Tag Archives: mission

Helping Suffering Ukrainians

We are celebrating our 129th year of proclaiming the gospel among the Jewish people worldwide! For me, it is a great honor to lead this historic mission to the Jewish people started by Rabbi Leopold Cohn in 1894. 

Chosen People Ministries means so much to me and Zhava. My wife came to faith through young adults trained to witness to Jewish people by a Chosen People Ministries missionary at the very Jewish high school in Los Angeles she attended. I will be forever grateful for this Chosen People missionary and the young evangelists he trained! 

In so many wonderful ways, I am a debtor to the Lord and to Chosen People Ministries! Paul understood this great biblical truth so well when he wrote, 

I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise” (Romans 1:14, NKJV). 

As a young man, barely 19 years old and as a brand-new believer, Chosen People Ministries paid my way through Bible College. The missionaries who were part of the New York area work at that time helped disciple me in the Word of God, and I am thankful for their personal and devoted care for me and my walk with God. Especially as at the time my family did not understand my newfound faith and I desperately needed the support of more mature believers . . . Chosen People Ministries provided all this for me at a crucial time in my life. 

It is a privilege to do the same for so many others in more than twenty-five cities in the United States and Canada and in twenty-one countries around the globe. I am so glad we can continue the Rabbi’s vision of bringing the gospel to the Jewish people—my people—in so many new and relevant ways without changing the eternal message of the gospel. I cannot tell you how many thousands of people, even millions, have watched the Messianic Jewish testimonies found on http://www.ifoundshalom. com. If you have not seen them, please watch and make sure you view my testimony on the site. It will help you appreciate what I write when you see the power of God’s deliverance in my life! 

Helping Suffering Ukrainians 

I am excited about all God is doing through Your Mission to the Jewish People today. Yet, at the same time, it grieves me when I remember the plight of war-torn Ukrainian families—especially in the midst of a dramatically cold and severe winter. 

During January, we like to remember the words of the great Jewish apostle who wrote, 

“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” (Romans 1:16). 

We believe the gospel is “to the Jew first” and also to the Gentiles. This ministry strategy is of great practical importance to our mission, especially during these terrible and tragic days of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. We are doing all we can, especially during this deadly winter, to bring food, warmth, and spiritual hope to thousands who are suffering. 

This crisis has been ongoing for about a year, with no clear end in sight. Your generosity enables us to invest thousands of dollars in relief work each month in Ukraine and other places refugees have fled, like Poland, Germany, and Israel. 

Let me summarize what we have been able to do because of your prayers and generosity. 

Every month since the war began, we have sent aid to a network of Messianic Jewish congregations in Ukraine. We have served these congregations for more than thirty years! They are dependable, hardworking people whose lives are war shattered. Without our help, some of these dear brothers and sisters and their children would barely be making it. Knowing how winter, with freezing temperatures and shorter days, greatly exacerbates the hardship of life in Ukraine, we organized a winter relief fund some months ago to prepare for these harder times. 

These resources help our Ukrainian brothers and sisters receive everyday necessities like flashlights, winter clothing, heaters, generators, and sleeping bags. Due to Russian attacks, electricity is unreliable throughout the country. Heating and water are also scarce, especially in eastern Ukraine. In addition to winter supplies, we continue to provide funds for basics like rent, food, and medicine. 

One of our Russian-speaking Israeli staff members visits Ukraine and Poland several times a year to aid the relief efforts. He recently helped a church in western Ukraine organize a three-day retreat for refugees from Mariupol, a city hit hard by the fighting. The program includes walking in the mountains, playing games with the kids, relaxing, and studying the Bible. One man who attended went four days without drinking alcohol and just told us he has decided to quit drinking! He needs to take the next step and receive Jesus as His Savior, which will bring unimaginable healing to his heart, soul, and family. 

Project Promised Land 

More than 30,000 Ukrainians immigrated to Israel since the war began. Israel also received tens of thousands of immigrants from Russia, who oppose the war and Putin’s increasingly restrictive regime. Many of these newcomers arrive with little more than the clothing on their backs. 

Through Project Promised Land, our staff in Israel are hard at work helping the new arrivals settle into Israeli life. We distributed gift cards totaling thousands of dollars for groceries and other essentials. We also serve these refugees by assisting with government paperwork and organizing free tours of biblical sites. Hundreds of people participated in these tours. A few have come to faith and have since connected with local Israeli churches. 

