Category Archives: New York City

Esther: The Right Place at the Right Time

Your Mission to the Jewish People will soon celebrate the Jewish festival of Purim. This holiday is one of the most joyous on the Jewish calendar. I am sure you know the story, but please allow me to summarize these critical events in Jewish and biblical history and share a few thoughts and lessons we can learn from them.

INTRODUCTION

During this festival, Jewish communities read the entire background of Purim in the book of Esther. The story describes the Jewish people’s deliverance from certain destruction at the hand of Haman, a leader in the Medo-Persian Empire during the reign of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes). Ahasuerus ruled from 486 to 465 bc.

In the story, lots (or purim in Hebrew) were cast in the presence of Haman to help select the date for him to carry out his plan to destroy the Jewish people. Hence the name of the holiday, Purim, comes from the Hebrew word for “lots.”

It is important to recognize the tale’s heroes and how God used them to deliver the Jewish people from Haman’s wicked plan. By God’s providence, Ahasuerus chose Esther to be his new queen through a national beauty contest. She replaced Queen Vashti, who had refused the king’s command to appear at a banquet celebration. The other hero is Mordechai, Esther’s cousin (Esther 2:7), who raised her and played a critical role.

But the true hero of the story is God Himself, who sovereignly arranged all the events to work toward the good of the Jewish people. The name of God never appears in the book of Esther, but His presence and providence are evident throughout the book.

He is not silent! We hear His voice through the actions of Esther and Mordechai!

JEWISH PURIM TRADITIONS

Jewish people celebrate the deliverance from Haman’s evil plot by reading the book of Esther, shaking groggers (noise-makers), and yelling out “boo!” every time the reader mentions the name of Haman and “yay!” when we hear the names Esther and Mordechai. During Purim, we also eat hamantaschen, cookies shaped to resemble Haman’s hat or ears. Children celebrate by dressing up in fun, colorful, and creative costumes and by putting on plays that re-tell the story of Esther (yay!) and her triumph over wicked Haman (boo!).

In Israel, people flood the streets in costume to celebrate, and some ultra-Orthodox Jewish men drink alcoholic beverages until they cannot tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman.

THE MAJOR THEMES OF PURIM

During this time, we center on God’s power to orchestrate the events of life while remaining behind the scenes! Purim shows us how the hidden hand of God guides, empowers, protects, and accomplishes His divine purposes on earth.

The festival of Purim focuses on God’s covenantal faithfulness. It celebrates the deliverance of God’s chosen people and shows the Lord’s faithfulness to the covenant He made with Abraham in Genesis 12:1–3:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “. . . I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen 12:1–3)

The promises of this magnificent covenant play out through the story of Purim—the destruction of Israel’s enemies, the exaltation of the nation’s heroes, and the blessing upon those who bless Israel, like King Ahasuerus.

THE RIGHT PERSON IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME

One of the great lessons of Purim and the book of Esther is that God puts His children in the right place at the right time to do His will. The first puzzle piece is that the king chose Esther as queen and put her in the right place at the right time.

The God of Esther is still putting His people in the right place at the right time today! Revisiting the book of Esther during Purim greatly encourages us to accept the places where God puts us as well as the people He puts in our lives!

Mordechai also saved the king’s life by being in the right place at the right time to hear the plot of the two assassins who had lost their jobs in the palace (Esther 2:21–23). Of course, Esther was in the right place at the right time to receive the information from Mordechai to save the king’s life. Ahasuerus was also the right “pagan” king for the right moment—another king might not have ultimately listened to his wife!

The story reaches its zenith with Mordechai telling Esther, “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). As a result, Esther took the challenge and approached the king even though she could have died for visiting uninvited!

The Lord went before Esther, and she received a favorable outcome to her request to save the Jewish people. So, the Lord switched the lots. Haman was hanged on the very gallows that he prepared for Mordechai, and the king permitted the Jews to fight back and destroy their enemies. So, Mordechai became the king’s most valuable advisor instead of Haman.

Purim is a reminder that God’s all-powerful and invisible hands hold and guide us during difficult times. The Lord is always good and has a purpose for our lives, just as He did for the Jewish people. Indeed, He often allows us to experience suffering so that we may become more and more like His Son.

HEROES FOR THE MESSIAH

Esther was a heroine and was willing to die for her people. Yeshua also loved His people and was ready to perish for them. The history of the Jewish people, the church, and Chosen People Ministries is filled with stories of brave and godly women who served the Lord faithfully, who faced dire and challenging circumstances, and even risked their lives to bring the gospel to the Jewish people.

Allow me to introduce you to one of these godly ladies, a founder and early pioneer without whom Chosen People Ministries would not exist today. Her name was Augusta Sussdorff.

Born in 1867 to German immigrants, Augusta Sussdorff was one of the Mission’s earliest workers. Rabbi Leopold Cohn spoke at her youth group at Hope Baptist Church and invited people to come and sing at the Mission. Augusta and a friend volunteered. Their presence drew more Jewish women and girls to the ministry. Previously, the Mission’s audience was primarily male. Rabbi Cohn was passionate about women studying Scripture and encouraged Augusta to join the Mission full time, which she did around 1912.

She conducted many programs at the Brooklyn headquarters, including mothers’ meetings, sewing school, and Bible classes. Augusta also made home visits, greeted people at the medical clinic, brought clothing to the poor, helped English-speaking immigrants find jobs, and served on the board of Chosen People Ministries when this was quite unusual within Christian work.

She served with the Mission for more than fifty years and continued volunteering long after her retirement.

Ms. Sussdorff was incredibly dedicated to faithfully serving the Jewish people so that they would experience the love of Jesus and hear the message of salvation. To honor Augusta Sussdorff, we are creating a scholarship in her name for women in the United States, Israel, and around the globe who are serving with Chosen People Ministries but have trouble raising their missionary support.

This scholarship is part of our Foundations ’22 campaign, as encouraging godly women to serve the Lord with Chosen People Ministries is a part of who we are. We are praying that more and more women will join the ranks of Chosen People Ministries as missionaries, students at our Feinberg program, volunteers in our VIP program, and so much more.

What better way to re-affirm our back-to-basics approach to 2022—refocusing on evangelism, discipleship, and training—than to help future Augusta Sussdorffs give their all for the salvation of Israel!

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Brooklyn, evangelism, Holidays & Festivals, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jewish Holidays, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, New York City

A Renewed Focus on Personal Evangelism and Discipleship

Chosen People Ministries, now in our 128th year of ministry, will continue to build on the solid foundation laid by our founder, Rabbi Leopold Cohn, and the hundreds of missionaries and servants of the Lord who preceded today’s staff family.

Jesus emphasized this need for a firm foundation when speaking to His disciples after giving the Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt 7:24).

Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone of our faith!

The psalmist pointed to the One who, though rejected, would be the cornerstone of the kingdom: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps 118:22–23).

Chosen People Ministries is built upon the foundation of Jesus the Messiah and the Bible—the word of God. Paul wrote to believers in Ephesus about this foundation:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:19–22, emphasis added)

We learn a lot from the Apostle Paul about building a solid foundation for the Lord’s work. He was an experienced ministry builder and wrote quite a bit about the importance of a solid foundation.

Wherever Chosen People Ministries staff have gone and whatever we have done throughout the years to build the Lord’s work among the Jewish people, the foundation is always the same—the Lord Himself and the Bible. We make Jesus known for all He is and what He did, and we teach and preach the Bible to those with genuine spiritual hunger.

