Well, I wish I could report to you that Revival has broken out here in Israel—for sure it will!—but I have had something of a personal breakthrough. After seven years of studying, practicing, preaching in empty rooms to empty chairs (which gives new meaning to the question: is that seat ‘saved’?) I finally preached my first full sermon in Hebrew.
For the past few years I have taught several times in small groups, but when I preached in congregations, I have relied on my English, and used an interpreter.
When Avi Mizrachi, an Israeli pastor, and close friend, invited me to preach on April 22nd I knew I had to go for it—I knew it was time.
When you are preaching in a foreign language, there is so much more preparation. First you prepare your message, and then you have to go through every word to make sure you have the vocabulary to communicate your thoughts. Yael and Danielle let me practice on them and they really encouraged me.
There are many people who actually have the ability to excel in Hebrew but the fear of embarrassment keeps them silent. Indeed, Friday morning I imagined getting up in front of the congregation and not knowing what to say, or getting stuck in the middle of my message. I thought I might back out.
When you are used to being able to say what you want, how you want and when you want and have received positive feedback from your hearers over many years, it is slightly terrifying to take the leap and risk looking stupid or not making sense. For me, I have always had a willingness to appear foolish—is that not the essence of an evangelist? “We are fools for Messiah.” (1 Cor. 4:10) But my larger concern was that I would finish the message only to find out that nobody had any clue what I was talking about!
Thank God, it didn’t go that way. Did I make mistakes in grammar? Yes. Did I mispronounce certain words? Yes. But did I get my message across with passion and clarity, so that despite the mistakes, people were edified. According to those in attendance, Yes! I never dreamed on my first day of Ulpan (Hebrew language school) that it would take seven years! I thought, two, maybe three years…but never seven. And still I am learning. I think I can say that studying Hebrew has been the most difficult undertaking of my life. So many times I concluded that I would never be able to do what I did this weekend.
For those of you who have been with us since the beginning, you remember all my emails about studying Hebrew. I genuinely want to thank all of you have prayed for me and I want to ask that you continue to pray for me in this regard. There is no turning back. I must continue, get better and keep studying. I know the dream that God put on my heart in 1991, the first time I visited Israel. I know what he showed me. And in order for that to happen I must continue to improve my Hebrew.
At the end of the message, a young lady came up to me. She is not a believer yet. She is still in high school and lives in our city, Ra’anana. Other believers have been sharing with her and she is very close to salvation. She told me how much she enjoyed the message. That meant more to me than everyone else’s encouragement combined. To have an unbeliever not just understand, but appreciate the message made my day, week, month and year!