Tag Archives: israel

Sharing Messiah in the Promised Land

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 26:3–4, which I will quote the way I memorized it from the King James Version. Although I usually use the New American Standard Bible, this verse just sounds so much better in the King James! “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

The great hope we have in the Lord is sometimes made cloudy by the fog of war, pandemics, and every form of human crisis. His powerful presence is revealed to us even in the midst of the whirlwind (Job 38:1), and as we learn from Paul, “hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5)!

Yet, our world today is facing great danger on so many fronts! The Russian onslaught in Ukraine has made this painfully obvious. The horrors of an unjust war remind us that there is no end to human suffering and that innocent men, women, and children will experience hardship and even death because of the evil of others.

Our hearts and prayers go out to those suffering such overwhelming loss.

Thankfully, one day, this sinful world will give way to a new creation filled with the glorious presence of the Lord. There will be no more suffering, no more death, and God will wipe every tear away from our crying eyes. The apostle Paul wrote so poignantly about our future hope:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 
(Romans 8:18–21)

This sure hope is why we can have peace in the midst of tribulation. Jesus Himself said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Peace is always possible through the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Messiah. He overcame the evil of this world through His atoning death and resurrection, and He enables us to live without fear in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Bringing His Peace to Others

We cannot keep this peace and confidence in God’s promise of a glorious future to ourselves. He calls us to help others experience His shalom now and forever. Your Mission to the Jewish People is assisting others to experience His peace by helping Jewish Ukrainian refugees, especially those moving to Israel.

The common term for this process of moving to Israel is aliyah, which in Hebrew means “to go up,” as Jerusalem is in the Judean hills and one always travels up to Jerusalem. As we read in Isaiah 2:3, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.”

The Israeli government offers full citizenship to those who can demonstrate they have at least one Jewish grandparent. Israel also provides many benefits to those making this move—from tax breaks to initial funding for food, housing, and Hebrew lessons! However, in a usual year, the number of Jewish people making aliyah is around 25,000 people.1 Some are expecting there to be between 50,000 and 100,000 Ukrainian Jewish people making aliyah over the next year due to the war and their need to resettle someplace other than Ukraine.

Many Ukrainian Jewish refugees have relatives in Israel. About 1.4 million Russian-speaking Jewish people moved to Israel after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. This large movement of Russian-speaking Jewish people took place over twenty years. Most of those who came to Israel from parts of the former Soviet Union, including Russia, Ukraine, and other now-independent nations as younger men and women, have served in the Israeli army, attended Israeli school, speak fluent Hebrew, and play a vibrant part in Israeli society. The Russian-speaking influence in Israel today is extensive!

Project Promised Land

Allow me a moment to explain how we plan to help this new wave of Ukrainian Jewish people now moving to Israel.

We plan to provide housing, basic language skills, job counseling, friendship, and whatever else is needed to help them resettle in Israel as the Israeli government will not be able to absorb so many people quickly.

We are calling this effort Project Promised Land!

This new effort is the suggestion of our Israel director, Michael Zinn, a Jewish man from Ukraine who made aliyah about thirty years ago. He and his wife Natalie found the Lord after they moved to Israel. Michael told me a little bit about his story, and I would like to share this with you!

Before his bar mitzvah, (a ceremony celebrating a young man’s official passage to manhood at age thirteen), Michael’s father told him he could believe in anything—except Jesus. Michael started reading the New Testament anyway. In his thirties, he moved to Israel with his wife. While studying Hebrew, they met an American couple who were extraordinarily loving toward them. After Michael poured out his heart to this couple, the man said, “I cannot help you. There is only one who can help you. His name is Yeshua.” After some time and ongoing conversations, both Michael and Natalie placed their trust in the Messiah Jesus.

The Plan for Project Promised Land

We have already done a lot to help Jews and non-Jews within Ukraine, particularly on the western border in Poland but also in Germany and other parts of Europe. That was phase one of our efforts to help many survive the ravages of war, and these ministries are ongoing! Our next step is to focus on two or three families per month by placing them in apartments in Jerusalem and the greater Tel Aviv area. We will give these precious new immigrants places to live and the personal help they need but cannot readily receive from the Israeli government, which is overwhelmed by the massive wave of new immigrants making aliyah.

We are providing low-cost housing, food, companionship, vocational counseling, childcare, and so much more so they can stand on their own two feet in their new country. Israel is not just any country; these Ukrainian Jews have returned to the land God promised them thousands of years ago. We hope that they will meet the God who promised to love and care for His chosen people.

The annual budget for this project is $75,000. Already, even some of our staff are contributing to Project Promised Land. We also received a grant from a faithful supporter who went to be with the Lord and provided funds to help Jewish people make aliyah.

