The Founder's Vision
During the mid-1980's, the Lord's love for the Israeli people and the land was birthed in my heart whilst living in Israel. In the early 1990's, I traveled and worked with Israelis in the Far East who were on a “time-out” after completing their national army service. In 1993, while having morning coffee with Israeli friends on an island in Thailand, I asked them what their plans were for the day. Each one told me that he or she was going off to a Buddhist course, a Hindu meditation or new age course run on the island. My heart filled with sorrow, and I felt real pain for them. In my thoughts I heard the clear spoken words by my own voice saying, “Of all the people who should know their Messiah, first of all it's the Israelis.” From that day, the seed for the vision that became the Gefen International Israeli Outreach was planted, and later I realized that this perfectly fitted with Romans 1:16, the gospel to the Jewish people first. So the God-given love came first and then the burden, but it was not time to reach them internationally as I first needed time to be better prepared myself. Later in 1993, I came back to Israel to share with local believers concerning my experiences. From that time, I have had involvement with the same Hebrew speaking congregation. Through the following few years of “the Israel learning curve and service”, I received the endorsement of various leaders in Israel and was then sent with their blessing to raise up Gefen's International Israeli Outreach ministry.
Gefen's International Israeli Outreach is a clear reflection and practical expression of God's heart for the Jewish people and for Israel, as revealed in His word. Genesis 12:3, Isaiah 62:11, Isaiah 45:6, Jeremiah 31:3, Matthew 9:10-13, Matthew 10:23, Matthew 23:39, Matthew 25;34-40 Romans 1:16. Romans 10:1, Romans 11:11-12, 25 -26.
Gefen's mission under God and for His glory is firstly to be a vehicle through which followers of Yeshua can practically bless and encourage thousands of Jewish Israelis traveling internationally, and to give testimony as to the reason for their hope and faith. Secondly, to be a vehicle for believers to grow in their life with God and be blessed, as they love, bless and pray for the Jewish people and share this truth with their own wider communities.
The Majority of Israelis Travel the World after completing their Military Service
During this time, an absolutely unique window of opportunity exists to help them have gentle exposure to the gospel during a period where they actually have time to consider life's meaning, and they are often searching for spiritual answers. Gefen means “Vine” in Hebrew, and it is an international hospitality network for these Israeli travelers to freely use, where they are hosted by mature Jewish and Gentile believers in the true vine, Yeshua, The Messiah. The gospel is not pushed on Israelis, but the genuine love shown to them hugely touches their hearts and they usually want to know why their host practices this “love to strangers”. A natural as well as divine opportunity is provided to give an answer and testimony of the faith.
Gefen ships and supplies Hebrew Prophecy Edition New Covenant Bibles and literature from Israel to host homes internationally, (where Israelis have visited), and other Hebrew Messianic literature for the Israelis to take free of charge. Many of these bibles and books have been taken. Tanachs are also provided locally if possible.
Israelis Coming to the Lord and Follow Up
Quite a number of Israelis have already come to the Lord and are being discipled in Israeli congregations. Some have undertaken biblical studies and are now serving with Israeli congregations or are linked in projects. The frequency with which Israelis are coming to the Lord is also clearly increasing. Through the years, follow up in Israel has taken place with those who have used the network internationally. Whenever they are interested, they may be informally connected with mature Israeli believers for friendship and discipleship.
Gefen's Hosts and their Follow Up in Israel
Gefen is very careful to find and accept only mature believers as hosts. These hosts, both Jewish and Gentile believers, are growing in their own faith as a result of hosting Israelis. They continue to press into the Lord to be more fruitful disciples of Yeshua and give an answer for their faith and hope. Gefen hosts also get invitations from the Israelis they hosted to come to Israel and stay with them. A further unique opportunity and welcome into Israeli homes is available to hosts.
Positive Israeli User Comments from the Israeli Secular Media
The vast majority of comments from Israeli travelers are positive about the network, and the two reports in the Israeli secular media were 100 percent positive. This is nothing short of miraculous.
Current Status Report of the Operation
Starting with one home in Scotland in 1999, the Gefen network has been operating internationally since 2002, and it has taken much time, effort and travel to find the mature believers that the Lord drew to become hosts. Gefen is available in a good number of countries and continues to grow. Approximately 26,000 Sabra (native born) Israelis have used the network since 2002 and for multiple days, easily taking hosting days and making contact with believers well over 150,000 days. Please take note that this has presented absolutely amazing opportunities. Try to imagine how many multiple thousands of conversations and testimonies have been shared, seeds sown and friendships established. This is now the largest geographical outreach to Israelis in the world, and it is a particularly relevant one as they all relate to the genuinely warm welcome, hospitality and family-oriented hosting experience. The Lord is doing a mighty work in His love.
Why the International Network Must Be Offered as a Free Service for Israeli Travelers and Hosts
Firstly, Gefen's International Israeli Outreach does not and cannot make any charges to Israeli users as the organizing network that provides an extensive international service for them. It must operate this way, for free, in order not to place any obstacle in the way of Israelis who wish to use the network where they meet and stay with believers. Secondly, it cannot operate as a business with a “users charge” for the service provided. Doing so would place unhelpful pressures and expectations upon the hosts and ruin it, because many Israelis would understandably begin to relate to it as a commercial tourism business. The ministry also cannot charge hosts to participate, as many would then not join or stay in the network, and understandably so as they give of themselves as hosts. Thirdly, there are obviously considerable ongoing operational costs involved in maintaining and developing Gefen's (year-round) ministry. These three above points are extremely important to understand, as they are vital for the success of this ministry.
Gefen's Israeli Outreach Needs and Requests Your Prayers
Would you please pray for The Lord's ministry to Israelis via Gefen's overall outreach as outlined in the information provided? Please pray for the revelatory and convicting work of God's Holy Spirit in the hearts of Israelis so that many more will be drawn to know Yeshua, The Messiah as their Savior and Lord.
For the reasons explained in the last paragraph, would you also please pray for the financial provision necessary to enable Gefen to sustain and develop the ministry so that we can continue to outreach effectively in many countries and bear much fruit to God's glory. If you are led to prayerfully or financially support Gefen's ministry, TODA RABA (Thank you!). Together we will bless and lovingly reach thousands of Israelis traveling around the world with the good news of salvation in Yeshua, The Messiah.
Thank you! May the Lord God of Israel bless you and keep you.
For your information, the ongoing costs to be covered to enable Gefen to continue operating include:
- Israeli and International; oversight, network development and outreach ministry undertaken by the founder.
- Technical assistance, maintenance and operating essential needs for ministry-related web sites.
- Hebrew literature and Bibles, of which some are free and others have to be donated for.
- International shipping from Israel to network destination countries and domestic onward postage to participating homes, so they can have Hebrew literature and Bibles for their guests to take with them (for free).
- Domestic and international travel for the development of the ministry into more regions and countries.
- Administration/Communications hub and secure promotion.
- Transport vehicle and fuel to maintain and develop the ministry.
- Gefen would also like to be able to equip hosts with better study resources.
- You may contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.