Our staff hosted a three-day conference for families who recently arrived from Ukraine and Russia. The time together greatly encouraged these children and families who endured so much. We also regularly welcome these immigrants to Sabbath meetings and other events at our Jerusalem and Tel Aviv centers. Through these programs, our team embodies the love and compassion of Jesus, which leads to opportunities to proclaim the gospel. 

The Difference You Made 

I want you to know how much your support means to the thousands of Ukrainian lives we touched over this difficult year. There are so many stories I could tell, but here are two brief testimonies from the leaders of Ukrainian Messianic congregations we are helping: 

We are a Jewish Messianic Community in the city of Zhytomyr [near Kyiv]. We are grateful to God and Chosen People Ministries, as well as to our brothers and sisters who have raised finances to buy warm clothes and everything we need to get through winter. We are grateful to the ministry for having been able to send the funds necessary to help in this difficult time. May God bless and cover the needs of your hearts for the riches of His glory. Amen. 

Another congregational leader in Kharkiv writes: 

We want to thank Chosen People Ministries for monthly financial support during this difficult moment of life in Ukraine. We thank God for your work, prayers, special attention, and understanding of the whole situation! 

Unfortunately, the crisis is not over. No resolution is yet in sight, and we are still in the early days of winter. The coming months will be difficult with scarce heating and unreliable electricity throughout Ukraine. 

We request your prayers as we seek to tell Ukrainians about the healing work of Yeshua. Thank you, again, so much for your partnership. We could not do our work without you! 

And now some late breaking news! 

We are also purchasing a building in Tel Aviv. This property will provide more than twice the space as our current rental for our gospel events designed for both young and old. Since the new building was bare, we are now in the thick of renovating the property so it will be ready for our ministry programs. In the coming weeks, we will tell you much more about our exciting plans for our new Tel Aviv Messianic Center and how you can support the creation of a Messianic Center in Tel Aviv. 

Thanks for investing in the salvation of Jewish people in Israel, Ukraine, and around the globe! 

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Why we are excited for 2023

We are excited about all God is doing at the start of 2023—especially in the Land of Israel.

Your prayers and sacrificial support are critically important as it is impossible to find local funding enabling our Israeli team to preach the gospel in the Holy Land! One day we hope the work of the gospel by native Israeli evangelists will be self-supporting, but we are simply not there yet.

Israel has very few local congregations and less than 1 percent of Israelis are followers of Jesus . . . but we are making progress!

A New Messianic Center in Tel Aviv

We are especially excited to tell you we are purchasing a facility in Tel Aviv! The activities and events at our current Tel Aviv center are overflowing—mostly with younger Israelis who love to hear the word of God preached and are looking for a safe and attractive venue to bring their not yet saved friends and loved ones!

May I encourage you as the Lord leads to pray for and contribute to this growing ministry in Tel Aviv? At this moment, we are bursting at the seams! Just imagine how much more we could do with a space two-and-a-half times the size of our current rented facility!

Together, we can be part of the future predicted by Paul in Romans 11!

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written: “The Deliverer will come from of Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25–26)

I believe we are moving quickly toward this great day of redemption, and the salvation of Israelis is a major step in preparation for His return. Clearly, the remnant Paul describes in Romans 11:5 will increase as we draw closer to the Second Coming of Jesus.

The Costs for the New Tel Aviv Center

The total cost for this new facility is $6.5 million. This figure includes the build-out, as the property is bare. By God’s grace, we currently have raised $3 million to be used for the purchase and development of the new center.

We need an additional $3.5 million.

I will keep you posted on our progress toward the $3.5 million goal in the months ahead.

So, how do you eat the proverbial elephant (who by the way is unkosher!)? One bite at a time. Your gift, whatever size and however long you take to give it over the next twelve months, will make all the difference in the world and help us own the new Center without debt so we can use all future funding directly for the day-to-day ministry and operational expenses of the Tel Aviv Messianic Center.

The Enthusiasm of Our Israeli Staff

Our staff serving in Tel Aviv are enthusiastic! This one testimony says it all!

A couple of months ago, a young believer brought a not-yet-believing friend to one of our events in Ramat Gan. Though he had met believers many times, he was resistant to prayer. This day, however, was different. One of our staff noticed that he seemed upset. So, she approached the young man and offered to pray for him in Yeshua’s name. He gratefully accepted. Shortly afterward, another staff member—who did not know someone had already prayed for him—came over to him. This staff likewise spoke with him and prayed with him. Later, while the young man was sitting outside, a third staff member made the same offer of prayer. At one event, three people on our team independently prayed with this person about three distinct concerns. His joyful acceptance of prayer is a significant step for him. He has been to a few Messianic events and services, so our team prays he will soon recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Grateful for Your Partnership

Thanks for caring, and we look forward to all the Lord will do in the future to bring His chosen people, in His chosen land, to His chosen Messiah . . . for all!

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Sharing the Light of Jesus

This season of the year reminds me of the beautiful passage in the book of Psalms in which David declares, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105).

It is a joy to follow the Light of the World, Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah. John pointed to the true light who enlightens all who believe:

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. (John 1:4–9)

The Scriptures teach us Jesus is the Incarnate Word (John 1:14)—God in the flesh—who is the ultimate light of God and reflects the glory once seen resting upon the mercy seat in the Temple.

Jesus let His disciples know that He is the Light of the World: “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’” (John 8:12).

As His disciples, He calls us to reflect His light as instruments dispelling the darkness of our broken and sinful world. 

THE LIGHT SHINES AMONG UKRAINIANS AND RUSSIANS SUFFERING THE RAVAGES OF WAR

I recently received a note from Maxim, one of our Israeli staff members who is shining the light of the Lord among his fellow Russian speakers as they immigrate to Israel from Ukraine and Russia. So many Russian Jewish people are trying to escape the forced draft and general oppression of the Russian leadership, and we are doing all we can to reach them. We are engaged with this growing group of almost one hundred thousand, and more enter Israel daily. Many have arrived with just the clothes on their backs, and some receive help from the Israeli government.

Let me allow Maxim to speak for himself!

Shalom. 

I hope you have a blessed holiday. I want to share with you about our first family conference and thank you for this opportunity, especially for the financial support. The idea for this project was brewing for several years. While leading children’s camps, it occurred to me it would be good to do something for families with children. In connection with the war in Ukraine and the arrival of new immigrants from Ukraine and Russia to Israel, we decided the time had come for a family conference. At our children’s camp last summer, many kids who attended were new immigrants with overwhelming needs we tried to meet with the love of Jesus! 

We held the family conference last month in Haifa. We booked thirty-four rooms, and there were more than eighty of us. Most of the invitees were new immigrants from Ukraine and Russia, and many of them were non-believers. We also invited families from local congregations to get to know the newly arrived immigrants. The theme of the conference was “Our Family Starts with Me.” 

Everyone arrived on a Thursday afternoon, and then, after supper, we gathered together for the first meeting, where we joined together for worship and a Bible lesson. After the meeting, we took the children on a night safari to the Haifa Zoo. On Friday, we celebrated with a beautiful Sabbath dinner, played exciting games, and everyone enjoyed themselves. We had meetings twice a day for an hour and a half. 

One of our Ukrainian Jewish missionaries did an excellent job of leading worship. I prepared lessons, which were more like conversations, during which participants could express their opinions and raise pressing issues. There was a lot of free time for families to talk among themselves and with each other. The kids had the best time playing ping-pong, during which we had many conversations. 

The most important part of the retreat was our time with the parents. They are receptive to the gospel and our love for many reasons, especially because they are hurting. I thank God for this opportunity and the newly opened doors. 

Thank you again for your support, prayers, and participation. 

Please pray for our upcoming trip to the country of Georgia with a group of twenty-two elderly Russian and Ukrainian Holocaust survivors. 

Blessings during this holiday season, and remember to pray for us! 

Maxim 

HIS LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS

The Lord has been so generous to each one of us. Without your partnership, we could never provide the funding that Maxim needs to be a light to the new immigrants to Israel who are escaping a hellish war in Ukraine. It is going to be a harsh winter in Ukraine, and Your Mission to the Jewish People is there on the ground, bringing heating devices, food, medicine, and various emergency services in partnership with other ministries to help Ukrainians survive the aggression of the Russian military. 