The Great Commission also never changes. We are called to proclaim the gospel, lead others to faith in the Messiah, and make disciples of all who believe (Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 1:8). This foundation includes the importance and priority God places on Jewish evangelism (Romans 1:16), if one takes the words of Paul literally!

The Goal of the Foundations ’22 Campaign

Our goal for the Foundations ’22 campaign is to build Chosen People Ministries for the future—until the Lord returns! To do this, we need to return to and embrace the very foundation of our ministry and reaffirm the basic elements of our work.

This clarion call to evangelize, disciple, and train others to do the same grows out of the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20, emphasis added).

The task never changes!

The opportunities and circumstances of the day might influence how we carry out the commission and the tools we use. But our message and work is always the same!

For example, Chosen People Ministries has confronted two world wars, various global economic disasters, the Holocaust, the establishment of the State of Israel, and the multiple wars in the aftermath of 1948 (i.e., 1967, 1973, its Lebanon Wars, and two intifadas). These challenges impacted the ways in which we carried out our Jewish gospel mandate and led to creating new tools to reach and serve the Jewish people. God used our staff, particularly in the aftermath of the Holocaust, to help Jewish people who survived the Holocaust re-settle in Europe and Israel and feed the poor survivors as they returned home to their European communities.

We have helped immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of whom were Holocaust survivors as children, but today, of course, are elderly and have so many needs. The greatest of these needs is hearing about Jesus, and over the last two decades, we have served these dear people and have shared the message of hope through Jesus with hundreds. By God’s grace, many Holocaust survivors have given their hearts to the Lord.

The recent pandemic also required us to shift strategies as so much of our effort was focused online, which was the best way for Chosen People Ministries to enter the homes and lives of Jewish nonbelievers and believers alike. We needed to limit our usual method of meeting with people in person during the pandemic, but we were still able to carry out our ministry goals.

Now, it is time to get back to in-person meetings and to even greater involvement in the lives of those we serve.

This year, we will strengthen our ministry in three areas, which should come as no surprise. First, we will emphasize direct personal evangelism as we are able. We will also disciple those who come to faith and help them grow in their faith and become part of congregations. Additionally, we will train the next generation of Jewish and Gentile believers to serve the Lord with greater depth and expertise.

Your Partnership in the Foundations ’22 Campaign

You can partner with Chosen People Ministries through prayer and personal involvement.

Prayer

Please pray that Chosen People Ministries missionaries remain faithful and effective in proclaiming the gospel of the Jewish Messiah.

Pray that the seeds of the gospel land on good soil and produce much fruit.

Finally, pray that the Lord raises up more Jewish and Gentile believers from the next generation to minister to future Jewish not-yet believers!

Personal Involvement

1. Introduce us to your not-yet-believing Jewish friend. 

We need your help identifying Jewish people we can talk to about Jesus. Use the enclosed card to provide their information, and we will be happy to send your friend a free copy of my book, Isaiah 53 Explained, and ask if they would like personal contact with one of our ministers.

2. Connect us to Jewish believers you know. 

We would like to reach out to Jewish believers you know and encourage them with the various growth and service opportunities available to them through Chosen People Ministries. We have materials, retreats, mentors, and so much more to help Jewish believers grow in their faith. You can also help us identify those called to full-time Jewish ministry as missionaries or as support staff, such as writers, graphic designers, and administrators.

3. Join us in training for Jewish ministry.

We have many training opportunities available that you can be part of and also promote these to your congregation, church, or Bible study groups. For example, you might know those who would appreciate our short-term mission trips or consider taking a course through our new online video-based Bible institute, which begins soon. Our Charles Feinberg seminary program is also available in person and online for those who want graduate-level training for credit and are more serious about either joining the staff of Chosen People Ministries or serving in their local community as a volunteer.

As I mentioned, we will describe some of the specifics of the Foundations ’22 campaign in the months ahead. I will begin by sharing vital information and fuel for your prayer life about some of the hard-to-reach Jewish communities with whom we are already engaged and hope to serve even more effectively in the future as part of our Foundations ’22 campaign.

Thanks for caring, praying, getting more involved, and supporting our ministry among the Jewish people.

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Filed under Brooklyn, evangelism, Holocaust Survivors, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, New York City

We are going back to basics!

One of our generous and faithful supporters recently asked, “Mitch, what are your priorities for 2022?” What a great question!

The answer is simple. We plan to re-affirm our basic priorities in 2022—focusing on evangelism, discipleship, and training.

I am excited by the ministry possibilities in 2022!

COVID-19 has separated us from individuals, and the best way to move Chosen People Ministries forward in 2022 is to focus on sharing the gospel with Jewish people in person—one on one.

We will continue our online ministries, congregational work, and conferences, but we will prioritize our efforts to meet Jewish people face to face and speak to them about the Lord.

I find the words of Paul encouraging at this time, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Paul, who knew hardship up close and personal, wrote these comforting words, which most of us have “worn out” during the pandemic!

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

The Lord has accomplished so much through our staff during hard times, which He often uses to transform our character and build our faith. We are ready for whatever the Lord calls us to do in 2022!

FOUNDATIONS ’22—BACK TO BASICS

By God’s grace, we hope to recapture what has worked so well for Your Mission to the Jewish People for more than a century.

So, we are launching a new campaign—Foundations ’22.

To understand why, please allow me to share some background on the history of Chosen People Ministries.

Our founder, Leopold Cohn, came to the Lord on the Lower East Side of Manhattan through the preaching of a Polish Presbyterian missionary to the Jewish people in New York City. This missionary led Rabbi Cohn to the Lord, personally discipled him, and sent him to a seminary in Scotland for training.

Now, more than 127 years later, Your Mission to the Jewish People serves in nineteen countries and two dozen cities across America—and we continue to grow! Throughout the years, our missionaries have led thousands of Jewish people to the Lord, discipled and trained them, and witnessed the joy of seeing those we have mentored lead and disciple others!

Chosen People Ministries has planted dozens of Messianic congregations, conducted major conferences on Jewish evangelism and prophecy, held Jewish holiday services that proclaimed Jesus to thousands, and preached the Word of God in more than 100,000 churches throughout our history! We had more people attend our online events during the past two years than ever before! We thank God that more than 40,000 people attended our event commemorating the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 last fall!

We are also in the process of initiating some new projects for 2022:

  • A Hebrew website and social media campaign for young, secular Israelis
  • An animated gospel tract for social media based on my book Isaiah 53 Explained
  • An extensive hosting network for Israeli travelers visiting the United States to complement all we are doing in New Zealand, parts of Asia, and Israel

But, as you can see, these new projects are all designed to further our time-tested strategy—to witness, disciple, and train believers for a lifetime of service! I will share more about these in the months ahead.

WIN-DISCIPLE-TRAIN

I am the seventh president of a ministry that has endured two world wars, the Holocaust, the Great Depression, massive immigration of Jewish people to the US from Eastern Europe, the Spanish flu . . .and now COVID-19! Yet, by God’s inescapable and magnificent grace, we are still here—focused on the same goal—bringing the Messiah to His own people!

A “win-disciple-train” strategy is the core of the Great Commission.

Focusing on the basics is the best way to counter the fog and disruptions this pandemic has brought upon us! After all, the gospel is still the same, Jesus is the same, and our mission, according to Matthew 28:19–20 and Romans 1:16, also remains the same.

I became a believer and was personally discipled by a Chosen People Ministries missionary serving in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time. My wife had a similar experience. She came to the Lord through other teenagers at her predominantly Jewish high school in Los Angeles. Again, a Chosen People Ministries missionary trained these young people to share the gospel with Jewish high school students! That missionary also discipled my wife and hired her for her first ministry job—with Chosen People Ministries.

