Where Jesus Walked

If Jesus were to return to the places he knew as a child and adult, what would He say? Would He tear down the concrete and wire fortifications that separate communities, just as He chased the sellers and money changers from the temple? Would anyone dare follow Him today, in the face of car bombs and suicide bombers?

If Jesus walked in Israel today, where would He go? Where would He worship? The temple in which He worshiped while on earth no longer stands, replaced centuries ago by a mosque.

Jesus sought out the lowly and healed the sick and hurting. If Jesus walked in His homeland today, He would still seek out those who need His love and encouragement.

Perhaps He would visit a crowded hall where Romanian believers would welcome Him. Perhaps he would walk down the street to a storefront, where Filipino believers gather to worship. Or perhaps He would slip into the West Bank or Gaza and find just a handful of believers worshiping in a simple living room.

But He would not find Adventist churches. He would find congregations dotting the cities, towns and villages, but He would not find signs to direct Him to their places of worship.

Israel's Adventists meet in halls, storefronts and homes but do not go unnoticed. Recently a full-page article featuring Adventist believers and their faith appeared in the weekend edition of the largest newspaper in Israel.

Most of these Adventists are immigrants who have come to work for a few weeks, a few months, maybe a few years, to earn money for their families in poor countries around the world. Many are Romanians, Filipinos and Africans working hard to send money back home to their families, keeping only enough to survive on. Nothing is left to build churches.

After decades of near-stagnant numbers, the Adventist Church in Israel is growing rapidly today. Most of the growth is among the immigrants who share their faith with fellow workers and with their Jewish employers.

As part of a strategic plan to enable the Adventist Church in Israel to grow, leaders have set out to establish new congregations throughout the country, in both Jewish and Arabic regions. In addition, two young congregations that have just been established will be strengthened through the funds given on Thirteenth Sabbath.

If we help, many dreams will become reality. East Jerusalem and Nazareth will have Palestinian congregations, and the Ethiopian Jews of Rehovot will have a place to meet. Jews of Nazareth, Tiberias and Tel Aviv will have churches.

If Jesus were to return to His birthplace, would He find faith? That answer depends, at least in part, on you and on me. Do we care enough to support the work in Jesus’ homeland? Do we care enough to give generously this Thirteenth Sabbath—March 27—to make thousands of people’s dreams for a church a reality?

March 01, 2004 / World Church