May I also ask you to pray for our ministries among the very religious Jewish community? I never thought I would see the breakthroughs we are witnessing today. In Israel, New York City, the United Kingdom, and online, we receive requests from ultra-Orthodox Jewish people who want to learn more about Jesus. I cannot provide further details, but I am asking you to pray. We are confident now quite a few among the very devout are seeking the Lord. We must find and nurture them; what we have planned should help. I am sorry to be so vague, but there are considerable community consequences when ultra-religious Jewish people come to believe in Jesus. 

I am praying the light of the Messiah will shine brightly in the hearts of religious Jewish people who recognize He died for their sins, rose from the grave, and provides abundant life now and forever. 

Would you join me in praying for the most religious of all the Jewish community? These folks could one day make up 50 percent or more of the Jewish population worldwide. We talked about these precious people in the past, but now is the time for us to take further loving and sensitive action to make the Light of the World known in every corner of the religious Jewish community. 

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Giving Thanks to the Lord for He Is Good

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday that does not come from the Bible. It actually has “Jewish” origins, as many of the Pilgrims viewed themselves as the “children of Israel fleeing ‘Egypt’ (England), crossing the ‘Red Sea’ (the Atlantic Ocean), and emerging from this ‘Exodus’ to their own ‘promised land’ (New England).”1

The Pilgrims believed their role in God’s plan was similar to the purpose God gave to Abraham and his descendants: to be a blessing to the nations. These British religious refugees to the New World eventually led to the Puritan movement, which profoundly influenced the growth of the gospel in what would become the United States of America.

One of the great Puritan preachers, Cotton Mather, published a well-known sermon about thanksgiving in 1689. I especially appreciate his comment:

To praise God, is to Acknowledge in Him something Excellent, as ‘tis said in Psal. 148.13. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His Name alone is Excellent; thus, when we Acknowledge an Excellency in all those Manifestations which God maketh of Himself; then ‘tis that we praise Him. Now the Praises owing to the God of Heaven from us, are obliged not only by what He Is, but also by what He Does: indeed by what He Does it is that we come to Learn what He is. We ought to Acknowledge an Excellency in the Nature of God; which is to Ascribe Glory to Him.2

Ever since I came to faith in Jesus at age nineteen, I have believed that it was better to focus on who God is rather than what He does for us. One great temptation in giving thanks is to focus on what He has done rather than who He is. God’s character and glorious nature never change, but His works can change daily as the Lord is intimately involved in all aspects of our daily lives.

We understand God’s character through the Bible. One of my favorite passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that describes the character of God is in Exodus chapters 33 and 34. If you recall, God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, then hid him in the cleft of a rock, passing by him while declaring the glorious attributes of His nature. This action was in response to Moses’ request, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” (Exod 33:18).

God answered, 

“You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” (Exod 33:20–23)

It is well worth reflecting on the following passage where His attributes are listed:

Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” (Exod 34:6–7)

This monumental event on Mount Sinai—the manifestation of God’s attributes—became an important prayer within Judaism known as the Thirteen Attributes of God.

I genuinely believe the best way to thank God is to show our gratitude for His unchanging character. This lesson is what God taught Moses on top of Mount Sinai. Likewise, the Puritan leader Cotton Mather discovered this same truth.

Therefore, we, too, should begin our prayers of thanksgiving by first acknowledging His glorious character and the magnificence of His attributes. Then, we should continue praising and thanking Him for all He has done.

His good works proceed from His good character, and I believe this order in our prayers of thanksgiving is also critical.

WE ARE GRATEFUL

This Thanksgiving holiday, Your Mission to the Jewish People has so much to be thankful for as a ministry among the Jewish people. Our hearts are overflowing with the simple joy of knowing a good and benevolent God who created, loved, and redeemed us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

I am sure you will enjoy the testimonies we have compiled for this newsletter, and please rejoice with us for what the Lord has done! Let me list a few points of praise for your encouragement.

AN INCREASE IN CONGREGATIONS AND JEWISH BELIEVERS IN ISRAEL

When I first traveled to Israel as a believer in 1976, fewer than 500 Messianic Jews may have lived in the land. Some Jewish believers had survived the Holocaust, and a few had moved from North Africa to Israel. Most were not native Israelis and had come to Israel as believers from other parts of the globe. Some came to be part of the great Israel experiment, and others came to serve the Lord in the land. Now, more than seventy years later, there are probably between 20,000 and 30,000 Messianic Jews in the Holy Land, most of whom came to faith in Israel.

