More than 67,000 Nigerians made decisions to dedicate their lives to Yeshua and many people experienced healing as a result of mission trips completed by the Isaiah 2 Initiative.
Ron Cantor, an active member of Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv, took a team of young people from his congregation. The Isaiah 2 Initiative has completed two mission trips to Nigeria. To our knowledge, these are the first Israeli Messianic Jewish missionary trips. Ron describes the inception of this vision,
February 14th, 2009: I was in a hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, when the Lord spoke to my heart.
I had just been invited to organize a mass outreach campaign by local leaders from Adamawa State in eastern Nigeria, but I was struggling internally. Something wasn’t right!
As I prayed that morning I felt in my heart that I was not to return to Nigeria alone, but to bring Israeli young people with me so they too could fulfill their call to be a light to the nations and be deeply impacted in the process—returning to Israel on fire!
That was the beginning of our “Isaiah 2 Initiative.”
The young missionaries were touched by the simple way of living they observed throughout Nigeria.
The initiative draws its name from Isaiah 2:3b, “The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
The tribal King of the hosting city, a Muslim, graciously accepted these Jewish believers from Israel. Cantor states,
It is a tradition in Nigeria that when a visitor comes to a city, he or she is received by the mayor and the tribal king.
The king of Hong is a Muslim, and given the backdrop of Islamic violence against Christians in northern Nigeria, his words were even more powerful.
“You have come to Hong and have answered my prayers.”
A Muslim king was praying that we would bring the Gospel to his city? I didn’t argue with him!
Everywhere we went, we were literally treated like royalty by everybody! The joy on their faces, anticipating our coming to their village with the Gospel, was humbling.
A Nigerian spokesman said he and his fellow countrymen were particularly touched to be visited by people from “the country we have read about in the Bible.”
Among the reports of miraculous healing that resulted from the mission were those of vision being restored to a previously blind woman and hearing to a man who had been deaf. On one night of the campaign the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was proclaimed as the one and only God — whereby objects and articles connected to superstitions, idols and the occult were publicly burned.
Ron summarizes the trip this way.
By God’s grace we in Israel will continue to focus on preaching the good news of Yeshua to the nations. We believe that as the body of Believers in Israel embraces its role to be a light to the nations, it will release grace on Israelis to confess Yeshua.
Furthermore, there is no doubt that the young Israelis who come on these trips have life-changing encounters. Their boldness to share the good news here in Israel has been reinforced and their faith to believe for miracles strengthened.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord….” -Rom. 12.10-11
From the nation of India decades ago, Amy Carmichael gives us this staggering story:
It was convention week in a hill station in India. The afternoon meeting was just over. A few Christian station-people, some English-speaking Indian friends and the sixty or seventy missionaries who had been listening to the Bible reading were hurrying out to get a cup of tea before the evening meeting. An Indian lady lingered in the empty hall, and the writer, seeing her alone and thinking perhaps she had no friend at hand and might be feeling lonely, sat down beside her. Conversation turned to Bible reading. The Indian lady’s face darkened and she said bitterly, “What is the use of such meetings? You missionaries say one thing and do another!’ It was easy to see she had been wounded and soured, but not knowing her history, I could only urge that meetings were held just because we recognized our need….
But this did not satisfy her, and in quick, eager sentences she began to explain herself. She said that her people had noticed that when a missionary first came out, he was usually warm and loving and keen to win souls. Then gradually, she said, it was noticed that he cooled.
“And who can say,” she concluded, with an intensity that went through the hearer, “…. who can say you missionaries live specially holy lives? We Indian Christians observe. We observe you not only when you are at work but when you are off work too. Is there anything remarkable about you? Are you burning-hot people? We look to you to show us patterns and you are showing us crooked patterns.”
The words scorched. Discount what we may because of some inward hurt or warp; and granted, thank God, that the picture painted thus is not wholly true, there was enough truth left to lay at least the one who listened low down in the dust.
I believe this story is intimately applicable to most American believers. We need to hear the questions of the little Indian woman:
“Do you lead specially holy lives?”
“Is there anything remarkable about you?”
“Are you burning-hot people?”
We sell the our lives short by reducing the faith to a cute and dainty religion that we practice a few times a week. We are supposed to be a burning-hot people, fervent in Spirit, serving the Lord! Our lives are supposed to be separate from the world in a manner sufficient to raise questions in the hearts of our neighbors and relatives, “What is it about those people? There’s a humility…. there’s a moral clarity…. there’s a joy…. there’s a no-nonsense mode of living…. there’s a wisdom…. there’s a reality in their eyes that I have found nowhere else, and their lives testify to it.”
