Missionaries from Israel work in India and Peru with the aim of trying to convince the many Israeli travelers who are there to convert to Christianity.
At the beginning of the month, the "Jews for Jesus Israel" organization announced that 14 young Israelis are embarking on what they defined as "a two-month journey following the Messiah and sharing with others in their discoveries."
A., a missionary who himself participated in such journeys in India and the United States, and who left the organization's activities with the help of "Yad Lachaim" activists, says that the entire activity is financed by "Jews for Jesus" - one of the branches of activity of the Messianic Jewish organizations that operate in New York.
Looking for newly released from the army.
Israeli backpackers in Peru, in 2017 (photographers have no connection to the news), photo: Oren Ben Hakon
The organization conducts a five-week special training for the young missionaries, and fully finances their flight and stay abroad, on a trip that also lasts five weeks. As part of the training, number one, the senior missionaries emphasize that in addition to assimilating in areas favored by Israelis and interacting with everyone they can , they should focus on finding lone travelers whom they can easily preach to. "We were taught to find the 'easy prey' and to make connections with travelers who come along or those who suffer from social rejection and do not get along with the other travelers in the hotels and guesthouses where the Israelis are concentrated.
We were also taught to identify travelers who have gone through traumas so that we can influence them more, and in this framework we were given an emphasis to locate young people who have just been released from the army, that is, confused young people who are looking for meaning in life."
It was noted that this time of year is known as one of the two most popular seasons for backpacking trips abroad, both due to the holiday period and due to the fact that it is a date with favorable weather suitable for challenging trips in the mountains. Yad Lachaim appeals to family members traveling to India and Peru to please warn Their relatives. The organization says that "this is another low of the Christian mission to reach Jews everywhere with the aim of preaching to them to convert to their religion, sometimes in a blatant attempt to take advantage of the plight of lonely travelers who are in crisis." An appeal was also made to the Chabad houses that operate in India and Peru to warn them against The missionaries' attempts to set foot in their accommodation complexes for Israelis, as well as to warn the travelers of the danger.
The entrance hall in the National Museum of Israel (archive, those photographed have no relation to the news), photo: Gideon Markowitz
On the other hand, the "Jews for Jesus" organization denies the claims and says that they do not convince any person to do anything against their will.
"There is freedom of speech in Israel and everyone is entitled to believe what they want. We, as a community incorporated by law in Israel, make a trip for the discharged soldiers. Instead of them traveling in India alone, we allow them a trip where they study the Bible and the New Testament.
We are not looking for the Israelis.
It is a trip after the army and everyone has fun together.
We add spiritual content to it - just like vipsana.
There is no reason why the young people should not hear about the New Testament as well."
In a conversation that the representative of the organization had with Israel Hayom, he said that he does not intend to change anyone against his will.
"It's a shame that young people growing up in Israel have to be afraid because of such articles, as if such people should hide. Yes, missionary work is a mission and we share our faith, but this is not against the law. We do not manipulate, far from it," he said.
"When I was growing up in Israel, I was afraid that someone would know what my parents' beliefs were, and then I discovered that there are very good people in Israel, some of them wearing a kippah, who are willing to hear other opinions. In my opinion, it is very important that people can express their faith everywhere."
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