A group of young people study the Bible together. Photo by RJ Rempel.

Investing in eternity

By opening their home and inviting others to join them in studying the Bible, Esau and Alicia have seen God multiply their investment in hospitality.

While in her early twenties, Alicia Ramírez (USA) felt an emptiness she couldn’t fill. “I was young, living in Europe, and had a good-looking boyfriend, a great job and money to travel. It was a great life, but I still felt empty. I thought, ‘There has got to be more to life than this,’” she remembers. 

Two years prior, a boyfriend had shared the gospel with her. Alicia, a secular Jew, was intrigued. She wasn’t ready to fully commit, however, until she met a couple who shared with her the only thing that could fill that empty place: the love of Jesus. 

After being discipled and growing in her new faith, Alicia went to serve in Latin America. One day, she met Esau (Latin America), who had been on his own journey of faith. While he’d believed in Jesus as a child and been baptised as a teenager, he always felt a gap between his mind and his heart.  At college, Esau began searching again; asking questions of people who followed other religions. 

Then one day, a friend invited Esau to play basketball at a church and he later attended the services. The congregation focused heavily on reading the Bible and knowing the Word of God. Esau’s mind began to match what he’d known in his heart all along: the truth of the gospel. 

Not long after, he met Alicia at his church. They married the next year and began church planting in the USA. Over the years, their family grew. Then, as a family of five, God told them to move to Israel. “Neither of us knew anything about Messianic Judaism, or about Israel,” shares Alicia. “Then God began showing us over and over, through different events, that we were to move here — so we did.” 

Life in Israel 

Through their first decade in Israel, their family expanded to seven members, and they worked, learnt the language, attended a local congregation and got involved in their community. Life in Israel wasn’t easy, and when a family crisis came, it brought everything into perspective: “It was so devastating and paradigm-shifting for us as parents. I thought: if we’re going to raise our children as believers and they don't fall in love with Jesus, then what are we doing?” Alicia recalls. 

“What is most important is our family’s salvation and others’ salvation, the most important thing I can invest my life in. Esau and I want to work towards things that expand God’s Kingdom instead of making life better for our family. We want everything we do to have eternal impact.” 

When a friend told Esau about Spanish-speaking OM workers in Israel, the couple was excited because sharing the gospel with fellow Latinos held a special place in their hearts. It was a big step of faith to join the team, as Esau had interviewed for two jobs and was likely to be hired for one of them, but while this job would ensure financial provision for their family, it would also limit the time they could invest in relationships. After much prayer, Esau turned the job down. On their ten-year anniversary of living in Israel, the family joined OM and saw God provide miraculously through financial support. A year later, in partnership with another Latino family, they began hosting a Bible study in their home. 

Latino Discovery Bible Study 

Now nearing the one-year anniversary of their first meeting as a Discovery Bible Study (DBS), Esau and Alicia are amazed at all God has done. Reaching out to the Latino population in Israel had been a dream for years, but it never happened. Suddenly, everything came together. God began to bring believers and non-believers from all over the Spanish-speaking world into this community. Connections were made in random places, from weddings to old friends and church visitors. What began with five or six adults grew to almost 20 from South, Central and North America. Most are singles or young married couples in their 20s and 30s, but families attend as well. The children are welcome to join, or they can play in a separate area.  

In addition to meeting weekly to study the Bible, the group gathers at least once a month for a meal or celebration, whether that is a birthday or holiday. When the war between Israel and Hamas began in October 2023, some members left Israel and the group moved to meeting online for a time. Yet even with the physical absence of people, the group continued to grow. “The group really began to bloom during the beginning of the war. It was beautiful to see that. Every week, we’d be like, ‘Wow, this is the Lord’s doing,’” says Alicia. “Then, we began meeting again in person and also looked for ways to serve our community together. Volunteering together has been very bonding and community-building for the group, and it has been a great way to meet people and involve others who wouldn’t come to a Bible study.” 

Many members have told Esau and Alicia that this home fellowship has been like a safe nest for them, a family God has given them in a new country, a place where they can speak their heart language and be understood. It’s a welcoming space for non-believers to gather socially and be around followers of Jesus without feeling pressured. Invited through relationship, gathering over snacks or a delicious meal while studying the Bible has been a lifeline for many. 

One young woman, through members of the Bible study and other believers, chose to follow Jesus — and the next week she led her mother and brother, who are living in South America, to faith over the phone! Others who had been raised in the faith but walked away, have made lifestyle choices in line with Scripture and are actively studying the Bible again. 

Dreams for the future 

Opening their home in ministry is a natural extension of Esau and Alicia’s gifts of hospitality. “I intentionally try to make sure things are not perfect,” Alicia shares. “First of all, with a family of seven, that is impossible for me. I’ve come to a place where it’s OK that my home isn’t perfect, that there are dishes in the sink. I feel more comfortable in other people’s homes when it’s lived in; it helps everyone feel relaxed.”  

Together with the family they partner with, Esau and Alicia dream of the future: seeing the group multiplied several times over into other areas of Israel, studying specific Scriptures and then going to the place where the events happened together and seeing current members raised up to disciple and lead others. In fact, two members of the group are currently being trained so they can start small groups of their own. Esau states: “Everything the Lord touches has a life of its own. Our dream is for the group to grow and multiply as God leads. It’s like raising a child; you want the best for them to grow strong.” 

The DBS method of studying the Bible, where someone leads the discussion by asking a series of questions about the text, enables everyone to take an active part in the study, no matter how long they have been believers or if they are still searching. “We help each other grow by listening and growing together. It really has put me in a different, beautiful mindset. Even if God sent us to a different country, I’d do it this way again,” Esau declares. 

“No one comes with a big theology. The Word of God speaks. It’s incredible, because the Lord is in our midst.” 

*name changed 

Please pray for the group to continue to be a blessing to those who attend and for the non-believers to want to know more. 

Pray for the new believers, that they will grow strong in their faith.

Pray for those attending who do not yet know Jesus, that they will know His love for them.

Pray for continued new connections with Spanish speakers in Israel who would be interested in attending the home group. 

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