Gerardo Farías, Israel Mission Field, and Adventist Review
As the current pastor of the Tel Aviv Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Company in Tel Aviv, Israel, I would love to share about a recent baptism in the Jordan River.
One of the women baptized was born in Bolivia. Her grandmother was Jewish, the reason she was allowed to do Aliyah. Aliyah is the right of every descendant of Jews to come and be nationalized in Israel. It is a benefit offered by the State of Israel for all Jews scattered throughout the world. They can come to Israel and get their nationality even before leaving the airport.
This woman from Bolivia decided to come to Israel with her husband. They had been Seventh-day Adventist members in Bolivia, but in Israel, after two babies and many personal problems, they walked away from the church and got a divorce.
Visitation and Encouragement
Through pastoral visitation, we were able to encourage the husband to restart attending church with his young children. They live away from the church, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Tel Aviv, but we offered to pick them up so they could come to church. My wife, who is in charge of the children’s Sabbath School class, welcomed them, and the children instantly fell in love with the church.
The children used to return home so happy that after some time, their mother decided to accompany them to church. She wanted to go to the place that made her children come back home so happy. It was in the children’s class that little Iosef expressed his desire to be baptized. And as I made a pastoral visit some time later, I encouraged his mother to be rebaptized, as she had been away from the church for many years.
It is the reason their recent baptism excited me so much. Little Iosef, who was born in Israel, is the first Israeli person to be baptized in our Spanish-speaking congregation. But Iosef speaks Hebrew as his first language. And he is very enthusiastic to talk about Jesus to his classmates and friends.
Iosef does not have many of the impediments immigrant adults have. He speaks and communicates with all his friends naturally. I believe these new generations are the ones who will soon be preaching about Jesus — or Yeshua Hamashiach, as he is known in Israel — to his classmates and neighbors.
After the Baptismal Ceremony, a Tour
For the baptismal ceremony on the Jordan River, 37 people, including company leaders and church members, arrived on a bus. Among them were 13 guests.
As we are a Spanish congregation in Israel, one of our outreach strategies is to organize biblical tours. Every time we have a baptism, we host a tour. We invite our guests, and we take them to visit different places mentioned in the Bible. This time, after the baptismal ceremony, we visited Jericho, Bethany, and Jerusalem. During these visits, I served as the tourist guide as I explained to guests and members why those places are relevant for Bible-believing Christians.
I believe it is an opportunity God gives me to preach in a non-traditional way. For example, when we visited Bethany, we stopped at Lazarus’s tomb. There I had the privilege of talking about the One who said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” I told our group, “Let me remind you how Jesus resurrected Lazarus, and tell you why Jesus is our only hope.”
I see chances like this one as opportunities God gives the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Israel to make Him known. Every person who joins us on our tours now knows we have a meeting place in Tel Aviv. Through friendship and fellowship, we show that in a sense, we are ordinary people.
There is a crucial difference, though. We have accepted Jesus as our Messiah, and together we are expecting His soon return.