Eventually, Chosen People Ministries paid my way through Bible college and helped me again when I began seminary at the Talbot School of Theology (part of Biola University). Chosen People Ministries now partners with Talbot to offer a master of divinity in Messianic Jewish Studies at our Brooklyn-based Charles L. Feinberg Center. This degree trains Jewish and Gentile believers called to serve the chosen people.

My wife and I are the fruit of Chosen People Ministries’ missionary outreach. After coming to faith, we were discipled and further trained for ministry by this wonderful and historic Mission to the Jewish People that I have now had the joy of leading for just a few months shy of twenty-five years!

PRIORITIZING PERSONAL MINISTRY

We will emphasize in-person evangelism of Jewish people, discipleship through personal care, prayer, and Bible study. We will also offer further training so that these new Jewish disciples can grow, mature, and become Jewish evangelists themselves.

We are already in the process of developing an online, video-based Messianic lay Bible institute to further our training goals. These courses will be available to you too!

Our evangelistic goals include reaching some of the most difficult-to-reach Jewish people in the world. Some of these precious Jewish people are the most gospel-resistant among the gospel-resistant! So please pray, give, and when you are able, join us in reaching these Jewish people through short-term missions and various training opportunities!

REACHING YOUNG, SECULAR ISRAELIS

Today, as Israel opens up, we are beginning to see excitement grow among younger Israelis who want to meet together again in person. So we are doubling our efforts to reach young, secular Israelis—especially those who travel worldwide after the army.

Robin, one of our leaders in Israel and a Jewish believer who came to faith through Chosen People Ministries workers, writes the following:

Reaching Israelis outside Israel is a short-term ministry initially but becomes a long-term opportunity. The Israelis who hear about Jesus in New Zealand, India, South America, and Hong Kong return to Israel after some months. Our Israeli staff and volunteers follow up one to one and through New Zealand and India reunion events.

Through the follow-up, relationships are deepened and built, and they hear more about Yeshua, meet other Israelis who believe in Yeshua, and have a contact for any questions they have; praise God! Two young women we met in India on outreach trips came to faith a year ago through this type of follow-up, and we are studying through the Gospels now. We are also developing a new website to be a further step in both outreach and follow-up. We will continue to find new creative ways to disciple and train young Israeli believers.

These ministries are valuable for evangelism, ongoing discipleship, and training! Robin adds,

Our outreach to Israelis outside Israel serves two great purposes: We bring the gospel to Israelis, and we mentor and disciple young adult Israeli followers of Jesus by sending young Israeli believers to volunteer in our backpacker/youth hostels in New Zealand, India, and elsewhere. There, our local staff and team leaders invest in their training through personal Bible studies and walking alongside them in the ministry. Then, on returning to Israel, many say they grew in their faith and understanding of the Word of God and feel more confident in sharing Jesus with their peers.

Thank you for your prayers and your generous support.

May you have a fruitful 2022 for the Lord!

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Filed under Digital Media, evangelism, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, Messianic Jewish, New York City

The Story of Hanukkah

Happy Thanksgiving on behalf of the entire Chosen People Ministries global family! I hope you will be able to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal with your loved ones! If you lost a friend or family member during the last year or two, I also pray the Lord will fill your heart with heavenly comfort and peace.

I am very thankful to God for you and the ways you have stood with Your Mission to the Jewish People this year. Your prayers and support mean so much to us!

We have so much to be grateful for in spite of the circumstances, as our staff continues to reach Jewish people with the gospel both in person and online.

Our outreach has even increased this past year as so many Jewish people are looking heavenward for answers.

Our work among elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel has increased as the need has been overwhelming. Chosen People Ministries—Israel has provided love and company for the lonely, food for the hungry, and of course, the good news of Jesus to these precious Jewish souls. Many young Israelis also attend our online ministry events when we cannot meet in person. We need your prayers as we resume in-person outreaches in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and throughout this country of almost seven million Jewish people.

In New York City, we recently commemorated the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 by honoring our heroes and reminding Americans of our unbreakable bond with Israel in combating terrorism. More than 40,000 people joined us for the event online and in person.

We thank God for all He has done in our 127th year of faithful ministry, and we are looking forward to the greater things He will do through you and our global staff in our 128th year (John 14:12). We are focusing on reaching Israelis in Israel and wherever they travel after the army with the gospel, expanding our outreach through videos, podcasts, and social media, and preparing our next generation for leadership in Jewish ministry through our Brooklyn-based and now online Charles L. Feinberg seminary program!

We have so much to be grateful for in Jesus, our Messiah. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

The Story of Hanukkah

I also wish you an early Happy Hanukkah, which is one of my favorite holidays. Growing up in a Jewish home in New York City, I loved each day of this eight-day festival because my parents gave us presents every night as we lit the beautiful Hanukkah candles.

We also eat wonderful foods like potato pancakes (called latkes) smothered in applesauce or sour cream. In Israel, delicious jelly donuts are also a Hanukkah staple. OK… so it is not the healthiest of Jewish holidays! We make our Hanukkah foods with lots of oil as both oil and light illustrate two of the great themes of the holiday.

Let me explain.

The story of Hanukkah takes place during the biblical “silent years”—the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments. In 168 BC, the Jewish people rebelled against the Syrian-Greek General, Antiochus the Fourth, whom the Jewish people called “Antiochus the Madman.” This evil Seleucid king took the name “Epiphanes,” which means “God manifest,” as he believed he was the manifestation of one of the Greek gods. Antiochus wanted the Jewish people to worship him rather than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which was at the heart of the reason for Israel’s resistance.

A priestly family called the Maccabees led the rebellion. They lived in a town called Modi’in, which is just a few miles

from Jerusalem. As the story goes, the representative of Antiochus entered the village and demanded that the Jewish people in Modi’in bow down and worship a statue of Antiochus, upon pain of death. In doing so, they would affirm belief in the gods of the Greeks, loyalty to the madman, and rejection of the God of the Hebrews.

This godly family waged guerrilla warfare against the mighty Greek-Syrian army and managed to defeat Antiochus. This victory was a miracle as once again, Israel beat the odds and defeated a much larger and more powerful enemy. Jewish people traditionally view this as God’s blessing upon the Maccabees for their faithfulness to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

After their victory, they traveled to the Holy City of Jerusalem to rededicate the Temple. The victorious band of priestly guerrillas was horrified as they entered the Temple.

They discovered that Antiochus had sacrificed a pig on the altar, signaling the Syrian Greeks’ contempt for the Jewish people. The Maccabees tore down the stones of the altar as it was deemed beyond cleansing. According to Jewish tradition found in the books of Maccabees (1 Macc 4:36–59; 2 Macc 10:1–8), the Maccabees set the defiled altar stones aside until “a prophet” comes, who would tell them what to do with the stones (1 Macc 4:45–46).

Then, according to tradition, they discovered the eternal light in the Temple had only enough oil to last for one day. So they immediately began to make fresh olive oil to keep the eternal light from being extinguished. According to tradition, even though it usually takes eight days to complete and cure the oil, the one day’s worth of oil miraculously lasted for eight!

We do not know whether the story is true or not. However, I was raised in a very traditional Jewish home and taught to believe it was true! Either way, the victory of Hanukkah is one of the great stories of both Jewish heroism and God’s loyalty to His chosen people. For these reasons and more, the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah.

