By Moti Cohen, Associate Pastor, Tiferet Yeshua Tel Aviv
The good news is that Yeshua’s gospel is spreading in Tel Aviv. The better news is that there are people who accept the gospel, give their lives to Yeshua, are willing to go through water and Spirit baptism, and dedicate their lives to the Lord!
The Witness of an old Friend
Leah* came to Tiferet Yeshua about three months ago, and she was immersed this week at the Yafo beach. She came together with Miriam, one of our members. When I asked Leah what drew her to the congregation, she said that a few months prior, she met Miriam on the street. Leah and Miriam had known each other for many years, but they hadn’t seen each other in a few years. The reunion with Miriam left a strong impression on Leah. Leah remembered that Miriam had a pretty rough life, and that she had been through more than her fair share of trials. She always saw Miriam as a sad woman who was just trying to survive.
At their reunion, to Leah’s surprise, Miriam was just full of joy. Leah saw a transformed woman. Miriam immediately shared her faith in Yeshua with Leah, and told her how He changed her life completely.
Born 60 years ago in Tel Aviv, Leah’s family left Morocco a few years after Israel’s independence. Moroccan Jews are one of the larger immigrant communities in Israel. She had a very traditional, Jewish family (a family that observes the Jewish holidays and customs, but not to a religious extent). At a very young age, she was already divorced with two children. She had to raise them completely alone. In addition, she was a chronic cigarette smoker, and she was dealing with unceasing coughing and a hole in her lung.
Leah would occasionally come to our congregation’s gatherings in Tel Aviv and she received a lot of love from our congregation members. She saw that her new friends had faith and values that “provoked her to jealousy” and caused her to reexamine the meaning of life. Of course, the teachings in the congregation about destructiveness of sin, forgiveness of such sins, the love of God, repentance and freedom, caused Leah to ask questions.
Miriam was a great help to Leah, as they met several times each week. She taught her about the Lord from the scriptures and watched movies about Yeshua with her. Finally, it all came together for Leah and Miriam prayed with her to surrender her life to Yeshua.
She could be my mother
I was very excited to hear Leah’s testimony. This is a Jewish woman who came from a Sephardic background (Jews who come from Arab countries like Iraq and Yemen), who surrendered to Yeshua. This gave me a lot of hope for my own family. There’s a barrier of blindness subduing the Sephardic ethnic groups. They were exiled to Muslim countries from Spain in the 15th century. They were exiled for not converting to political Catholicism—thus, the false representation of Yeshua left them closed to His true purpose.
When a 60-year-old woman like Leah surrenders her life to Yeshua, it feels as if my own mother is surrendering to Yeshua. Miriam’s testimony gave hope to a lot of people who pray constantly for their families. The kind of hope that says even older people from the Jewish Sephardic groups are capable of accepting the gospel and giving their lives to Yeshua.
Time to get wet!
One day, Leah came to me at the beginning of our weekly meeting and told me that she had a dream. In the dream, she saw herself being immersed in water, and through that dream, she realized that it was her time to go through this action of faith.
We took some time to study the foundations of the faith together and the meaning of water immersion. This week, several of us in the congregation arrived at Jaffa beach. This is the same beach where many Jews were most likely immersed in Acts, chapter nine. Leah grew up in Yafo, and it was very symbolic that she specifically chose to be immersed there and make her declaration of faith. Leah wore white Moroccan clothing, and she was completely filled with happiness and joy—something that had escaped her for so many years. We asked that as she was immersed in water, so would she also be immersed in the Holy Spirit.
Leah went into the water and came out glowing. When I looked at her face and her eyes, I saw a woman who was filled with love for God. We rejoiced, worshiped and thanked God for this moment!
Please continue to pray for Leah, that she would have the strength and power from above to completely stop smoking and receive complete healing for her lungs. Furthermore, dear friends, keep our families in your prayers. So that not only us, but also our entire households would come to believe in the Messiah of Israel. Amen.
*Leah is not her real name