When you think of Israel, maybe you imagine a desert scene with camels grazing, people who live in tents and ride donkeys to work. But modern-day Israel is… well, VERY modern! We love technology, and we are one of the pioneering countries in the world when it comes to the high-tech industry!
Here are a few compelling statistics which emphasize the particular relevance of Internet outreach in Israel:
- Over 99% of all Israeli households are connected to high speed Internet connection. This is higher than any other European country (PwC, August 2012). Internet access is available at work, school, coffee shops, beaches, malls, parks, buses, and city-wide in certain cities.
- Smartphones enjoy cellular and Internet (data roaming) reception almost all over Israel, while data is free.
- In Israel, for every 100 persons there are 122 computers. In fact, Israel has the highest person-to-computer ratio in the world. And according to comscore (2011), Israel is the leading country in the world (alongside Canada) for hourly time spent online… TWICE the amount of the average American!
- Israel comes in first world-wide in the amount of time spent on average on Facebook and YouTube. Social media is huge in Israel! About 97.6% of all Israelis between the ages of 13-34 have a Facebook account and actively use it.
- Israel is second in the world in relation to smartphones owned per person. Singapore is first, with only 3% more (a country which manufactures so many of them, while Israel doesn’t).
- Israelis spend 70% of their smartphone time not in order to call their family and friends, but in order to surf the Internet.
Taking all of this into consideration, we believe that there is no greater way in Israel to share the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) than via the Internet. Why?
- There are many social stigmas in Israel associated with Yeshua and the Gospel with roots reaching back over 2000 years. For example, what happens when a missionary gives a pamphlet to a Jewish Israeli on the street? The Israeli’s immediate reaction is to think about the Pope, Crusades, Inquisition, Pogroms, the Holocaust and acts of anti-Semitism made against the Jewish people in the name of Jesus by so-called Christians in the past 2000 years. This is further complicated by the fact that Orthodox Rabbis have been feeding lies to our people for centuries regarding who Jesus is and His relevance and the relevance of what He did for the Jewish people. They teach that Jesus and the New Testament are all about betraying and hating the Jewish people. These stumbling blocks are not something that a simple pamphlet given on the street can properly address.
- As a Jewish Israeli, you would not want your friends or family to see you reading the New Testament (or any “Christian” material) in public. Over the Internet however, you can explore for yourself with complete privacy, and for as long as you need, in order to come to the right conclusion (which for Jewish Israelis usually takes months!).
- We are able to develop meaningful relationships with the seekers who come to our websites. We always make an effort to turn these relationships into an “offline”, face-to-face relationship, connecting them with a local congregation\church in their area.
- There is something about being in front of a computer screen that gives people the freedom to share their deepest feelings with us. When you write under a fictitious username, you can say what you really think & feel… you can talk about your struggles and be real without people judging you or even knowing who you are.
- In light of all the above – the Internet is the best way for young Israelis to explore for themselves without any obstacles. What better way to reach the next generation than to meet them where they spend all the time anyways – online. It is a safe place for them to explore about the truth for themselves. After all, young adults are the most open to accept the Gospel. Also, young believers can (and do) use our Hebrew websites as a great point of reference to share with their non-believing friends..
- There is a very active and well-funded anti-missionary organization in Israel operated by Orthodox Jews. They are doing everything in their power (including violent and many illegal acts) in order to stop us and stop the Gospel from being spread in Israel. They operate their own websites which put down the New Testament, Yeshua (Jesus), and everyone who follows Him. Our websites counter their lies.
This article is written by Eitan Bar of One For Israel, a native Jewish-Israeli who was born and raised in Tel Aviv. He graduated with a BA in Biblical Studies from Israel College of the Bible and has a MA in Theology from Liberty University. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate with Dallas Theological Seminary. Eitan currently serves as One For Israel’s Director of Media and Evangelism. He is the producer of: I MET MESSIAH (Jewish testimonies) and Answering Rabbinic Objections to Jesus.