The festival is far more than an opportunity to enjoy the

beauty of family gatherings, Hanukkah parties, or even giving presents. The holiday is more than a wonderful time of playing games with our families, like spinning little tops called dreidels and singing some of the most moving songs within our Jewish tradition.

Jesus & Hanukkah

My wife and children love the holiday as it beautifully connects to our Messiah Jesus in so many ways. After all, Yeshua, Jesus, is the Jewish Messiah. He is the Light of the world (John 8:12), so there is nothing like the lights of the Hanukkah candles to remind us that Jesus the Messiah is the true light that illuminates mankind.

But there is more! Hanukkah is recorded as observed by the Jewish people in the New Testament—not in the Old! John wrote that Jesus celebrated the Feast of Dedication, a title that commemorates the rededication of the Temple after the desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes.

In John 10:22–30, we read:

At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give

eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

In the midst of this moment of intense and heated debate with the Jewish leaders of the day, Jesus makes one of the most remarkable declarations about His person found in the entire Bible.

He is not only the light of the world, but He is God in the flesh!

This message of His incarnation, light, and the deliverance He offers humanity through His death and resurrection is the message we hope to bring to every Jewish soul.

So please pray for Your Mission to the Jewish People—that the Lord will fill us with His Spirit, enabling us to continue our ministry to the Jewish people in Israel, the United States, and throughout the world.

The Future of the Middle East

I am also grateful for the Abraham Accords and other movements bringing peace and hope to a new and changing Middle East! But even more, I look forward to the reshaping of the Middle East when Jesus returns to reign as King!

We are grateful for your faithful partnership. Have a Jesus-centered and joyful Thanksgiving and a Happy Hanukkah!

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Filed under evangelism, Holidays & Festivals, Israel, Jewish Holidays, Jews and Christians, Messianic Jewish, Middle East, New York City, Thanksgiving

New Opportunities in the Jewish New Year!

Shalom and happy Jewish New Year! Fall is an important time of year for your Jewish friends and for Your Mission to the Jewish People. More Jewish people think about atonement and forgiveness of sin during this season than at any other time of the year.

We recently enjoyed a very fruitful season of high holiday services during which we introduced Jesus to Jewish people as the fulfillment of these great festivals. I believe the holy days are biblical types predicting the atoning death of our Messiah, especially the holiday of Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement described in Leviticus chapter 16 and further detailed in Isaiah chapter 53!

We held services both online and in person and had thousands attend. Please pray for the follow-up to these evangelistic events—that many Jewish people who do not know the Lord will hear the gospel and find salvation! We have now found a way to link seekers together through a series of online small Bible study groups that have been very effective. We praise God for the Jewish people who gave their hearts to Jesus through these online Bible studies!

EXCITING NEWS

Recently, Mr. Woods, one of our loyal supporters, sold the home he and his wife lived in for many years and—in honor of his wife’s wishes and upon her passing into the presence of the Lord—donated the proceeds to Chosen People Ministries. This enabled us to establish a Challenge Grant fund, which increases the finances available to be used for ministry among the Jewish people. What a great gift in memory of his wife, their commitment to the Lord, and love for the Jewish people.

Initially, we plan to use a total of $100,000 ($25,000 per project) from this fund to move four key ministry projects forward during the next twelve months. 

The Charles L. Feinberg New Missionary Training Fund

We plan to use up to $25,000 this year to subsidize students attending our Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies in Brooklyn and globally online. 

The Israel New Missionary Fund

We will provide another $25,000 from the Challenge Grant fund to support new missionaries in Israel who are unable to raise support for themselves, especially during these days when many local churches are not yet scheduling speaking engagements. 

The Twenty-First Century Evangelism Fund

We are working on new websites, videos, evangelistic podcasts, digital outreach booklets, and much more. I am especially excited about the new evangelistic Hebrew website we are developing. I cannot tell you how much

we need to reach younger Israelis, and this is an excellent way. Digital evangelism is the future! 

The Mission Support Fund

We find it takes one worker behind the scenes to support every three missionaries on the field. We simply could not get the work of evangelism and discipleship done without those who handle the “back office” work in New York City, Jerusalem, and around the globe. We have some major infrastructure projects planned, like upgrading our infotech systems that uphold our church, missionary, finance, and administrative ministries.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE NEW YEAR AND A NEW CENTURY

It is my hope to continue moving Chosen People Ministries ahead in the twenty-first century in the power of the Holy Spirit using all the tools these new times make available to preach the gospel. We wholeheartedly believe the everlasting, glorious, unchanging good news—that the Messiah has come, that His name is Jesus, that He died and rose for the sins of Jews and Gentiles, and that by believing in Him we will receive the gift of eternal life!

I am so appreciative of you and your love, prayers, and support of our 127-year-old ministry to God’s chosen people.

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Filed under Digital Media, evangelism, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jewish Holidays, New York City

Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

The fall is an exciting time of ministry for us, especially because we have the opportunity to present the gospel through the Jewish fall festivals. The first of these festivals is the New Year (Rosh Hashanah), the second is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the third is the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). Each one predicts the person and work of the Messiah in such beautiful ways. I call these holy days a Roadmap to Redemption since these significant events are prophetic and point to greater fulfillment in the Messiah.

Your prayers for our staff during the high holiday season are deeply appreciated as I have seen more Jewish people come to faith during this season than at any other time of the year.

OUR 9/11 AND THE NEW MIDDLE EAST CONFERENCE

We are about to begin a conference honoring the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. We have entitled the event 9/11 and the New Middle East. 

Zhava and I will be your hosts for the evening, along with Tom and JoAnn Doyle of Uncharted Ministries. Our speakers include Anne Graham Lotz, Joel C. Rosenberg, Dr. Darrell Bock, and Dr. Michael Rydelnik. We will also hear testimonies from those who served and survived the 9/11 tragedy, including representatives of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Agency, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, and local pastors who gave up their regular ministries to care for the survivors of the fallen.

Marty Goetz and his daughter, Misha, will lead the music and worship.

I experienced the 9/11 tragedy firsthand, so this conference will be very personal for me as that day was a spiritual turning point in our ministry among the Jewish people of New York City. I have many stories to tell, but thought I would introduce you to Darlene Line, a dear friend and Chosen People Ministries staff member who was working for the United States government at the time. Allow me to share some of Darlene’s testimony in her own words.

DARLENE

On June 2, 1991, I was baptized and entrusted my life to the Lord. However, my turning point toward full-time service is linked to the egregious acts of September 11, 2001.

Throughout my career, I have been in numerous situations that required conflict and crisis management. Nothing could have prepared me to be emotionally ready to handle the recovery assignments of 9/11. While working amidst the tragic remains at both the World Trade Center (WTC) Ground Zero and the Staten Island New York Landfill, I and other fellow law enforcement officials and first responders (firefighters, medical personnel, and construction workers) struggled through that horrific tragedy. The overwhelming desire to help, to do more, was paramount. I recall looking beyond the malodorous smoke into the deep crater called the “atrium” where the twin towers once stood. I was reminded that my Lord God is Sovereign, and He prevails. Psalm 18:30, “As for God, His Way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”

This atrium later became known as “God’s House,” marked by bold, orange letters on a lonely façade where 6 WTC once stood. “God’s House” became a place where many visited to cry, pray, and encourage one another. It was an area where individuals acknowledged God, and there was a sense of unity amongst the rescue crews. It gave credence to the adage, “There are no atheists in fox holes.” A particular cross was in the center of all the devastation in the atrium. It bore a resemblance to the cross at Calvary, and many who labored at Ground Zero signed their names on it. This cross was pictured in many periodicals and kept as a remembrance at the site. It is now in the World Trade Center Museum.

