, on the night of Passover, a few friends joined me outside of the large hotel in Bariloche where a Paschal meal was being hosted for Israeli tourists. We set up to hand out Gospel tracts about the Passover, Messiah, and Jesus. I also found a nice corner next to the hotel to open-air preach. Lifting up my voice, I showed from the Law how Jesus was the Christ. There were about 250 attendees at the meal that night, and as they left the event in small groups, we were able to greet them up the street a space and freely give them tracts. I praise God for such an opportunity. Before I give you testimony of the rest of this eventful night, however, I want to highlight my interactions with one young man in particular, someone I believe God is loudly calling into His kingdom.
As you well know I have been down here in Patagonia since November; and the Lord has given me many opportunities to share Christ with Israeli tourists. Enroute to my rented home one night, while I was waiting at a bus stop, I found myself in deep conversation with a short-term volunteer, explaining some of things that God was doing in my life. As I spoke with her, I suddenly spotted two young men out of the corner of my eye and heard the Hebrew tongue. I quickly dropped my conversation with the young woman and turned aside, asking the two young men where they were from. When they told me Israel, I was sure that God was doing something. How I was moved so abruptly to talk to them in such a casual manner I can only attribute to Adonai. I immediately opened up the Gospel and made the Law of God very personal to the two young men. They were really surprised to find a person that actually loved Israel. “I’ve heard about people that love Israel but I’ve never met one.” This is what one of them said to me at the start of our conversation. Can you imagine being such a small group and nation of people with the whole world hating you? You should know exactly what that’s like Christian, because it’s true of you too. The other young man I was talking to (we will call him T for security reasons) was very open and asked several questions about the New Testament. He said that someone had told him the New Testament was full of contradictions and that the Four Gospels did not line up with each account (I think I should compile a list of cliché lies about the Bible). I explained to him that this simply was not true, and to validate that, I gave an example of God’s wisdom in constructing the words of the Bible. I told him that oftentimes God will pose statements in Scripture to allow the wicked to stumble on their face by their own pride. For another example, I explained how the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Mark all were recorded at an earlier date than John and therefore utilized the Jewish time system to record events from Jesus’ life while John, being written after AD 70, used the Roman time system. Keeping this in mind, everything beautifully matches up. This was a pretty simple example, and he really appreciated the help. He said that he had never looked into the New Testament himself. Of course, I had one for him in my backpack. I told him that I often carry around a Hebrew/Spanish New Testament for any Jewish person I might meet because I love Israel so much. I turned around and pulled one out of my bag and handed it to him asking if he would like to see what the Word says himself. He was absolutely amazed to see that he could have the book for free. After talking for about 10 minutes about very deep things, my bus arrived and I had to let him go. I rejoiced while riding home on the bus with the volunteer who I broke conversation with earlier to talk to the guys. I praised God and assumed I would never see the young man again. However, a few days later, some of the people I have been working with saw him in a town 220 miles away. Then again, as I was preaching on the night of Passover, I looked up and saw him running across the street right towards me . . .
While I was open-air preaching on Passover, several small groups of Israelis coming out of the hotel paused to watch and listen, some even giving a “thumbs up” and expressing gratitude. As I was going through the story of the Exodus, T rushed over and gave me a big bear hug. He thanked me very vehemently and told me that I was really doing something great. I just told him that I was out there in honor of the Lamb who was killed for the sins of the world. When I continued preaching, my friend Matt stood by and talked to T for about 30 minutes, answering several of his questions. One of T’s friends kept coming over to him time after time with urges to split and go with him to a party, but T just refused to leave. It was such a blessing to see him again, and Matt even got an email from him that night. This encounter later resulted in him and a few of his Israeli friends coming over on a Friday night to join us in a large Shabbat meal. At that time, we were able to go through the Scriptures and talk to several Israelis about the Lord and different things they did not understand about the Bible. It’s interesting to hear the questions they ask. In fact, one of the girls at the Shabbat meal asked why the English has different renditions of the New Testament. She said, “Why is it that the English is all different? The Hebrew would NEVER differ at all if you’re reading the Scripture.” I had to explain to her that Satan has corrupt renditions of the Word all over the place (some more corrupted than others) but that God has in fact preserved the Word perfectly in the English language in and through the Authorized King James Bible. She really appreciated this explanation of something that really bothered her. By the end of the night T had many questions answered and informed me that he had already read through most of the Gospels and was continuing his study of the Scriptures. I recently received an email from him telling me that he does not want “the seed to fall on bad ground.” He also asked that I pray for him. I praise God for this young man. Please pray for this son of Israel’s salvation.
