Tag Archives: Messianic

Win & Disciple a New Generation of Believers in Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel like we are on our way!

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Filed under evangelism, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Russian Israelis, Uncategorized

Reaching Secular Jewish People for the Messiah

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

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

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

MY PERSONAL JEWISH STORY

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

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

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

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

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

BEING RELIGIOUS IS ONLY ONE SLICE OF BEING JEWISH

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

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

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

THE BELIEFS AND VALUES OF SECULAR JEWISH PEOPLE

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

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

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

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

We are eager to help you reach your Jewish friends!

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

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

SUPPORTING FOUNDATIONS ’22

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

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

Thanks for caring!

In our Messiah,

Mitch

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

people in Europe for centuries.

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

Pray for Ukraine

I am writing with an urgent plea for prayer for the people of Ukraine, including many who are Jewish and who Chosen People Ministries currently serves.

Unfortunately, Russia and Ukraine have entered into a regrettable time of war. This conflict may have devastating effects on the people we love and to whom we minister as well as on their families, their friends, and their congregations.

Since the 1990s, 1.5 million Jewish people from the former Soviet Union have emigrated to Israel from their countries of origin. We have also seen an incredible movement of the Holy Spirit that has impacted the Jewish people and has opened ministry opportunities in Israel, Ukraine, and Russia.

Over the years, our staff team has provided leadership to a network of Messianic congregations in multiple cities in Ukraine. The first congregation in Kyiv, Beit El-Gibor, planted by Chosen People Ministries, celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year.

Through these congregations, we work with youth, children in orphanages, families, prisoners, substance-abuse victims, and elderly people, including Holocaust survivors. Presently, we also have more than two dozen Ukrainian- and Russian-born missionaries on our staff serving across the globe.

Many Chosen People Ministries staff members still have family in Ukraine. They also have many friends and ministry leaders there with whom they have worked over many years.

Our hearts break for those now in the midst of the tragedy of war, which we hope and pray will be short-lived.

In addition to praying for God’s wisdom upon Ukrainian leadership and for protection for all people—especially in targeted areas—please join us in praying specifically for the Lord’s safeguarding of the roughly 200,000 Jewish people in Ukraine and for the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is also Jewish and subject to the violence of war.

Please also continue to pray for peace in Ukraine, safety for those we have been serving, and that God’s hand of mercy will permeate the region.

We have just established a relief fund for Jewish victims of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

We will use a portion of the funds to help with food, housing, and transportation for those fleeing to the western part of Ukraine. We even hope to help some of these precious war-torn souls find their way to Israel. The needs abound, especially among the elderly, those who have young children, and others who cannot access their limited bank accounts.

We are especially heartbroken and burdened for those who are part of the small Messianic congregations we have been helping in eastern Ukraine. They need our prayers and support immediately!

If the conflict ends quickly, whatever we do not use from this fund will help our ministries among aging Holocaust survivors in Israel.

Thank you so much for your sacrifice, prayers, and generosity.

Most of all, please join us in praying for this tragic situation TODAY.

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

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

Ministry to the Next Generation

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

We want to pass these opportunities along to future generations.

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

YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY—A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

MUCHAN (MOO-KHAN)

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

LIVING WATERS

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

THE ZULA LODGE

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

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

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

THE CHARLES L. FEINBERG CENTER FOR MESSIANIC JEWISH STUDIES

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

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

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

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

UNIVERSITY AND STUDENT PROGRAMS

HOUSE OF LIVING WATERS

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

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

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

OUTREACH ISRAEL & EXPERIENCE ISRAEL (SHORT-TERM MISSIONS)

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

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

COLLEGE INTERNSHIPS

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

CHILDREN’S CAMPS

CAMP KESHER

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

CHILDREN’S CAMP ISRAEL/KESHER ISRAEL

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

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

THE NEXT GENERATION AND YOU

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

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

Yours in Messiah,
Mitch

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

A Post-Passover Reflection: COVID-19 and the Ten Plagues of the Passover

The Ten Plagues

The Jewish digital magazine, The Tablet Magazine, printed a comic strip drawn by Jules Feiffer with the title, “Wherefore (Why) is this plague different than all other plagues?” The Feiferesque drawing has one man sitting by himself at a rather long Seder table. The humor might need a touch of explanation. One of the classic parts of the annual Seder is the Four Questions asked by the youngest reader in the home. The first question is, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The boy posits the uniqueness of the Seder among so many other days of the year or even days dedicated to holiday observance. The little boy is asking, “What is different about the Passover Seder?” The various answers comprise the section of the Passover Haggadah called the Maggid, which is a term similar to Haggadah from the Hebrew word “to tell.” Maggid refers to the story stitched together from Exodus and various Jewish traditions over the centuries, telling the story of the redemption from Egypt.

The recitation of the ten plagues is a critical part of the Seder event and one of the most memorable moments for Jewish children during the Passover Seder. Traditionally, we dip a pinky into a glass of sweet red wine and drip a drop of the liquid onto our plates while loudly naming each plague. This a favorite moment for the children because they get to shriek and scream as loud as they wish. We usually recite them in Hebrew, but of course, in the United States, we also shout out the translation.

