a light to the gentiles
As we travel around the globe and declare the God of Israel as the one true God and the Messiah of Israel as the only hope for salvation to Israeli backpackers, I am astounded that so few know Messiah was prophesied to also be a gift for the Gentiles. "Messiah is for us and He will judge the Gentiles," they often say and then ask: "How come you know so much about him?" Yes, the Redeemer of Israel will judge the Gentile nations, and it is an easy thing that He will one day restore the Jewish people, but Jehovah goes on to say:
Jesus the Christ is and always was declared to be both the Messiah of Israel AND the Saviour of the world! And, He would be God in the flesh. In Isaiah 42:8, the LORD is very clear that He will not share or give His glory to another. But in verses 1-7, He plainly allocates this glory to "he that shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles" (42:1) and He that will be given "for a covenant of the people" (i.e. Israel; 42:6). The LORD of heaven and earth is not contradicting Himself, my friends. He will not give His glory to another, but He gladly gives it to Messiah because Messiah is God in human flesh and given also "for a light of the Gentiles" (42:6). Hallelujah!
This past week, Eric and Bishnu attempted to converse with a group of Israelis they encountered on the streets here in Huaraz, Peru. The alpha-male in the group turned to the others and blurted out Mashiachim (a Hebrew term that denotes Christian or missionary when directed at Gentiles, and in this context definitely not considered a term of endearment), and immediately everyone responded "no, no, no" in unison as if they were obeying a superior officer's orders in the IDF and walked off, leaving Eric and Bishnu standing dumbfounded on the corner. These types of things happen from time to time and can be quite discouraging. It can also be deflating to expend lots of effort to seek out lost sheep of the House of Israel in out-of-the-way places they are known to frequent only to turn up empty. This happened a week ago when my family and I slogged up a trail that climbed 5,100 vertical feet to a lake that is higher than any mountain in the contiguous United States. Nada.
Notwithstanding, there is good medicine, a time-tested remedy, that always works in these situations. It's the same medicine the Apostle Paul, a Hebrew of the Hebrews (cf. Philippians 3:5), used long ago: "Lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (cf. Acts 13:46). One of my favorite parts about Jewish outreach is that it guarantees to put a whole slough of Gentiles in your path from various places and walks of life. And, there are plenty of these divine appointments that accomplish exactly what the LORD intends for them to accomplish with regard to the Jewish people: "to provoke them to jealousy" (Romans 11:11). How awesome it was the other night for one of the Israeli backpackers who had been in our home to walk up on us in Plaza de Armas the other night as we were preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles in the open air. Talk about curiosity and a head-scratching moment.
These past few months in South America, it has been our great pleasure to be a light to the Gentiles as we seek out the the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the brethren of our Lord after the flesh. To date, people from 24 Gentile nations have been confronted with the Gospel. Last year, in these same parts, people from 32 Gentile nations were confronted with the Gospel. In 2016, it was 40 different nations with Team Yeshua up in Northern India and nearly the same with our inaugural Team Yeshua the year before. I'm reminded of the praise of Simeon over the baby Jesus:
Consider a few such divine appointments from recent weeks. There was Philipe working a hot dog stand on a quiet street in Puerto Varas, Chile. My brother Matthew shared in-depth with this Catholic man. He was very open to biblical truth and gladly received a copy of God's Word (something the Roman Catholic Church has never wanted in the hands of its people).
Fernando in Puerto Montt, Chile was a very bitter man, but he gladly received a Bible after I spoke of the difference between manmade religion and the biblical Gospel. And, then there was Saul. He was hanging around in San Martin Plaza in Lima, Peru one night and eavesdropping on some of our conversations with the people. It was cold and foggy, and the clamor of political protests and public calls to dissolve the National Congress were all around, and our search had turned up no Israeli backpackers. I approached Saul and asked if he had a question. He asked, “Can this Jesus take away my burdens?” You see, he had just been released the day before from the notorious Lurigancho prison after having completed a five-year sentence. Inside, he was raped multiple times and contracted HIV as a result. His burdens are heavy. There were no Israeli backpackers out there that night, but Lord gave me great opportunity to share with this man and to explain how Christ can redeem us from our sins and our burdens. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light, and He bids come all who are weary and heavy-laden. This man heard the Gospel and never once asked me for money. But, it was pretty clear that he had nothing but the clothes on his back and no way to get back to his wife and three daughters living somewhere in a village outside Cusco. Street food in Lima is great, and he was very happy to receive a full plate of food. As he dined on the stone stairs, I was able to continue preaching the Gospel in his ear. Then, when I offered him enough money to purchase a bus ticket back to his village, he burst into tears, tears of genuine gratitude. After a big bear hug, he rushed off into the night to get that bus ticket. Please continue to pray for this man, that the change wrought in Saul of Tarsus, a change that changed his very name, would be done in him. Pray that His burdens will be taken away in Christ.
"And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of" (Hebrews 11:32): Manuel, Luan, IIona, Andy, Will, Tom, 3 Koreans, Cristian, another Fernando, two guys walking across Argentina, some who had fled Venezuela, and Josué. Ah yes, Josué . . .
. . . Yesterday, Bishnu, Eric, Josiah, and I made the arduous trip up to the Pastouri Glacier at roughly 16,500 feet above sea level. It's a place the Israelis like to visit, and we had even heard a few talking about going up there this week. We slogged up ahead of when the daily groups typically arrive and were able to explore the ice caves and the seracs before any national park personnel showed up to tell us this area was off-limits. Well, the groups started trickling in, and all day, we kept hoping for some encounters with Israelis. Nada. We hung around until everyone left, trying to be a light to Gentiles, and it seemed we had messed around far too long at such a high altitude.
When we finally made it back to our driver (a man who took a Bible from me last year and still refers to it as his most prized possession), it was late and Josué was in the parking lot asking for our help. He was with his family, and they had come up from Lima. Along the bad gravel road to the glacier very late in the afternoon, he had torn open his oil pan, and the car had just cut off in the middle of the lane somewhere around 15,000 ft. They were stuck; his small daughter was shivering; and his wife was crying. Long story short, we were able to pull him out to the pavement and a garage in a nearby pueblo. It was slow and arduous, but we finally made it. Thinking back, had we found Israelis earlier in the day, we would have left. And, had we not messed around up at the glacier far too long, there would have been no one to help this man and his family. As we finally parted ways, we spoke to him about the grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. He gladly took some Spanish Gospel tracts, and his wife was so very grateful. And then, it warmed my heart to see our driver, whom we have been discipling, refuse to take any money from this family and affirm that God should be given the glory.
During the hour or so it took to get back to Huaraz after all this, we were all content to have been used of the Lord that particular day to be a light to the Gentiles. But alas, the day was far from over. When we reunited with the ladies, we learned that five Israelis were coming over for dinner, including three we had met months before in Argentina who had received Hebrew New Testaments. The food was on the stove, and we had just enough time to freshen up. The conversations went late into the night, and the light also shined upon lost sheep from the House of Israel.
My friends, we fish with a Jewish net, but we will gladly take whatever we can catch in that net. We came down here to seek out Israeli backpackers, but praise God for opportunities also amongst the Gentiles.
Saturday morning, we leave for a 4-day trek in the Cordillera Blanca. Pray for us and for divine appointments, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
The Boyd Family
Zerayim Colportage Board