Sunday, August 29, 2010

Of Jews and Gentiles

Beverly and Greg Wootten are Bible scholars and teachers from Kenya, here to cover the Pastor training while Sabet’s away. They have been walking with the Lord for over 30 years.

I learned their story over dinner one night and I wanted to share it with you. Greg is a Jew who immigrated to Israel with his young wife (raise Catholic), Beverly, to live in a Kibbutz.

After 6 months of picking olives in utter misery on this kibbutz, Greg picked up a New Testament and started reading. He opened to the Book of Acts and was so captivated that he called in at work. He read it from morning ‘til night. That night he prayed to God, “If this is true, I want this.”

The next morning he woke up a new man. Everything changed. The job he hated soon became a dream job as it allowed him to read passages out of the Bible between picking olives and meditate on them.

Bev got saved shortly after and says that instantly the whole kibbutz was a stir. “Did you hear that Bev and Greg are Born-Again-ers?” Apparently, there are no secrets on kibbutz. But then again... Greg wasn’t keeping it a secret. Not at all.

However, finding fellowship was challenging. On one of their rare days off, they hopped on a bus and went north because they’d heard of a Dutch colony that had a church. But when they got there, Bev and Greg were just too hippy-ish for them. They were asked not to return. Keep in mind this was 1976. Think bell-bottoms, long hair, platform shoes. Can you hardly blame ‘em?

Their next day off, they found their way to a Christian bookstore in Jerusalem. But it was closed. So they sat on the doorstep all day, hoping. Eventually the owner came and they asked to buy a Bible.  Instead, she gave it to them for free and offered them a place to stay. It was getting dark and they had no place to go... so they accepted.

She called an American pastor, who picked them up, took them to a furnished house and got them settled. There was just one condition.  He wanted to show them  Jesus throughout the whole Bible -- Old and New Testaments.

Greg says, that by the end of that man’s Bible study, it was a done deal. He has never been the same. Beverly is right there with him. They lived a total of 20 years in Israel, only coming to Africa two years ago as missionaries. They teach at Bible schools all over Kenya and Sudan and are very good at it too.

It cracks me up that God brought this couple to Israel to get saved. I love how He does stuff like that! I love that God continues to call His people, Israel, to Himself by simply reading the Gospels. I love that a Jew, knowing nothing of Jesus could read the Book of Acts and radically be transformed.

No one preached at him. He didn’t hear some powerful alter call. No one even told him to read the Bible. But he did. He read the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus and said, “Wow... wait up! What was that again?” A Jew, like me, was persecuting Christians, rushing off to have them incarcerated and stoned... and then everything changed in an instant. Yes... God spoke.

The olive branch will be grafted back again... : - )  (see Romans 11:11-24)