In the 1970’s came the drifter-tourists. Having completed very tense Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conscriptions in very tense times, these individual nonconformists began reacting to the predictable status quo of Jewish life in a land surrounded by enemies who wanted to push them into the sea. They took a break and went trekking! Most of these early drifter-tourists came from the socio-economic center of Israeli life and were forced to travel on a shoestring budget. They went to places where it was cheap to subsist and where Jewish people could normally travel uninhibited and without fear of antisemitic retaliation. These pioneers unwittingly blazed trails in South Asia and South America, established popular itineraries, and forged bucket lists that would become popular, a predictable status quo in and of itself, for the Israeli trekkers who would come later.
From 1967-1982, the Sinai Peninsula was under Israeli control, fairly conquered in a war started by the Arab nations and in which Israel successfully defended itself. I’ve heard tales about the Sinai in those days: gorgeous beaches, amazing hikes, and popular treks. It was a veritable escape for many Israeli youths, and it was safe. Unfortunately, the Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982 in exchange for a fragile peace (big mistake, in my humble opinion); and today, it is every bit as bad as how Haiti, El Salvador, and many African countries were accurately styled (albeit a bit crude) by President Trump back in January, perhaps even worse. The place is overrun by terrorists, it’s been trashed in characteristic Muslim fashion; and tourists cannot travel from Israel’s modern-day border near Eilat to visit the pyramids near Cairo without a heavily-armed Egyptian military escort.
After Israel withdrew from the Sinai, Israeli trekking in the 1980’s escalated, and youths freshly out of compulsory IDF service began choosing distant destinations, particularly the trails and itineraries blazed in South Asia and South America by the early drifters. After the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, Israel’s economy took off, the cost of airfare dropped, and a Post-IDF great journey all but institutionalized as a rite of passage. Drifter paths in South Asia and South America became enshrined as Hummus Trails where those who come from Israel’s middle and upper-middle class want to follow in the footsteps of those went before, even mimicking the shoestring budgets of the early drifters when lack of funds is not an issue. A 2005 Outside Magazine article entitled “The Book” described the phenomenon thus:
For Israelis, travel is therapy. "There is a sense of a mental prison living here, surrounded by enemies," explains Yair Qedar, editor of the Tel Aviv–based travel magazine Masa Acher. Every moment is pregnant with menace. A trip to the pizzeria can end in the flash of a bomb. And there is the claustrophobia of tight-knit families in a miniature country hemmed in by ancient social traditions. "Suffocation is a constant feeling," Qedar says. "When the sky opens, you get out."
And that is precisely what many Israeli youth, fresh out of conscripted military service, have done. About five years ago, it was estimated that somewhere between 30-40,000 young adults left Israel annually for an average time period of six months to travel specific regions of the world, a rite of passage that one must needs experience before entering university studies or the Israeli workforce. About 2/3 of these would travel the Hummus Trail in South Asia (India, Nepal, and Thailand), and approximately 1/3 would opt for the Hummus Trail of South America (Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia). And, along these trails, there are predictable hubs that many transit through (e.g. Kathmandu, Leh, Manali, Goa, Bariloche, Huaraz, etc.).
The numbers have only grown in the last few years, and destinations in other places generally friendly to Jewish people (New Zealand, parts of Eastern Europe, Central America, and working mall kiosks in the United States and Canada) have likewise increased in popularity. Many of the Israeli trekkers we meet in places like Nepal, Ladakh, and Peru are in the formative transition from adolescence into adulthood, and they are therefore seeking travel experiences to define themselves and help set a course for a future back home. As a result, there is an openness to the things of Messiah during this time in the spirit of Solomon’s admonition in Ecclesiastes 12:1:
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.
For us Gentiles who have been changed by the power of Jesus the Jewish Messiah, we owe a great debt of gratitude to the Jewish people. Through them, we are given the WORD of God (Romans 3:1-2); the CHRIST of God (Romans 9:1-5); the APOSTLES (Acts 1:2-3); and the first CHRISTIANS, the first local NEW TESTAMENT CHURCHES, and the first MISSIONARIES (Acts 11:19-21). Moreover, we must needs remember that as SALVATION is to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile (Romans 1:16), so also is the JUDGMENT (Romans 2:8-9). Are not these things enough to motivate us to seek out opportunity to share the Gospel of the Jewish Messiah with the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Are not these things, along with the example of Paul, the Apostle to the GENTILES when he finally arrived in Rome (Acts 28:16-31), not enough to compel us to be friends of Israel?