Darlene has served faithfully with Your Mission to the Jewish People for more than a decade, and God has used her to reach more Jewish people than I can count. I am sad that 9/11 happened, but in Darlene, we see just one incredible example of the power of God touching the life of one person who made a kingdom difference for so many.

I love this lesson Darlene learned through the experience:

During this time, Jesus again proved Himself faithful to me. When a situation appears to be beyond our control, it is not beyond God’s. I prayed with confidence that God would act according to His character and with infinite power. He responded to my petitions. I felt helpless, but, praise God, I was not hopeless because of the power of His Holy Spirit.

HONORING OUR HEROES

Darlene would never think of herself as a hero. She was humbly doing her duty for the country and ultimately for the Lord, who used this terrible circumstance to grab hold of her heart for His divine purposes.

One of the ways you can join me in honoring Darlene and others who risked their lives in serving at Ground Zero is to pray for our first responders—for those who served at the World Trade Center and the many who have been faithfully working through the recent pandemic. They are still doing what they can to keep us healthy and safe.

I also hope you will be able to attend the conference, either in person or online. You can register for either venue by going to 911theconference.com. Or you can call our main number in New York City, 212-223-2252. You can also respond on the attached reply card. I know the conference will bless you.

By the way, you can also involve your entire church or Bible study group by becoming a satellite site. There is no cost to you or your church to host the conference locally. You can find additional information that you can even download for your pastor by visiting 911theconference.com/satellite.

WHY IS CHOSEN PEOPLE MINISTRIES SPONSORING THIS EVENT?

In many ways, the attacks on 9/11 created a deeper bond between New York City and Jerusalem, two world-class cities and global symbols of modern Jewish life. Chosen People Ministries is a ministry born in New York City, and we love this city. Our Mission also has tremendous ties in Israel, with a staff of twenty-five people. We maintain centers in the greater Tel Aviv area, in Jerusalem, and throughout the country.

Though very different and far from each other, I have friends and family in both metro areas. We cannot think about what happened on 9/11 without also thinking of the many ways Israel is vulnerable to the same acts of terrorism reflected in the events of September 11, 2001.

Those horrific acts forged a new union between the United States and Israel as, more than ever, we joined forces for the sake of freedom, standing against global terrorism, and creating a deeper alliance between our countries.

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and for all who live in Israel. We also pray for the peace and restoration of New York City and the millions of Jewish people who live here.

We also pray that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who loves all people, will make peace in Israel and the Middle East, ending terrorism, and bringing restoration and peace to each one of us.

AN INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE

Jesus promised a bright and glorious future for His kinsmen according to the flesh when He told a group of His fellow Jewish people that He loved them even though they rejected Him as the Messiah:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
(Matthew 23:37–39)

The good news is that any rejection was temporary as a day will come when Jewish people turn to Jesus, and He will return. WOW! What a glorious event it will be! This sure encourages my heart and hopefully yours too.

Darlene and so many other transformed Jewish and Gentile believers who serve with Chosen People Ministries are committed to bringing the message of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to the Jewish people first and also to the Gentiles.

So, what can we do today? We can let the world know that Jesus died, rose, and will return to reclaim the world He created. Your Mission to the Jewish People is ready to do its part. We have missionaries strategically in cities with critical concentrations of Jewish people, and we will continue this great work because of your care, your sacrifice, and your support for our work through your prayers, finances, and love.

Thank you for caring and praying!

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Filed under evangelism, Jews and Christians, New York City

Ministry to the Next Generation

Dear Friends,

Shalom in His wonderful grace. I hope this note finds you healthy, safe, and filled with His joy! Your Mission to the Jewish People is doing well, and God is blessing our ministries among God’s chosen people worldwide. We are so grateful for your partnership!

I am greatly encouraged by the gifted and dedicated next-generation leaders God has given to Chosen People Ministries. We have done all we can to intentionally recruit, disciple, and train a younger generation of missionaries to the Jewish people.

These efforts offer a full range of ministries to children and younger adults. Chosen People Ministries has a long legacy of reaching the next generation. Our founder, Rabbi Leopold Cohn, was a diligent evangelist and teacher, and a caring father to his children. His love of youth prompted him to begin summer camps for boys and girls in upstate New York and Connecticut.

As a young man, I was blessed by Chosen People Ministries when I came to the Lord at nineteen. God used the Mission to disciple me as a young believer from a very Jewish home. They even paid my way through Bible college. Missionaries from Chosen People Ministries also discipled a Jewish, believing teenage girl who later became my wife! We are both forever grateful for the missionaries and programs that enabled us to grow in our faith and give the rest of our lives to serving Him among our people!

We want to pass these opportunities along to future generations.

Today, our mission reaches children, teenagers, and young adults worldwide in many ways!

YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY—A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

MUCHAN (MOO-KHAN)

Chosen People Ministries’ most extensive young adult outreach is called Muchan, which in Hebrew means “ready.” Muchan is an international conference for Messianic Jewish and Gentile believers ages eighteen to thirty-five. Muchan lasts five days, and past locations have included Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Prague, and Rome. Barring a pandemic, we hold these conferences every other year. About one hundred fifty young adults attend. Last time, we had about forty young adults from Israel and many others who could not easily afford this opportunity. We underwrite quite a bit of the expenses, but it is worth it!

LIVING WATERS

The Living Waters program is a retreat for Israeli young adults that has been going strong for fifteen years and counting. The retreat, which usually has fifteen to twenty congregations represented, includes Bible teaching and plenty of fellowship and worship. We also offer instruction on evangelism and apologetics, biblical financial management, and pastoral counseling. We put a hold on bringing Living Waters USA into fruition in 2020, but we hope to schedule the summer event in 2022 and are already planning for our next Living Waters when Israel is out from under its serious lockdowns. Once again, we provide funding for this disciple-making event.

THE ZULA LODGE

Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Israelis find out about this program by word of mouth and various websites, especially Facebook. Most of the Israelis we host at this facility come after their army service (22–24 years old). Last season, Zula Lodge logged more than 5,000 bed nights for Israelis, and every one of them heard the gospel.

Israeli believers also volunteer at the Zula Lodge. We choose a number of young Israelis who have completed their time in the Israel Defense Forces and are mature in their faith. They live in New Zealand for three months to serve at the Zula Lodge and have the opportunity to minister to traveling Israelis and learn the basics of backpacker ministry.

We have the joy of also sending short-term mission teams from Israel to spend time at Zula Lodge where they spend their days serving and talking to fellow younger Israelis about the Lord!

THE CHARLES L. FEINBERG CENTER FOR MESSIANIC JEWISH STUDIES

This graduate program offers an accredited Master of Divinity degree in Messianic Jewish Studies. We designed the curriculum to train those called to fulltime Jewish ministry. This dynamic program is a joint venture between Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and Chosen People Ministries.

The degree focuses on the biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek), exegesis of the Scriptures, and courses to help students better understand Jewish people. Students address essential matters of theology and Jewish practice through intensive study of the Torah (Jewish law), culture, and practical methods of reaching Jewish people with the gospel. The program is based in Brooklyn, and students are directly involved with Jewish evangelism throughout their educational program. We believe in learning by doing!

We now have thirty graduates serving the Lord among the Jewish people! The Feinberg Center is one of our most effective and fruitful investments in the future of Jewish evangelism.

