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Israel’s underground disciples need our prayers

jerusalem, temple mount
A footbridge leads from the Western Wall to the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City June 2, 2015. Picture taken June 2, 2015. |

Passover is a season when people’s hearts are more open to the Gospel, and the good news of Jesus Christ becomes of greater interest to those who haven’t accepted Him as their Messiah. And it’s at this time of year that many who don’t know Yeshua come to saving faith in Him!

That’s one of the reasons why today in Israel, we’re not only seeing the physical restoration of the country after a 2,000-year exile, Jewish people are returning to their God and accepting the Messiah in numbers not seen since the early Church! A miracle is taking place right before our very eyes.

While historically Jesus the Messiah has been the best kept secret amongst the Jewish people, today there are many native-born Israelis coming to know Him as their personal Savior and bringing the Gospel back to Israel again.

The rabbis will say you can’t be Jewish and believe in Yeshua (Jesus). We know, however, that Jesus is Jewish, the disciples were Jewish and there has always been a remnant of Jewish believers throughout history.

Today, there are just over 9 million people in Israel, about 7.5 million of whom are Jewish. Of those, there are about 30,000 Messianic Jews who believe in Jesus. The true number of believers, however, is likely much higher than we can document.  

The best way to describe this online awakening is like an “iceberg church”; what’s visible above water is just the tip. Based on our daily interactions online, we believe the vast majority of Israeli believers are “under water,” afraid or unable to come out publicly with their faith. Many believers are afraid to even tell their spouse about their Christian faith, much less attend a local church. Meeting face to face to discuss their faith feels impossible, and most new believers are confused with questions and afraid others will find out. Jews who accept Jesus as their Messiah are often outcasts, with their family going so far as to pray the “Mourner’s Kaddish” over them — a prayer said for those who have passed away.

One Israeli seeker shared with One For Israel recently, “When I was 15, I saw a picture of Yeshua on the cross and I really connected with it deeply in my soul. At the age of 18, I looked into Yeshua a bit and started to believe in him. However, my family is religious, and my dad warned me that Yeshua was no good. My heart cries out for Yeshua, but I’m afraid to do anything about it even though I believe in Yeshua deep in my soul.”

Israel is experiencing a massive transformation. “Yeshua” is the most searched religious term in Israel and in the last eight years we’ve had over 47 million views of our Gospel films in Israel alone! There’s a massive spiritual hunger among the underground Jewish believers of Israel. They have many questions about faith in Jesus and they crave discipleship.

Why is discipleship important?

Before believers were labeled as Christians, we were called “disciples.” Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly My disciples’” (John 8:31). A disciple, in the time of Jesus, was someone who followed and learned under a teacher. During His three years of ministry on earth, Jesus demonstrated how integral this learning is to those who believe in Him.

Discipleship helps believers:

  • Grow in their understanding of Christ, and mature in Godly wisdom.
  • Learn to trust in Him to become fully committed followers of Christ.
  • Build their faith on a solid foundation so that they can then disciple and lead others towards Christ.

To help underground believers grow in their faith, One For Israel offers innovative discipleship tools that connect with Jewish and Israeli society in a powerful way through our online platforms and Hebrew bible app. Our websites and Bible app are geared to reach people from secular, religious or atheistic backgrounds. These resources offer several hundred apologetic articles and over 100 short videos that answer hundreds of objections to Jesus, as well as a powerful series of discipleship teachings in Hebrew, helping new believers understand the core teachings of Yeshua.

These resources are a powerful lifeline for underground seekers and new believers in Israel — many of whom are unable to attend a local gathering or too afraid to meet face-to-face with ministers — where they can learn anonymously online. Our hope is after completing our discipleship program, believers will allow us to help them connect to a local congregation and personal fellowship groups.  

In addition to discipleship, these underground believers — our brothers and sisters in Christ — need our prayers to remain steadfast in their faith. That’s why we invite all Christians to pray for:

  • All Israeli believers to grow in their faith, becoming more deeply rooted and grounded (“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” - Ephesians 3:17-18)
  • New believers to take the bold steps of faith into fellowship with other believers and avail themselves to discipleship (“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” - Acts 2:42)
  • Many more Israeli men and women to come to faith in Jesus, step into discipleship and feel bold in their witness (“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” - Romans 10:1)
  • Protection around all Israelis who have chosen to follow Yeshua and strive to be a witness for Him (“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” - James 1:12),

Dr. Erez Soref, President of One For Israel, has also served as the president of One for Israel Bible College since 2006. Dr. Soref brings together Jewish and Arab pastors and leaders, both men and women, as a powerful testimony to the power of Christ in the war-torn Middle East. Dr. Soref has published articles and books in English and Hebrew on topics of counseling, Messianic Jewish identity, and provides the most up-to-date research on the Messianic-Jewish community in Israel. More about Dr. Soref and One For Israel can be found at oneforisrael.com.

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