If we raise more than the requested amount, then we might be able to open more housing for the new immigrants as need arises and funds are available. We have the staff who speak Russian, Ukrainian, and Hebrew.

How Long, O Lord?

The psalmist asked this question in Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? (Ps 13:1–2)

How long will it take for Ukraine to get back to normal? How long will it take to rebuild the country? Who knows whether the war will be over by the time you read this entry? How long will we need to continue to supply relief for those struggling in Ukraine, Poland, Germany, and other parts of the globe where the refugees move? How long will we need to provide help and housing through Project Promised Land? We simply do not know the answers to these questions. But we do know that His love never runs out. As long as we can show love and care to those suffering, we will do our best to continue the project.

We have signed a year’s lease for our apartment rentals, so we expect this need to continue for at least twelve months. However, the time may come when Project Promised Land is no longer needed to serve Ukrainian Jews making aliyah. In that case, we might find others making aliyah from other countries who need this level of personal help when they arrive in Israel.

We pray that those we help will look past us and see the risen Messiah of Israel as the One who is wrapping His loving arms around their families and providing for their needs.

That is my hope and prayer.

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Filed under evangelism, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, Messianic Jewish

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

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

Serving in the Land of Yeshua’s Birth

I am writing to you at a time when Israel is again battling against the new coronavirus variants, shutting down Ben Gurion Airport to visitors and restricting various everyday activities for all Israelis.

The pandemic hit Holocaust survivors in Israel harder than most as they are physically vulnerable and already some of the most emotionally traumatized people on the planet.

We all know the pandemic made life difficult for everybody, in every country, every community, and household. But imagine what it would be like if you were an eighty-six-year-old Holocaust survivor living in a cramped apartment for a year and a half without a computer or knowing how to use modern technology.

Israel went into lockdown because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, which resulted in the closing of the state-funded social clubs for Holocaust survivors in an effort to protect them from the spread of the disease. This created an opportunity for our staff at Chosen People Ministries—Israel to show His love by serving the survivors. Our staff received special permission from the government to visit these precious souls in their homes and provide them with food and other supplies. But almost more importantly, these visits provided personal connection, prayer, and comfort as our staff was able to share the good news of the Messiah with those who were open.

Our team sprang into action, and we taught dozens of Holocaust survivors how to use computers and even Zoom for virtual meetings. From Bible studies to live online concerts with worship music and teachings from Scripture, we provided a steady stream of hope and personal contact through Zoom events designed for those unable to leave their apartments. We must also remember that, during some of this time, the survivors lived in terror as missiles from Gaza were regularly flying overhead, and some of the rockets that were not stopped by the Iron Dome hit the ground near their apartments, which are very close to the border.

Maxim Katz, who leads our ministry to Holocaust survivors in Israel, described to me the ways in which hardship opened doors for ministry among hundreds of elderly Holocaust survivors and their families.

I am sorry to say that many Holocaust survivors whom Maxim and his team served, approximately seventy in total, passed away during the last year. To make matters worse, Maxim recalls that none of our staff were able to attend the funerals as only a few close family members were permitted to attend. This brought us to tears.

ANSWERS TO PRAYER

What encouraged us the most during this season were the hundreds of phone calls we received from Holocaust survivors and their curious, unbelieving family members asking for prayer. We spent hours upon hours talking with and praying for people over the phone.

One sweet ninety-year-old lady called Maxim and asked for prayer for her grandchildren, who are now in the army. The next day, Maxim received a phone call from an officer in the military who was this lady’s grandson. “My grandmother said you prayed for me,” he remarked. “Who are you, and why are you praying with and helping my grandmother?” he added. Maxim shared openly that he was a Jewish believer in Jesus and told him about our ongoing work among Holocaust survivors. Maxim’s testimony touched the man, and days later, he received a message from this officer saying he—an unbeliever—wanted to support the ministry financially! Not only that, but he continues to call Maxim to this day, asking questions about faith and sharing about his own spiritual journey.

Another precious lady in her late eighties called and asked us to pray for healing from cancer. Maxim and the team prayed for her and offered practical help as well because she had no family in Israel. She accepted Jesus as a result of our prayers and practical support. It was a beautiful picture of Jesus’ words: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

CHANGE AND ENCOURAGEMENT

Recently, an eighty-six-year-old man asked Maxim, “How did you come to the faith? How did God find you? Because you weren’t born a Christian. So, what happened?” After two hours of Maxim and even some other survivors sharing their testimonies, the man came to faith in Jesus!

Pray for these precious Holocaust survivors. We try to help them spiritually and practically, but we are also fighting the clock as many, especially during the pandemic, have passed away. Please pray that God will continue to open the hearts of the survivors and that He will send additional laborers to serve on our team who can especially help with home visits. It requires a lot of time to make these personal visits as the survivors are often so lonely.

