Q&A with an Israeli Missionary
Reaching Secular Jewish Young People for Jesus in Tel Aviv
In the following interview, David, a Jewish missionary with Chosen People Ministries in Israel, tells Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem about how he came to faith in Jesus, his and his wife Viktoria’s ministry among Tel Aviv’s young, secular, Jewish population, and how believers can pray for ministry in Israel.
My family is originally from Latvia, a small country in Eastern Europe. During World War II, most of our family perished in the Holocaust. My grandfather survived, but the Holocaust left an enormous pain in his heart. He was against everything related to God. After World War II, the communist party ruled Latvia.
My grandfather studied communist ideology at the university. After graduation, he climbed quickly from one role to another in the communist party until he reached a senior post in the Latvia Communist Party’s Ministry of Information. He started working in communist propaganda.
During that time, simply having a Bible at home was against the law. Anyone who kept one risked being arrested and locked in a KGB basement. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Information had copies of the Bible for the purpose of studying the Scriptures and teaching against them.
Because of his position, my grandfather was able to take a Bible to our family’s house to study the Scriptures and prepare articles and lectures against them. But God had another plan.
My father, sixteen years old at the time, found the Bible my grandfather brought home and began to read it. When my father read about the Messiah’s crucifixion and resurrection, he fell in love with Yeshua (Jesus) and dedicated his life to Him. I had the privilege of being raised in a family of Jewish people who believe in Yeshua as the promised Messiah.
At the age of eighteen, I joined the Israel Defense Forces and served for eight years. After my discharge, I dedicated my life to ministry service. Today, I am forty-one. So, for the last fifteen years, I have been proclaiming the love of Messiah and the truth of God’s Word to the people of Israel.
Over the past nine years, most of my and Viktoria’s service has been concentrated in the Tel Aviv area. The majority of the Jewish people living in this large city are secular. I can say we certainly live in a special period in history.
Today, the Jewish people, especially those in the Tel Aviv area, are more open to the gospel than ever before. Additionally, Jewish people seem more open to hearing and discussing the gospel in Tel Aviv than in other areas of Israel.
Nine years ago, my wife Viktoria and I moved to Tel Aviv. It is a special Israeli city with a population of about 3.7 million people in the greater Tel Aviv area. Most of the area is made up of secular young Jewish people who want to enjoy life in the big city.
In Israel, both men and women must serve in the Israel Defense Forces. For many young Israelis, serving in the army is a challenging time. After discharge, a large number of these young people come to Tel Aviv for short periods of time, anywhere from a few months to a few years. When Israeli young people move to Tel Aviv, they are open to all sorts of new experiences.
Viktoria and I see this time—while young Israelis are living in Tel Aviv—as an opportunity to plant seeds of the good news we have in Messiah Yeshua in their hearts. We have a vision for these young people. Through them, the good news can spread all over Israel when they return to their own towns.
After nine years of service here, we are seeing young people who received the good news go back to their homes and act as living testimonies of their faith in Messiah Yeshua to their families, friends, and coworkers.
Right now, we are renting a small commercial space in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, as our outreach center, but we are in the process of purchasing a larger one. This new center will serve as our main ministry hub for the entire Tel Aviv area. Our current landlord is under much pressure from anti-Messianic organizations. Until now, he has been able to cope with the pressure, but we know this can change at any moment. Please pray the Lord continues to provide funds for the purchase and renovation of our own building.*
Israel is a democratic country. Israel does not persecute believers in Yeshua. Even still, however, there is constant pressure from some ultra-religious Jewish organizations against Jewish believers in Yeshua.
These anti-missionary organizations come to the entrance of our center with signs accusing us of treason. Sometimes, they arrive in groups of a few dozen people in order to disrupt our events, usually by yelling.
I remember a certain time when there was tension between the Arab and Jewish populations. At that time, the Lord put it on my heart to arrange a prayer meeting with both Jewish and Arab believers in Yeshua. We met together and prayed in unity for peace in our country. Not everything is smooth and simple, but I wholeheartedly believe we are to continue striving for unity and strengthening our relationships with our Arab brothers and sisters in order to be good witnesses for Yeshua in our area.
Viktoria and I have two children, a boy and a girl. Both study in schools, and it is not easy to constantly face pressure from anti-Messianic organizations. We are privileged to serve the Lord in Israel, yet we feel we are on the front lines of a spiritual war. Please pray God will continue to give us the strength to face every challenge while we serve Him.
Israel needs prayer for peace. In addition to waiting for Yeshua’s coming Kingdom of peace, we need to actively pray for peace now. Psalm 122:6 exhorts, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we are praying for every person who lives there—whether believer or unbeliever, Jewish Israeli or Arab Palestinian.
*If you would like to learn more about the new Tel Aviv Messianic Center and/or donate to help Chosen People Ministries reach its financial goal to purchase and renovate the center to reach young Israelis for Messiah, please click here.