Why Bibles are Needed in Israel

Israel is a more modern country but the cost of living there is extreme and you get the very rich and you get the incredibly poor

Welcome to Asked and Answered,” the podcast series that answers all of your missions related questions. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce.

Joy- Hi guys, welcome.

Ron- Hi, Joy.

Joy- Okay, so my question for you today is about the country of Israel, why are Bibles so needed in Israel if it’s a wealthy country, if it’s a religious country?

Ron- Well, it is, the question is honest, many people have it today, but perceptions in the West of what Israel is are a little bit askew and for this reason; Israel is a more modern country but the cost of living there is extreme and you get the very rich and you get the incredibly poor who are new to the country or just moving in and things like that, or have been there generations and live in poverty. So the variations are massive and, therefore, it’s very, very difficult to put one identifier on the country of Israel today, it goes via nationality where you came from, in other words, the Russian speaking. It could be the Arabic-speaking people, it could be those in West Bank or Gaza Strip. You can talk about Israel in the big Jewish sort of framework where you’ve got the ultra-orthodox who are sometimes extremely wealthy from their backgrounds and then you’ve got those who are secular Jews who work in office buildings in Tel Aviv or something like that and make an average income. All these factors come into play in Israel. So many people say, well, I see they have cars and they’ve got freeways and they’ve got all these things. That’s true but it’s still very, very difficult and especially for one group. These are young people growing up in the country and they go through their military service for two or three years or whatever the case may be.

<p>Map of Israel with push pin.</p>

Joy- And that’s all young people?

Ron- That is all young people, and then they come up through that and they have to find a job and they have to find a place to live, etcetera. Many people, the rent is so expensive for their income that they can’t even afford a normal rental unit. Or a young couple getting married, they have to stay with their parents in an apartment. And so everybody is squished together sometimes in these apartment settings and they try to get enough money together to get a down payment, to get a loan, mortgage, etcetera, to get a house. It is really tough.

Joy- So it’s a very divided country that way?

Ron- Totally, very much so. And we would expect from a Western perspective for it to be much more independently wealthy, prosperous, etcetera. Not necessarily.

Joy- Well, they have great defense, great military, great advancement in technology. That is what I hear.

Ron- That is true and so for that group of people, they have it better off than many of the others. But we at Empower help people who are in the slums in Haifa or Tel Aviv or some of the people in the outlying areas that are very, very poor, especially Covid did a number on them so that really settled it with unemployment. You see, Israel was based upon tourist trade, really I forget the percentage but I would say well over a third of every dollar coming into the country was a tourist dollar. maybe more than that and, therefore, when the tourist trade stopped now for two and a bit years, it just stopped cold, well they didn’t have any way of making a living. Hotels were shut down and tourist shops and tour guides, the whole thing just stopped. Those people are really suffering right now so for them to buy a Bible or to get a hold of one in many situations that is an extreme luxury item.

Joy- So the people who want the Bibles can’t necessarily find them I suppose.

Ron- Exactly! And what are you going to trade off for your children? Is it going to be food or a Bible? And therefore, we can say well, they should get their Bible. Well, it’s not quite that easy. Then the other part of it, what was the other part that we were talking about? You talked about wealth, oh, religion! It’s a religious country and that is true, it is a religious country.

Joy- So you’d think they would be saturated with everything.