For us, the answer is a resounding YES, and our labors these past months in South America as well as our Team Yeshua exploits going back to 2015 speak for themselves. Notwithstanding, we have only ever been about this work in EITHER South Asia OR South America OR combing the shopping malls in the United States. What we have long desired, what we have prayed for, is CONCURRENCE.
Last week, we finally had it. While hosting three Israeli backpackers at our dinner table in Huaraz and speaking to them concerning the difference between the faith of Abel (in a blood sacrifice) and Cain’s manmade religion, Eric & Mindy Trent were concurrently walking the streets in Northern India and distributing digital copies of the Hebrew Scriptures on pen drives to Israeli backpackers on the South Asia Hummus Trail. South America and South Asia on the same day! Glory to God.
During the Trents’ first week in Leh, they were able to give out sixteen copies of the Hebrew Scriptures, SIXTEEN. That’s a lot and good fruit that follows faithful labor. FPGM is blessed to have them on board.
Across the globe in Peru, I was bummed some weeks ago when I bumped into three Israelis who had just arrived in Huaraz on a bus that morning. I invited them to our apartment for dinner but neglected to offer them Hebrew Gospel Tracts or the Scriptures on a pen drive, something I am normally adamant to do not knowing whether I will ever see the same people again. Well, I screwed up and didn’t hear from them after that. Almost two weeks later, a guy messaged me, so I invited him and his two friends for dinner before they caught the night bus back to Lima. These had just finished the Huayhuash Trek, and when they showed up at our door, I instantly recognized one of them as one of the three with whom I had dropped the ball! Praise God for another chance. Around our table and over a wonderful meal prepared by wife and daughter, the Lord gave abundant opportunity to reason of sin, righteousness, judgment, and Messiah with three young people whose Jewish families respectively emigrated to Israel from India, Yemen, and France. All gladly received Hebrew Gospel tracts and copies of the New Testament. Tim (a long-time friend and faithful supporter of FPGM visiting from California) and I then walked these to the bus station and bade them farewell. Before leaving, however, I learned they were rendezvousing in Lima with the other two that were in that original group of three that I failed to offer God’s Word. I asked them to please pass along copies of the Gospel Tracts that I wrote, and the one young man promised me that he would. It’s really a blessing when the Lord gives us a chance to redeem blown witnessing opportunities. His grace is sufficient!
On another evening, a 22-year old young man from just south of Tel Aviv, who had seen one of my signs when he arrived in Huaraz, came over alone for dinner. His grandparents were from a Jewish heritage that dwelled in Bombay, India for many years. His mother moved from India to Israel when she was 8, and he, of course, was born there. The Jewish population in India during the Holocaust heard rumors about these things, but it was far distant. Notwithstanding, these would also make aliyah as have many from many places around the world these past 70 years. It's the God of Israel doing exactly what He said He would FIRST do in the last days: gather the people of Israel and Judah back into the land He promised to their fathers in a general state of UNBELIEF (Jeremiah 30:3). Then comes the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:4-7), what Daniel calls the Tribulation, the later-half of what Jesus referred to as the Great Tribulation, the two-fold purpose of which is to judge the Gentile nations for their wickedness (yes, including WICKED AMERICA) and to wake up the nation of Israel. Much of what has been built and accomplished in the Land of Israel since 1948 will be ravaged and destroyed, but Israel, finally recognizing its Messiah, will be saved out of it when they call for Him (Hosea 5:15; Zechariah 12:8-10). Yeshua will come, "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:26). And finally, the nation will serve the LORD their God (Jeremiah 30:8-11).
Please pray for this young man. We spoke of many things around the table, and at the end of the night, right before Tim and I walked him back to his hostel, he gladly received a Hebrew New Testament. Pray that he will come to His Messiah and thereby escape the Time of Jacob's Trouble brewing on the horizon. Pray that he and his family and all the others with whom we have crossed paths in Argentina, Chile, and Peru will be amongst the Remnant.
It truly has been a great season down here. So many have come through this home and have left with a copy of the Holy Scriptures. And, I believe it’s going to be a great season over in India and Nepal for the Trents. Simultaneous efforts along the Hummus Trails on opposite sides of the globe has been a goal we have long desired. Glory to God, and thanks to all who support this effort for helping to make it possible.
A future that has already been written with happy endings for both the Church and the nation of Israel compels us to push forward in CONCURRENCE
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
Jesse Boyd, Zerayim Colporter
P.S. My family and I leave Huaraz at the end of next week, and we are set to fly back to the USA on August 23rd. Prayers for traveling mercies are much appreciated. Then it’s mall season stateside :)