Now, back back to the night of Passover: I need to let you in on some understanding about the Jewish people. You can see this in the writings and stories of the Bible, but if you ever spend any time around Israeli people, you will find them to be very straightforward and not afraid to say what they think (i.e. unlike mealy-mouthed Americans). Oftentimes in their arguments, Israelis will raise their voices to be heard or for passion’s sake, but no real anger is being displayed. So, when they do get angry, it’s quite a scene! As the night wrapped up, we had given out a little over one hundred tracts to the attendees. Everyone had mostly gone and we were sitting on the sidewalk talking to a group of three young men. Two of the three were listening but not too interested in the things of God. They really wanted to press their point that we should all just be good for the good of society. The third young man, though, had a completely different attitude. He really was ready to hear the Truth. As we conversed, a few of the rabbis started coming out. One group of rabbis passed by and said, “Chag Pesach sameach” (i.e. Happy Passover). The next group of rabbis came out and realized what we were doing there as they saw a Jewish young man take one of the Gospel tracts about the Messiah. They quickly pulled the tract out of the young man’s hands and shredded it right in front of us. Then, they started pushing all of the Israelis away from us, yelling to me that what we were doing was wrong. I really wanted to lift my voice and call these men out for the evil they were doing, but God gave me a very soft approach. I politely told the rabbi that he should know about the Messiah if he is studying the Torah or Tanakh (Old Testament). The sad thing is that the rabbis today really do not spend much time reading the Old Testament. Just as they have replaced the real Feast of Passover with a worldly holiday, altering many things that God commanded, they also spend more time reading the words of men found in other books like the Talmud or the Midrash as opposed to studying the the Scriptures themselves. After telling him that he should know about the Messiah, he quickly and sarcastically retorted, “And you’ve been reading the Torah for what, two weeks? I’m a rabbi. You should listen to me.” I told him that I have a Rabbi to follow; He is Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus the Christ). At this point, he became very angry and told me Jesus is no rabbi but “the opposite of a rabbi.” It was the exact same spirit the Jewish religious leaders had in accusing Jesus of casting out devils by the spirit of Beelzebub (cf. Matthew 12:24). After he told me that Jesus was the “opposite of a rabbi” (whatever that means), I more loudly affirmed my faith in Jesus as the Messiah and affirmed that the Holy Spirit has been in me ever since I started following Jesus. If you don’t understand the significance of Gentiles having the Holy Ghost in them, please do a thorough study about it. It is the Jewish people that are to be filled with the Holy Ghost, shining God’s light to the world. And, for them to see a Gentile who has the Holy Ghost when they do not, it provokes them to a crazed jealousy (cf. Romans 11:11). When I said that, the first rabbi that was more angry angrily replied, “No! The Ruach haKodesh (i.e. Holy Spirit) is for us, Not for you!” However, the other rabbi that was with him just looked at me with intense curiosity. I then started hearing him tell the boys that we were Catholics. I had to correct him and urged him not to think that we are any part of the wicked Catholic church. This caused much more curiosity for him. Most Jewish people assume that Christianity is Catholicism. He then looked at me and asked if we were Mormons. I just chuckled a little and said, “No sir, Mormons believe all kinds of crazy stuff. I’m not Mormon at all. They’re just as wicked as Catholics. I have the faith of Abraham and follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I’m simply a follower of Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).” Please pray for the more humble rabbi. After a little more bantering, they finally moved up the street. I called out to them and told them to turn to Jesus or they’ll die in their sins. It really was a great demonstration on a micro-level of the way Israel has rejected the Lord throughout the centuries. Their fathers killed the prophets and the Christ. But, rest assured, my friends, there is an Israel of God that is often referred to as the “Remnant,” and this Israel of God mentioned by Paul the Apostle in Galatians 6:16 isn’t the Church. These are the faithful believers of Israels race. God has not become unfaithful due to the faithless hearts of man. As the rabbis made their way up the street with the other boys, I turned and looked at the shop we were standing in front of to see that one of the young Jewish men was still there, firmly planted and sitting on the window sill. He refused to leave despite the physical pushing of the rabbis and the urging of his friends. I was quite impressed. As it turned out, the young man was from California and had several questions about life and the Lord. He did not understand that God is not giving us suggestions about how to live but rather commanding sinful men to repent, else they suffer death in hell. After talking to us for awhile, he left to join his friends. That night really is the highlight of my time down here in Argentina. Pray to God that Israel would be awakened and that they would turn to Messiah. Pray for all of those who heard the Word of God that night. I would love to continue writing about all of the interactions from that night and the countless others that have happened this past month, but there simply is not enough time or space.
That being said, it really has been a fruitful time of late. The Passover meal brought several people to the area and made for a great venue to preach Christ. Since then, though, most of the Israeli tourists have begun migrating north. It’s getting to be quite slow in Bariloche, the off-season, so I am planning to soon head north myself.
I have made a couple of short trips to nearby areas to share the Gospel with locals, and I have also found a great place just a couple of miles up the road from my house to meet tourists from all over the world. It’s a little hill outside of town called Campanario, and its summit boasts one of the best panoramic views in all the world. Just this past week, I have encountered people from about 12 different countries, including a group of Americans that were born in Taiwan, several different groups of Israelis, and many Europeans. Oh, at this spot, I also met a group of Americans who were part of a millionaire’s club tour. It was a bit unsettling for my stomach while I sat nearby listening to the pride spewing out of their mouths. But, I did have a good talk with two of the people in the group. Pray hard for these two. You know that it’s very hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.
As mentioned, things are wrapping up here. The group I have been working with is leaving now to go into different parts of the world; and I am about to start my journey overland to the top of South America. There are still many Israelis down in this part of the hemisphere, but since the austral winter is setting in, they have moved north into Bolivia and Peru. Over the next couple of months, I plan on taking another adventurous trip with Jesse Boyd through these areas, reaching out to Jews and Gentiles alike. I’m very excited about this trip and the opportunity it presents to again minister alongside Jesse, so please keep this in prayer. I do covet your prayers, and I thank all of you that have given of your own selves to further the Gospel in adverse ways. I hope that the testimony of God working in the hearts of people down here brings much joy to you and that you will be convicted to labor diligently for the Lord while we await His return.
May the Lord bless you all with less of yourself and more of Christ!