There are two explanations for why we drop the wine on our plate. One reason is that it more dramatically portrays the plagues as judgments falling upon the Egyptian slave masters. The other is because the rabbis tell us to reduce our joy (symbolized by the sweet wine) by one drop for each plague that fell upon the Egyptians. Though they enslaved us, they are fellow human beings and God’s creations, and therefore we should not rejoice because of God’s judgment upon them. The Lord needed to use plagues against Pharaoh, causing him to let the Jewish people go free so they could worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because of their suffering, we reduce our joy.

This vital part of the Seder reminds the Jewish people that God sent plagues upon others in mysterious harmony with His will. He used plagues to move both the Egyptians and Jewish people to action. Biblical plagues are always purposeful and, while causing terrible circumstances and suffering, they are often used mysteriously by God for His divine purposes.

There are many biblical examples of plagues, including the ten in Exodus, the affliction heaped upon Job, and many others. Sometimes God caused epidemics, and other times, He allowed them to fall upon Israel, individuals, and the Gentile nations. For example, Naaman and Miriam, Moses’ sister, were plagued with leprosy for God’s holy purposes and His glory. However, leprosy was a common disease and not a biblical plague, per se.

Plagues are not always punitive. Like the healing of the blind man in John chapter 9, plagues fell upon humanity for the glory of God and accomplish His purposes among mankind.

At times, there seem to both punitive and revelatory reasons for these afflictions.

COVID-19 and the Ten Plagues

We are not suggesting that COVID-19 is an infectious disease that was imposed directly by God, similar to those described in chapters seven through twelve of the book of Exodus. There have been many instances of plagues throughout human history and in Scripture. Although the coronavirus is particularly vicious, we have no reason to believe that the spread of the virus is the result of God’s judgment. Our knowledge is limited to Scripture, and of course, the Bible does not speak about the coronavirus, nor the Black Plague, nor Spanish Flu. The adage, “Where the Bible is silent, so am I,” is appropriate in this regard.

On the other hand, we cannot deny that God used plagues as judgments in the past and will do so in the future. COVID-19 has unfortunately awakened us to the possibility that plagues, along with other signs, will pave the way for future judgment and the coming of the Messiah, according to rabbinic eschatology. Evangelicals would agree that “pestilence” or plagues are also signs of His second coming, according to what the Messiah stated in Luke’s portrayal of the Olivet Discourse (Luke 21:10–11).

Hopefully, one day, we will look back and see the good our heavenly Father accomplished through this epidemiological trial. We pray that somehow blessings will come for all, through this time of pain and suffering (Romans 8:28) and that the lessons learned in the darkness we will remember in the light. Hopefully, we will learn the more profound lessons God intends from this horrific plague and that the Lord will use the experience and loss to shape our character, reorder our priorities, and draw us closer to Him.

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Three New Missionaries Join Us in Israel!

Shalom in His grace. As you probably know, we had a wonderful year celebrating our 125th anniversary. As we turn our eyes to the future, I want to take a moment to honor God by remembering the past. Rabbi Leopold Cohn—our founder—along with hundreds of missionaries, board members, prayer partners, and faithful supporters are now part of that host of heavenly witnesses cheering us on towards the future (Hebrews 12:1–3)!

We now must move forward in serving the Lord among His chosen people until He comes again!

Our missionaries will continue our everyday ministries, presenting Jesus the Messiah one-on-one and heart-to-heart to Jewish people in the dozens of cities and nineteen countries in which we serve.

We will continue teaching Bible studies, planting and leading Messianic congregations, serving poor and elderly Jewish people, and hosting children’s camps through the leadership provided by our Messianic Centers in densely populated Jewish communities such as Brooklyn, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, and another half-dozen cities around the world.

Our leadership has prayerfully decided to focus on three distinct essential ministries.

We are calling this effort our To the Jew First campaign. As Paul wrote in Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Allow me to summarize the three parts of the campaign:

ISRAEL

We will continue to build our work in Israel. We now have twenty-five staff members serving in the Holy Land, but we need more! We are finding that Israelis are more open today to the gospel than ever before, and we want to seize the moment!

DIGITAL MEDIA

We will intensify our ministry through digital media—utilizing the web, social media and videos—using all these modern tools God has made available to us to proclaim the gospel and disciple those who come to faith.

THE JOSHUA INITIATIVE

Finally, we will invest more time, treasure, and talent in mentoring the next generation of missionaries to the Jewish people. We have started new and unique ministries on many campuses, training more and more new leaders at our Charles Feinberg Center in Brooklyn, and bringing young adults together in training conferences to send into the harvest.

GOD IS DOING AMAZING THINGS IN ISRAEL!

Our ministry over the last two decades in the Holy Land has touched the lives of thousands of Russian Jewish immigrants and elderly Holocaust survivors, children through our camping programs, and many others through church planting and the general work of evangelism.

