John had carried a deep burden for the Jewish People from the time he was a young child in Northern Ireland. When he’d watch news stories about events in the Middle East, he was filled with longing to offer comfort and care to those living in Israel. “I must get over there somehow,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if all I do is wash their feet or dig a hole for them. I just wanted to help.” Before he was a Believer, he was committed to providing financial support to organizations aiding the Jewish People.
After he came to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) at age 45, he desired to connect with organizations that would couple practical care with bold, faithful proclamation of the Good News. That led him to JVMI. “Ah ha!” he said, laughing in awe. “I thought, ‘This is the vehicle that will bring me to Israel to serve.’”
JVMI did bring him to the Jewish People to serve, but it turns out his first opportunity to do so wasn’t Israel, but Tach Gayint, Ethiopia. “When I saw the stories about the Beta Israel on the Jewish Voice [with Jonathan Bernis] broadcast, I’d cry. When I went to prayer meetings, I’d ask for prayer for the people. And I’d cry. I’d cry every time I saw them.” John took a step of faith and registered for the trip, trusting that God would provide “exceedingly abundantly” for both his financial needs and the spiritual equipping he’d need to minister to the people he’d been carrying in his heart for years.
“About a month before I was scheduled to leave, a word of prophecy was given for me in my home church. The Lord said, ‘Listen very carefully. This is how I am going to expand your boundaries. And I will provide for all your needs.’”
John had seen God’s faithfulness in provision of the funds he needed to make the journey. When he scribbled that verse on his boarding pass, he knew it was just the beginning of a new experience of God’s provision in his life.
“Just obey me,” the Holy Spirit reminded John. He learned that obedience came in simple ways.
While in Tach Gayint, he walked by two men digging a giant hole and felt the Lord’s prompting to jump into the hole. The men were surprised, but through an interpreter, John explained, “I’m from Ireland, and the Irish people are really good diggers. Get me a shovel, and I’ll dig this hole for you.”
After he finished, he told the pair that God had brought him from Ireland to tell them of Yeshua’s love for them. As he prayed with them, he was filled with wonder. God had answered his childhood prayer to
be sent to the Jewish People, even if it was simply to dig a hole. “I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” John said. “I wanted more!”
He experienced “more” throughout the trip. He served in the prayer tent and saw first-hand both the intensity of the spiritual opposition and the power of God to heal, deliver, and equip. “I saw an angry man storm toward the tent with a woman and young girl in tow. The woman came to talk to us and explained that her husband was into witchcraft.” John told her he’d come from the distance to tell them Yeshua was calling them to Himself. The prayer team prayed for the medical needs of the nine-year-old child who needed her sight restored. God healed her on the spot!
John then shared the Good News about Yeshua simply but powerfully with the woman. “I told her God’s love could cleanse her heart with forgiveness, that He wanted to fill her heart with His love,” he said. She was overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When she rose to her feet after her prayer encounter with the living God, John said, “We could see a change in her. Her head was up. Her countenance changed,” he said.
He was a part of a team that headed to a distant village to meet with the Beta Israel living there. He noted all were wearing Orthodox crucifixes due to forced “conversion” foisted upon them by locals. As the team affirmed the Jewishness of the Beta Israel people and shared the Good News that Yeshua was their Messiah, John noted that joy and dignity replaced the shame they’d carried for so long.
“We prayed with one man there who was no more than three feet tall. He just came to life when we prayed with him. He stood up and rejoiced when we finished. It was truly awesome!”
Throughout his time in Tach Gayint, John continued to be impressed with the JVMI team. “What a family focused on serving Yeshua HaMashiach. I’ve never experienced anything like it. The Jewishness of the whole thing from start to finish... the music, Shabbat, and the emphasis on reaching the Jew first, but being a blessing to all. I’m so grateful to the Lord God Almighty for the honor He gave me of doing just a little in His name for those people.”
John Forsythe may have felt he did “just a little,” but the God he served did “exceeding abundantly more” in Tach Gayint.