The harvest is plentiful in Israel among Holocaust survivors! But the time is short. Matthew wrote, “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 9:37–38).

So, please pray for new laborers and think about sharing financially in this urgent ministry so that we can take on some new workers for this effort…again, the time is short.

You can help us in this wonderful ministry through your prayers and support of new workers!

MAXIM’S TESTIMONY

Maxim was born in Siberia, Russia, in 1976 to a traditional Jewish family. Due to a problem at birth, he could not walk until he was nine years old, which made his childhood very difficult, especially making friends with other children. When he reached adulthood, he became very attracted to the world.

After some time, Maxim decided to move to Israel under the Law of Return, which allows Jewish people to immigrate to the Holy Land. He settled in the resort city of Eilat in the south of Israel with other immigrants from Siberia. But instead of finding a new life, he quickly became attracted to alcohol and chose the wrong kind of friends who were also heading down a path to nowhere!

But the Lord had His holy hand on Maxim and began drawing him to the Savior. He met some godly believers in Eilat and began to understand that there was a God who loved him. Going nowhere on his own, he prayed and asked for God’s help. Still, life became more difficult, and he ended up on the streets. Then, one day, Maxim called out to God for help as he knew that Jesus alone was the answer to ALL of his problems.

Eventually, God called Maxim to serve Him full-time, and he has been serving with Chosen People Ministries since 2002, teaching Bible studies, assisting the director of the work in Israel, and sharing the good news of Messiah with all who are willing to hear.

The Lord also brought Maxim a beautiful wife, Slavna, and together they minister for the Messiah in Israel among Holocaust survivors and among children as Maxim also leads our very fruitful camp programs.

THE ISRAEL PROJECT

Your Mission to the Jewish People has more than twenty staff members in the Holy Land serving the Messiah among His chosen people. Our Centers in Jerusalem and in the greater Tel Aviv area are again up and running, and Maxim and our other staff members are busy reaching Jewish people in Israel: Holocaust survivors, young adults, children, soldiers, and many others!

During this season of the year, when we think deeply about His miraculous birth and generosity toward us (Romans 5:8), please join me in prayer for the work of Chosen People Ministries in Israel.

Merry Christmas, and may He be glorified in all things!

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Filed under evangelism, Holocaust Survivors, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians

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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Thankful for Israel and the New Middle East!

We are living in exciting but not unexpected days. I am grateful for the ways in which God has demonstrated His power through the survival and restoration of the Jewish nation! Let me list a few specific reasons why I am grateful:

1. Israel is back in the land promised to the chosen people by God Himself in Genesis and throughout various passages in the Old Testament.

2. The Hebrew language has become an everyday modern language—a linguistic testimony to the faithfulness and power of our covenant-keeping God.

3. There are now almost seven million Jewish people living in Israel, out of a total population of nine million. With 14.7 million Jewish people in the world today, a shade less than 50 percent live in Israel.

4. Israel has survived four major wars and a multitude of smaller but deadly wars.

5. Israel is developing peaceful relations with former enemy states in the Middle East, which began in 1979 with Egypt, then Jordan in 1994, and more recently the Abraham Accords.

Imagine what our forefather Abraham would have thought had he known the above amazing achievements when God told Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation! The entire history of the Jewish people—from Abraham to the modern State of Israel—is a series of survival miracles testifying to the greatness of God who created the nation to be used for His holy purposes!

Remember the well-known but fundamental promise God made to Abraham and his descendants:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and 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.” (Genesis 12:1–3)

A CONVERSATION WITH JOEL C. ROSENBERG

I recently had the joy of sitting down with Joel C. Rosenberg, my friend and a best-selling author. He has spent considerable time meeting with Arab and Israeli leaders while researching his new and excellent nonfiction book, Enemies and Allies. When I told Joel that I loved his thriller novels but was eager to read his nonfiction work, Joel said that I might find his new book as much of a thriller as his novels—and he was right! It is an incredible story, and you can see the hand of God on the alignment of nations in the Middle East, which is the subject of many biblical prophecies as well. The nations of the Middle East and even Africa were a favorite topic in the book of Isaiah! The prophet specifically mentions that one day there will be peace among the nations of the Middle East, but only when the Jewish king sits on His rightful throne in His promised capital city—Jerusalem!

Isaiah wrote, “In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance’” (Isa 19:24–25).

I find that passages and promises like the above give me hope and a vision for a brighter future. Perhaps some of what we are seeing today points to this peaceful future. Admittedly, we might see many challenges to peace in the days ahead, but at least Isaiah gives us an idea of what the Lord’s ultimate victory might look like, and we can have this in mind as we observe the shifting relationships of nations especially in the Middle East regarding Israel.

Here is a brief portion of my conversation with Joel that was part of our recent conference entitled “9/11 and the New Middle East” held in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 tragedy and the heroes who selflessly sacrificed themselves for our benefit.