Currently, we have students from five nations around the world studying to be missionaries to the Jewish people back in their home countries. We underwrite much of this program, including housing for young families in Brooklyn. Your help for the Feinberg program is critical.

UNIVERSITY AND STUDENT PROGRAMS

HOUSE OF LIVING WATERS

The first House of Living Waters began in 2019 in the East Village near New York University (NYU), which has the largest number of Jewish students in the United States. Four young men moved into a rented apartment to build a Messianic Jewish presence on campus by hosting book tables, weekly Bible studies, and Sabbath dinners.

Unfortunately, the program ended early in May 2020 due to COVID-19. Despite its short duration, the House of Living Waters has already proven to be fruitful.

We are eager to relaunch and even expand it as an ongoing ministry! Many Jewish students have heard the gospel through these young people, and we look forward to starting again this fall. Thank God, a foundation with a great vision for this work has helped considerably with the funding. However, we still need your help to cover the additional expenses.

OUTREACH ISRAEL & EXPERIENCE ISRAEL (SHORT-TERM MISSIONS)

Outreach Israel is a three-week service-based program in the Holy Land led by our staff in Israel. A dozen young college students usually participate, primarily from the United States.

Experience Israel is for young adults who are typically post-college up to age thirty-five. The participants share the gospel with younger Israelis through beach ministry, camping programs, and more.

COLLEGE INTERNSHIPS

Summer internships are available in various ministry areas, including evangelism, digital media, videography or photography, and finance. Our interns typically come to us with a specific area of Jewish interest, but we also offer a wide range of field experience for those who are unsure or want it all!

CHILDREN’S CAMPS

CAMP KESHER

Kesher is the Hebrew word for “connection,” which is what Camp Kesher is all about. Connecting youth to Jesus, each other, and the larger Messianic Jewish community is our utmost priority. We currently host Camp Kesher on the East and West Coasts, as well as a winter camp in Maryland called “Kesher Ice.” Many camp counselors are Jewish Studies students at our Feinberg Center or Moody Bible Institute and are often members of Chosen People Ministries congregations. We canceled last year’s camps because of COVID-19, but we did have some great online programs for young people. We are already planning to try and restart in-person camping as we are able this summer, and we (and the kids) are excited!

CHILDREN’S CAMP ISRAEL/KESHER ISRAEL

We had more than six hundred children attend our Israeli summer camps in 2019. Many of these children come from Russian Jewish Israeli families and are not yet believers. Alexi’s (not his real name) story illustrates the organic flow within our various youth programs. He was ten years old when he began attending Kesher Israel. As a teenager, he became a helper and then a counselor. He went on to help lead our camps, and then in 2019, he came to New York City to be part of the House of Living Waters program. He is currently attending Moody Bible Institute for Jewish Studies and is on part-time staff with Chosen People Ministries. Alexi plans to become a full-time staff member in Israel. He is a beautiful example of how we strengthen the future of Jewish ministry by investing in the future of children and teens for the Lord. 

We ask Israeli parents to help pay for their kids’ camping programs, but many are from poor homes, especially some of the Russian immigrants. Your help for our Israeli camping ministries is deeply appreciated!

THE NEXT GENERATION AND YOU

As always, your prayers are essential to sustaining and prospering our outreach to the next generation!

Thank you for your faithful concern and care for the children, teenagers, and young adults who are the future men and women at the forefront of Jewish evangelism in the twenty-first century.

Yours in Messiah,
Mitch

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Filed under Christian University, evangelism, Israel, Messianic Jewish, New York City

To the Jew First in 2021

Shalom, dear friend.

It is hard to believe that we are in the middle of January 2021! Time is moving forward so rapidly! Last January, I had such hope in the afterglow of celebrating Chosen People Ministries’ 125th year of ministry. We had a fabulous gala! The future looked so bright, the opportunities to serve the Lord and reach Jewish people with the gospel were electrifying, and the Chosen People Ministries staff was ready to go!

But then tragedy struck, and however you feel about the virus, it has impacted all of our lives in many ways. The effects of COVID-19 on our friends, families, and congregations have been severe. Our economy and the overall stability of our nation suffered as well.

My dear friend, 2020 was a challenging year!

But the Lord is ALWAYS in control. He is sovereign and loves us with an everlasting love. He created us, sent His Son to redeem us, and is coming back, so we are hopeful.

Job’s sentiments very well express how you and I might sometimes feel: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him” (Job 13:15).

When there is nothing else to hold onto, we can always cling to the nature and character of our God! He will never disappoint, though His ways, thoughts, and will are so mysterious to us at times (Isaiah 55:8–9).

But we know in the depth of our souls that the Lord is always worthy of our trust!

While I anguish with those who have lost loved ones, businesses, and more to the virus, I believe that 2021 will be a year of restoration. I also have an even greater sense of urgency than ever before to proclaim the gospel to the Jewish people. Your Mission to the Jewish People will move forward in hope, fulfilling the mission and vision God gave Rabbi Leopold Cohn in 1894 when he founded Chosen People Ministries.

The Messianic Jewish Apostle Paul expressed our vision at Chosen People Ministries when he wrote,

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

I like to remind our staff and prayer partners of this verse every January. It is best to read this verse—and the entire Bible—as literally as possible. David L. Cooper, a missionary to the Jewish people who lived and ministered in the 40s and 50s in Los Angeles, said this about reading Scripture: “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” He explained that, unless there is an obvious reason not to, we should apply Scripture literally.

A LITERAL APPROACH TO ROMANS 1:16

If we take Romans 1:16 literally, we see that we should not be ashamed of the gospel as it is the power of God for salvation. I know this is true, as I experienced God’s power when I was nineteen years old and accepted Jesus. He transformed my life!

This verse also teaches that we should not keep this glorious and powerful message to ourselves. It is the power of God for salvation, not just for us, but for everyone who believes. Our divinely appointed goal in life should be to present the gospel in ways that others might see the power of the good news and believe in Him as well.

Finally, the text tells us that the gospel should be proclaimed to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Here is where some people find it hard to take this verse literally.

The Greek word translated “first” is protos and does not need to be understood sequentially. I do not think Paul intended for the Roman believers to witness to all the Jewish people in Rome before sharing the gospel with non-Jews! Paul used a nonsequential application of the word first.

To the Jew first means that bringing the gospel to the Jewish people should be a heart priority for every believer in Jesus.

We must find a way to apply the plain truth of God’s Word to our lives. Whether through prayer, giving, or witnessing to Jewish people we know, we all need to be involved in sharing the good news with God’s chosen people.

REACHING THE HAREDIM IN THE UNITED STATES AND ISRAEL

We want to take Paul’s statement a little bit further in 2021.

We not only want to bring the gospel to the Jewish people first, but we also want to take the gospel to some of the most challenging and resistant Jewish people first. The group I have in mind is the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, usually called the Haredim. A literal translation of the Hebrew word Haredim is “those who fear the Lord.”

This Jewish community represents close to one million of the more than fifteen million Jewish people in the world.

They are viewed as “old style” in their keeping of Jewish tradition and dress. Haredim follow the Torah diligently, live under the rabbis’ authority, and share a vibrant community life that includes schools, jobs, and synagogue life, which is central to this Jewish community.

My heart breaks for the Haredim for many reasons. But the primary reason is biblical, as Paul wrote in Romans 10:1–3. He noted that these beloved Jewish people have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. The Greek word Paul used is epignosis, a composite term that implies full or complete knowledge. The Haredim understand God to a degree, but this knowledge is incomplete because it lacks an understanding of Jesus, who fulfills all that the Bible promises.