Ron- Well, Christianity isn’t the biggest religion there. Now, let me explain that. First of all, you’ve got Islam and there is a good section of the country that is Islamic background belief, etcetera, you’ve got those coming from a Jewish background which are the majority and, therefore, they are not really interested much in the New Testament, they are interested in Old Testament, that is their religion based upon that. Christians, yes there is a section of Jerusalem that is cornered off for Christians, that is true but at the same time we are talking about division here and this is what people have got to realize, from an Empower perspective Christian doesn’t mean born again. Christian means that they hold to a religious belief or a religion talking about Jesus’ death on the cross, yes. But when it is personalized and a person becomes a born again believer, as according to John 3, Nicodemus, that story and the Spirit of God lives within them a miracle takes place. So you can have a religious belief without having a religious experience with Jesus. And that is where a lot of people are in Israel today, like that. They have a form of godliness but they deny the personal power of Jesus in their life. So they are doing the rules but they don’t know him. That is why the Bible talks about many people think they know Him but on judgment day they never really knew Him at all. That is why you can say well there must be a lot of Christians in the country, born again believers probably upwards of 60,000 that attend messianic congregations in the country. We don’t know the exact number, only God knows but I think it’s fair to say that 100,000 would be at the top end and I think many people would agree with that, of those that are in the land, born again believers, Messianic congregations or maybe within Judaism and not been able to come out publically. Therefore, yes, it’s religious on many fronts but we are talking about those people here, and here we go, who are hungry to read and live by the Word of God. That is the question on the table right now and the number is growing all the time. And there are a lot of Jewish young people who are looking into the Word of God and are being witnessed to by their Christian friends. When I say Christian I mean born again men and women, boys and girls and they are being a witness to them and they are opening the Bible for the first time. Well, they have never looked into the New Testament before. They probably grew up a secular or orthodox background or something like that and they would have the Old Testament down pretty well but they don’t understand the New. So to read that sometimes you have to be presented with one and given one as a gift. They wouldn’t even know what to do, where to go sometimes to get a Bible.

So you can have a religious belief without having a religious experience with Jesus.

Joy- And are they accepting them happily or with caution?

Ron – Well, here’s the thing, they are spurred on by the Holy Spirit through witnessing, through various many reasons, curiosity sometimes, like what is in this book? Why do the Christians believe what they believe? Or somebody says, have you read in Isaiah 53 the description of the Messiah? If you want a fuller description look in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etcetera, and go on like that and they say, really? I should do that sometime! So then they want to find a Bible but where do you go? That is why Empower working with the Bible Society of Israel, we are in the business right now of supplying those people who are curious, who are hungry, who are wanting to understand the truth, commit their lives to the truth found in the New Testament in Jesus and they need some help. Either they need help financially to be able to afford one or they need one to be provided for them to get them started.

Charis- The Messianic congregations, their pastors are saying that they are requesting them because their small congregations just can’t afford to buy them to give them out to people.

Ron- Exactly, and even for their children growing up to have the Bible, their first Bible, it’s a struggle sometimes. Therefore, if we can provide the Bible in all its forms, sometimes these are study Bibles for pastors or in various languages because there are so many languages spoken in Israel today. It’s unbelievable! From all these countries where people are coming home, Jewish people are coming home or people are immigrating there for various reasons. Even now, as I speak and we are in this studio, Ukrainian Bibles and New Testaments are necessary in Israel. Who would have ever thought that before? But at the same time, world conditions have changed, they are running to that land because it’s safe right now, doors are open and, therefore, we have to help provide those Bibles for them. So religious yes, moderately wealthy, all right? It’s not third world but at the same time there are divisions within it making it difficult for people to both acquire and to afford.

Joy- So I suppose then the hope is the cry for Bibles continues to grow and grow in Israel as it’s already begun across the board.

Ron- Oh yeah! Now we are working on the curiosity side of things. We have supplied, from what we are told, we have supplied the major Messianic congregations, almost all of them, with every bit of scripture that they need so now we are looking for other opportunities to those people that would really like to, who aren’t Christians, who aren’t part of a body, and they want to look into it and those are the people that really now we are focusing on with the Bible Society in Israel.

Joy- That sounds a little mysterious, are we keeping that a little, like how are we focusing on them? Are we doing video work or just more Bibles?

Ron- It’s more Bibles for those that are interested.

Joy- And I know that the interest continues to grow because I have been seeing different things online where young people, the generation is starting to ask more questions and that is what really the focus is.

Ron- Absolutely, we are in the business of answering questions because God wrote down in the Old and the New Testaments, all the answers to those questions. So there is no doubt right now that the people in Israel because of world conditions, because of the fighting that sometimes happens in the country itself, the various factions, and all those things, their lives are being shaken and they are starting to look around. And that is what we want to do, we want to be there with an answer, the one that we believe is the truth, that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

Joy- Thanks guys, I think this was a great podcast because I think there is a lot of misconception out there about Israel. So thank you.

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