We will be forever grateful for their heroism!

THE CONVERSATION WITH JOEL

DR. MITCH GLASER

Can you share a bit about your developing relationship with the King of Jordan?

JOEL C. ROSENBERG

I wrote a novel and decided to have ISIS capture a cache of chemical weapons in Syria and then try to cause attacks against multiple enemies over the next few books. The first objective is to assassinate King Abdullah, the king of Jordan.

King Abdullah in real life is a fascinating man. He is a direct descendant of Muhammad. He is a former special forces commando. He rose to be the head of all special forces in Jordan. He never thought he was going to be the king. His uncle was the crown prince. His father was the king, but three days before King Hussein died of cancer, he named Abdullah his heir. He was already an action hero and a moderate, so I thought, I am going to make him a character. I am going to make him the king that ISIS is trying to kill.

It turns out that King Abdullah read the novel. One of his advisors stumbled upon it in an airport, read it, brought it to the king, and said, “Your majesty, you have to read this.” The king said, “Why?” He said, “Because you are in it, you are a central character in the book.”

As it happens, the king read The Third Target. Rather than banning me from his kingdom forever, he invited me and my wife to come and visit him for five days, and we accepted.

The first day we were there, he sent a car, brought us to the palace, and he said, “Joel, it is nice to meet you. I was trying to think where it would be fun to meet you for the first time. I thought, well, you did blow up my palace. This is the palace. I thought you ought to see the actual palace that you fictionally blew up.” I said, “It is lovely, sir, your majesty. I did not mean any harm. I wanted to show people a worst-case scenario.” And he said, “If I thought you meant harm, I would not have invited you.”

Then he said, “I see that you made me a character, but my staff, my advisors, these are all fictional names, but I can see who is who. So, I bought copies of your book, and I gave them to my staff. I would say, ‘Here, this is you on page thirty-four. You do not make it through the terrorist attack. You might want to read that.’ Sense of humor.”

Over the next five days, we spent time with a person that very few people get to meet. At the end of it, he invited us to a private dinner at his private palace with just a few of his personal friends. Following a two- or two-and-a-half-hour evening, I said, “Your majesty, I hope you know that I had great respect for you when I wrote the series, but spending time with you, that has been deepened. I’m just curious. I think that other evangelicals would be fascinated to meet you—not someone like you—you. Very few people get a chance to meet a moderate Muslim monarch who is a descendant of Muhammad. Would you ever have any interest?”

He said, “Joel, why don’t we put a delegation together, and you bring over a group of leaders that you think would benefit from this.” That set into motion five meetings with him, five meetings with President el-Sisi in Egypt, two meetings with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, one meeting with the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, and meetings with the leaders of Bahrain. Those meetings become the stories that I tell in Enemies and Allies.

DR. MITCH GLASER

This is almost as exciting as one of your fiction thrillers! But hopefully more fruitful, since one of Israel’s neighbors, with whom they are at peace today, might be open to learning more about what followers of Jesus believe. We are all praying for you, that God will give you wisdom and grace as you befriend various Arab leaders and encourage them to think more kindly about Israel and, of course, about the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.

There is a whole lot more to our discussion, and you can watch the full version of the interview at 911theconference.com.

A SIXTH POINT OF PRAISE

Lastly, I am so very thankful for the great work our staff is doing in Israel. Despite wars, missiles, pandemics, and political tensions, the Chosen People Ministries—Israel staff continues to reach Jewish Israelis for the Lord unswervingly! We are a national ministry in Israel, with work established throughout the country in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, the Galilee, and the Golan Heights. We continue to grow and expand as many Israelis are open to the Lord. Your partnership is strategic as we serve the Savior in the land of His birth and the place of His return!

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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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What is Next for Israel?

Dear friend of God’s chosen people,

It is my joy to introduce you to Dr. Michael Rydelnik, the director of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute and the radio host for Open Line on Moody Radio, which airs every Saturday at 9:00 am. Chosen People Ministries has enjoyed the service of dozens of Moody Jewish Studies graduates working on our staff in the United States, Israel, and worldwide!

Michael is a dear friend of mine who came to know the Lord through Chosen People Ministries. His wife, Eva, has served on the Chosen People Ministries staff for multiple decades.

I asked Michael if we could share his article, which focuses on why Israel is evidence of the reality of God and the truth of the Scriptures! Scripture often calls Israel a “witness” or a “light to the nations.” These names capture Israel’s fundamental calling to bring blessings to the world. This call is clearly depicted in Genesis 12:1–3 when God told Abraham that it would be through Israel that all the world’s nations would be blessed. Jesus relayed something similar to the woman at the well when He said, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).

Today, Israel is blessing others as the “vaccine nation,” leading the world in the percentage of citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 and providing invaluable information about the vaccine. Israel is often a shining example in some unexpected ways!

I know Dr. Rydelnik’s teaching will spiritually enrich you! And as always, thank you for your faithful prayers, love, and support for YOUR Mission to the Jewish People.

Your brother in Messiah,

Mitch

Is the Modern State of Israel the Fulfillment of Prophecy?

by Dr. Michael Rydelnik

Even if we concede for the moment that the Jewish people’s continuing presence is evidence for the reliability of the Bible, we are well within our rights to raise other concerns. What, for example, is the connection between the Jewish people and the highly contested real estate in the Middle East that makes up modern-day Israel? For some, the relationship between God’s covenant promise to preserve the Jewish people and the equally emphasized “Promised Land” is highly problematic. Today even some committed Jews and Christians may wonder what relationship the present day State of Israel has with the land it sits on. In 1948, varying numbers of Orthodox Jews were horrified that anyone could even consider a Jewish state based upon modern notions of nationality in place of a kingdom under the Messiah’s reign. This sentiment persists today.

Yet, politics aside, it cannot be denied that not only have the children of Israel endured despite the harsh treatment they have received, but against all odds, after 2,000 years of exile, the Jewish people have once again returned to the Land of Israel as the biblical prophets promised they would. The Hebrew prophets foretold a day when God would draw His people back to Israel. Although centuries of dispersion caused this aspiration to retreat into the far background of Jewish life, it never fully disappeared. If nothing else, the hope that is voiced every year during Passover—“Next year in Jerusalem!”— serves as an annual reminder of the Jewish people’s lost heritage.

So unlikely did a realistic restoration of the Jews to their Land seem that throughout church history, Christians, for the most part, could not conceive of a literal fulfillment of this promise. Therefore, many believers in Jesus interpreted these prophecies figuratively or historically—if they thought of them at all. However, some believers in the nineteenth century did indeed take the promise of a return literally and began to anticipate a Jewish return to the Land of Israel. Thus, you could say that what has become known as Christian or biblical Zionism was birthed at the same time or even earlier than rising Jewish aspirations for modern statehood promoted by Theodore Herzl.

Statehood and the Promise of the Bible

Is the existence of the modern State of Israel a further validation of Scripture’s reliability along the same lines as that of the Jewish people’s continuing presence in the world? Consider the following conditions set out in the scriptural record.

First of all, a national spiritual regeneration by turning to Jesus is not a biblical prerequisite for a major movement of Jewish people returning to and possessing the Land of Israel. In fact, the prophet Zechariah indicated the Jewish people would turn to God, through the Messiah, only after returning to Israel (Zech.12:10; 13:1). Likewise, the prophet Ezekiel stated God’s promise, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land” (Ezek. 36:24). The passage continues, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean…. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:25–26). Note that the spiritual regeneration of Israel follows the restoration of the Jewish people to the Land. Thus regathered, Israel will, as a nation, turn in faith toward the promised Messiah.

Second, the Bible predicts Israel would return to the Land in stages. Ezekiel 37 contains the stark and unforgettable vision of a valley of dry bones. The bones come to life in stages: first sinews on the bones, then flesh, then skin, and finally, the breath of life (Ezek. 37:6–10). Then God tells Ezekiel, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel” (Ezek. 37:11). This vivid depiction of the Jewish people’s restoration to their Promised Land is well in keeping with what is actually occurring. The regathering does not occur instantaneously; rather, it is a process culminating when the nation as a whole receives the Messiah according to Jewish expectation.

The dry bones represent Israel in exile, without hope. The process of the bones coming together with sinew, flesh, and skin refers to the successive waves of returning Jews before Israel’s rebirth. This is, in fact, how the Jewish people have returned to the Land. There were five separate aliyot (immigration waves) from 1881 to 1939, returning Jewish people from Europe to the Promised Land. After Israel’s birth in 1948, an estimated one million European Jewish survivors of the Holocaust came to Israel, followed by a majority of the 800,000 Jewish people driven from their homes in Arab countries. More recently, 1.5 million Jewish people fled the Former Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel. These immigration waves show how the Jewish people have returned in stages. The body without breath represents unbelieving Israel, restored but not yet regenerated. Finally, according to this passage, God breathes life into these bodies, representing the day when all Israel turns to the Messiah.

Third, the Bible predicts Israel would return to her Land through persecution. The Hebrew Scripture says of Israel, “For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers” (Jer. 16:15). God will use “fishermen” and “hunters” to pursue His people back to Israel (Jer. 16:16). This metaphor for persecution has been literally fulfilled in Israel’s rebirth. Since the birth of modern Zionism, the primary motivation for return to the Land of Israel has been anti-Jewish persecution. In the last hundred years, Czarist pogroms, Polish economic discrimination, Nazi genocide, Arab hatred, Soviet repression, and more recently, an alarming rise in European and North American antisemitism have driven Jewish people back to their homeland.

Fourth, the Bible predicts that, after a period of exile, the children of Israel would return to reestablish national identity, thus setting the stage for the arrival of the Messiah and the consummation of history as we know it. At that time, the Messiah will deliver Israel from her enemies (Zech. 14:3).

Ask yourself, do the facts of history—particularly the emergence of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East—line up sufficiently with the predictions of the Hebrew Bible to form a credible connection? Since Israel has returned in unbelief, in stages, through persecution, the establishment of the modern State of Israel likely fulfills the predictions of the ancient Hebrew prophets and sets the stage for events yet to come.

The return to Zion is powerful evidence of the truth of Scripture. It is beyond remarkable that God would restore a dispersed and persecuted people to their Land after two thousand years of exile. Given the relationship between these events and the predictions of the Bible, would you say it is more or less likely that this has truly come about by the hand of God?

And if the above is true—what impact should this have on our lives? Certainly, we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)! Also, if the return of Jesus is linked to the Jewish people turning to Him, then how should we view Jewish evangelism today? This question is answered by the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:11–29! As God’s people, we must do all we can to reach Jewish people with the message of the gospel!

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Interview with Joel C. Rosenberg

Shalom, dear friends.

We are living in sensational days! Along with our concerns about COVID-19, the economy, political division, social unrest, the aftermath (hopefully) of wildfires, hurricanes, and more, we also see the unfolding of a new day for Israel and her relationships with her neighbors in the Middle East.

Perhaps this is a reminder that God’s plan for our world marches on in the midst of it all! It reminds me of the verse I latched onto as my guide during these last eight months. The writer of Proverbs says to each of us, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

Therefore, we always have hope, and no matter what happens, we know the Lord will fulfill His promises in Scripture. Those of us who know Him as our Savior and Messiah can count on His leading and caring for us throughout this life (Romans 8:28)! I take great comfort in knowing that He never loses control and that His Spirit is never locked down!

We can tangibly know this truth because tiny Israel remains at the very center of God’s prophetic plan. The events in the Middle East are unfolding quickly, and Israel is becoming even more established. I see this as the next phase of the fulfillment of end-times prophecies.

With everything else going on, I would not want us to miss the significant realignment of nations in the Middle East regarding Israel.

There is no one better to give us the backstory of these recent landmark events than our friend, Joel C. Rosenberg. Joel lives in Jerusalem, and we have partnered with him on more conferences than I can count. Joel agreed to let me interview him, so we dedicate the rest of this newsletter to the interview.

Joel is a best-selling author and founder of The Joshua Fund and the brand-new media outlet, Near East Media. I asked him to enlighten us on the importance of the recent Abraham Accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.

So, strap in, and off we go!

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

Joel, thank you for taking the time to tell us part of the backstory behind the recent peace agreements signed by Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain on September 15, 2020.

First of all, can you clarify the different terminology used to describe the nature of the agreements recently signed?

Joel C. Rosenberg:

In effect, the Abraham Accords are peace treaties and full normalization treaties between the State of Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain, with the United States as the broker and witness to the agreements. Those who criticize the accords, saying that these are not “real peace treaties,” are mistaken. It is narrow-minded to think, after a century of hostility in the Middle East, that two Arab states making real, warm peace treaties with Israel—the first two Arab countries to make peace with Israel in more than a quarter of a century—is somehow illegitimate or not serious. If you think about it, it is an offensive thought. I think it reflects more of the partisan nature of what is going on in Washington right now than the reality. Regardless of how one feels about President Trump, he deserves enormous credit for brokering these deals.

The most important element is that these agreements will lead to far warmer and far fuller peace relationships with Israel and these two Arab states than with the two previous peace treaty signers, Egypt and Jordan.

The one key difference is that Egypt and Jordan were in direct military conflict with Israel, and those peace treaties ended that. The 1979 and 1994 treaties kept those borders quiet for decades. While the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain never actually entered a military conflict, they were at war with Israel. They participated in the economic sanctions and embargoes against Israel. They constantly voted against Israel with the rest of the Arab world at the United Nations. They fully participated in the isolation and de-legitimization campaign against Israel for many years, though not recently. There has been real warming of those relationships in recent years, but they have decided to go public and make it formal. It is very exciting.

The flags of the United States, United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Bahrain flutter along a road in Netanya, Israel, September 14, 2020. REUTERS / Alamy Stock Phot

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

What practical differences do you think the treaties will make economically, politically, and even to tourism between the Gulf states and Israel?

Joel C. Rosenberg:

Well, if you notice, the first set of memorandums of understanding and other legal documents signed in the days leading up to and following the signing of the Abraham Accords were very practical. They indicate how much benefit both sides will get—or all sides are going to get—from these agreements. There are agreements on civil aviation. For instance, there will be direct flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and between Israel and Bahrain. Those are, by the way, going to go through Saudi airspace. The Saudis are not yet ready to make peace with Israel, but they have agreed to let Israeli, Emirati, Bahraini, and other planes fly through their airspace. This concession is a huge step forward.

The other agreements are regarding banking, private property rights, and setting up small business agreements. The United Arab Emirates has now required every hotel in the country to have kosher meals. That has not happened in Egypt; it has not happened in Jordan. We are talking about major financial deals already in motion.

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

Do you think that Oman and some of the other Gulf states are going to follow suit?

Joel C. Rosenberg:

Yes, I think there is a list of countries that are actively considering this. Oman would certainly be near or at the top of the list. The Sultan of Oman invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit two years ago, and then publicized that trip with photos and video. That was very dramatic. That sultan has since passed away. There is a new sultan in power, but there is no reason to think that he disagrees with his predecessor. But, does he feel like he has solidified his leadership and is ready to make such a big decision? That is a good question. I do not have an answer for that yet; we will see.

If Sudan were now to make peace with Israel, that would be exciting. It would be dramatic, but I would note that Sudan also figures prominently in a prophecy of a future war against Israel—the conflict known in Ezekiel 38 and 39 as the War of Gog and Magog. I would not hold your breath for a full normalization, but maybe that prophetic war is many, many years off. No one knows for sure, of course.

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

We do not know when these prophetic events will take place, right? So, we should take peace when we can get it!

Joel C. Rosenberg:

Exactly.

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

Have the UAE, Bahrain, or even some of the other countries you have mentioned considered Israel a place where they can invest funds? Such an investment would boost the Israeli economy.

Joel C. Rosenberg:

Yes. In talking to officials from both countries over the last few weeks since the signing of the Abraham Accords, I know that there are numerous business deals and venture capital deals in the works. Again, this is the most significant transformation in Arab-Israeli relations, I think, in the history of the modern State of Israel. These treaties will surpass the peace deals of Egypt and Jordan in the sense that the Abraham Accords are going to set the new model of what peace and normalization can be and what they should be.

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

Joel, I was privileged to follow your travels at times, as your friend, and was even invited to be part of one of those trips to visit some of the Middle Eastern countries. You brought several key evangelicals to visit, get to know, and extend goodwill to those countries. You were able to see the backstory unfolding in a lot of these nations. Can you tell us a little about what you have discovered?

Joel C. Rosenberg:

I would be happy to. It is extraordinary that evangelicals have had a front-row seat to what has been developing over the last several years. The Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, commonly known by his initials, MBZ, invited me to bring a delegation of evangelical leaders to visit him in the capital of Abu Dhabi in the fall of 2018. I took a group of about ten evangelical leaders with me. Among other meetings that we had in the country, we spent two hours in the palace in an off-the-record meeting with MBZ. There are many things, unfortunately, that I cannot share, but I can share this now:  We communicated to the crown prince that, when it came to the issue of peacemaking and Israel, there were three things we, as evangelicals, wanted him to know.

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the United Arab Emirates Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, acknowledge applause and wave to the crowd after delivering remarks at the Abraham Accords signing, September 15, 2020, on the South Lawn of the White House, Washington, D.C. Geopix / Alamy Stock Photo

Number one, we love Israel, and we love the Jewish people, and, for evangelicals, this is a theological position, not a political position. He needed to know that we are deeply committed to Israel’s security, freedom, prosperity, and sovereignty. We wanted him to know that. Number two, Jesus commands us to love our neighbors. We did not want him to think that, because we love Israel, we hate the Palestinians, or Arabs, or Muslims more broadly. Some evangelicals have struggled with language or even positions that are not reflective of Jesus’ command. We wanted to communicate to him that we are commanded to love our neighbors. We do not always know how. We find our way, but we wanted him to know that we do not see it as either/or, that we love both. And while we believe that Israel has a special and unique place in God’s plan and purpose in the region, we want there to be peace today, and we want to build better relations with the Arab and Muslim world.

The third point we made to him was that we are commanded in the Scriptures to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Sixty million evangelicals in the United States alone are praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and we are looking at who will be the next Arab leader to make peace with Israel. As the leader of the delegation, I was the one that made these three points and stressed a little on the third one, “We would love it to be you.” He shocked us by saying, “Joel, I’m ready. I am ready to make peace with Israel, and I believe that the time is coming very soon.” That shocked us because—and I am not saying that we would say these three things in some pro forma way—we did not expect anyone to say back to us what MBZ said. We have said this to numerous Arab leaders in the region; he was the first to say that he was ready.

The question we began to discuss with him is, “How did you get to that point, and where do you go from here?” In these last two years, I have stayed in very close communication with the inner circle around the crown prince. Even up through the summer, I was in direct communications with them because I am writing a non-fiction book that will come out in the fall of 2021, timed with the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Twenty years after 9/11, the book looks at who the bad guys were, who the good guys were, and how our fight with radical Islam is going. It also looks at which Arab countries are fighting radical Islam very actively, and which countries want a much closer relationship with the United States and are even trending toward peace with Israel. The third section will address, “What is the state of the Church and religious freedom in the Middle East?”

I have been working on this book with a lot of exclusive material from these six delegations that I have led. All that to say, it became clear in July, when I was here in Washington meeting with the UAE ambassador, that they were ready, that they had actually put an offer on the table for Netanyahu, through the White House, and that those negotiations were in motion. I said to myself, “You have got to be kidding me.” I knew they were heading in that direction, but it was dramatic.

I will say that I was surprised by how quickly things accelerated this summer, especially when the big topic in Israel was whether Netanyahu would annex or apply Israeli sovereign law over large swaths of Judea and Samaria, which the world commonly knows as the West Bank. That was Netanyahu’s objective all summer, and that seemed to preclude any possibility of peace with the Arab states.

I was making the argument that, while I support the expansion of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria—the biblical heartland—over time, I believed that a peace treaty with one of the Gulf states was a higher objective for Israel in the near term. And I was making that case publicly and in quite a lonely fashion. It is in part because I knew it was possible, but it still stunned me. It is like when you have been praying, as Christians, as Messianic Jews, for decades for the peace of Jerusalem. It is a little like praying for Peter to be released from prison, then he knocked on your front door, and you cannot even believe that he is standing there.

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

You are a bit stunned by it all.

Joel C. Rosenberg:

Yeah. We know that God can answer these prayers, but we do not always expect the answer to come so quickly! This summer was a game-changing moment.

The flags of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and the United States light up the Old City Walls of Jerusalem to celebrate the signing of the historic peace treaties in Washington, D.C. Nir Alon / Alamy Stock Photo

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

How are the Palestinians reacting to all of this? Then, if you could also tell us, how is the person-on-the-street, the average Israeli, responding to these new events?

Joel C. Rosenberg:

I have not seen any polling yet. Remember, and actually, it is hard to remember at times, that the Palestinian territories are not free societies. They really do not have the freedom to say whatever they want. It does not mean that you will not find Palestinians who tell you, but there, in Gaza, Hamas—the terrorist organization—is in charge. It is very hard to get somebody’s real, direct opinion. In the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, this is tyranny. Mahmoud Abbas is now serving, I think, the fifteenth year of his four-year elected term. There is no freedom there.

I think we are beginning to see fissures inside Palestinian society. And so, we need to pray, as Christians and as Messianic Jews, for the Palestinian people.

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

Could you take one minute and tell us all about All Arab News and All Israel News, and your role as President and CEO of Near East Media?

Joel C. Rosenberg:

Yes, I am continuing my work to advance the Joshua Fund, which is essentially a mutual fund to invest in the growth and the strength of the Church and the Messianic body in Israel and throughout five neighboring Arab countries, as well as the Palestinian territories. We also believe that the media bias against Israel, against peace, against the values that we hold dear—anti-Christian media—is so bad that I decided to launch two new websites. One is called All Israel News, and the other is All Arab News. All Israel News is allisrael.com, and the Arab news is allarab.news.

We will provide links to all the really good and credible coverage in the Israeli press, Arab press, and American and other media. There is good reporting out there, but most Christians and Messianic Jews do not have the time to go sifting through dozens of websites to figure out what is real, what is important, what is credible. These sites will become what I call one-stop shopping. We link to all the most important stories in the region. We are also providing original reporting, exclusive interviews, and analysis: what is happening, why is it important, and how do we fit it into the larger picture as evangelicals. We are very distinctly and specifically focused on communicating to the world’s 600 million evangelicals what is happening in Israel and the region and why it matters.

Dr. Mitch Glaser:

Joel, thank you so much. I appreciate it, and we pray God’s blessings on All Israel News and All Arab News, and we thank you for your time, so shalom and blessings.

I am grateful for the time you were willing to speak with me. I know that those who read The Chosen People newsletter will appreciate this insightful information and pray for Israel, the Palestinians, the Middle East, and you.

Joel C. Rosenberg:

My pleasure.

I hope you enjoyed the interview! I hope it will help you continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And please remember to pray for our staff who are bringing the gospel to Jewish people worldwide, including Israel.

We are so grateful for you!

Your brother in the Messiah,

Mitch Glaser

P.S. There is much more to this conversation! To hear the full interview, visit ourhopepodcast.com.

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