I live in Brooklyn. Outside of Jerusalem and a few other enclaves in Israel and the greater New York area, my hometown is the epicenter of Haredi life. However, you will find Haredim in every major city in North America.

We have developed tools designed to reach these dear people through the use of social media in the United States, Israel, and other strategic places where many Haredim live. We are using the Yiddish language, which combines Old German and some Slavic and Hebrew terms but is written in Hebrew letters.

We have the New Testament in Yiddish and the Jesus Film in Yiddish as well, which we are offering for online viewing.

HAREDI SAFE HOUSE INITIATIVE

We are also establishing a fund to purchase a property somewhere outside the New York area where the Haredim who are seeking the Lord can safely stay when their community persecutes them. We call this the “Haredi Safe House Initiative.”

God has given us a big vision and ambitious goals. We have already done a lot, but now we are prepared to move full steam ahead.

We expect to receive quite a bit of opposition, and we need to have the prayer support to press on.

We have not yet located the site, though we have a good idea of where we want to be. So stay tuned, and we will tell you more about this later on in 2021.

We are prepared and available to God for this monumental task, and we hope and pray that, in the days ahead, the Lord will use us in the lives of this exceptional part of the global Jewish community.

We are not stopping anything else that we are doing; we are adding to what we have done in past years. This includes a more extensive outreach to campuses, initiatives among children, and more.

The gospel is still powerful, and it is still for everyone; it is the only solution that works for you, me, and every other citizen on earth. But as we apply the preaching of the gospel, we need to take Paul’s words seriously and present the gospel to the Jew first.

THANK YOU!

Thank you so much for your prayers. I see God’s hand on the Jewish people and especially the state of Israel as part of the unfolding of the end times. I believe with my whole heart that the Jewish people will turn to Jesus before He returns at the end of days. This makes reaching the Jewish people for the Messiah Jesus so very important.

As Paul wrote,

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25–27).

Let us lift our eyes and hearts together and, by His grace, reach the Jewish people for the Lord. Thank you for caring and for helping us bring the gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles.

Your brother in the Messiah,
Mitch

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Filed under Brooklyn, evangelism, New York City

God is opening hearts during lockdown!

Dear Friend,

Shalom in our Messiah Jesus.

My heart breaks for Israel and the ultra-religious Jewish community worldwide! These two Jewish communities, one localized and the other spanning the breadth of countries and cities where Jewish people are concentrated, live under life-threatening circumstances.

Israel keeps trying to fight its way back to national normalcy but the coronavirus continues to immobilize the country. Unemployment in Israel is also at an all-time high, and the economy is suffering terribly. The country recently experienced a lockdown that extended through the Jewish high holiday season and beyond.1

The infection, hospitalization rate, and death toll is massive for “little Israel!” The mortality rate per capita surpasses that of the United States. The death toll is highest among the Arab population of Israel and the ultra-religious Jewish community in Israel and worldwide.

The ultra-Orthodox segment of the Jewish population are called Haredim, which in Hebrew means “the ones that fear,” and the One they fear is God. This name expresses the character of the community. These beloved Jewish people dress differently, live their lives according to the most Orthodox version of the Jewish faith, and maintain that gathering for prayer, synagogue services, holidays, and religious events—like the Jewish high holidays—are more important to them than life itself. Followers of Jesus can learn a lot from their dedication.

The impact on the whole population of Israel during this “second wave” lockdown is still fresh, and we may not know if the country will successfully pass the danger point until next month. We hope and pray it will!

You can read more about the numbers of Israelis affected by the disease by visiting https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/region/israel.

A SPIRITUAL SLANT TO THE PRESENT CRISIS

We should remember two great Bible passages penned by King David that are calls for prayer to every believer in Jesus!

King David wrote, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you’” (Psalm 122:6). This is a biblical mandate for all of us—to pray for God’s peace to fall upon Israel and the Jewish people. And Israel needs our prayers desperately at this very moment.

The second issue is very sensitive! Due to the pandemic, the divisions between the ultra-Orthodox and secular Israelis have grown wider and have become like open wounds.

Would you join me in praying for Israel’s national unity? I believe this unity, which builds bridges between the religious and secular in Israel, will be pleasing to God and good for the nation. The psalmist declares, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

Let us pray for the healing of the nation and the people of Israel. Ultimately, this vision for unity will only come about when the Jewish people— secular, Haredim, and in between—cry out to God in repentance and turn to Jesus the Messiah (Romans 11:25; Zechariah 12:10).

Many Haredim and even some secular Israelis recognize the spiritual side of the current crisis. A recent survey of Israelis reported that one-third of the prime minister’s voters believe God sent COVID-19! Most of the Haredim in Israel fall into this group.2 Recently, we have seen God move among Israelis, Haredim, and Jewish people across the globe. Hard times draw people to the Lord, and this season of darkness and difficulty is no different.

May I share some stories illustrating this fruitful season of ministry and how the gospel is breaking through to Jewish people’s hearts?

One of our staff members in the southwest recently had the opportunity to teach on the subject, “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus.” This class was in person, following all COVID-19 protocols, of course! A friend of our staff member had invited a Jewish woman. After the first class, our worker met with this Jewish woman and asked her what she thinks of Jesus. She said, “I believe He’s the Messiah, the Son of God!”

On the other side of the world, the severe restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic caused just about all the ministries of Celebrate Messiah, our ministry partner in Australia, to go online. Celebrate Messiah has been hosting special seminars on YouTube and Facebook that have reached thousands of people. Online ministry so far is reaching more people than would typically walk through the doors of our services.

And in the north of Israel, a Jewish woman regularly attended the online services of the congregation led by one of our staff. She actively participated in the meetings, and came to faith in Messiah. Our Israeli worker wrote about the encounter: “She came up to our apartment, and we chatted for about forty minutes, maintaining social distance and wearing masks. The conversation was pleasant and most welcomed. I felt an urgency to ask her about her spiritual life and if she understood that Yeshua is the Messiah, the one who died for our sins and gives the gift of eternal life. She heartily agreed, and in our living room, socially distant, she prayed to receive Yeshua.”

All I can say is, “Hallelujah!” You cannot lock down the Holy Spirit from working powerfully in the lives of those who need salvation! God is moving among ultra-religious and secular Israelis, Jewish people in America, and Haredi enclaves in Brooklyn and across the globe.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

You can pray for our ministry!

Please pray for the Lord to touch the lives of Israelis, Haredim, and Jewish people around the globe who need the Lord. If you have a Jewish friend and want us to pray for them, please go to chosenpeople.com/pray, write in their name, and we will pray for them. If you wish, we can also send them a free copy of our book Isaiah 53 Explained.

God’s work is not locked down!

I would even say that our ministry has expanded during this season. For example, we held online high holiday services, which were attended by more than 20,000 people worldwide. We have also begun a series of virtual small group discipleship Bible studies across the United States. We have Jewish people who are not yet believers attending these studies. We have never done this before!

We are continuing our digital ad campaigns, which have introduced us to thousands of Jewish people. We are following up through personal emails, Zoom calls, new websites, online Bible studies, virtual discipleship, and more. You can see from the fantastic reports I just shared that this has also led to in-person contact and decisions for the Lord.

Additionally, we have spent $500 per day purchasing Facebook ads in the United States, Israel, and other countries. Again, this has led to interaction with thousands of Jewish people for the Lord.

