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The Tabernacle: A Portrait of Redemption

Let me tell you how excited I am about a new Bible teaching project we have been working on these past several months! We are partnering with a wonderful Christian production company to create a virtual three-dimensional model and tour of the Tabernacle, which was the “portable Temple” where God dwelt during the Israelites’ journeys on the way to the promised land. The Hebrew for “tabernacle” is mishkan, which means dwelling place.

In Exodus 25:1–27:19, Moses outlined the plan for the Tabernacle, which God revealed to him on Mount Sinai. In many ways, the Tabernacle is a biblical type that points to the person and work of Messiah Jesus. That is one reason why I believe it is crucial that we understand the Tabernacle! Within this incredible structure, we find the “spiritual essentials” we need to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Once done, we hope our 3D model will help you experience the Tabernacle in a fresh and deeper way. You will find several images of the model in this newsletter.

Now, allow me to give you a “sneak peek” by examining the Tabernacle’s components and showing why they are important for anyone who wants to live for the Lord.

THE ALTAR (מִזְבֵּחַ)—mizbeiach

One of the major roles of the priests was to offer sacrifices to God on the altar (Exodus 27:1–8) in the Tabernacle (and eventually the Temple). One cannot underestimate the importance of the required sacrifices for atonement. We read in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”

Yeshua was the lamb of God who offered Himself as a sacrifice, and His death atoned for the sins of Israel and the entire world (John 1:29). We are grateful for God’s sacrifice of His Son for our salvation. As followers of the Messiah, we also offer ourselves in sacrificial service, which is our spiritual duty (Romans 12:1–2).

THE LAVER (כִּיּוֹר)—kiyor

The priests were commanded to cleanse themselves in the laver, or basin, before offering sacrifices (Exodus 30:17–20). This law teaches us a key lesson, as there must be purity before we are able to worship. The laver teaches us the importance of purity and cleansing in our spiritual lives. In fact, the cleansing that Israel and the world needs is not produced by bathing in water, but rather we are washed and purified through the blood of Jesus. The laver points to the perfect cleansing we experience by faith through His sacrifice for our sins.

I believe the Lord had the death of the Messiah Jesus in mind when the prophet wrote, “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity” (Zechariah 13:1).

This end-time cleansing will take place when the Jewish people turn to Him who was pierced (Zechariah 12:10). For those of us who already know the Lord, we understand God forgives and cleanses us each day as we confess our sins and re-experience the full power of His atoning blood (1 John 1:9).

THE LAMPSTAND (מְנוֹרָה)—menorah

God instructed Israel to make a lampstand with six branches (Exodus 25:31–40). Light is an integral theme in the Bible and a key element of our walk with God. His light guides us. His word is a lamp to our feet and a light that keeps us from stumbling (Psalm 119:105). The Lord chose Israel to be a light to the nations, yet His Son Yeshua, Himself an Israelite, shines this light more brightly than any individual or nation.

He is the light of the world, as John wrote, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).

The Ner Tamid, the eternal light, in today’s synagogue is a reminder of the menorah that burned in the Temple. God told Israel to burn a lamp continually in the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:20–21). This eternal light points to God’s eternal, glorious, and holy character. God is unchanging in His attributes and nature. The ever-present light reminds us that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob exists from everlasting to everlasting and that His Son shares the same nature. Therefore, Micah wrote that the Messiah’s “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Mic 5:2).

THE BREAD OF THE PRESENCE (לֶחֶם פָּנִים)—lechem panim

In the ancient Middle East and even today, a meal is the ultimate expression of intimacy and friendship between individuals. The bread of the Presence refers to a meal we can share with God that speaks of this potential depth of intimacy and friendship with the King of kings. Israel was to always have bread on a table in the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:23–30; Leviticus 24:5–6).

Yeshua has made a way for us to enter into and enjoy this relationship with the Lord. We are forgiven friends of the almighty and holy God of the universe through the sacrifice of Yeshua (John 15:15). In Him, we are free to fellowship with God like friends sharing a meal. We also joyfully await the marriage supper of the Lamb when the Messiah will dine with His bride (Revelation 19:9).

The laver and the altar prepare our hearts for the beauty of this eternal fellowship with the Lord and Creator of all things.

THE ALTAR OF INCENSE (מִזְבַּח הַקּטֹרֶת)—mizbach ha-ketoret

Prayers of intercession were another special responsibility of the priests. God instructed them to continually burn incense in the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:1–10) to symbolize their prayers wafting between earth and heaven.

Prayer is, of course, critical to our spiritual life. It is the line of communication between us and the Lord. We may pray liturgically or spontaneously—with or without a formula. Just as the priests were to burn incense constantly, we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

THE DIVIDING VEIL (פָּרֹכֶת)—parochet

This veil was a curtain that divided the holy place and the Holy of Holies (Exodus 26:31–33). Once a year, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) sacrifice (Leviticus 16).

The moment Yeshua died on Golgotha, the veil in the Temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:51) as a sign that all who believe now have access to the Holy of Holies through faith in the justifying work of Yeshua on the cross (Romans 5:1–2; Hebrews 10:19–20). One of the critical components of a healthy spiritual life is recognizing the access we have to God through the Messiah. Nothing can stand between us and God. We simply need to take advantage of this marvelous and privileged access to the presence of God, nurtured through prayer, reading Scripture, fellowship, meditation, and obedience for those cleansed by His atoning blood.

THE ARK (אָרוֹן)—aron

In Exodus 25:10–22, God told the Israelites how to build the ark. He commanded them to place several important items in the ark, including the two stone tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 10:1–5), Aaron’s blooming rod (Numbers 17:1–11), and a pot of manna (Exodus 16:33–34). All these items testified to God’s faithfulness to the Jewish people. These reminders of God’s word, the miracle of His transforming power, and His provision were important, and they reminded the high priest of why his obligations to the rest of the nation were so critical.

Yeshua is represented by each of the three items within the ark. As to the manna, He said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven” (John 6:51). Aaron’s rod was a definitive symbol of God’s power, representing how Jesus was God on earth; “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Finally, the word of God, represented by the stone tablets, finds its greatest fulfillment in the Messiah, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

THE MERCY SEAT (כַפֹּרֶת)—kaporet

The mercy seat is the piece of Tabernacle furniture that was most significant for the ancient Israelites. The mercy seat covered the ark in the Holy of Holies (Exodus 25:17–22). One might think of the mercy seat as atonement central. It was where the high priest sprinkled blood when he entered the Holy of Holies once a year to seek atonement for the whole nation of Israel (Leviticus 16:14–15).

Yeshua died once for all, for all humanity, and His one sacrifice suffices for all time (Hebrews 9:11–14). His blood fully cleanses all who believe. Yet, that is not the end of His work as our perfect High Priest, as Jesus continually intercedes for us in heaven. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). 

He is our everlasting High Priest!

In Conclusion

As you can see, the Tabernacle gives us much to consider as this mobile Temple reveals so many of the essential building blocks that shape our spiritual lives. The Tabernacle pointed to Jesus our Messiah who fulfills every intricate feature of the Tabernacle. The shadows match the substance. I hope this brief guide to the Tabernacle encourages you to more deeply appreciate the atonement Jesus made for us.

Thanks to Him and Him alone, we can draw near to the Lord each and every moment of our lives!

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Win & Disciple a New Generation of Believers in Israel

I recently returned from Israel, and what I saw was immensely encouraging! It is incredible how much Israel’s Messianic community has grown and changed since my first trip to the land back in 1976!

There are many more Israeli believers now than there were five or even three decades ago. Since then, so much has changed amidst the growing body of believers in the Holy Land!

