Students challenged, encouraged by Israel trip
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – College at Southwestern student Melissa Medley and professor Harvey Solganick’s encounter with Marta on the streets of Tel Aviv unveiled a chilling story of survival. Their conversation occurred during evangelistic outreach on the Israel mission trip, May 28 - June 12.
Marta’s mother and father fled their home in Eastern Europe during WWII, “but not before losing every other member of her family to death camps and random raid killings, including a little sister,” explained Medley.
As Marta told her story, Medley heard the woman’s bitterness and anger in her voice. Medley knew Marta’s heartache had an answer, and she and Solganick prayed for her and offered Marta hope through the Gospel.
Medley, who is pursuing her B.A. in Humanities with a concentration in missions, feels called to cross-cultural ministry with people from Eastern Europe. Meeting Marta, who is Jewish, as well as others visiting Israel from Russia and Lithuania, was significant for Medley.
“I left Marta feeling challenged in my faith and awakened to a whole new realm of poverty in the world,” said Medley. “The people of Israel, particularly the Jewish peoples, are not suffering from a physical poverty as much as they are a spiritual poverty. They are wailing at a wall and keeping 613 laws for a Messiah who has already returned. That alone should kindle a spark within the hearts of believers for the Jewish peoples around the globe.”
Southwestern students attended lectures about Jewish culture and learned how to share the Gospel specifically with people of Jewish faith. Jim Sibley, associate professor of Jewish Ministry from Criswell College, taught the lectures.
Students and professors then set out in the streets of Tel Aviv to ask survey questions related to what they studied, with the hope they could engage in Gospel conversations. People like Marta were eager to share their own stories and to listen as the students shared about Yeshua (“Jesus” in Hebrew), as well as their own testimonies.
Beau Brewer, a Master of Divinity student, often shares his faith around Fort Worth, including a mall near the seminary. Because of the classes he took while in Israel, he learned better how to share his faith with some of the Jewish people who work in the mall.
“We have so many opportunities to share and witness cross-culturally in Fort Worth, but I have been missing the opportunity to share this kind of cross-cultural witness. It wasn’t intentional; it was just because I didn’t realize it. Now I’m looking forward to making those proper kinds of connections,” says Brewer.
Amy Swaner and her husband, Caleb, achieved missions credit for their degree programs while on the trip (both are pursuing B.A. degrees the College at Southwestern). As a couple they have been praying about where God might have them serve after graduation.
Because of this trip, says Amy, they remain in contact with workers in the area and have committed to pray about returning to Israel in the future.