I believe we are now in a second-generation and even third-generation outpouring of the Spirit, transforming the national Israeli Messianic body.

This movement of the Spirit has also transformed our ministry as we continue to reach younger generations of Israelis along with the hundreds of elderly Holocaust survivors who we have been serving these past twenty-plus years. We now have our first generation of Jewish believers born in Israel, speaking Hebrew as their native language, attending Israeli schools, and serving in the Israeli army.

These Israeli believers are young, bold, and willing to give their all for Jesus the Messiah!

That is why we have rented a facility in the greater Tel Aviv neighborhood of Ramat Gan where we organize Sabbath outreach dinners, concerts, café nights, Bible studies, reading groups for moms and children, and so much more each month. We can do this because the Lord is working within a new generation of Israelis.

We are in the thick of this outpouring of the Spirit—discipling and nurturing new believers and this new generation of young Israeli leaders!

The future of the Messianic Jewish movement in Israel is bright, and I hope you will want to participate in this work of the Spirit through Your Mission to the Jewish People.

We do need more worship space!

NEW MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES WITH TRAVELING ISRAELIS

We are reaching Israelis by meeting adventurous post-army young adults in places like the Upper West Side of New York City, the South Island of New Zealand, India, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. We are also about to open up ministry stations in Brazil and Japan to reach these wandering Israelis. Our short-term and permanent teams are sharing the gospel with them as they enjoy hikes, BBQs, hummus nights, or a lovely meal of traditional Chinese food!

The Israeli traveler community is a cultural phenomenon and a growing trend that enables us to speak to young Israelis in areas where there is less pressure to conform. In these contexts, they allow themselves to search outside of their usual choices for ways to have happy and meaningful lives and are open to new ways to have a relationship with the God of Israel.

In addition, we are creating a hosting network within the United States, and if you would like to host young Israeli people just out of the army in your home, please let us know! We are now beginning to look for American hosts for the new year.

AN INCREASE IN PRO-JESUS SENTIMENT AMONG YOUNGER GENERATIONS OF JEWISH PEOPLE

We are surprised by the large number of young Jewish people from all over the world responding to our social media, Facebook ads, our new campus outreaches, and the congregations we plant. A recent Barna survey has revealed that Jewish millennials are more open than their parents to the gospel and even to the possibility that Jesus is both Messiah and God in the flesh. We find this astounding! In addition, young people are the majority of the more than 10,000 Jewish non-believers we have met online through our digital outreach campaigns over the last few years, including our Isaiah 53 Explained eBook offer and our “I Found Shalom” video testimonies.

I am also very excited about resuming our residential outreach ministry (House of Living Waters) at New York University (NYU),which has the largest concentration of Jewish students in the United States. We have two young men living in an apartment across the street from the NYU campus and a young woman living in Brooklyn. They are all actively engaged in sharing the gospel with Jewish students.

Again, these opportunities and the openheartedness of the younger generations give me incredible hope for the future of God’s work in bringing the Jewish remnant to Himself in these last days (Romans 11:25–29).

Happy Thanksgiving—and remember to save room for pumpkin pie!

1 Marvin R. Wilson, Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), 127.

2 Cotton Mather, “A Sermon Preached to the Honourable Convention of the Governour, Council, and Representatives of the Massachuset-Colony in New-England on May 23, 1689,” https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A50176.0001.001/1:5?rgn=div1;view=fulltext.

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We are thankful for you!

I am grateful to God for you and how He uses the Chosen People Ministries global family to serve in nineteen countries worldwide.

I also want you to know how grateful I am for your love, prayers, and support. We are a faith mission, which means that our missionaries, including myself, are responsible for raising our support. After almost fifty years of personally raising my own support, I think I can translate what this means for you. Simply put, we trust the Lord for His provision for our lives and ministry through the generosity and sacrifice of believers like you and local congregations who believe in our mission to reach Jewish people with the gospel.

I have spent my adult life trying to ensure that Jewish evangelism does not become the great omission of the Great Commission. Jewish evangelism is not one of the side jobs of the church; it should be, according to the Bible, one of its main concerns.