For so long, most of those who came to faith in Israel were older immigrants from the former Soviet Union. However, many of today’s Messianic leaders in Israel are younger and grew up within the Messianic Israeli community. Many of them are also the grandchildren of those Russian-speaking immigrants in the post-Perestroika era.

Many of these young Messianic leaders’ kids have followed a similar path to that of their parents and grandparents. They had godly parents, were raised attending solid Messianic congregations from childhood, served in the Israeli military, traveled the world, studied at universities, entered the workplace, and now serve in their local congregations. Many of these men and women have also married and are now raising children of their own.

Partnering with and equipping these dynamic young leaders is my passion and priority. As a result, we introduced Living Waters almost a decade ago—an annual three-day mentoring retreat in Israel for the whole family. This discipleship effort allows young Israeli believers to meet one another and develop friendships for the future, as this generation will lead the Messianic community in Israel during the twenty-first century. It is an incredible privilege for Your Mission to the Jewish People to invest in this next generation and beyond (as we also disciple their children)!

Living Waters has fostered alliances among these young leaders, their congregations, and their ministries, resulting in even greater efforts to reach Israelis for Jesus. These alliances allow for deeper fellowship and for the participants to learn more about each other’s skills and gifts. Through teaching, worship, prayer, and many great discussions, we are advancing the general Bible knowledge of these young adults and addressing practical training issues, including leadership, counseling, and biblical ethics.

We have excellent Bible teachers training the Living Waters community. There are also some professors, business people, and others who know what it is like to stand for Jesus amid a challenging and sometimes hostile environment. Over the years, Living Waters has helped create a sense of unity in the Messianic body in Israel and has also offered the participants meaningful fellowship with believers throughout this small country.

This past June, Zhava and I were delighted to speak at Living Waters 2022. It was an honor to encourage these young leaders, but their passion for serving the Lord wherever He places them also profoundly inspired us. Here is what some of the participants had to say about their time at the retreat last month:

“Thank you so much for your work and love! I think there was a lot of honesty at the conference, and that is something that was important for me to experience and hear from young believers.”

“It is encouraging to see so many young people living out their faith, especially in this country.”

“Living in Israel is so hard and often exhausting, especially as believers. Having a ministry that just feeds into and loves on you for an entire weekend is such a blessing and an encouragement. I also really love the opportunity to meet so many other believers at a similar stage of life from around the country that we otherwise would not easily get to meet or know (particularly for us, being from the North).”

“We both felt so refreshed, encouraged, and more determined to do God’s work here in Jerusalem.”

We are in the midst of a second-generation Messianic Jewish movement within Israel and doing all we can to invest in their discipleship training for the Lord. We believe that what they learn through the teaching, personal conversations, and one another will serve them well as leaders in the growing Israeli Messianic movement as they bring the good news of the Messiah to fellow Israelis.

We believe that, along with Living Waters, many of our other activities at our center in greater Tel Aviv, such as our monthly Sabbath dinners, our weekly Bible classes, and outreach concerts, all contribute to serving this growing younger group of believing families and to equipping them to tell their own generation about the Lord.

God is at work in Israel, the Middle East, and the world. The passion and energy of this generation of Israeli believers are powerful evidence of God’s faithfulness. Now is an exciting time to be involved in Jewish ministry, especially in Israel!

I look forward to seeing how God will work through today’s Israeli Messianic community. Those in our Living Waters program, I have no doubt, will play an influential role.

What can you do to help us win and disciple a new generation of younger Israelis?

Your prayers are essential as the enemy of our souls is also doing all he can to stop this movement. We often have anti-missionaries trying to disrupt our activities in the greater Tel Aviv area. However, we are hoping to see some future “apostle Pauls” among them as the Lord reverses the hostility of the ultra-Orthodox and others who come against the good news and opens their hearts to receive the gospel message. We have already seen some openness among those who oppose us.

Thank you so much for caring! I am so hopeful for the future! I am already looking toward what God will do among this now-growing third generation (post-1948) of kids. They will grow up loving the Lord, speaking perfect Hebrew, and following the path blazed by their parents, who also attended Israeli schools, served in the army, and walked faithfully with their Messiah.

Many blessings, and may the Lord prepare our hearts for the great coming day that the apostle wrote about in Romans 11:25–26, when “all Israel will be saved”—through Yeshua the Messiah, of course.

I feel like we are on our way!

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Building Chosen People Ministries for the Future

How can we possibly have hope in a world filled with despair, war, disease, and poverty?

As always, we find the answer in the Bible!

Paul wrote to his young disciple, Timothy, and told him how to find hope in a disappointing world.

“It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers” (1 Tim 4:9–10, emphasis added).

We can have hope when we grab hold of the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

OUR HOPE IS ROOTED IN THE CHARACTER AND PROMISES OF GOD

Psalm 42 is one of my favorite psalms. In this song to the Lord, the psalmist is in painful despair, and this psalm captures his conversations with God as he journeys from darkness to light—from grief to praise. Finally, at the conclusion, the psalmist summarizes and sings,

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Ps 42:11).

Somehow, the psalmist escaped his despair and despondence and found hope in the Lord.

The psalmist wrote, “Hope in God.” In Hebrew, this phrase is הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹהִים (hochili lelohim); the root word is yachal ( יחַָל ), which can be translated as “hope” or “to wait with expectation.”1 The word “countenance” literally means “face.” I believe hope transforms us from the inside out and is most visible in the face of someone who smiles when hopeful. You can see hope in the cheekbones of the hopeful!

The journey to hope is difficult for most of us and especially challenging in times of hardship. But finding hope is critical for the soul’s survival. Moreover, it is at the core of our witness to those who do not yet believe. So, where should we look for hope?

We find the most soul-satisfying sense of hope when we strip away all the standard props of dependence upon people, material things, and circumstances, and we recognize that the only hope we have is in God Himself.

OUR HOPE IS IN THE LIVING GOD

Our hope in God rests upon His character, His promises, and, to some degree, His people. But it is always in Him, through Him, and about Him.

We have a forever-hope because our God is eternal. He is the living God. Therefore, we can live today in light of the glorious future He promised us, guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. When we have this hope and allow it to fill our souls, then we need not despair as we—through the Messiah—are eternal heirs of His grace and will live with the living God for all eternity.

Paul wrote so poignantly and powerfully, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).

A BIT OF HISTORY

Before I share with you some of our hopes and dreams for the next twelve months, let me take a quick moment to look back. Zhava and I are celebrating our twenty-fifth year of leading Chosen People Ministries, and it might be a blessing to you to read how we came to where we are today. I often joke that Chosen People Ministries is now in its 128th year—but I am not the founder! The Lord has led Zhava and me to this place for this season of twenty-five years. Knowing this makes the future all the brighter and more hopeful for us.

Zhava and I began this phase of our relationship with Chosen People Ministries on May 1, 1997. However, our Chosen People Ministries story goes back quite a few years to when Zhava became a believer as a young teenager. At that time, Chosen People Ministries was called the American Board of Missions to the Jews (ABMJ), and she came to faith at Fairfax High School in a very Jewish area of Los Angeles.

She came to the Lord through the witness of some Gentile Christian young people at her high school. While this was happening, I came to faith as a nineteen-year-old Jewish hippie in San Francisco. I met the Northern California representative of Chosen People Ministries, who encouraged me to go to Bible college back in New Jersey, which I did because I wanted to witness to my parents, who were living there at the time.