Let us consider the tear-stained exhortation that Amy gives to follow up her story:
Comrades in this solemn fight- this awful conflict with awful powers- let us settle it as something that cannot be shaken: We are here to live holy, loving, lowly lives. We cannot do this unless we walk very, very close to the Lord Jesus. Anything that would hinder us from the closest walk that is possible to us till we see Him face to face is not for us. We need to be sensitive to the first approach of the hindering thing. For the sake of the souls that may be stumbled if we turn even ever so little aside, for the sake of our Master’s glory- dearer surely to us than all else- let us ask Him not to show us whether in anywise we have been showing “crooked patterns.”
Dear reader, what is the temperature of your life? Have you settled into a cool spirituality that is unconsecrated and casual? Have you more passion for entertainment than you have for the Scriptures? Has the Spirit of prayer become foreign to you? Have you left your “first love” and latched onto idols that now sap all of your affections for Christ, and leave you barren and numb at heart? We must return to Him with whole hearts, forsaking the “crooked patterns” that have too long marked the Church in our nation. Let us cry out from a place of brokenness, that He may have for Himself a people no longer “lagging behind in diligence.” A people who are “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord….”
He is faithful to respond to the heart that hungers and thirsts after Him! He will fill your heart with new life, and cause His heart to be expressed through you. He will kindle a flame in our hearts that all the schemes of hell cannot begin to quench. He will have for Himself a people.
A people leading specially holy lives, empowered by His Spirit. A remarkable people. A burning-hot people. Amen!
“The death of Dr. Ralph Winter marks the passing of a giant from the scene of missions,” said Dr. K.P. Yohannan, founder and president of Gospel for Asia, “and GFA owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his influence on our ministry.”
Dr. Winter, 84, who died Wednesday night of cancer, was the founder of the U.S. Center for World Missions and, later, William Carey International University.
“Most of all, he caused a paradigm shift in the focus of global missions,” Dr. Yohannan said.
“I don’t think there was anyone more significant in the 20th century world of missions or anyone who brought as much change to how missions were strategized than Ralph Winter.”
Dr. Yohannan explained that before Dr. Winter, the focus of missions was on reaching countries–“coloring in the map of individual political entities.”
“But Dr. Winter pointed out that when Matthew 24:14 says the Gospel will be preached ‘as a testimony to all nations,’ the Greek word for ‘nations’ is ‘ethnos,’ which means a distinct people group,” the GFA leader said. “It was a whole new paradigm of missions thinking! We all began to understand that missions needed to be specific and targeted to reach people groups who had never before heard the Gospel, regardless of what country they lived in. He created a whole world of fresh missions thinking.”
Greg Burnett, of the Zadok House of Prayer, described Dr. Winter as “… a hero in the faith [whose] impact on our understanding of biblical missions was profound. Ralph and Roberta (his wife) were ordinary people who sacrificed and loved in amazing ways. I bless the Lord for His grace and kindness in touching their lives and, through them, us as well.”
Below is a video of Ralph Winter discussing unreached people groups: [Link to Video]
“What is God’s intention for these people? What are you trying to see happen to them and to their societies, from the standpoint of God’s will?” These questions raised by Dr. Winter are key, whether we are discussing a people we travel “18,000 miles” to reach, or the people we are a part of where we currently reside. Let’s honor him by asking these questions of the people we are called to, and bringing about the change God desires to see.
CARROLLTON, Texas, Mar. 19 /Christian Newswire/ — A large mob of anti-Christian extremists brutally attacked two Gospel for Asia-supported missionaries in Himachal Pradesh, India, on Saturday, March 14. After stripping them naked and beating Murari Jay and Atul Rajesh, the vicious group burned all their belongings and then had the missionaries arrested.
The mob of about 30 people barged into the place where Murari and Atul were staying. Humiliating the missionaries, the group tore the men’s clothes off and beat them. Murari sustained severe injuries to his back after mob members repeatedly kicked him, and Atul suffered acute head trauma. Other members of the mob set fire to everything the missionaries owned.
After assaulting the missionaries, their attackers grabbed Murari and Atul, forcing them to go to the police station. Authorities took the two men into custody. When GFA leaders in the area heard about the attack, they immediately went to the police station to help the missionaries. After much discussion, authorities released Murari and Atul at 11:30 p.m.
Even in this difficult situation, the missionaries were praising Jesus and told the GFA leaders that they felt the experience increased their faith in Him.
“It was a great privilege to be persecuted for the Gospel of Christ,” both missionaries responded when asked about the attacks.
The next morning, the two missionaries had to go back to the police station to clear the case. After investigating the situation, the police found no fault in the mob for the unproved beatings, and the missionaries were not charged with any crime.
Murari and Atul also received treatment at a local hospital following the attack. They are now home and, through medical care, are recovering quickly.
Gospel for Asia is an evangelical mission organization based in Carrollton, Texas involved in sharing the love of Jesus across South Asia.