Shalom, dear friend in the Messiah.
I hope and pray that life is getting a little better for you and that you are adjusting to serving the Lord in a world where COVID-19 lockdowns are easing.
This infectious disease and our efforts to mitigate its rapid and terrible impact on human life came at a high cost. The shutting down of society has led to severe economic repercussions and the loss of a sense of wellbeing as a nation. This crisis has been felt across the globe. Hopefully, we are entering a new season where the virus is better understood and controlled, and scientists are closer to creating treatments and a vaccine.
Like you, I am trusting the Lord and approaching the days ahead with hope, looking forward to all He will do through Your Mission to the Jewish People.
Due to the pandemic, there were many missed events, services, Bible studies, weddings, funerals, and family celebrations. However, those losses pale compared to the more than 100,000 people in the United States who died from COVID-19 and the suffering their loved ones have experienced. We suffered considerably in New York City as the virus spread and killed countless moms and dads, grandparents, and others, as we are now discovering.
And we are not totally out of the woods yet! But, thank God, we are on our way.
The brothers and sisters who serve with Chosen People Ministries have also suffered a great deal of loss because of the coronavirus. We have missed seeing our loved ones face-to-face and worshipping in person with our spiritual community. I am especially sad for those who could not visit their elderly parents and for those who lost loved ones from the disease but were unable to have a decent burial attended by family and friends. Some of us are also tired of working from our homes. We are ready to cope with whatever changes will be demanded of us when we get back to our offices, from wearing masks to social distancing and the inability to eat lunch together in our common room!
MESSIAH IN THE PASSOVER AND YOUR MISSIONARIES
Due to the timing of the coronavirus lockdowns, Jewish people, including myself, were unable to celebrate the Jewish holidays in person, most notably Passover, which is always such a sweet and joy-filled, family-oriented time. Many of our staff and their families celebrated Passover Seders through Zoom because they were unable to get together physically. It was not easy to enjoy eating our matzo ball soup separated from the rest of our family! I imagine that Gentile Christians felt equally disappointed about
their Easter services, which are significant evangelistic opportunities for so many local churches!
During this Passover season, we were also unable to make our regular visits to a large number of churches. Throughout the United States, churches had scheduled Chosen People Ministries for more than six hundred “Messiah in the Passover” presentations during March, April, and May. All of these were canceled because of restrictions placed on churches during the pandemic. We also had scheduled evangelistic Passover Seders and banquets at our Messianic congregations, centers, and branches in the regions where we minister. Generally, during this season, we would personally meet hundreds of new friends, prayer partners, supporters, and the not-yet-believing Jewish friends of congregants who would view our presentations as an opportunity to bring their friends to church.
These cancellations represent a considerable loss of opportunity to demonstrate the link between the Last Supper and Passover and how Yeshua, the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world beautifully fulfills them both! It was also a loss of funding for our dedicated and faithful missionary staff.
By God’s grace, we did experiment with some virtual Passover celebrations. I enjoyed an online Passover Seder with my family and presented Messiah in the Passover to my broader spiritual family through the wonders of Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube.
I am so grateful for the creative ways our missionaries found to preach the gospel online and reach out to Jewish people through one-on-one conversations by phone and Zoom meetings. They have also expanded their Bible teaching ministries, discipleship of new Jewish believers, and even continued their ministry to local churches using the excellent digital tools many of us have recently discovered.
Yet, we cannot truly recapture what we lost because we only celebrate the festival of Passover annually. You cannot turn back the clock! I am reticent to tell you how much money was lost that would have supported our missionaries during this season. Yet, a beautiful passage of promise in the book of Joel illustrates how the Lord is able and faithful to restore what the locusts have eaten. The prophet Joel wrote:
Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame. Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame. (Joel 2:25–27)
I know the Lord will take care of our staff, and this is why I am planning another online video-based celebration on Thursday, July 23, at 7:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time. We will join in Messianic worship and invite Chosen People Ministries missionaries from around the globe to share what God is doing in their lives and their work for the Lord. We will also pray together and have a brief time of questions and answers.
Thank you so much for your love and faithfulness.
Your brother in the Messiah,