Zhava and I met after I graduated from Bible college. At the time, I had begun my graduate studies at the Talbot School of Theology and had been working with Jews for Jesus, which used to be the San Francisco branch of the ABMJ but had broken away. Zhava and I met at an ABMJ young adult outreach held at Pat Boone’s pool house. The rest is history!

When I left Jews for Jesus, I knew I wanted to stay in New York City and continue in Jewish ministry, but I did not know if I would serve with another organization or start something myself. It took about a month after I left Jews for Jesus for Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum of Ariel Ministries to contact me and ask if I wanted to serve with that mission. We thought and prayed about it for a little while and decided to do it. So I worked with Ariel Ministries from January 1996 until April 1997, when the Lord gave me the joy and privilege of becoming president of Chosen People Ministries. After a few months, our Chosen People Ministries director of communications left, and Zhava took that position. She has been full-time with Chosen People Ministries ever since. She currently teaches Jewish studies and Hebrew at the Feinberg program and directs our department of information technology.

NOW FOR A SPOOKY BUT TRUE STORY!

A couple of months before Chosen People Ministries approached me, I was praying and asking God for His leading for our future. Somehow, I got the impression while praying that God was going to call me to lead Chosen People Ministries. So, I told Zhava that I believed God might have been leading us to be part of Chosen People Ministries—to become the president even! She, of course, asked me if anybody from Chosen People Ministries had talked to me about it, and I said no. She then said, “Wow . . . you think highly of yourself!” It was my fault for marrying an outspoken Jewish girl!

But I was pretty confident it was God’s voice, so I was not overly shocked when a Chosen People Ministries board member called and asked me to have dinner with her a couple of weeks later. At dinner, she asked me if I was interested in the position of president of Chosen People Ministries. Of course, in light of what God had spoken to my heart, how could I say no?

So, there we were, in Brooklyn, where Chosen People Ministries had started in 1894. Our little office on Ocean Parkway—the gateway to Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn—became our new Chosen People Ministries New York headquarters.

After some time in Brooklyn, we bought a building in Manhattan with some of our leftover reserve money that was quickly running out. Then, after we sold our headquarters building in Charlotte, North Carolina, we bought a facility in Florida. The Lord has blessed our ministry and expansion ever since!

THE CHOSEN PEOPLE MINISTRIES OF THE FUTURE

So, where are we going as a ministry in the days and years ahead?

I believe the future will probably be much like the past; Chosen People Ministries should not change too much! We will remain faithful to Scripture and Leopold Cohn’s vision to reach Jewish people for Jesus and help others do the same. Our priorities, as expressed in our mission statement, will continue:

Chosen People Ministries exists to pray for, evangelize, disciple, and serve Jewish people everywhere and to help fellow believers do the same.

We will continue what we are doing but also innovate as the Lord leads. We have the capable staff to lead us forward! Let me articulate some of our goals and direction for this fiscal year (July through June).

  • We will wrap the gospel message in appropriate, creative, and compelling ways for our distinct audiences—religious, culturally-committed-but-secular Jewish people, and the vast streams of faith marking the church in our generation.
  • Our ministry to the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) will grow and become more significant in the days ahead.
  • We will focus on the land of Israel and continue to make people and resources available for God to use in the Holy Land. This ministry also includes an intensive effort to reach Israelis wherever they live or travel and to build a global hosting network for traveling Israelis in the days ahead.
  • We are praying about buying a facility for our work in Tel Aviv.
  • We are committed to discipleship and training and will seek to find opportunities to invest in the lives of individuals and communities.
  • We hope to encourage Jewish believers in their walk and witness and to be faithful to their historical and covenantal identity as Jews.

May our hope be fueled by faith, ever ready to embrace the destiny God has prepared for each one of us and for our ministry.

1 William Lee Holladay and Ludwig Köhler, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Based upon the Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, 12. corr. impr. 1991, reprinted (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 133.

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Reaching Secular Jewish People for the Messiah

I pray that, as we reach the middle of the summer, you are finding time to spend with your family and friends and enjoying the slower pace of life. These can often be the times of refreshing that the Bible speaks about (Acts 3:19; Romans 15:32).

As I think about family, I cannot help but consider the ongoing struggles in Ukraine and the devastating impact it has had on families. I especially mourn the loss of so many children. I know you will join me in praying the Lord will have mercy on the children who have survived, as they will certainly be affected by the trauma of war for the rest of their lives.

We are still very busy helping the Ukrainian Jewish people moving to Israel. We are renting apartments where they can stay while they get on their feet. Our staff are helping them in the most practical areas of life, showing them the love of Jesus in all we do for them.

Though Your Mission to the Jewish People unashamedly shares the gospel with God’s chosen people whenever the Lord provides the opportunity, sometimes our actions speak louder than words. Jesus once told His disciples:

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:35–40)

Often it is through genuine caring and outreach that God will open the hearts and minds of Jewish people to the love of God, which is in Messiah Yeshua, our Lord (Romans 8:38)!

We are eager to help you reach your Jewish friends, too!

Earlier this year, I presented the Messiah in the Passover at a local Baptist church and was approached by a delightful Christian who asked for some help in witnessing to her Jewish friend. She wanted to know if giving her friend, who was in his 90’s, my book Isaiah 53 Explained would offend him. She really loves her friend and prays for him each day. I suggested giving him the book, encouraging him to review it from a “Jewish” perspective, and then talking again to let her know what he thinks.

Our staff have dozens of conversations like this each month, and we want to help you share the good news with a Jewish friend. Equipping you is a major part of our Foundations ’22 annual campaign.

SPECIAL FREE BOOK OFFER

We are offering a free copy of Isaiah 53 Explained to all who ask. Although most Jewish people are more receptive to the book if it comes from someone they know, like you, if you prefer, you can give us their address, and we will send the book directly to them anonymously. Just complete the enclosed card and return it in the envelope, and we will take care of the rest! I recommend checking in with your friend in a few weeks to follow up with them and start the conversation!

FOUNDATIONS ’22 AND DEEPER TRAINING FOR JEWISH EVANGELISM

When it comes to evangelism in general, as you know—one size does not fit all. There is no typical Jewish person with whom we share the gospel as each person is unique. The more we know about an individual and their beliefs, the better we can make the gospel relevant to them. Yet, there are some general Jewish understandings of Jesus that I want to familiarize you with as a good starting point.

While we reach out to Ukrainian Jewish refugees with love, hope, and practical assistance, we continue to approach religious Jewish people with solid arguments from Scripture—answering age-old objections to Jesus.

We also share the gospel with more secular Jewish people.

These folks probably represent the majority of your Jewish friends. To help you better understand them, please allow me to take a few more moments of your precious time to share some of my own background and suggest a few principles on reaching Jewish people who are more secular for the Lord.

Last month, I shared with you about my Ukrainian Jewish roots. Both sides of my family hoped that their children and their children’s children would grow up to be observant Jews. While affirming their Jewishness, my parents did not follow in their parents’ footsteps when it came to following the Jewish law. We were 100 percent Jewish, but not in the same ways as our ancestors.

When I became a follower of Jesus, that all changed for me. The Jewishness of my grandparents suddenly made sense, despite the secularism of America in which I grew up. The holidays took on new meaning, and I have come to delight in the feasts of the Lord! Many of the Jewish traditions, in fact, became forms of worship that I would eventually include in my life as a believer. It is fairly common that, when a secular Jewish person believes in Jesus, they usually become more Jewish in their expression of faith than ever before as we recognize that being born Jewish is not a serendipitous act of fate but rather part of a grander plan of God that we are called to join. Years ago, we used the slogan “Jesus Made Me Kosher” and, in so many ways, this is still true.

JEWISHNESS AND JESUS

I remember a lesson I learned from my grandparents in a conversation from two decades ago like it was yesterday. My father and I were visiting his family, and while eating a bowl of chicken soup and matzah balls and engaging in deep philosophical discussion, my dear grandparents were doing their best to try to figure out why their grandson believed in Jesus and not Moses or even Marx.

When I finally had the chance to speak, I posed a question. I said, “Dad does not believe in God. Like Grandpa, he never attends synagogue, and yet he still says that he is Jewish. I, on the other hand, believe in the God of our fathers, learned Hebrew, married a Jewish girl, but believe Jesus is our Messiah. Which one of us is the better Jew?” My grandmother did not hesitate in her response: “Your father.” I dare say she spoke for the majority of the Jewish community!

In other words, you do not remain in the community by virtue of your beliefs, but you can be removed because of them.

The Jewish people you meet and witness to will be resistant to the gospel far more because of their fear of community sanctions than because of a theological disagreement over the identity of the Messiah.

You can help Jewish believers in Jesus by providing friendship and support as the Lord can use you to ease the pain of community rejection that is sure to follow their accepting the Messiah.

We are reaching many different types of Jewish people around the globe! Israelis, religious Jewish people, elderly Holocaust survivors, displaced Ukrainian Jewish people, and more! This month, I am excited to share with you the testimony of one of our missionaries who has been reaching out to Jewish people living in suburban America for decades.

The remainder of the newsletter is adapted from a paper he presented to the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) earlier this year.

“LCJE is the only global organization in existence today in which people involved in the field of Jewish evangelism can come together and—

  • Share information and resources
  • Study and report on current trends
  • Stimulate one another’s thinking on theological and missiological issues
  • Strategize on a global level so that more Jewish people will hear and consider the Good News of Jesus the Messiah
  • Arrange consultations that will be useful to those engaged in Jewish evangelism”1

I know his testimony will bless you, and I pray that you will gain some insight into reaching the Jewish people of suburbia with the gospel!

As always, thanks for caring!

1 “The Five Key Goals of LCJE,” LCJE, accessed July 5, 2022, https://lcje.network/.

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Building the Future of Chosen People Ministries for a New Day

I hope and pray this letter finds you rejoicing in His grace and that you are experiencing a fruitful summer. We are getting ready for Shalom New York, our summer outreach program where dozens of staff and volunteers from all over the United States come and witness to Jewish people in the parks and on the streets and beaches of New York City, home of two million Jewish people.

This outreach is a significant step forward in restoring our in-person ministries. It is also part of Foundations ’22—our year-long effort focused on returning to doing what we have done best for more than one hundred years. Your Mission to the Jewish People was founded on the principles of personal evangelism and discipleship of Jewish people and training our brothers and sisters in the church to be more effective in reaching their Jewish family and friends for the Lord.

A QUICK UPDATE ON THE LORD’S WORK IN THE HOLY LAND

I just returned from my second trip to Israel in the last few months—making up for lost time! After spending three days with a group of young Israeli Messianic Jewish leaders and then with our Chosen People Ministries—Israel staff, their spouses, and kids at a staff retreat, I am still on overdrive. I wish you had been there with me to hear the firsthand reports of all the Lord is doing in Israel today. The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully among a new generation of Messianic Jewish believers.

Most of these young Israeli believers:

  • Grew up in a Messianic Jewish Israeli home
  • Served in the Israeli military for the mandatory years of service—three for men and two for women
  • Spent some months traveling the world after the army
  • Returned to Israel to go to school or get a job
  • Married, had kids, and now serve the Lord through a local congregation in Israel

While there are exceptions to this usual pattern, the younger generation of believers takes this typical path, including some of our staff. This season of life is a busy time for these wonderful young people, many who work, go to school, serve in their congregations and ministries, and are raising children. Offering them the opportunity to go on a three-day retreat is an excellent way to support them.

The army experience is often where Israeli believers come to grips with their personal relationship with the Lord. Military service presents a very challenging time for these young, believing soldiers. Thank God there are some army programs offered by various ministries in Israel today that help believers prepare for the challenges ahead and remain steadfast in the Lord throughout their army years.

SOME HISTORY OF THE MESSIANIC MOVEMENT IN ISRAEL

I still remember the days when there were very few Messianic Jewish believers in Israel and, therefore, no second or third generation of believers. Today, many next-generation Israeli believers were raised by believing parents, grew up in dynamic and growing Israeli congregations, and are finding the Lord in the Land. They are also active in sharing the good news with their friends, schoolmates, and fellow soldiers.

There is debate as to how many Israelis are Messianic Jews, but I can tell you that it is a whole lot more than my first trip to Israel back when I was still in seminary in 1976! Our best and most recent estimates say there are between 15,000 and 30,000 Messianic Jewish believers and between 200 and 300 Messianic congregations throughout Israel.

God has done an extraordinary work, but I also feel like we have just begun (Romans 11:25ff.).

LIVING WATERS MENTORING RETREAT

By the time you receive this letter, we will have completed a young adult retreat with about thirty-five mostly post-army young adult Israeli believers. We used to hold this event each year before the pandemic, and it is wonderful to be back in person. Most of the participants either work in a secular or ministry job, go to school, or continue to serve in the army. They are eager to experience spiritual renewal and improve their skills to serve the Lord in the Holy Land more effectively.

This year, we invited Pastor Greg Stone, a Jewish pastor serving at Gateway Church in Texas, to be our guest speaker. He taught these young Israelis how to use the Psalms in personal ministry among those they are discipling and serving.

THE POWER OF GOD REVEALED IN THE HOLY LAND

I want to thank you for your prayers for our growing Israel staff. We have relaunched all our in-person programs, including ministries to Holocaust survivors, personal evangelism, congregational meetings, outreach concerts, and Sabbath dinners. We gather dozens of young people, serve great Israeli food, and preach the Word. Of course, lots of non-believers attend all these events as well.

I am also thrilled to tell you about some of our staff’s new ministries in Israel.

Michael and his family moved to the Golan Heights and are starting house churches in this relatively remote part of Israel. Right now, they are getting to know their neighbors and making friends.

Moti and his wife are part of our Tel Aviv team, and Moti is now a well-known “gamer.” He has a following of thousands of younger Israelis who he reaches through their interest in video games. In addition, he has more than 50,000 Israelis who are part of his online TikTok audience.

Our teams are still very involved in reaching Ukrainian Jewish immigrants and even some new immigrants from Russia fleeing the war zones and moving to Israel. We are helping them adjust to Israel, learn Hebrew, find jobs, and get their kids in school. We express God’s love to them in practical ways, and they are always interested to know why we are willing to help.

I thank God for the dedicated and creative team we have in Israel and again ask you to pray for their ministries.

We are also reigniting our ministries around the globe to traveling Israelis. After the army, young Israelis travel to some pretty exotic spots, including New Zealand, China, Brazil, India, and more.

We send combined teams of Israelis and short-term mission workers from North America and Europe to reach these wandering young Israelis. They are more open to the gospel as they travel when they are free to make their own choices. The environment also causes them to be more open to new ideas and religious beliefs, including learning more about Jesus the Messiah.

LOOKING BACK TO LOOK FORWARD

Over the past 128 years, Chosen People Ministries has faced some major world events, including:

  • the mass immigration of Jewish people to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century
  • rising antisemitism in the United States during the pre-World War I period
  • World War I
  • the Spanish flu
  • the Great Depression
  • World War II
  • the Holocaust
  • the founding of the State of Israel and the wars related to it
  • the fall of the Soviet Union
  • massive Russian Jewish immigration to the West and Israel throughout the 1990s

More recently, we were challenged with the COVID-19 pandemic and the current war between Russia and Ukraine. Yet, all these world events affected the everyday work of our historic Mission to the Jewish People.

