Israel & the Good News
By Lew Wayburn
In the early stages of Messianic congregation planting (and from there on out), outreach into the surrounding community is absolutely vital. Here, Lew Wayburn, a Messianic congregation planter whom Word of Messiah is assisting in Columbia, SC shares about a recent outreach opportunity:
“The topic of Israel is one that frequently tends to spark some very interesting conversations…
Each spring, some of us from Hope of Israel Columbia have a unique opportunity to testify of Yeshua as we represent Israel through a booth at the annual International Festival here in Columbia. The Israel booth always draws a lot of interest and this year we were able to talk with many different people as they stopped to check out the pictures and information. Most of the conversations we had were about secular Israel, some were about religious Israel, and a few were about spiritual matters. Out of these, one conversation in particular stands out.
My conversation with Joel* began like most conversations did that day, with talking about Israel. Joel was an interesting fellow, very open and engaging. As we talked, Joel’s girlfriend, Rachel* stood in the background and mostly just listened. I learned that the couple was visiting from upstate NY and would be leaving to return home the next morning.
Our conversation meandered from Israel to politics as Joel brought up some of his viewpoints. I kept my side vague as I listened and asked questions that soon led to a discussion on spiritual matters. Through our conversation, I found out that both Joel and Rachel are Jewish, and shared with them that I am as well. Joel then mentioned that they had attended services that Friday at the local Reformed Jewish Temple, the community in which I was brought up.
As we talked, I shared with them that I had come to trust in Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, and was now a Messianic Jewish follower of Him. When Rachel heard this, she just about blew up, said “Then you’re not Jewish!” and stormed off, mumbling tersely under her breath. Joel made an apology for her, and we continued on in our conversation. He was more liberal in his viewpoints and had no problem with me being Messianic, so our talk continued on as I asked questions to learn more about where he was coming from.
After a little while, Rachel started swooping back in. She stood listening from a distance, then would say something curt and storm off again. At one point, she stated pointedly, “And I don’t believe that whole ‘virgin birth’ thing; that is just impossible!” I was surprised to hear this as this subject hadn’t been a part of our discussion at all.
In response, I asked Rachel if she believed in God. “Absolutely!” she exclaimed. I then asked if she believed that the Bible was accurate. “Well the part that you call the ‘Old Testament’ is, of course!” On this point, I reminded her that not every Jewish person felt this way as even her boyfriend wasn’t so sure. Did she believe that God created the heavens and earth? “Yes, He created everything!” Even humans? “Absolutely!” I then posed the question, “So you believe that there is a God powerful enough to create stars, planets, animals, and even humans, but not powerful enough to find a way to make a virgin pregnant?
There was a very, very long pause, and Rachel’s face fell. Finally she said, “Well, maybe it is possible, but I don’t believe that’s the way it happened.” “Well,” I said, “that is a different matter altogether: possible, vs. what actually happened.” I then asked if she was aware that almost all of the ancient rabbis of Yeshua’s time were expecting Messiah to arrive via a virgin birth. She asked how I knew this, and I told her about the references in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) and the ancient rabbinical writings/commentaries. She was very pensive about this, and soon our conversation started to wind down.
Although Rachel and Joel have not yet chosen to accept Yeshua, a seed of the Good News was planted. I followed up with them by sending Sam’s article/ tract: “Isn’t a Virgin Birth Inconceivable?” for Joel to read and share with Rachel, should he choose to do so. Soon after, I heard back from him that he had received it and would pass it on to Rachel.
Please pray for this couple, as well as the many other Jewish and non-Jewish people with whom we spoke at the Festival, that the seeds planted will grow and that God will open their eyes to the truth of Messiah’s birth, death, resurrection, and offer of salvation to all who will believe!”
*Names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals