After decades of loving the Jewish people and supporting the Nation of Israel, I was
blessed to complete my master's degree in Israel Studies last year at the University of
Haifa. I had many adventures, met forever friends, and solidified my unconditional and forever love for Israel and the Jewish people.
One of the friends I made is a remarkable woman named Ronit Bender. She captivated me with her statuesque beauty, easy-going smile, and very clear love for Jesus and people. We began our friendship at the congregation (church) I attended in Northern Israel. Discovering that we lived close, we would meet for tea and coffee at a shop near her apartment. I could tell she loves people. She connected seamlessly with store employees, strangers sitting near us, or acquaintances who passed our table. From upper class to any class, Ronit treated everyone with dignity and love. She instantly became a treasure to me and my husband.
Like any valuable treasure, you don't realize all the nuances until you peer a little closer. Now 73 years old, Ronit was born in Haifa and is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and victims. Both of her grandfathers were killed by the Nazis and her grandmothers took their children to what was then Palestine. As a little girl, she grew up in a broken home going from foster care back to brokenness and unspeakable abuse. Not knowing where to find peace, she turned to drugs. When she finished her Israeli Army service, she went to Jerusalem and worked as the Deputy Prime Minister's assistant But she had a huge hole in her heart and was searching for whatever could fill it. She then moved to Tel Aviv and worked in a travel agency helping with pilgrimage tours, and it was here that she was first introduced to Jesus and Christians. She could see that they had something special; to come with such intense love and follow the footsteps of Yeshua in the Holyland.
In an amazing story of love at first sight, Ronit met a tall, long-haired Christian named Tom, who introduced her to Jesus and became her husband in 1978. Tom was a professional basketball player and represented Australia in 1972 at the Munich Olympics. Later, he played professional ball for six years in Europe and two seasons for a team in Tel Aviv. They then moved to Australia where he continued to play basketball, they were ordained as ministers and raised their beloved son Josh. But God called them back to Israel in 2005, and they ran a youth club in the Druze village of Isfiya teaching the kids English. Sadly, Tom died of cancer in 2014, and Ronit found herself a widow with little income but a huge heart to spread the gospel. She ministered on the streets in South Tel Aviv, visiting the poor, prostitutes, and drug addicts with the love of Jesus. She continues to minister around Israel sharing her testimony and seeing hundreds come to faith in Yeshua.
Before covid, Ronit traveled to the nations giving her testimony and sharing the gospel. She now shares her testimony on social media platforms such as One For Israel, where her testimony has been viewed over half a million times. She has spoken at churches, on Christian television broadcasts, and on podcasts sharing her testimony of redemption. Her passion, however, is stopping for each person she meets, just like Jesus.
In Israel, the Messianic Jews are the grassroots evangelists. When they share their faith or publicly worship, they are often persecuted in ways we just don't experience in the West. We can easily take for granted freedoms that are much more difficult to demonstrate in Israel. Many Messianic Jews find themselves on the outskirts, much like the first-century followers of Jesus.
I have spoken to many Christians who are eager to do something to help. While there are good evangelistic organizations that serve in Israel, there is a special kind of soil in giving to Ronit. First, you are giving directly to an individual who receives 100% of the donation. Next, she is a Jewish believer in Yeshua, a minister of the gospel, an evangelist, and a widow. Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:3-10, "Honor widows who are really widows...if she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children if she has lodged strangers if she has washed the saints' feet if she has relieved the afflicted if she has diligently followed every good work."
This is an opportunity to sow straight into the gospel soil in Israel. To relieve the widow, honor an elder, and receive a righteous person for which you will receive a righteous person's reward (Mathew 10:41). I believe that by sharing this with other believers, blessing Ronit, and partnering with Jewish evangelism, you will activate the Abrahamic blessing over your life and legacy as it is written, "Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed..." (Numbers 24:9).
To contact Ronit for her donation information please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org