Jewish Voice began conducting medical outreaches on a yearly basis in 2006. For the first three years, each was a combined two-week outreach to the Beta Abraham of Addis Ababa and the Beta Israel of Gondar, Ethiopia.
I started as a volunteer in the prayer room in 2008, and today, I am privileged to oversee an excellent Jewish Voice Global Outreach staff that orchestrates up to eight medical outreaches per year plus Hear O’ Israel! Festivals of Music & Dance. From exploratory trips researching possible new locations to meeting with local, regional, and national officials to remaining behind to wrap up clinics, I have had a bird’s eye view to a full gamut of dynamics involved in ministering abroad. I have noticed those dynamics change over the years.
Since I went on my first outreach with Jewish Voice, there has been a significant increase in Islam throughout Africa, but especially in Ethiopia, which is a historically Orthodox Christian nation. This expansion of Islam has led to increased anti-American sentiment.
In the last decade, there has also been an increased unwillingness to “tolerate” what are considered foreign do-gooders who have a “faith agenda.” The general “dire need” throughout Africa which ruled the headlines of ten or 20 years ago created a welcome path for international humanitarian aid providers and ministries to serve these people. In recent years, however, these news stories have been replaced by headlines of major infrastructural improvements, foreign business investment, and economic growth. The dire need still exists—especially in some of the more rural areas and city slums where many of these Jewish communities live—but, “Priority A” in these countries is now urban and economic development from economic powerhouses such as China and several Islamic nations. International humanitarian aid— especially that from organizations like Jewish Voice with strong faith convictions and a message of personal transformation—are now, at best, tolerated rather than welcomed. Even the import of humanitarian goods and medical supplies is now a heavily-regulated process designed to earn further income for these nations through taxation.
Also, opposition to the clear proclamation of the Gospel of Yeshua has grown. The world is moving more and more toward humanistic tolerance and a paradigm with no absolutes. Many religious entities in the countries where we serve react to this with their own desperate attempts not to “lose” members of their religious communities. As a result, I have seen, in acute ways, a dramatic, rapid increase in the intolerance of the message of Yeshua. The anti- Messiah (anti-Christ) spirit is at work in bolder and bolder measure in the world, including the areas where we serve. Actions taken against our ministry work are increasingly more organized, devious, and fervent. The Lord continues to protect, provide opportunities for ministry, and embolden us to proclaim the Good News of Yeshua in the face of opposition. But it would be ignorant to think that continuing to travel around the world sharing Yeshua with our Jewish people and their neighbors will not require us to be increasingly wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
There have been many exciting and encouraging changes in our outreaches over the years as well. The depth and quality of care we provide continue to advance. Medical clinics include eye surgeries, dermatology, and pediatrics along with dental care and general medical care. We have expanded to provide water filters and water education to help the people ward off many preventable illnesses. We have also been able to provide follow-up care and facilitate surgeries at local hospitals. We are experiencing an increased partnership with local hospitals, other local NGOs (non-government organizations), and partner ministries.
There is a much larger Messianic presence in the countries we serve than there was when we began conducting medical outreaches. As more members of the Jewish communities we serve come to faith in Yeshua, we are seeing the Messianic community grow in these areas and an increased confidence and openness about Jewish identity.
Also, key members of the Jewish community—even those who don’t agree with our message—are growing in their trust in the legitimacy and constancy of our love for and service to them. As Jewish Voice returns again and again, staying committed to their Jewish communities while other organizations come and go over the years, may the veil be removed from their eyes so that they may see the God of their fathers and come to believe in their Jewish Messiah, Yeshua.