The Lord brought the right people to the right place for the right moment of ministry!

We are thrilled to see a second-generation movement of the Holy Spirit within Israel.

Many of those who are now serving the Lord in Israel are young Israelis whose parents became believers decades ago. This new generation of Israeli Messianic Jews is serving the Lord among their friends and family members in the Land.

They were raised in Israel, speak fluent Hebrew, served in the army, and many want to serve in full-time Jewish ministry. We are focusing on this next generation of Israeli young adults and families.

We will certainly not forget the older and very precious Israelis. But now, we must turn our attention to the next generation of Israelis, especially those who live in the greater Tel Aviv area, which has the largest population in Israel. For example, we are now active in a suburban community called Ramat Gan, which is adjacent to Tel Aviv. Ramat Gan and the surrounding area has about a half-million Israelis without one congregation or church. And—until we moved into the area—there were no missionaries serving them at all.

We now rent an attractive sixteen-hundred-square foot center in Ramat Gan, where we have some younger staff members already in place. Yet, for the last two years, we have been specifically praying for God to bring new staff members who are native-born Israelis and are willing and able to serve the Lord with Your Mission to the Jewish People.

Praise God—over the last twelve months, He has answered our prayers!

I have now served as the leader of Chosen People Ministries for twenty-three years, and what a joy it has been. I must say, that in more than two decades of service, I never thought that I would see such openness in Israel, nor such high-quality young people with a willingness to serve.

We now have three wonderfully gifted young Israelis who are well-trained and ready to move forward in service for the Lord. In fact, we have already taken two of them on our staff, and the third is just about to begin. These three staff members are currently involved in the ministry in the Tel Aviv area; meeting with younger adults and families, conducting Bible studies, mother’s groups, outreach concerts, Sabbath dinners for millennials, and hosting a series of regular public lectures that are gospel-centered and appealing to the more secular Israelis living in the area.

I have included their pictures and a little more information about each of these young missionaries with so much potential, talent, and willingness to serve the Lord.

rsz_motiMordechai “Moti” was born in 1984 in Haifa, Israel, the only child of an Orthodox Moroccan Jewish family. As a young adult, Moti learned radio broadcasting and served in the Israel Defense Forces between 2003–2006. Moti traveled to the United States in 2007 pursuing his dream of becoming a photographer. He took classes at Photo Manhattan in New York while also working as a kosher supervisor on the Upper West Side. During this time, he became acquainted with Chosen People Ministries. He was challenged to read the Bible for himself and seek God on his own terms. After much prayer, thought, and study, Moti came to believe that Jesus was, in fact, his Jewish Messiah. When Moti returned to Israel in 2010, he signed up for classes at the Israel College of the Bible (ICB) to learn the Bible in a deeper way. Currently, Moti works with youth, soldiers, and students, teaching the Bible and sharing the good news in Israel. Moti and his wife, Orel, are both passionate about reaching their fellow Israelis, especially working with youth and young adults.

AyeletAyelet was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and was raised in a Messianic Jewish family. She came to believe the Bible and placed her faith in Yeshua at an early age. By the age of five, she was sharing the gospel. In her teens, she became active in camp and youth ministry. Ayelet always appreciated the cultural diversity in Israeli society, with Jews from all over the world. The Lord led her to study anthropology, Bible and theology, and apologetics, with a desire to minister to her diverse people in a culturally sensitive and biblically accurate way.

God has given Ayelet a heart for Israel and the nations, and she feels called to the work of discipleship, biblical teaching, evangelism, and missions. She recently completed her studies at Talbot Seminary, where she received a Master of Arts degree. Ayelet is excited to serve at the Ramat Gan center in outreach and discipleship. She desires to equip and challenge Jewish Israeli believers, calling our people to faith in Yeshua.

rsz_davidDavid was born in Latvia to a family of Jewish believers in Jesus. As a teenager, he moved with his family to Israel and then served in the Israel Defense Forces. David committed his life to the Lord at the age of seventeen while reading John 3:16 in a weekly congregation service. God’s love for him suddenly became so apparent and alive, he was amazed and devoted his life to serve and live for Him. David and his wife, Victoria, have always had a heart to share the gospel and make disciples by opening their home for fellowship, evangelism, and studying the Bible.

Currently, David is volunteering as the associate pastor at a large Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. In 2019, David joined the staff of Chosen People Ministries. David and Victoria are wholeheartedly committed to ministry at the Ramat Gan center, facilitating Café and Music nights, seminars, Sabbath dinners, and many other events. They have two children: Orel and Emanuel.

I know that so many more Israelis will hear the gospel and be saved because we invest in the lives and futures of these young missionaries. Three young Israelis like these do not come along every day.

We have a big vision—to share the gospel with hundreds of thousands of Israelis in Ramat Gan and the surrounding neighborhood. Finally, by God’s grace, we have the available people to serve!

I believe the Lord is about to do something marvelous, and you and I can have a part in this!

I hope you have enjoyed this brief introduction to David, Moti, and Ayelet.

For Jesus and for Israel,
Mitch

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