Divine Appointment in Southern California
Southern California has one of the largest concentrations of Jewish people in the world, with a population of about 668,000 in Los Angeles alone.* The population grows even larger when you include the expanded region that takes in Orange County, where a number of Chosen People Ministries staff labor in and through Messianic Congregation Shuvah Yisrael (Return, O Israel) in the city of Irvine.
Olivier Melnick is one such laborer. A Jewish believer who was born in France, Olivier is a gifted teacher with a heart for his people. As his following note shows, he is also able to make quick decisions under the Lord's guidance, even when doing so requires a fast change of plans:
On a busy Saturday morning, as I was on my way to services, I received a phone call telling me that an elderly Jewish man who was on his deathbed wanted to talk to somebody about God. It immediately appeared that a visit to him was my new priority, so I turned around and drove to his house.
When I arrived, the 84-year-old man was lying in his bed, barely conscious, attached to a breathing machine. He could hardly talk and was very weak. As we began to speak, we determined that we were both Jews from Europe and a small bond was established. He was a German Jew who escaped the Holocaust and was angry at God because both his parents were killed in the camps.
But I started to tell him how much God loved him and how Yeshua died for his sins and that in a few days, he would meet God, who would ask him if he had put his trust in the Messiah's death for him.
Since he could barely talk, I asked him to listen to my prayer and to respond "yes" every time he agreed. The dialogue went something like this:
"Do you believe you are a sinner?" "Yes," he answered.
"Do you believe you cannot save yourself?" "Yes," he continued.
"Do you believe God sent His son Yeshua to pay the price for your sins?" Again, "Yes."
"Do you accept his death for your atonement and invite Him into your life?"
"Yes," he finally said.
I told him that at this very moment the angels rejoiced in Heaven as they were preparing to meet him and welcome him into eternity with God. What a joy it was to see this Jewish man trust his Messiah and secure his place into eternity.
We rejoice with Olivier and give thanks that he was able to discern the Lord's leading in bringing this precious soul to a saving knowledge of Messiah.
Moscow: A New Beginning in an Old City
Moscow has always been a city of pivotal importance for Russia. Today, this is especially true for the remaining Russian Jewish population, which has dwindled to about half a million. Moscow, with about 250,000 Jewish people, is now the Jewish population center of the nation. Moreover, Moscow has become a magnet for Jews in Russia's former satellite countries who are on the move.
Chosen People Ministries staff member Avi Y., a Jewish believer from Lvov, Ukraine, is pioneering a renewed work in this newly stirring center of post-Soviet Jewish life. His report is both hopeful and inspiring:
We are strengthening our group of congregations in Moscow. I'm grateful to say that our Moscow congregation is growing. Last summer, six new members joined us, including a family of five - the parents, their two sons and their daughter.
Another of our fellowships has become an established congregation, with potential for development. They have a steady attendance of almost 20 people, which by Moscow standards is quite respectable. One very good sign is that almost every month, they have one or two new people joining them. We recently held a discipleship training conference in Moscow which was attended by a few dozen Russian Jewish believers. It was a great success, and will lead to even greater fruit throughout the former Soviet Union.
Chosen People Ministries' work in Russia stands poised to do great things. For this we give thanks to the Lord and for all His servants there who are devoting their lives and gifts to the Russian Jewish people for the sake of the Gospel.
Klaudia Zhelezny - Putting the Word on the Street in Israel
Klaudia Zhelezny is one of Chosen People Ministries' most gifted evangelists. Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Klaudia came to faith in a refugee camp en route to Brooklyn, New York, after the Lord opened a way for her to leave the former Soviet Union. From that time, her life's work has been to share the Gospel with the Jewish people everywhere the Lord leads. In September, she visited Israel for almost four weeks with a team of two other believers in Messiah.
She gives an example of how the Lord blessed her efforts:
Here is a little more about what is going on with us and our mission trip. Every day is different. We've been distributing invitations on the streets to an evangelistic outreach and putting envelopes in mailboxes. I feel a special love for all those whom we invite "through the mailboxes" in Israel! Also we made some visits, such as the one we had with Ilya in Jerusalem.
Ilya's background was as a Communist and he was a well-known scientist back in Russia. But he realized that "the system" had told him nothing but lies about God. He wanted to know about Him. When we talked, Ilya asked what seemed like a million questions. We read the Bible with him.
He was very excited to find out that the Passover in Egypt was about salvation and that the death of the lamb was a foreshadowing of Jesus, the Lamb of God. We prayed together, asking Jesus to come into Ilya's heart. He was in tears when he said "Amen." He definitely needs more help and needs someone to meet with him " one-to-one" to teach him the Bible.
Please remember all these people, and us, in prayer.
Giving Thanks - Now and Always
The Psalmist exhorts us, "Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!" (Psalm 105:1). Although sharing the Gospel with Jewish people is by no means an easy task, those who are faithfully carrying out their calling to do so will tell you that there is no more rewarding work to be found.
We rejoice and give thanks for those who are on the "front lines" of Jewish evangelism-and for all who pray and give in order to bring the harvest home.
* Sergio DellaPergola, "World Jewish Population 2002," American Jewish Year Book, New York, 2002.