These influential events with global impact caused us to pause, reflect on our ministry, and consider new perspectives and ways of sharing the gospel. It has also challenged us to be flexible enough to adapt to the changes thrust upon us.

A TURNING POINT

I believe Chosen People Ministries is experiencing another historic turning point. The dark times of the pandemic seem to be passing, but the days ahead are not without new challenges.

We do not know the future, of course, but we know the One who not only knows the future but shapes the future with His wisdom, power, and love. We have our marching orders: to preach the gospel, baptize, and disciple those who respond to our proclamation of the good news. Our particular field of service is in reaching Jewish people, and we take Paul’s mandate in Romans 1:16 seriously—to bring the gospel to the Jewish people first. This passage guides us and undergirds all our ministry activities.

The Jewish community around the world is more open to the gospel today than in previous years. Jewish people are ready to discover the love and healing available through a relationship with God the Father through the Prince of Peace!

We are excited about the future and the new opportunities to share the Lord person to person and heart to heart with the Jewish people!

Thanks for joining us in the journey through your prayers and support!

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Reaching Secular Jewish People for the Messiah

Thank you for your prayers and support! Chosen People Ministries’ staff could not do this great work of reaching Jewish people for Jesus in these last days without your partnership. Allow me to bring you up to date on what God is doing through our committed staff members in answer to your prayers.

We continue to work among Ukrainian refugees in Poland, Germany, and Israel, as well as with those who remain in Ukraine by choice or necessity. Our hearts break to see the displacement, devastation, and destruction of cities, families, and lives.

Your Mission to the Jewish People is also continuing to implement our Foundations ’22 campaign. We are reaching out to Jewish people and focusing on personal evangelism, discipleship, and training those who come to faith to be lifelong, fruitful followers of the Lord.

MY PERSONAL JEWISH STORY

My family is from eastern Europe, which is why I identify with Ukrainian Jewish people today. We have Ukrainian Jewish roots. My grandparents left eastern Europe during the rapidly deteriorating dark days of pre-Holocaust Europe. Persecution of the Jewish people was on the rise, and many were fleeing to places like Israel, South America, and the United States, where they found peace, opportunity, and freedom.

My father’s parents were from Ukraine. My grandfather was loving and kind and wanted nothing more than to assimilate into American life. He was proud to be part of a nation that cherished freedom and believed all men and women were equal in the eyes of God and the state.

While he was not religious, he instilled a love for the Jewish people in his sons. They also had a concern for continuing those cultural and family-based values and traditions woven into the fabric of the Jewish soul.

My maternal grandparents came to the United States a few years after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia (1917–1923). My grandfather was the son of an upper-middle-class manufacturer who lived in Minsk, Belarus. My grandmother was from a similar Jewish social circle. Unlike my paternal grandparents, they were far more religious and practiced Orthodox Judaism. They ate kosher food, observed the Sabbath, attended synagogue as often as they could, practiced Jewish rituals daily, and spoke Yiddish1 at home.

They had hoped the rest of their family would follow and join them in the United States, but they did not. Eventually, they would all perish in concentration camps when Hitler destroyed the Jewish community in Minsk. Again, my grandparents tried to scrupulously keep the Torah as they understood it. But the culture of the new world and its philosophy of assimilation resulted in none of their children becoming observant Jews. I am sure this was heartbreaking for them, but all their children—including my mom—still proudly affirmed their Jewishness, celebrated the holidays, and participated in the Jewish community.

BEING RELIGIOUS IS ONLY ONE SLICE OF BEING JEWISH

For my family and so many others, Judaism is not always about God or theology. Being Jewish is more often about focusing on family values, tradition, and the need to provide Jewish education and continuity for our children.

The religious side of Jewish life for so many Jewish people today has become watered down. The Jewish community and its leaders know this, and so should you. So when a Jewish friend says, “You know so much more about my Bible [the Old Testament] than I do,” it should not surprise you. This sentiment will be common, and it might amaze your Jewish friend that you know more about the Hebrew Scriptures than they do! That is a positive testimony!

On the other hand, it should not surprise you if your Jewish friend feels somewhat threatened when you speak to them about Jesus. Even secular Jewish people will generally feel a need to defend Judaism when approached with the gospel. You might think, “If they are not religious, why are they responding so negatively?” It is partly because of the tragic history of interactions between Jews and Christians and because you might have inadvertently threatened their lack of religious knowledge about Judaism. When they think others view their faith as deficient, they often feel helpless to respond.

THE BELIEFS AND VALUES OF SECULAR JEWISH PEOPLE

One could describe secular Jews as “culturally Jewish.” Secular Jews often do not understand their religious heritage and the values and laws given to Moses at Mount Sinai. Though detached from its divine origins, our culture is deeply ingrained in our hearts and minds. For example, many Jewish people are very concerned about civil rights and fight for the rights of the marginalized. Is this because we were or are an oppressed people? Partly. But, it is also the message of the Old Testament that we are to care for the poor, widows, orphans, and those displaced within society. For this reason, Jewish people are also often generous philanthropists, concerned with education, and divinely wired for healing others.

You see, being Jewish is not as much a function of belief as it is a matter of community identity. A person could retain that identity as long as they do not cross certain lines. However, if you breach one of these unseen parameters, you could easily cross over and out of the Jewish community. Believing in Jesus is one of those lines, perhaps the boldest of the lines, and once you cross over, you cannot return unless you renounce those beliefs.

The Jewish people you meet and those to whom you witness will be resistant to the gospel far more because of their fear of community sanctions than because of a theological disagreement over the identity of the Messiah.

You can help Jewish believers in Jesus by providing friendship and support, as the Lord can use you to ease the pain of community rejection that is sure to follow their acceptance of the Messiah.

We are eager to help you reach your Jewish friends!

Recently, I presented “Messiah in the Passover” at a local Baptist church. A delightful Christian approached me to ask for help in witnessing to her Jewish friend. She wanted to know if giving her friend my book, Isaiah 53 Explained, would offend him. She really loves her friend, who is in his 90s, and prays for him each day. I suggested giving him the book, encouraging him to review it from a Jewish perspective, and then asking him to let her know what he thinks.

Our staff have dozens of conversations like this each month, and we want to help you share the good news with a Jewish friend. Equipping you is a significant part of our Foundations ‘22 annual campaign.

SUPPORTING FOUNDATIONS ’22

We are reaching many different types of Jewish people around the globe: Israelis, religious Jewish people, elderly Holocaust survivors, displaced Ukrainian Jewish people, and more!

Your generous support enables us to produce websites and printed materials, maintain facilities, employ staff across the globe, and allow our missionaries to focus on evangelism, discipleship, and training.

Thanks for caring!

In our Messiah,

Mitch

1A mixture of German, Hebrew, and Slavic languages. Yiddish was the primary language of the Jewish

people in Europe for centuries.

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Relief for Refugees from Ukraine

Shalom in His grace. I appreciate the opportunity each month to tell you about the good work God is doing through Your Mission to the Jewish People. With the post-COVID reopening of the United States and so many other countries where Chosen People Ministries serves, there is more happening in our efforts to reach Jewish people with the gospel than I can describe.