Online ministries are also incredibly powerful in reaching the Haredim. They do not want their family and friends to know they are considering the gospel. We place Facebook ads in Yiddish—the language commonly spoken by most Haredim. In partnership with the Jesus Film, we also translated the movie about the life of the Messiah into Yiddish. We use geographic-specific advertising in ultra-Orthodox areas to offer an opportunity to view a small clip of the film in Yiddish, which leads them to the full movie.

Am I encouraged? Absolutely!

I do not need convincing that the lockdowns of society, or hearts usually resistant toward the gospel, cannot be opened by the power of God.

Please help us take advantage of these opportunities by praying as we reach Jewish people and anyone else who will listen to the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.

In HOPE through the Messiah,

Mitch

Endnotes

1 “Government Resolution: 14 Day Total National Lockdown Effective This Friday with Optional Extension,” gov.il, September 24, 2020, https://www.gov.il/en/departments/news/24092020_01.

2 Ben Sales, “One-Third of Netanyahu’s Voters Believe Covid-19 Was Sent by God – Survey,” Jerusalem Post, September 17, 2020, https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/one-third-ofnetanyahus-voters-believe-covid-19-was-sent-by-god-642703.

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Filed under Digital Media, evangelism, Israel, New York City

Finding Hope

Shalom.

Maybe, like me, your sense of hope is running thin as we begin this eighth month of the pandemic. You are not alone. Optimism and hope may well be the most sought after, invaluable, and yet intangible life quality people are seeking today. We are all longing for hope—the belief that the future will be better and brighter than today!

We were entirely unprepared for the impact COVID-19 would have on our everyday lives. Most of us know very little about the Spanish flu of 1918 and how it ravaged American life and killed 675,000 Americans.[1] Some of what happened at that time would seem familiar today, including people wearing masks and socially distancing!

We remember more modern-day plagues like Ebola, AIDS, Legionnaires’ disease, polio, measles, mumps, and many others. Today, thank God, we have vaccines and treatments for most of these scourges.

Few of us remember World War II. However, many of us remember and maybe even served in more recent wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, in which we lost a combined total of more than 100,000 beloved American heroes.[2]

I remember the Cold War tensions, the Cuban missile crisis, and the atomic threat that drove school children to hide under their desks periodically (as if this would provide safety from a nuclear attack)!

We endured 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and massive storms in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas that wreaked terrible devastation and death upon people we love and care about, not to mention costing hundreds of billions of dollars in damage. We can now add the devastating West Coast wildfires to this list.

In some ways, COVID-19 is a crisis unlike any other as we face a deadly enemy we cannot see. Now, it seems that this dreaded disease will impact almost every area of our country, and, at the moment, we are hovering around 200,000 deaths. If we add the economic struggles and social unrest we are experiencing, who could blame someone tempted by hopelessness? How do we cope and find hope during these dark and difficult days? Ignoring what we are facing today is not going to work.

I especially appreciate those around me who are more upbeat and hopeful! May their tribe increase! I am grateful for every pair of smiling eyes peering above a mask, trying to help me look toward the brighter side and face the future in hope. I pray you have a few family and friends who bring you this kind of joy and inspiration, but even these wonderful people cannot always be by our side. So, how can we find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation? Is it possible? I believe it is!

Finding Unwavering Hope During a Pandemic

Hope comes from connecting with someone or something that is above and beyond the shifting circumstances of our day. We need to fix our hope on what is unchanging and eternal if we are going to find security and peace today. I believe we can find the hope we long for so desperately in a personal relationship with the God who made and loves us.

A God Who Keeps His Promises?

I find this hope in the story of the Bible. The Bible teaches us that God created a perfect world, but then something went wrong. Though He placed our first parents in an exquisite garden, they veered off the path He wanted them to follow. We followed suit, and every generation since then has suffered the results of these bad decisions. But, according to the Bible, God will reclaim and recreate the world He made.

God has not abandoned us and will one day heal our broken world.

In Judaism, this idea is called “tikkun olam,” the healing of the world, and it is vital to the Jewish view of life, as men and women may partner with God in the healing of the world. Jewish tradition understands that something is fundamentally wrong!

The Hope of Israel Fulfilled

How do we know what is written in the Bible is true?

So often we need something we can see to help us believe. I did! Let me tell you what convinced me. Briefly, here are three reasons.

He has kept His promises to Israel and the Jewish people. Despite the devastation of the Holocaust, the Jewish people—after multiple millennia and against incredible odds—have returned to the land of promise. This was predicted by the Jewish prophets, like the well-known Ezekiel who wrote thousands of years ago, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24).

If God can orchestrate Israel’s regathering and return to the land, He can be trusted to fulfill His other promises in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and New Covenant Scriptures. This is undeniable. If the Bible was correct in predicting the unlikely restoration of Israel, then what else in the Bible is true?

The Hope of Messiah Fulfilled

I also believe God demonstrated His trustworthiness by sending the Messiah. His name is Yeshua, or Jesus in English, and there are hundreds of prophecies detailing His identity and mission penned by Israel’s prophets over multiple centuries. If what the Bible promised about His first coming has come to pass, then what is predicted about His second coming should be true as well.  

The prophets of old prophesied His place of birth (Bethlehem) (Micah 5:2), His death for our sins (Isaiah 53:1–12; Psalm 22), His resurrection from the grave (Psalm 16), and so much more! He will return as judge and king to: restore our planet; remove sin, death, and disease; and, according to the Bible, He will wipe every tear from our eyes. Isaiah promised, “He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8, also Revelation 21:4).

This is a foundation for hope that will never disappoint.

Personal Experience

Finally, without being unrealistic about the level of tragedy we have experienced, I am convinced that God is trustworthy. When I accepted Yeshua as my Messiah, He filled my heart with hope. I cannot easily explain it or prove it logically. When you have a personal relationship with God and believe the promises in the Bible, hope invades your soul and enables you to face the future with confidence.

You will be able to read about the experience of others in this newsletter who had similar experiences to mine.

So, how should we respond to the hope God offers to humanity? We could just give up or become cynical about life in general. We could also choose to put our hope in our fellow human beings working hard to find a vaccine and a cure for COVID-19. Or, we could trust in the God who created us! Maybe a combination of the last two?

I can tell you that, even if we find a cure, we will still experience ongoing tragedies and challenges in this life and that only our relationship with our loving and immovable Creator will shelter us against the storms of life.

One More Thought

It is a mystery as to why God allows His beloved creation to endure difficult times: the loss of loved ones, jobs, educational opportunities, the separation from friends and family, and more that you and I have faced recently. It might be tempting at times to question if God is even good, whether or not you are a person of faith.

Right now, it might be a difficult season for some to keep the faith! It is understandable—times are tough! Maybe you would like to know and trust God but have a hard time believing what the Bible says about His unchanging character.

I wish I could give you an easy answer. I believe God is good by nature. He is Lord of all creation and mysteriously uses life’s most profound disappointments to shape us and make us strong.

I encourage you to hope in God! Even though the road may be dark, He is the Guide we need who lights our path and leads us through the valley of the shadow of death to green pastures.

You might have an unshakable faith in God, secured by the Messiah Jesus, or perhaps you are seeking hope that has been elusive so far. I wish you blessings on the journey, whatever your starting point might be, and thanks again for taking your precious time to read.

I hope you will enjoy the rest of the newsletter!

Sincerely,

Mitch


[1] Nina Strochlic, “U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Now Surpass Fatalities in the Vietnam War,” National Geographic, April 28, 2020, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/04/coronavirus-death-toll-vietnam-war-cvd/#close.

[2] Ibid.

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