The Testimony of Israel:
I learned Arabic back in Russia as my hobby. I had a friend from Lebanon at university where we were in medical studies together, and we made a deal that I will help him with Russian and he will teach me Arabic.
When we made aliyah I immediately applied for tests to get my medical license in Israel. I did not pass the 6 tests I took, so I couldn’t get the license to work in Israel as a doctor. I was upset and couldn’t understand why. Then I took a different road and became a licensed gardener. God had a plan that I did not know back then.
When we moved to Northern Samaria near Jenin (an Arab city in the West Bank), I was invited to Jenin, to work at the hospital’s garden. This was the first time I ever worked in Jenin. The rumors about the Israeli Jewish gardener that is working in Jenin went viral, and quickly everyone in the city heard about me. It was not common for Jews to worked for Arabs in general. The rumors came to the ears of the city dignitaries, and they also invited me to work at their gardens, as I was becoming well-known in Jenin.
Now, you must know that the people in Jenin are very special! I noticed that they take high interest in what the person in front of them believes. So usually the first questions I was asked were, ‘Where are you from?’, and ‘What do you believe in?’. This was a very common question in Jenin. Their questions opened opportunities for me to share my faith. So I started to talk about Jesus, and said to them that I’m Jewish and I believe in Jesus Christ.
They were very surprised and asked if I am Jewish or Christian. I answered that for me, Jesus is not a religion, it’s a TRUTH. My stories about being Jewish and believing in Jesus quickly spread in Jenin, which then had a population around 60,000, most of whom were Muslims.
The rumors spread so quickly that when I was walking in the center of the city, people would stop me and ask if I believe in Jesus.
‘Yes!’ I said.
And they replied, “Is there a chance you could get us the New Testament in Arabic so that we could read about this Jesus you believe in?”
I have never seen such thirst to hear about Jesus in any place I have ever visited. I started to talk with a certain organization that was specialized in sharing the gospel in Arabic, and they sent me copes of Arabic Bibles and leaflets about Jesus. I gave out everything they sent me, to anyone who wanted to hear about my faith, including the Palestinian policemen.
I remember one day when I was having my lunch break from work, I was eating in the center of Jenin, and when I finished eating a Muslim man came to me and asked me: “Where are you from?”
“I am a neighbor, I live in a settlement near Jenin,” I answered him.
“And what do you believe in?” He continued with the common question in Jenin.
“In Jesus the Christ” I replied with a smile.
“Can you explain to me who that is?” the Muslim man asked.
I started to explain to this man who Jesus is, and as I was talking, I noticed a large group of people returning from their prayings at the mosque. They gathered around me in order to hear me talking to this man about Jesus.
They all looked very religious because of they wore a specific Muslim robe, which indicated their closeness to Islam. They all remained and listened until I was finished talking.
And then one of the Muslim men asked me, “So what do you say, is Islam good or evil?”
This was a tough question because if I answered plainly my life would be in danger. But on the other hand, I couldn’t say that Islam is good just to satisfy them. At that moment I sensed that the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I opened my mouth and said, “The Lord Jesus said, that each tree is known by its own fruit – a good tree can’t produce bad fruits and a bad tree can’t produce good fruits” (Luke 6:43-44). My answer made them think deeply and that’s how our conversation ended that day.
When the Second Intifada broke out (September 2000) I couldn’t go to Jenin anymore, but still prayed for God to work in the hearts of people there. I am sure that Jesus will continue the work He started in Jenin through me. In fact, a few years ago I heard that someone from America was called by the Lord to Jenin and now there is a church. I rejoiced when I heard this good news. God is good and He is working everywhere, even among the communities that no one thinks to go to.