As you know, we have initiated a three-part campaign called Foundations ’22, in which we are “going back to the basics” of personal evangelism, discipleship, and deeper training for Jewish believers and our Christian friends reaching their Jewish friends and family. This campaign has progressed rapidly as the opportunities now abound. We had a tremendous month of Passover outreach. Our presentations of Messiah in the Passover online and in person in churches across the nation enabled hundreds of Jewish people to hear the gospel and be introduced to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Yet with all this excitement, I still cannot escape the heartbreak of what is happening to the people of Ukraine, including hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who live there, as the countries of the former Soviet Union still have large numbers of Jewish people within their borders. The Ukrainians have suffered the attempted destruction of their country, without mercy on the part of Putin and his minions.

The tragedy of war fills me with sadness, and I am sure you feel the same way. We are doing all we can to alleviate the suffering of Ukrainians. It is especially terrible to watch as a generation of younger male leaders die defending their homes. Women and children are doing their best to get out of the country and escape to Poland and other nearby countries or eventually to Israel. This tragedy especially impacts children, as so many lost one or both parents or had to flee, leaving their father behind.

Mariupol, a city on the eastern border, was reduced from 450,000 people to less than 100,000, and most of their schools, apartments, and shopping areas were reduced to rubble. For years, we served a couple of Messianic congregations in this once-beautiful city, but now the Jewish believers have scattered. Yet, by God’s grace, many have found one another using WhatsApp, Telegram, and other social media tools. Along with Messianic Jews from other parts of Ukraine, they have regathered in western Ukraine in a safer city and have rebuilt a small community of believers. Some of the funds you have so sacrificially given enables them to survive, and our team also uses funds we provide to help non-believers as part of their ongoing outreach.

RELIEF IN JESUS’ NAME

We are focusing our ministries of relief and care on nations bordering Ukraine like Poland, Hungary, Romania, as well as on other European countries that have welcomed refugees. Much of our efforts are within Poland and Germany where a combined few million Ukrainian refugees have fled. We are working through our Chosen People Ministries staff and volunteers in these countries to support ministries in campgrounds, congregational facilities, and the homes of Christians. We are helping the refugees find safe housing and meeting some of their basic needs. We even brought in teams of Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking believers from Israel to help the refugees.

We are also assisting Ukrainian Jews wanting to move to Israel by renting some apartments in the Holy Land to temporarily house these new immigrants. During the last twenty-five years, God has done a wonderful work among Russian-speaking Jewish people. About 60 percent of the believers in Israel today speak Russian or Ukrainian as their primary language. Our staff in Israel have benefited from this movement of the Holy Spirit, and we have an abundance of Russian-speaking staff who can minister to these refugees.

So many of those moving to Israel are coming without husbands, sons, and brothers, as the men could not get out of Ukraine, where they are fighting the Russian invaders. Many of the men do not want to leave, choosing rather to stay and fight.

In the past, Chosen People Ministries has served the community of single mothers in Israel. Throughout the New Testament, we see Jesus helping those on the margins of society, and the Scriptures strongly encourage believers to help widows and orphans specifically (James 1:27).

One of my favorite passages is in Matthew chapter 9, in which we see our beloved Messiah focusing on the physical and spiritual needs of those who did not receive a lot of help from the rest of society. Matthew wrote:

Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matt 9:35–38, emphasis added)

We are trying, by God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit, to follow the example of the Messiah Jesus and minister to those in need, especially those who others might not be able or willing to help.

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD

Since the beginning of the war, we have received daily updates from our staff on the ground in Europe and Israel. Most of the emails are from Boris Goldin, who is coordinating our Chosen People Ministries work in Ukraine, and Maxim Katz, who is based in Israel but is currently working extensively with our Chosen People Ministries team in Poland. Please pray for them!

We also thank God for our German partners, Beit Sar Shalom (House of the Prince of Peace) and their director, Vladimir Pikman, who along with his wife, Inna, became believers through the congregation we planted in Kiev during the early 1990s. The teams in Germany are working day and night to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of refugees entering Germany and have attracted dozens of displaced Ukrainian Jewish believers who are now attending their congregations across Germany.

The email below from Maxim to our Israel director, Michael Z., is one example of the needs described during the early days of the conflict that encouraged Your Mission to the Jewish People to take action!

Misha shalom,

In connection with the war in Ukraine, I would like to inform you of what we are doing. Miraculously, the Lord opened up possibilities that we could not even imagine. A few days ago, the Sochnut1 turned to Ostróda (the place where we hold camps2 in Poland) to request to accept Jews from Ukraine. Today they contacted us through them, and together, we are coordinating the arrival of a group of Jews to Ostróda. I contacted my friend from the transport company, and the bus went to the Polish border to pick up 15 families. These are Israelis and new immigrants. They will be able to fly to Israel only after March 10. Until that time, they will live in Ostróda.

We were also asked for help in finding a place for 200 children from the Beit Chabad orphanage in Odessa. They are now in Romania and are looking for a place for a week. They are ready to stay at a Christian place but have asked to use as little symbolism as possible and to help with kosher food. I spoke with Dorin and his brother in Romania who is ready to help. I gave his coordinates to Sochnut and they already spoke. I hope everything will work out.

Misha, I think if you let me fly to Poland . . . and serve on site, I think it will be a fruitful help and ministry.

Thanks,

Maxim

Your prayers and support are so important to us, and I pray the Lord will guide you to support these efforts to bring the love of the Messiah to those suffering the ravages of war. I am praying about the rebuilding of the Ukrainian Messianic community throughout the globe, and your gifts of support will help in these rebuilding efforts wherever they will take place…Ukraine, Israel, Poland, Germany, as the Lord leads and allows.

I will send further updates as the Lord enables.

Your brother in Messiah,

Mitch

P.S. I was able to see the crisis firsthand during a recent trip to Poland, and my heart is just broken. Again, your prayers and financial support enable us to do more to help both Jews and Gentiles suffering in what can only be described as a modern humanitarian disaster. Thank you for your love and partnership.

1 The Jewish Agency, which coordinates the aliyah of Jewish people around the globe

2 Camps for children from Israel and Holocaust survivors

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The Mystery of Romans 11 and You

You might want to get a cup of coffee or tea and take out your Bible as we reflect on one of the great doxologies in Scripture, a praise to God in Romans 11:33–36.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?

Paul then triumphantly declared in verse 36: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

God knows the beginning, middle, and end of our pilgrimage on earth. He knows what is next, and all things are unfolding according to His plan. We should be comforted by this glorious truth—He knows everything and is never surprised by what we go through in this life. Therefore, we can trust Him fully as we walk through challenging and sometimes dark days.

GOD IS FAITHFUL TO HIS PROMISES

All human history is marching toward a Romans 11 future, which will be to the praise of His glory! Israel and the Jewish people, who are so critical to God’s grand plan of redemption, are part of that bright and glorious future. As Paul wrote in Romans 11:25, “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery.”

We really need to understand the mystery!

The apostle explained it:

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…. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25b–27).

The mystery to be revealed is that all Israel will be saved one day, demonstrating God’s faithfulness. Israel’s salvation answers the question Paul asked earlier, “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1).

God cannot renege on a promise! Paul’s salvation is evidence that God will keep His promises to the patriarchs. One day in the future, the Jewish people, as a nation, will turn to Jesus.

He added in Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

Paul understood that God did not remove the Jewish people from His purposes for all time; it was only temporary. The Jewish people still had—and have—a role to play in the drama of world redemption.

THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE

Zechariah describes the day of Israel’s turning to the Lord. On that day, God will “pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10). Zechariah envisions the Lord’s feet standing on the Mount of Olives, which will split in half, and afterwards, He will judge His enemies (14:2–3).