A well-known theologian, Jakob Jocz, who has an amazing testimony, firmly believed in Jewish evangelism. Jakob grew up in a Jewish home. His father became a believer some years later and entered full-time missionary service. Jakob, who would become a leading Messianic Jewish theologian, wrote The Jewish People and Jesus Christ, a must-read for every believer. In another book, The Spiritual History of Israel, Jocz wrote: “If the Church has no Gospel for the Jews, it has no Gospel for the world.”1

Jewish evangelism is essential because of the Jewish people’s role in God’s plan and purposes! In one critical passage in Romans, Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, tells us that the path to world redemption includes bringing the gospel to the Jewish people. Paul wrote, “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” (Rom 1:16).

We need to take this passage seriously and literally. It is written in the present tense and implies an ongoing action. Paul was not suggesting that the gospel was to go to the Jews first and then cease going to the Jewish people in order to turn to the Gentiles. Instead, this biblical principle of evangelizing the Jewish people is, for all ages, a priority of heart for all believers in Jesus.

God chose the Jewish people as His bridge of redemption to a dark and broken world. His people received, transmitted, and preserved the Scriptures. Jesus Himself was born of a Jewish virgin (as promised), many Jewish people throughout the ages continued to believe in Jesus’ messiahship, and the Jewish people will play a significant role in the second coming when, as a nation, the Jewish community will recognize the promised Messiah (Matthew 23:39).

Our calling is to make disciples because time is short, and the next great event on God’s timetable is the salvation of the Jewish people. The Gentiles have a pivotal role to play in the redemption of the Jewish people today and tomorrow: God calls upon the Gentiles—initially reached by the Jewish disciples—to bring the message back to the original messengers (Romans 11:11)!

Based upon the teaching of the New Testament, I believe every Christian should be, in one way or another, supporting missions to the Jews, either through prayer, giving, or other means of love, support, and encouragement. We are partners in this great work, and I hope this Thanksgiving you will consider joining us in this great work of reaching the Jewish people.

So, please allow me to tell you what God is doing through our staff and your support. 

Around the United States

We are so grateful for our many missionaries serving among the almost six million Jewish people across the United States. Through our Foundations ’22 campaign, we emphasize the work of direct and personal evangelism, discipleship, and training. We are actively building a new generation of missionaries to the Jewish people. Our Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies is now a hybrid program—in person, in Brooklyn, and online.

New York City

We had a great summer outreach in New York City, where we brought a few dozen volunteers and staff for a week of reaching out to both religious and non-religious Jewish people.

We are beginning to do more work among the ultra-Orthodox and would appreciate your prayers for this ministry. It is difficult but so rewarding and worthwhile. We are praying that God will open the hearts of the most religious in our community.

Around the Globe

Last month, we observed the Jewish fall festivals, which include the Jewish new year (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). All these festivals, in one way or another, point to Jesus. We had a fruitful season reaching out to our beloved Jewish people worldwide through our services, Bible studies, and various outreach ministries.

We held services in Argentina at our beautiful center in Buenos Aires, home to more than a quarter million Jewish people. In Australia, we observed the holidays and spoke to many Jewish people about the Lord at our new congregational and ministry center that recently opened in Melbourne. We were able to do the same in London through the congregation we launched in the heart of Jewish North London.

Please pray for our global missionaries as they press on to reach God’s chosen people everywhere.

Ministry to Holocaust Survivors

One of our most incredible ministries in Israel is reaching elderly Holocaust survivors, who are becoming fewer and fewer each day. There is not much time left to reach them for the Messiah! Yet, we continue to have an excellent entry point into their hearts and souls as we provide comfort, companionship, food, medical care, and, as the Lord enables, conversations about Jesus. We hope to continue this ministry until the last Holocaust survivor has heard the gospel.

Children’s Ministries

We have several camps in the United States and Israel, and it is a joy to be back in person, bringing the love of our Messiah to American and Israeli children. Over the last few months, we had more than one hundred children attend our camps across the globe, and by God’s grace, some of these young people came to faith in Jesus and were baptized. But, of course, we do this all with parental permission, and some of the parents are not yet believers.

