Hedva was interested in the Gospel, but something none of us knew about was holding her back, until a life-changing moment at the Mediterranean Sea.
Hedva* began talking with us after she visited our evangelistic website in November. She had ordered a New Testament, and a few days after we sent it to her, she called us. She was intrigued, “I saw your videos and all the stories about people who got saved and I’m really interested.”
We were also interested in her life story: She’s 24 years old, from the center of Israel and comes from an Ethiopian family of 7 children.
“My sister is also a believer,” Hedva shared. “She already joined a congregation two years ago.”
Our team member Kim was excited to hear that others in her family were already believers. Kim recommended that Hedva speak more with her sister about the faith and join her congregation.
But after their conversation, Kim struggled to stay in touch with Hedva. Over the next month Hedva didn’t respond to any of Kim’s messages and calls.
Kim continued to pray for Hedva, hoping that she would have another opportunity to speak with her – and God answered. Finally, Hedva initiated contact with Kim and had some important questions.
“What about baptism? How does it work? What do I have to do?”
Hedva was still reading the New Testament and couldn’t ignore how Jesus, Yeshua was jumping off the pages.
Kim again encouraged Hedva, “These are great questions and we can talk in more depth so you can understand the importance of this act. But I also want to encourage you to bring these topics up with your sister.”
But Hedva didn’t seem enthusiastic to connect with her sister, and this caused Kim to suspect that something was awry in the sisters’ relationship.
Kim decided to set up a meeting together with Hedva so that they could talk more about the faith and her interest in baptism.
Two weeks later Kim and Hedva scheduled to meet up. But Hedva canceled. They rescheduled. But again Hedva canceled at the last minute.
For the third time they scheduled their get-together. Would she actually arrive this time? Surprisingly – yes! But still, Kim and Halel – our newest team member – didn’t know how the meeting would go.
That same morning, as Kim was driving to work she gazed out at the sea and noticed that the Mediterranean coast was flat – no movement in the waters whatsoever – and recalled in the IDF that this waveless sea was called “a smooth sea.” But that day would not be very smooth.
After Kim and Halel picked Hedva up, the women engaged in deep conversation. They traveled to the sea, and as they walked on the shoreline they made sure that Hedva understood the meaning of prayer, the full Gospel, and the reason for baptism. Hedva did understand the key elements of the faith and accepted them.
Still, something seemed off. Something was holding Hedva back. Kim sensed that Hedva was quite timid and it seemed to be challenging for her to share the difficulties she’s experienced in life. But there was something else as well. When Hedva read a passage together with them, she read the name of God as "Jehovah" – a name for God that no one in Israel uses.
For Halel this triggered a warning signal. In classic Halel style, she asked directly, “Is your sister part of Jehovah’s Witnesses?”
It’s interesting how God connects the dots. Halel had been studying Jehovah’s Witnesses just recently and was seeking the Lord how she could best share the truth in love to anyone who may be connected with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Hedva quickly responded. “Yes, my sister’s part of Jehovah’s Witnesses!”
Now the picture was becoming more clear. Hedva had been feeling a great discomfort with her sister’s faith despite the conversations she had had with Kim and now with Halel – so much so, that she was willing to drive half-way across the country to meet two people to talk about God instead of conversing with her own flesh and blood.
As the conversation progressed, Hedva was struggling with sharing her own sins. Kim assured her of the power of acknowledging one’s own sin and repenting to God.
Hedva listened intently and took a few steps off to the side on her own to speak with God personally on this matter. She poured her heart out to God in a letter.
She returned to Kim and Halel and was ready to be baptized in the sea. She hoped to encounter the Holy Spirit after this baptism, that she would feel like a new woman.
Suddenly, she began to fear the sea itself – it was clear she was under attack spiritually. But she persevered and walked into the water. Even though the waters were that of a “smooth sea,” for Hedva it was as if there were large waves! She asked Kim and Halel to hold her hands and steady her as she walked further into the water.
The girls had reached waist-level in the water, and Halel asked Hedva, “Do you want to receive Yeshua as your Lord and Savior?”
Somehow, Hedva couldn’t respond and glanced behind her and noticed even some Orthodox Jews in the area.
For a moment Hedva appeared as a cocoon who is struggling to break free of the casing that holds her and prevents her from becoming the butterfly she knows she can be.
Halel and Kim comforted Hedva, “Take your time, we are here for you.” They began praying fervently for Hedva as they continued to hold on to her.
The sea was calm and now…so was Hedva. She acknowledged Yeshua as her Messiah and as she descended into the water – He stilled every storm and gave her perfect peace.
When Hedva came out of the water, God had made her hope become reality. She truly was a new woman. Both Halel and Kim could see her face shining. Hedva’s eyes expressed true joy and relief.
She walked out of the water as if she was walking on water. “I’m a new person, I even look different!” Hedva exclaimed as she examined herself in the mirror.
Births can be challenging. They involve patience, pain, and even setbacks. But in the end, the only thing you see is that miracle – a newborn child. Hedva was born for the second time in her life, and this time she will live forever as a child in the kingdom of God.
Kim and Halel are working on connecting Hedva to a believing community in her area and are continuing to disciple her. Hedva is excited to do both!
Please pray that Hedva would grow in the faith and become a burning torch full of God’s light toward many people, including to her own sister.
Please Pray with Us:
- For all the new believers (see more stories here), including:
– The mother and brother of the Jewish woman who was recently saved received Yeshua themselves as well! Our Daniel talked to them and was thrilled to hear that they had begun listening to worship songs and teachings, and the brother began attending a congregation. Please pray that they will continue seeking the Lord and will grow in the faith.
– David took the Lord’s Supper last Saturday for the first time in his life! But he is struggling to find his place in a congregation where he can feel at home. Please pray that he will build strong connections with other believers, that he will trust in every word from God, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
- For our team – we see God working in a special way in recent months in the team, and would appreciate your prayers for an outpouring of more of God’s Spirit; deeper surrender to the Lord; greater unity even as iron sharpens iron; growth in wisdom, dedication, humility, and zeal; for more laborers in several needed areas; clear direction for all our outreaches and discipleship; and great fruitfulness for God’s glory
- For follow-up with thousands of Israelis, including:
– Ben, a very talented and intelligent man who was involved in many spiritually dark things, including being a member of freemasons, has met with us several times and is very close to coming to faith in Yeshua, and realizes that the things he was involved in are evil. When we last met, I sensed I should encourage him to take the next 40 days to read the New Testament every day and pray and ask for God to reveal to Him clearly if Yeshua is indeed the Messiah, and he agreed to do it. Please pray for a divine visitation, deep repentance, and a new life in Messiah for this precious man.
- For our Pro-Life and Gospel Campaign:
– For a breakthrough with the ads for this campaign. A while back, we fasted and prayed for the ads on this campaign and many of you joined us, and God heard and broke through. We sense the need to do it again, because although we’re still reaching some women, if these ads were fully running, we could be saving many more lives. If God puts it on your heart to join us next Wednesday, January 17, in fasting and prayer for the message of life and the Gospel to spread more in Israel without hindrance, we’d greatly appreciate it.
– For Shiri, a divorced woman with two children, who contacted us a few months ago and ultimately decided to keep the baby growing in her womb. She is paralyzed and is struggling financially. Please pray for her and the many women we’re helping – that in the midst of their struggles, they’d be open to the Good News of the One who can save their souls and heal their hearts.