The mid-morning sun already shone hot as a lone man strolled down the stony roads of the Holy City, evading horses, camels, and donkeys laden with people and cargo. Flies buzzed about, and some “newfangled” cars putt-putted down the street. A hot wind gust blew dust into his face, and he raised a kerchief to blot the dust and sweat from his brow. The voice of a nearby merchant called out, offering olives and figs for sale.
At the northern corner across from the Sergei Building, his steps slowed to a shuffle, then stopped. He retrieved a key from his left trouser pocket and slipped it into the lock of a little storefront emblazoned with Hebrew gospel messages in the display window.
A push of the door, a tinkle of the bell, a flip of the sign.
The “Gospel Gate Room” was open (patuach in Hebrew), and the man, Frank Boothby, breathed out a prayer:
Lord, send me whom You have today to hear Your message of salvation.
Bring Your lost sheep of the house of Israel to know the Messiah—
and use me to point the way!
The year was 1921. Little did he know just how marvelously God would answer his prayer.
A Heartfelt Passion
Fourteen years earlier, Boothby and his wife, Alberta, came by faith to serve as missionaries in Jerusalem despite the oppressive Ottoman regime. Their love was so evident, their dedication so strong, and their message so scriptural a rabbi came to faith by the Holy Spirit through their witness. Although they had to flee to Egypt briefly during World War I, they returned to the Holy City as soon as possible. Their hearts burned with fervency to reach God’s people with the message of true peace and redemption in Messiah Jesus and to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy by their love.
A Challenging Paradox
Jerusalem came into British hands in 1917, the same year the Balfour Declaration favorably moved to allot a small slice of “Palestine” (11,000 square miles) as a national homeland for the Jewish people—although Arab lands measured vastly more (1,184,000 square miles). Through these changes, the Boothbys found a renewed opportunity and a challenge.
While Jewish immigrants poured into the Land—the opportunity, Arab nationalist “fedayeen” (commandos) began riots and terror attacks, first in Tel Aviv and Jaffa and then around Jerusalem—the challenge. The instigator of this violence was Haj Amin al-Husseini—a former Ottoman army leader and later supporter of Adolf Hitler. One morning during Passover in 1920, quiet neighborhoods in Jerusalem were rudely awakened by mobs of Arab “fedayeen” attacking Jewish people with sticks, knives, and stones. The violence continued for three days, wounding many and killing five Jewish people.
As terror escalated in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, so did Boothby’s prayers.
By 1921, Arab commandos had killed dozens of Jewish people and wounded hundreds. Boothby opened “The Gospel Gate Room” as a visible witness and storefront mission outreach nobody could miss. Jesus’ words for the lost sheep of Israel resounded in his ears, and he wanted others to hear His words too.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (John 10:10–11)
A Providential Partnership
That same year, Boothby requested—and we happily shipped—200 copies of our ministry’s Yiddish-English monthly newspaper, The Shepherd of Israel, to distribute at “The Gospel Gate Room,” along with gospel tracts and Bibles. Boothby excitedly reported to us how the Jewish people of Jerusalem loved our Yiddish periodical and would come specifically to ask for new editions. For the first time, God had allowed Chosen People Ministries to have an active and ongoing witness in the Holy Land!
We gladly kept Boothby stocked with hundreds of new editions of the periodical each year for twelve years and occasionally provided him with Hebrew New Testaments. He estimated 500 New Testaments would last him three to four months. Then in 1933, when Boothby needed rent money for the mission, we took him on as our missionary and the “The Gospel Gate Room” as our mission. The rest, as they say, is history. (For more about our history, see the Timeline below.)
A Fruitful Proclamation
If Boothby and his wife could glimpse what God has done these past 102 years, they would see our rich and vibrant history of ministry in the Holy Land and the astounding fruit the Lord has given.
The Lord is working in absolutely incredible ways—even surpassing our expectations! From modern Jerusalem to the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv, in the Technion city of Haifa where Elijah once had a showdown with the prophets of Baal to the northern tip of Israel in Nahariyya, throughout the villages of Galilee and south to the Negev, our ministry is reaching every corner of Israel.
Thousands of Israelis have already contacted us this year to inquire about faith and dialogue about Jesus! Outreach events overflow capacity, and our missionaries have more people to follow up with than we ever imagined!
A Strategic Presence
In December 2023, we will dedicate a building dreamed of and prayed for by generations before us—the new Tel Aviv Messianic Center. At the crossroads of one of Israel’s busiest train hubs, principal bus terminals, and largest highways, the Lord could not have given us a better, more strategic location. The square footage gives us plenty of space to create attractive window displays, stock evangelistic and discipleship materials, and hold small group meetings.
This gospel café will allow us to engage in personal conversations, offer a cup of cold water, or provide a shot of espresso with an encouraging word on a discouraging day. The considerable space on the second floor will allow us to host big and bold outreaches, gather hundreds of people in worship, facilitate regular classes to study Scripture, and cook up big, family-style Sabbath dinners alongside a spiritual meal for hungry souls. Here, anyone can come in to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8a).
A Closing Prayer
Boothby possessed three notable characteristics we all should pray for:
- the boldness of John to prepare the way of the Lord (John 1:6–34)
- the heart of the apostle Paul for the lost sheep of Israel (Romans 9:1–5)
- the vision of the prophet Ezekiel for life from the dead (Ezek 37:1–10)
Ask the Lord to give you His boldness, heart, and vision. Then, be alert and ready for the Lord to use you in His plan for Israel too!
Header photo by IrinaUzv on Pixabay.
Published on August 22, 2023.