Jesus has an extraordinary love for children!
Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13–14)
Our Messiah invited children to approach Him unashamedly! Children’s ministry is the Savior’s idea, which is why every camp and youth group is precious to the Lord! Your Mission to the Jewish People takes children’s ministry seriously. We have a variety of different ministries to children through our congregations, youth camps, retreats, and more—especially in the United States, Israel, and most recently, Ukraine!
The camps are evangelistic and focus on discipleship as a way of building the next generation for the Messiah.
THE HISTORY OF OUR CAMPING MINISTRY
Our camping efforts go back to the days of Chosen People Ministries’ founder, Leopold Cohn. He was passionate about reaching immigrant Jewish children from areas of great persecution throughout Eastern Europe. He served the children and their parents, meeting their practical and spiritual needs, which were many among the new Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe before the turn of the nineteenth century.
Rabbi Cohn took the young refugees, who were fleeing antisemitism and persecution, out of the impoverished life of new immigrants living in an overcrowded city and gave them an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of creation, hopefully leading to a new appreciation of the Creator Himself.
Several missionaries on our staff attended our camps as children. Several of our current leaders became camp counselors and even camp coordinators during their years of service with Chosen People Ministries. Our camps are part of the very heartbeat of our ministry among Jewish people—of all ages. We all understand children are usually more open to the gospel, and we try to take godly advantage of their curiosity and willingness to consider the good news in their youth.
The day begins with times of worship and the Word, including cabin devotions, prayer, singing, daily teachings from the Scriptures, and even baptisms. Of course, we also fill each day with fun games and group activities, including swimming, horseback riding, boating, human foosball, ropes course, challah bread making, improv, arts and crafts, and archery.
All our counselors and speakers are vetted and trained to shepherd the campers throughout the week in a godly manner. We endeavor to reinforce the training and teaching our campers receive at home and in their local congregations. We teach them about various aspects of Jewish culture and plan the whole week to help the campers connect with their Messiah, each other, and Jewish tradition.
One camp counselor said, “I want these campers to walk away with courage in their faith, to be unafraid to go to their homes, schools, and friends and talk about who Yeshua is. I want them to know it is possible to be Jewish and also love Yeshua.”
Many campers over the years deepen their spiritual walks. Others decide to follow Jesus for the first time while at camp and even get baptized.
One eleven-year-old camper said, “Camp is a fun-loving community where people can relax and are not judged, and it gives you a closer connection with God. When I started coming here, I didn’t have a connection with God, but now I have a stronger connection.”
An eight-year-old first-time camper said, “I learned about the gospel and how it changes people’s lives and that Messiah sacrificed everything for us just to forgive us for our sins.”
These experiences are why we are committed to camping ministries.
OUR CAMPS IN ISRAEL AND POLAND
Recently, Maxim, our camp director in Israel, flew a Russian-speaking ministry team from Israel to Wisla, Poland, where they organized a camp for fifty-six kids from eastern Ukraine. Here is what Maxim said:
All the kids are undergoing difficult times in their lives. Most of them are resettled refugees. Some kids had their fathers killed in the war, some had parents at the front, and there were others whose parents stayed in the occupied territories. Though being so young, all of them have wounded souls. For them, this camp was an oasis in a scorching desert. We talked a lot about God, prayed, and studied the Bible. Out of fifty-six children, fifty were from unbelieving families. The Lord blessed this camp, and many children became very close to God. Some children accepted the Lord into their hearts at the camp, some took the first step, and some did not dare to take a step of faith. But the main thing is everyone heard and learned about the Savior Jesus!
More recently, Maxim held a “family camp” serving ninety Ukrainian refugees in Israel, giving much-needed bonding time to parents and children. One family began attending a Messianic congregation after the camp, saying their lives had completely changed for the better.
Every camp is unique, creating a wide range of ministry opportunities. Allow me to share some of testimonies from our counselors:
Counselor: “The pain, anxiety, and depression experienced by many of our campers during those isolating months of the pandemic was a real issue. We included a special session on mental health for our middle- and high-school-age campers called ‘God’s Heart for Your Head.’ We received the best feedback on this session all week long!”
Camp director: “I have the privilege of discipling a young Jewish believer in his third year of college. I first met him when he showed up at camp as an energetic, sarcastic thirteen-year-old. It’s been so encouraging to come alongside him, see his faith grow every summer during camp, and even be used by the Lord to help shepherd him into this next phase of life. Talking with him now, he sees his time at camp worshiping, memorizing Scripture, and fellowshipping with other believers as vital in his current walk.”
Recently, one of our camp leaders asked a group of eight-year-old boys at camp if they felt like God treasured them. One of the young boys from a Russian Jewish home spoke up. “When I was listening to the message, I felt like I wanted to cry in my heart and in my eyes.”
The counselor continued to present the gospel to this boy, talking about Jesus dying for our sins and giving us the gift of eternal life, and the young boy responded by saying, “I’m starting to feel that same feeling in my heart again.” Then they prayed together, and he accepted Jesus as Messiah right then and there!
Please pray for these children and this ongoing ministry to the next generation.
TEL AVIV DREAMING!
We are purchasing a building in Tel Aviv because our lack of space has severely limited our ministry to children. At our current rented center, we have had fantastic opportunities to proclaim the gospel among young adults. Many of them, especially those in their late 20s and early 30s, now have children.
We desperately want to provide children with Bible classes and other spiritual activities while the adults participate in worship services and Bible studies. In our new center, we can minister to Jewish children while the adults receive biblical instruction.
Working alongside our staff with Jesus’ heart for children is a blessing. I hope you will continue to pray for these ministries as you learn more about what God is doing through Chosen People Ministries among children!
Your support for the Tel Aviv building fund is deeply appreciated, and we are now almost 70 percent there! You will see some options on the enclosed card about giving to the establishment of this Jesus oasis in the midst of secular and fast-paced Tel Aviv. I hope you will consider helping!
CARING FOR THE CHILDREN OF OUR GLOBAL STAFF
At the end of this month, Chosen People Global Ministries is gathering in Israel. It has been many years since our staff, board members, and families could see one another’s faces without masks and draw close to their brothers and sisters in prayer and worship.
We have been planning and saving for this event for four years. Along with the programs for adults, we encouraged missionaries and board members to bring their kids. This step is essential for the future of Your Mission to the Jewish People, as we want our children to get to know one another. Who knows—maybe we will even get some marriages out of this someday! Please pray for our ministry, for the seventy children and young adults of Chosen People Ministries staff members from the United States, Israel, Ukraine, and many other parts of the world to grow in their faith and commitment to Jesus this summer.
Thank you for your faithfulness, support, and vision for reaching Jewish people with the gospel and for your help in shaping the lives of our staff children.
We continue our founding rabbi’s vision to fulfill God’s call to bring the gospel to all—“to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Thank you for your prayers and help in reaching children today and tomorrow for our Messiah Jesus!