Meet Me at the Olive Tree
Stories of Jews and Arabs reconciled to the Messiah
Meet me at the Olive Tree contains fifteen fascinating stories of how Jewish believers and Christian Arabs in Israel and the wider Middle East are being reconciled today through their faith in Jesus the Messiah. They are all concerned to reach out with the message of the gospel with urgency to both Jews and Gentiles living in the Middle East.
This book is based on the ‘Olive Tree’ series of programmes which Julia Fisher, an author and regular visitor to Israel, presents on Premier Radio. It demonstrates what God is doing in Israel and the Palestinian areas today. When I saw the book advertised I immediately ordered a copy for myself and one for my husband’s 90-year old aunt who has an interest in reaching out to both Muslims and Jewish people in Israel.
I was particularly interested in Julia’s introduction to the book, ‘A Journey with Labib Madanat’, as I met him at a meeting organized by the Bible Society in London. He has lived in Jerusalem all his life and co-ordinates the work of Palestinian Christians and Messianic believers for the Bible Society in the Middle East and has inspired many to have hearts that desire forgiveness and reconciliation.
One of the stories is from an Arab Christian who has to remain anonymous for his own safety. There are many reports coming out of the West Bank of Muslims having dreams and visions of Jesus and as a result coming to faith in him. Many remain secret believers for fear of their lives. A small but significant number of Palestinian Christians are courageously going into entirely Muslim areas of the West Bank and sharing the gospel with those who live there. These new believers need our prayers and help.
Also included is the testimony of an Arab brought up in northern Israel who came to know the Lord personally in New Zealand. Once he was saved he found that all his hatred towards Israel and the Jewish people had disappeared. He returned to Israel, married a Jewish girl and is now working with Jews for Jesus! Etti, a Jewish believer, says that in Israel there is a spiritual, ideological and political vacuum with many, particularly among the younger generation, searching for the truth. When they come to know the Lord they are eager to share the truth they have found and challenge the way their society lives and what it believes about Yeshua.
Azar, an Israeli Arab studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. God called him to work in student ministry where Arab Christians and Jewish believers worked together to share their faith on the campuses.
When Ofer (the leader of a congregation in Jerusalem) and his family arrived in Israel in 1994 there were relatively few Jewish believers. Now there are about 88 Arab congregations and two hundred Messianic congregations in Israel, including smaller house groups. The Lord is fulfilling his Word. He says, ‘The Lord promised to bring us back to the Land, and most importantly, restore us to himself; we are the first fruits’. He believes it is God’s intention to make Israel a blessing in the midst of the earth.
There is also a section on helping the ‘stranger-work’ amongst the Sudanese refugees and an account of one person who is taking teams of young Israeli believers to Africa, resulting in blessing for those in Africa and on the congregations in Israel.
Finally, I found the story of Thomas in Haifa very encouraging. He explained how Haifa is a unique place where Arabs and Jews live happily together. There are now Arab believers studying at the Israel College of the Bible, a Messianic Jewish College. The President of the college, Dr Erez Soref, is one of our Amuta members (the HaGefen board of trustees). Another member of that Board is Shmuel Aweida, the Arab pastor of a Jewish congregation in Haifa who will be coming to take a series of meetings in the UK in October (see page 13 for further details).