Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)
TITLE: Let Your Light Shine Before Men
By Petra van der Zande
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When God called my husband Bill and I to Israel, my first reaction was, “Israel? What on earth can we do there?”
Due to a lack of Bible knowledge and the world media’s brainwashing, I, like many Christians, was often annoyed and irritated by the country and its people.
It took awhile, but God changed our hearts and although we didn’t have a clue where and how, we knew we had to go to Israel and comfort God’s people. (Isaiah 40:1)
And somehow I had this premonition that we were to receive our “lives calling” over there.
In 1989 we began to work as volunteers at a Christian organization in Jerusalem.
Although the culture was completely different from Holland, we immediately felt at home.
We found an English speaking church and tried to learn the Hebrew language.
In December 1990, the age-old gesture of a mother putting her arm around her daughter touched me deeply. The word “adoption” sprang in mind.
Bill was just as surprised as I was.
“Let’s pray about it and ask God to confirm it,” he suggested.
Confirmations came from unexpected sources and angles and with such speed that Bill said,
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lord has already a child waiting for us.”
And indeed, the Lord had.
“Yesterday we’ve received your letter,” the social worker said on the phone. “We may have a child for you, a Jewish boy. As non-Jews, you won’t be able to adopt, but can be foster parents. Can you come for a visit? Tomorrow perhaps?”
It took almost a year before Moshe was allowed to come and live with us, and the physically disabled and emotionally troubled 3½ year old boy turned our lives upside-down.
Fahima (a 4 year old Bedouin girl) came exactly a year later. In 1994, 7 year old Nadia (Fahima’s cousin) joined us, followed in 1997 by Na’il, a 3 year old disabled Arab boy.
As non-Jews, it’s unwise to evangelize in Israel, because then the Ministry of Interior will have a good reason to kick you out of the country. For the first 10 years we lived on a tourist visa, and only later received temporary residency.
We had to be very wise, and believed our actions spoke more than words.
Our life in Israel was not to be measured by the amount of “converts” we made, but by being faithful to our calling.
Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)
For us, that meant providing a home for special needs children. Providing a safe haven for them, a place where their medical needs were taken care of, where they could blossom and thrive. Where they were bathed in prayer and love, without being ‘evangelized’, for that would be against the Israeli law.
They weren’t our ‘own’ children, because we couldn’t adopt them.
People watched, observed, noticed, and often called us angels.
“No, we are human,” I always told them, “with our good and bad days. We are parents who struggle with anger, impatience, frustration, exhaustion, just like you.”
“Yes, but still. I wouldn’t be able to do it,” they usually responded.
Because we didn’t look Jewish, people presumed we were Christians.
“You must be, nobody wants to do the work you do,” they concluded, “I see the Messiah in you!”
Often I then shared how the Lord God guided us to these children, and told them we could only do it through His grace and strength. The Jewish people understood and glorified God.
God used and still uses our special family as a sign of His love.
Filled with the wonder of it, we thank our heavenly Father that He is willing to use us for His glory.
God miraculously provided permanent residency for us, so now we can continue to provide a loving home to these very special children, even after the age of 21.
By God’s grace we continue to let our light shine before men, that they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven.
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