On that day, the Jewish people will cry out, Baruch haba b’shem Adonai, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39). At that moment, the Lord will save the Jewish people, conquer His enemies, and establish His throne in Jerusalem.

Paul was familiar with Isaiah 53 and may well have remembered that the prophet predicted a state of temporary national unbelief on the part of the Jewish people toward Messiah and that God would eventually open their eyes to Jesus.

Isaiah wrote:

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3–5)

This passage points to a day when Israel would recognize that her Messiah died for her sins! I know this is true, as I am a Jewish believer, and that day came for me almost fifty years ago when I embraced the Jewish Messiah. One day, what happened to me will happen to the nation of Israel because God is faithful to His promises.

OUR HOPE FOR TOMORROW MOTIVATES OUR MISSIONARIES TODAY

The day will come when the Jewish people in Israel, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Chicago, West Palm Beach, and all around the globe will recognize that He is Lord! It is this hope and understanding of the future that guides our work at Chosen People Ministries today. We serve the Jewish people considering what is to come. As Paul wrote:

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:14–15)

Your Mission to the Jewish People exists to plant seeds of faith in the hearts of Jewish people today through the proclamation of the gospel. Some of these seeds will bear fruit today, while others will blossom in the future when God moves upon the nation of Israel and turns the hearts of the Jewish people to Himself.

SPIRITUAL FRUIT IN THE MIDST OF WAR

As you know, Israel has gone through a tough time recently with COVID-19, unsettling elections, and an eleven-day war with Gaza. Some of those who suffered the most are the elderly Holocaust survivors who live in the border towns next to Gaza. We have served this community for many years and are beginning to see great fruit for our labors.

I recently received an inspiring letter from Maxim Katz after he took a group of Holocaust survivors on a retreat, after the shelling from Gaza stopped.

Maxim writes,

“We spoke on various topics from Scripture and offered words of support and encouragement that the Lord speaks to all of us through the prophets. Everyone was very interested because it was a real live dialogue. Many asked pressing questions, sometimes unexpected ones. Several people approached us with a request to pray for them. We prayed together for all those who wished to pray. We also joked and laughed a lot. It was a wonderful time!

Finally, I want to share the words of one person who has been battling cancer for the past three years. It was his first trip anywhere other than a hospital during this time. At one of the meetings, while we were reading and pondering the Bible, he said in front of everyone: ‘I was like a dry tree, but today, thanks to you and God, thanks to this trip and fellowship, I am revived as if they poured water on me, and I can breathe and come to life! How great is our God, Jesus!’”

PARTNERS IN THE GOSPEL!

Thank you for your prayers for the Jewish people. We continue to see Jewish people coming to faith. We are excited about the opportunities we have, both digitally and in person.

Thank you for caring!

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Making Disciples…in Hard Places!

But in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left.”
(2 Corinthians 6:4–7)

I recently rediscovered this powerful and well-known passage penned by the Apostle Paul, which describes the insurmountable difficulties he faced in bringing the gospel “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). 

Paul’s life was in constant danger. He was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked three times. His evenings were undoubtedly not spent at a five-star hotel. 

Paul challenged the believers in Corinth to follow him as he followed the Lord (1 Cor. 11:1). Most of us would not welcome the kind of opposition and suffering Paul met throughout his ministry. The world teaches us to avoid unnecessary hardship, and yet, the apostle embraced life’s difficulties and sorrows for the Lord. He wrote from a Philippian jail, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10). Yet, in all things, he found the victory through the Messiah Jesus—and so can we! 

Jesus endured life’s hardships and even bore the pain of the cross, burying our sins and crushing the power of the grave! Jesus lived through an eternal moment of separation from His Father—whom He loved for all eternity and who loved Him—so that you and I would not suffer a moment of separation from our Creator. 

Think of all the apostle endured for the sake of those he served and sought to bring into fellowship with the Father through the Son. Then consider all that Jesus, our beloved Messiah, gave up and suffered on our behalf. This might help us to gain a new perspective on all we endured, especially over the last year and a half. 

Suffering teaches us lessons we could never learn in any other way. Our character is shaped far more in the schoolroom of suffering than when surrounded by those we love, the niceties of life, and even success. We often learn more through failure and pain than we do through success. 

We all have our stories, of course, of how we experienced hardship for the Lord. 

Many years ago, I was part of a messianic singing group invited to go to Northern Ireland by an Irish Christian who had a tremendous burden for his people. We ministered through messianic music and preaching in and around Belfast. The year was 1976, and bombs were exploding virtually every day in beautiful, lush, green, and very unsafe Northern Ireland. 

At the time of this trip, I was a seminary student and a newlywed. Was I frightened? You bet I was! And my fear was justified! We all wrote notes to our unsaved Jewish families, sharing our faith and telling our loved ones why we were doing what we did. We were all ready to die for Jesus. Or so we hoped. 

I remember one day we had an engagement at Queens University Belfast. We set up our sound equipment and began our music ministry. Hosts of students came and listened and interacted with us regarding the gospel. We started our final song but were interrupted by a loud boom. Within moments, shreds of charred paper began floating down from the sky like falling snow. A bomb had gone off close by, and we, along with the hundreds of students, were frightened because we had no idea whether the next bomb would explode closer to us. 

Another day, we were singing in downtown Londonderry. We had to move from our original location as the establishment owner told us he no longer wanted us in front of his store. We were disappointed but continued our musical ministry two or three blocks away. We were not even halfway through our set of messianic music when we heard a loud explosion. You could feel the glass windows of the store imploding. The bomb went off at the very spot where we were supposed to sing but were asked to leave. To this day, I do not know if someone warned the owner of that retail store that a bomb would go off, and he told us to leave to keep us safe. All I know is that Romans 8:28 took on an entirely new meaning to me and our team! 

I could also tell you about incidents where someone angry about my preaching the gospel physically attacked me. To this day, I believe those hostile encounters were small change compared to the price He paid for me on Calvary. 

I love our Chosen People Ministries staff. 

They suffer without complaint and trust the Lord through the most difficult of circumstances. 

You will read about what our staff in Israel recently endured during the eleven-day war with Gaza. Most of our Chosen People Ministries workers in Israel are Jewish and made Aliyah because they love the Lord and want to live for Him in the Holy Land. But, unfortunately, they have endured a lack of acceptance, persecution by some religious Jews, and the everyday threat of terrorism and war. 

Before going to Northern Ireland for the first time, the president of Biola University (I was attending graduate school there at the time), Dr. Clyde Cook, offered to pray with our group before the trip. I will never forget his prayer: “Lord, teach Mitch and his team that safety is not the absence of danger but the presence of the Lord.” I will never forget those words. 

I pray that prayer today for our staff ministering in hard places. They endure rejection, threats, and difficulties that are all part of the worthy effort to share God’s love with our Jewish people, whom we love dearly. 

Many Jewish people react and oppose us strongly because of centuries of persecution by misguided and mostly nominal Christians creating an almost impassable gap between the Jewish community and Jesus. Right now, our staff ministers in Israel, Argentina, New York, Russia, the United Kingdom, and so many other critical and strategic places where large numbers of Jewish people live. These busy urban areas are loud, unsafe, and expensive. Yet, our workers endure all these challenges for the sake of the gospel. 

We need your prayers and generous support to share the gospel with Jewish people living in difficult places. We know we could move to someplace nicer, greener, and less expensive, but we choose to be where our Jewish people live, work, and raise their families. 

One way I encourage our staff serving in difficult places is to remind them of the vast number of like-minded believers who pray for them and support their ministries. 

You are so important to us but especially important to those who serve in hard places. 

