...all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
One of the most heartwarming aspects of my role as president of Your Mission to the Jewish People is that I get to hear the reports of our field workers about Jewish faith decisions for Messiah from all corners of the world. This includes Brooklyn - my own back yard - and, of course, Israel, where our growing work is bearing much fruit for the Kingdom.
However, there are those who strenuously oppose our efforts - and as our work grows, so does their opposition.
Can I have an honest talk with you about the opposition we face?
Frankly, I prefer not to discuss it, as I would never want you to think ill of my Jewish people. They are, after all, beloved by the same God who enfolds all who draw nigh to Him through Messiah's grace. But as our friend and prayer partner, I owe it to you to tell you about what we have been going through, so you can pray for us.
We endure considerable opposition, especially from the more religious sectors of the Jewish community. Newspaper articles that criticize our activities even go so far as to portray Chosen People Ministries as antisemitic. Zealous members of the Jewish community have yelled at us, threatened us and even held public protests as we distribute tracts and other literature.
We expect this, and we understand that those who are opposing us believe they are actually serving God. I want to tell you about the most recent attack. The website "Jewish Israel," sponsored by a variety of anti-missionary groups such as Jews for Judaism, recently produced a series of articles that attempted to cast our efforts in a negative light.
Let me share with you some of what they are saying, so you can remember to pray for these zealous Jewish people...and for us!
The following snippet is taken from a web-based article drawn from a two-part series on Chosen People Ministries. This section focuses on our Isaiah 53 Campaign and especially our upcoming efforts to reach Israelis with the message of the ancient prophet. They entitle their article,
Torturing the "Suffering Servant" with a Christian spin...
CPM's stepped-up activity and plans to launch an Isaiah 53 media blitz here in Israel should be cause for concern. While it's clear from the original Hebrew text of Isaiah 53 that the "suffering servant" refers to the Jewish people, Christian missionaries use the same passage as a proof-text to convert unlearned Jews.
Chosen People Ministries has literally painted the town(s) red across North America with their message of a suffering Jesus. Now with their book, materials and billboards translated into Hebrew and Russian, they are coming to Israel.
It is interesting to then read the author's assessment of Chosen People Ministries' activities! Of course, some of the statements are true and can be gleaned from public documents, but their perspective skews their comments about infiltration. Yet notice the "alarm" in the following passage:
Chosen People Ministries is one of the most aggressive, predatory groups around. With an annual budget of 12 million dollars, they have the capacity to do great damage in Israel. The Isaiah 53 Campaign, which targeted Jewish communities across the United States in 2011-2012, was unprecedented in the scope of their outreach. They sent hundreds-of-thousands of their Isaiah 53 evangelizing books to homes with children and young adults, hoping to influence their beliefs. We know of their personnel and leaders infiltrating numerous Jewish organizations and groups with the goal of gaining access to the community and seeking legitimacy as an "authentic arm" of Judaism. We must do whatever is possible to raise the alarm about their increased activities in Israel.
As their president, Mitch Glaser, proclaims,"The Lord has given us the privilege of becoming His hands, His feet and His voice in Israel in a way that we never thought possible...we now have an enormous opportunity to bring the message of the Gospel - in both Word and deed - to needy Israelis."
In response to my statement, the author writes,
It is time we all took these groups very seriously and understand that their goal is the ultimate spiritual destruction of the Jewish people and our 3,000-year-old faith.
In conclusion, the article states,
Proselytizing in the Jewish state is highly provocative and it should not be deemed a "religious freedom." It is nothing less than a betrayal of Judaism to adopt definitions of democracy and freedom which enable Christianity or other foreign belief systems to be spread without restraint to the Jewish people in the state of Israel. And it is certainly not "church persecution" if the Israeli government, media outlets and municipal authorities choose to protect our children, uphold the integrity of the Jewish state and respect the sensitivities of the Jewish people by simply saying "no" to Chosen People Ministries.
As you can see, we will be facing considerable opposition to our efforts in the future - especially in Israel - if this group is taken seriously. However, Israel is still a free and democratic country that believes in and practices free speech. I believe our right to speak will be upheld, especially since those speaking are Israeli Messianic believers, who love the Lord with all their hearts, and most of whom were born in Israel!
I believe we are going to face more and more opposition coming to us over the web, on Facebook, websites and in other digital formats. