How Samuel Smadja’s Father Came to Faith
“I was born in Jerusalem. Both my parents immigrated to Israel from North Africa, Tunisia. My parents both met the Messiah in Tunisia. They were probably the only Jewish believers there. My father lost his father in the Holocaust. He was doing business between Tunisia, North Africa, and the south of France.
He missed the last ferry, was arrested in Marseille in southern France, was taken to Auschwitz, and never returned home. He died probably in the last month of the war. My father, as a young man, was on a search, and there was a British missionary who came to North Africa, and his heart was to bring a Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people.
And he met my father and introduced him to the Bible. My father read the Bible for two years, and afterward, he came to his mother and told her that he believed that Jesus is the Messiah. For my grandmother, that was not good news because, to her understanding, the Christians killed her husband.
At that time, Germany was considered a Christian country. So, she took him from one rabbi to another, and one told him that he believed what he believed because he didn’t have a deep enough knowledge of the Old Testament. So, My father immigrated to Israel as a young Jewish man with my mother in 1956.
When he got here, he did not only come to the conclusion that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah, but he also understood that he needed to bring the Messiah to the Jewish people, not Christianity. There is a big difference. He was a young man. There were maybe 15 Jewish believers in the country at that time.”
Starting The First Messianic Church in Israel
“Together with another brother who came to Israel in 1947 before establishing the state of Israel, they started the first Messianic congregation. It was not because they wanted to start a movement; it was because the church at that time didn’t understand why they wanted to keep their Jewish identity. There were different churches in Jerusalem, and the church at that time wanted them to join the church and convert to Christianity, Not just by faith but also by their identity. So those men wanted to keep their Jewish identity and lifestyle but live a Messianic life.”
Samuel Smadja Explains The Safety of Israel
“It’s the grace of God. A month and a half ago, I was driving through Lakeland, Florida. That night, there was a shooting in Lakeland, and somebody killed ten people. On the same night, there was a shooting in a synagogue in Israel, and a pastor called me. He said, ‘Listen, I’m very concerned about coming to Israel. I just saw on the news that there was a shooting outside the synagogue in Israel, and ten people died.’ And I said, ‘By the way, pastor, did you also hear about the shooting in Lakeland?’ He said no. That’s the bottom line. Every news outlet covers everything that happens in Israel.
They wait for something to happen to bring it to the rest of the world. But, unfortunately, the world is not the same. There is so much hatred on the streets. And yes, things happen, but things happen in Israel and everywhere else in the world. I have to say that when you talk about security for tourists, I think Israel is the leading country in the world regarding personal security for people coming to Israel.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Visit The Holy Land
“If people wait until there’s total peace, they’ll probably never come to Israel. If they read the same book I’m reading, as we get closer to the time of the Messiah’s return, the world will be crazier. So are we going to choose not to leave home?
We have to have faith that God is in control. And if God chooses to take us, He can take us anywhere. I live in Jerusalem. When I get up in the morning, I’m not thinking if there will or won’t be something dangerous. I just go and do what God called me to. And if He chooses to take me, He’ll take me, no matter where I am.”
Samuel Smadja Explains The Value of Going to Israel
“Some people have a bigger experience than others. When going to church, some people leave the service more excited than others. Let’s be honest; we preach, and some people like it more, and some people like it less. Some people say it’s the best message they’ve ever heard, and others are not excited. But, once you come to Israel, you’ll see how deep your faith is.
I think you’ll be encouraged to study and get deeper into the word of God. But, then, you’ll come home and say, ‘Wow, there is so much I didn’t know. There is so much I need to learn.’ People say that it’s like putting color into the Word of God.
I believe it’s more than just color. I believe that it’s going to encourage people to stand for what they believe, and it will encourage them to be a light wherever they are. In coming to Israel, you’ll understand the times better. I believe that nobody will leave this country the same.”
The Story of Theodor Herzl and The Return to Israel
“Theodor Herzl was a modern-day prophet. Sadly, people didn’t hear him at the beginning of the 19th century. He understood that the Jewish people needed a nation. And it’s interesting to see when you study history and the life of Theodor Herzl that born-again Christians influenced him.
So, when you think about Zionism, it was started and fueled by born-again Christians who also saw that the Jewish people needed to return. They were reading the Bible, they saw anti-Semitism in Europe, and they decided to find a solution for the Jewish people.
When you look at Theodor Herzl, his son became a believer. Israelis don’t like to talk about it. The first Zionist Congress was funded and supported by Christians who understood the time. That’s where I differentiate myself from the Zionist movement. I believe I am a Zionist, but it’s an act of God. I don’t think it’s a result of a humanistic plan. I don’t believe it results from a human effort because Herzl did not succeed.
From the ashes of the Holocaust, we saw people coming back to Israel. But the interesting thing is we see people returning to Israel from all over the world. Not that people are coming back just from Germany, Austria, and Holland. We see people coming from Yemen, Iraq, Iran, etc. So that shows me that the return of the Jewish people is a God thing. It’s like God puts a fire into the hearts of the Jewish people all over the world to get up and start marching toward Jerusalem.”
The Value of Holy Land Archaeology
“I remember when they had just started digging around the southern steps. Today, when you go to the city of David, you can spend a day there and not see everything. Archaeology is the deed to our land, just like the deed you get when you buy a house.
Israel invests a lot in archeology. It is not so that we have another finding or the right piece of art to put in a museum. Archeology for the state of Israel is to prove that the Jewish people were here and that we have a right to this land.
As we know, many parts of the world are trying to change the narrative. For example, many parts of the world are trying to say the return of the Jewish people to Israel is a result of Zionism and the Holocaust. However, archeology tells the world that the Bible and the existence of the Jewish people in Israel for over 2000 years are true.”
Samuel Smadja’s Favorite Archaeological Holy Land Sites
“I think Caesarea is amazing. It is one of the nicest sites that can compete with any site worldwide. When you enter the city, you can see the dungeon where we assume Paul was. And to see Pontius Pilots’ names there on the stone is encouraging. It’s encouraging that we don’t believe just in a Sunday school story.
Our faith is based on real things and the real truth. Every day we see another testimony. Today the world is trying to do everything it can to contradict the word of God. And the state of Israel is investing in archaeology. And I think it helps the Jews, but it helps every Christian. If the Bible is true and the Jewish have the right to the land, the new testimony is true.”
What Samuel Smadja Thinks About How The Holy Land is Undervalued
“In their understanding, because the Jews did not accept Jesus and rejected the Messiah, God chose to forsake the Jewish people and find Himself a new group of people.
Proving that the Bible is true is beautiful for them. However, they don’t see the return of the Jewish people as an act of God. They see the return of the Jewish people as a result of the zionist movement and the Holocaust. That’s the difference. They’ll be very happy if they find another coin that says ‘King David.’
They don’t have a problem with that. They have a problem with us coming back and claiming that we are the people of Israel. If we are back, then we have a problem. If we believe that the church replaces Israel, what do we do with these things theologically? Will God bless them, or does God stay with the church? That’s the debate between us and some of those groups.”
About Samuel Smadja
Samuel Smadja is regional director of TBN in Israel, and president of Sar-El Tours and Conferences, which exists to help Christians around the world create and maintain ties with the land and people of Israel. In addition, Samuel serves as pastor of a vibrant messianic congregation in Israel.
Israel and The Middle East- TBN Israel
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