Why do we do this? Why do we choose to endure such hardship and difficulties? Why do we ask our spouses and children to live in places that are difficult and even dangerous? 

Sometimes I ask myself this question, as I have lived in Brooklyn now for more than three decades, serving among one of the largest Jewish populations in the world. I chose to raise my children in this intense and often very hostile environment. But I have never looked back because of all the Lord has done for me. I know that our staff serving the Lord under challenging conditions feel the same way. 

It is tough at times, but always—and I mean always— worth it! 

What Dr. Cook prayed is so true, as safety and peace (shalom) are always available to us through the Prince of Peace who is with us and dwells within us. Paul gave us a rationale for the joy we can experience day in and day out as we share the gospel with Jews and Gentiles—even while suffering or working in difficult places. 

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
(2 Corinthians 5:20–6:1) 

And I can assure you that our staff feels this way. We know that what we do for Jesus is eternally worthwhile because what He did for each of us will endure forever. 

On behalf of our staff serving in difficult places, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love, partnership, prayers, and sacrificial support!

Thanks for helping me love our staff!

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Evangelism in Israel: A Golden Moment of Opportunity


Today, my heart is burdened for our beloved nation of Israel!

This past year has been challenging—especially the past few months—for every citizen of the Holy Land. COVID-19 ripped through Israel, killing thousands, especially within the Orthodox Jewish community; yet, today, Israel stands as an example of recovery from this dreaded disease. Thank God, the number of those infected is now almost nil on the Israeli side and decreasing among the Palestinians. We are beginning to see a restoration to life in person, including all of our ministries in Israel.

We have more than twenty staff members throughout Israel, with centers in Jerusalem and the Greater Tel Aviv area. We are already back to in-person Bible studies, events for elderly Holocaust survivors, outreach dinners, and ministry to younger Israelis, mainly through our outstanding work in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan.

THE RECENT ELECTIONS

The recent elections again revealed the deep divisions within Israel. A coalition of religious Zionists led by Naftali Bennett and a more left-of-center group led by Yair Lapid replaced long-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Efraim Goldstein, one of our long-term Chosen People Ministries staff members in Israel, summarized the recent election as follows:

The nation of Israel is establishing a new coalition government without Benjamin Netanyahu. The new leaders are a new generation of native-born Israelis.

Naftali Bennett leads the Yamina party and will be the new prime minister in a coalition agreement. As a former aide and cabinet minister for Netanyahu, he is determined to serve the nation of Israel. Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party is a staunch right-wing supporter.

Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid was a journalist and is committed to reforming Israeli politics. For the past ten years, he has labored to gain credibility as a viable leader. Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party served as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, and he is currently the defense minister. This coalition will also be the first time that the United Arab List (Ra’am), led by Mansour Abbas, will vote to support a new government even though they will not have cabinet positions.

The breadth of views within the new government is wide! We will see if they can hold together and provide decisive leadership for Israel as they try to weather the fractious regional relationships throughout the Middle East.

THE GAZA WAR

Israel was regaining a sense of normalcy from COVID-19 when war broke out with Gaza in May. I was in close touch with our Israeli staff throughout the war and its aftermath. Let me share some of what our workers experienced in their own words.

Our Israeli director, Michael Zinn, writes,

We just had the war, and today we are already trying to forget about it. Israel suffered from the terrible terrorist organization Hamas’ attacks with more than 4,500 missiles launched within ten days! They killed twelve people, wounded hundreds, and caused millions of dollars worth of property damage. Hospitals treated many hundreds after panic attacks. On top of that, thousands of Arabs within Israel rioted, destroying Jewish properties, burning down synagogues, lynching Jews, and attacking police. Add to this picture the ongoing sound of the sirens and traces of the Israeli defense antimissiles in the sky. By this description, you can probably get some understanding of what we have experienced here recently. It was very difficult to remain calm when my daughter called me from Tel Aviv and told me there were hundreds of missiles in the air, and I heard the sound of them over the phone!

David Trubek, who serves at our Ramat Gan Center, adds,

During the recent conflict here in the Holy Land, we found ourselves back in a wartime routine. Hamas launched massive rockets targeted at our civilian populace. Arab Israelis rioted, looted, burned public buildings, and violently attacked their Jewish neighbors. Unfortunately, a small segment of our Jewish population also committed violence against the Arabs. Our outreach center is in the Tel Aviv district—an area bombarded with missiles. For days, we had to run for shelter several times a day. We had to get up in the middle of the night each time the sirens sounded, get the children, and run to the shelter.

On top of ensuring the safety of ourselves and our children, we asked God how He would use us to shine His light on people around us. During our time in the shelter, we had conversations with people about the love of God, the sin that destroys the world, the message of Yeshua, and the love He brings into this world. We decided with our congregation to meet on Zoom for prayer meetings. I felt in my heart the urgency to reach out to our local Arab brothers and ask them to join and pray together with us in unity for peace in the land of Israel.

Our staff deeply cares for their families and their fellow Israelis who need the Lord during this time of turmoil! They have a ministry of comfort, especially among the elderly Holocaust survivors they reach in the areas closest to Gaza.

Maxim Katz, serving in Jerusalem, writes,

We hope that in July and August we will be able to hold children’s camps. We had planned a vacation camp in May, but we had to cancel it due to the Gaza conflict. It breaks my heart because we could not gather our children together for almost two years. I see teenagers for whom the camps were an anchor of faith now living in the world. We pray that the Lord would give us wisdom and the opportunity to bring these young people back to Him.

When we sent the invitation to come to the camp in May, seventy children signed up in twenty minutes, and we had to turn more away. The Lord showed me again how important this ministry is. The kids were distraught when we canceled everything, and we are waiting for the summer with the hope that camp will happen. Today, we have almost a hundred applicants for the summer camps.

NEW OPPORTUNITIES

We know that war and general instability bring opportunities to share the gospel of peace. Many Israelis are seeking the Lord, which is why we believe we need to intensify our efforts in the Holy Land right now. The need TODAY is urgent.

The openness we are sensing is, without a doubt, growing among next-generation Israelis! This is why we are working intensively to develop new tools to reach Israelis through some of our new websites and social media efforts and, of course, through in-person ministry as the country re-opens post-COVID-19.

We are creating a website that addresses the thorny questions Israeli young adults are asking. Our new site and social media campaigns will speak to heart issues like loneliness, broken relationships, gender confusion, and other life issues that we know only a personal relationship with God through Jesus the Messiah can address!

We will continue to reach elderly Holocaust survivors for the Lord, intensify our family-oriented strategies by ministering to both parents and children, develop new congregations, and much more!

Clearly, the recent elections show that young Israelis are looking for new ideas, new leadership, and for many, a new way—other than Jewish Orthodoxy—to draw closer to God. We believe it is critical at this moment in Israel’s history to reach this younger generation.

THE CHALLENGE OF WEAKENING EVANGELICAL SUPPORT

Unfortunately, we have a problem within the American church as support for Israel is waning among younger
evangelicals. According to a recent survey that Chosen People Ministries helped sponsor, support from younger evangelicals for the nation of Israel has dropped from 75 percent to 33 percent since 2018. We find that a lack of support for Israel often leads to lessened interest in Jewish evangelism.

However, there is a silver lining, as more than 40 percent of evangelical young people are undecided concerning their views on Israel. This indecision allows Your Mission to the Jewish People to educate the future leaders of the American church!

In light of the survey results, which Chosen People Ministries helped sponsor, we hope to create materials and conduct conferences in seminaries and local churches that encourage younger evangelicals to love Israel and support our efforts to reach Jewish people with the gospel.

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