During our recent camp in Israel, we discovered quite a few children from immigrant families recently came to Israel from war-torn Ukraine. Please pray for these newcomers, especially the children, as they learn Hebrew, grow in the Messiah, and settle in a new country.

Young Adults

This past summer, we had the joy of mentoring young adults through our Living Waters mentoring retreat in Israel. I taught about leadership to encourage this next generation of leaders working tirelessly in their local congregations and with a considerable amount of spiritual responsibility. We also invited spouses and kids to this retreat so that we could minister to the whole family.

Again, we could not minister in these ways without your prayers and support.

Ministry in Ukraine and to Russian-speaking Jewish people

We recently sponsored a conference in Berlin, Germany, attended by more than eighty leaders from Russian and Ukrainian Messianic ministries and congregations. It was challenging as both Russian and Ukrainian believers who got along well before the war had to work out their unity in the Lord during the week. But it was worth it as they worshiped together, studied God’s Word, and collaborated on how to be more effective in reaching Ukrainian and Russian Jewish people in their countries and in Israel, as many have immigrated to the Holy Land.

Please pray for them as we expect a harsh winter in Ukraine. We will do everything we can in partnership with other ministries to bring relief and comfort to those who have lost their homes, jobs, congregations, and so much more. Thank you for supporting this effort and for your generous gifts.

Happy Thanksgiving! We are so thankful for you!

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:10–11, emphasis added)

1 Jakob Jocz, Spiritual History of Israel (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1961), 160.

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Back to Normal—Hallelujah!

Shalom in His grace. We are living in exciting times. I never thought I would be thrilled about the ability to engage in the routine tasks of ministry, but after a couple of years of not being able to do this great work of reaching Jewish people in person—all I can say is I am ecstatic!

We are now in the midst of Foundations ’22, a campaign to support Your Mission to the Jewish People’s commitment to in-person ministry—proclaiming, discipling, and training others to reach the Jewish people for Jesus.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more.”1

I cannot agree more with the great British writer, whose insights into Scripture are profound and helpful. The Lord chooses and uses people to accomplish His holy purposes. He left us on earth to be His arms, legs, and voice to a dark and broken world.

Next month, I will be preaching at Moody Bible Institute’s annual missions conference in Chicago. The school is honoring the one hundredth year of its Jewish Studies program. I will be preaching on the well-known text that we often call the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20).

I will do my best to forge a link between the Great Commission with what I like to call the Great Mandate in Romans 11, in which the apostle Paul invites the church to make Jewish people jealous with the gospel message (Rom 11:11).

I have spent my adult life trying to make sure that Jewish evangelism does not become the “Great Omission of the Great Commission.” I am persuaded that reaching Jewish people and reaching the world are like twin sisters, both essential parts of God’s plan for the future of humanity. Jewish evangelism is not one of the side jobs of the church. It should be, according to the Bible, one of our primary concerns as the church reaches every nation, tribe, and tongue for Jesus.

I believe Jewish evangelism is at the very core of world evangelization!

It is the starting point for the Great Commission.

A well-known Messianic Jewish theologian, Dr. Jacob Jocz, wrote in his book, The Spiritual History of Israel,

If the Church has no Gospel for the Jews, it has no Gospel for the world.2

I realize that most Christians do not intentionally withhold the gospel from the Jewish people, but many do not always include the Jewish people within their call to reach the world. Reaching Jewish people for Jesus should be an intentional strategy for all Christians and churches because of the role God gave to the children of Israel as part of His plan of redemption.

THE GREAT COMMISSION AND THE GREAT MANDATE

In Matthew 28:19–20 (the Great Commission), Jesus gave His disciples three main tasks to accomplish as they go out to reach the world: make disciples, baptize, and teach those disciples to obey His word.

The apostle Paul added a more specific mandate for Gentile believers. He wrote,

I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.
(Romans 11:11)

Paul wrote these inerrant words in light of what he penned a few sentences later in his letter to the Roman believers. For Paul, knowing the future instructed them as Paul was referring corporately to the Roman church. The salvation of Israel in the last days is the last human step leading to the second coming of Christ. He wrote in Romans 11,

Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! . . . For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
(Romans 11:12, 15)

The nations have a role to play inching us closer to the second coming of Messiah—through reaching the Jewish people and adding to the expansion of the remnant.

Jewish evangelism should be a priority of heart for the church because of the role the Jewish people have played throughout sacred history and will play in the future.

A SUMMER OF IN-PERSON MINISTRY

Summer Camp

We had a great summer of outreach. We enjoyed a renewed and full participation of kids who joined our Camp Kesher (Hebrew for connection—to the Lord and one another). We held two camps—one on the West Coast and another on the East. Our East Coast camp had a total of seventy-two campers, thirty-six staff, four counselors-in-training, and one nurse for a total of 113 people. The theme for the week was “Own It!” through which we encouraged the campers to take ownership of their faith in the face of opposition. On Friday evening, after our service, we baptized two young counselors who recently rededicated their lives to the Lord.

Shalom New York

I also praise God for the couple of dozen staff and volunteers who hit the streets of New York City during the first week of August and spoke to hundreds of Jews and Gentiles about the Lord. The streets were packed, despite the heat. The team had some great conversations! Let me share the experience of one of our full-time missionaries:

On the first day of our Shalom New York outreach, one of the teams met a Jewish lady from Omaha, Nebraska, at a street fair. She was drawn to our I Found Shalom book table, but was hesitant to get into a conversation about faith or religion. One of our team members was also from Omaha! When she found that out, she was in shock. The conversation continued, and they discovered they were from the same community. As they shared some memories, her heart got softer. She eventually appreciated the conversation we had about faith and allowed us to pray for her. We finished our conversation and exchanged contact information. She would like us to keep in touch with her. That is definitely a divine appointment from the Lord, who graciously sent this lady to our team on the first day to encourage us to trust and depend on Him during the rest of the Shalom New York week.

There were many other great stories. We cannot do this work without our well-trained and dedicated missionaries who love the Lord and the Jewish people. We believe every conversation is precious and orchestrated by the Lord! Your prayers and support keep our missionaries in the field.

Serving Suffering Ukrainians

I was overwhelmed by the response of our friends to the needs of Ukrainians suffering as a result of the Russian invasion. We are still able to meet the physical and social needs of Ukrainian Jews and Gentiles in Ukraine, Poland, Israel, Germany, and many other places. We have especially cared for the hundreds of scattered members of the Messianic Jewish community in Ukraine, whom we have served for decades.

I believe we have saved lives by providing funds for food, medicine, and housing. This aid enables Chosen People Ministries and the local pastors to advance the Great Commission among these millions of displaced Ukrainians. We continue to do all we can to help!

WHAT’S NEXT?

We need your prayers as we will have dozens of Messianic worship services in celebration of the three major fall Jewish festivals: the Jewish new year, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. All three point prophetically to Jesus. While we plan to offer hybrid services, all our congregations and branches are also planning in-person services.

A HISTORIC CONFERENCE

This month, we are sponsoring a conference in Germany for Messianic Jewish leaders and missionaries—mostly from around Europe but also from the United States and Canada. We hope to build greater unity and infrastructure to continue our ministries to Ukrainians. The conference will be held and organized by Beth Sar Shalom, our ministry partner in Germany. We expect a few hundred leaders, so please pray and give generously if you can. We need to cover the costs for most of the attendees.

Finally, I want to let you know that, in the midst of all the struggles of the last few years, Chosen People Ministries has taken on more than a half dozen new missionaries and have also found some of our more veteran missionaries struggling to raise support.

The missionaries are serving everywhere from Israel to New York City, London, and other places that are expensive and/or where it is difficult to raise missionary support.

Thank you for your prayers as well as your generous and sacrificial support.

1 C. S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis: Readings for Meditation and Reflection, ed. Walter Hooper (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1996), 18.

2 Jacob Jocz, Spiritual History of Israel (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1961), 160.

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Win & Disciple a New Generation of Believers in Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel like we are on our way!

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Building Chosen People Ministries for the Future

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

As always, we find the answer in the Bible!

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

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

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

OUR HOPE IS ROOTED IN THE CHARACTER AND PROMISES OF GOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUR HOPE IS IN THE LIVING GOD

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

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

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

A BIT OF HISTORY

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

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

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

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

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

NOW FOR A SPOOKY BUT TRUE STORY!

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

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

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

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

THE CHOSEN PEOPLE MINISTRIES OF THE FUTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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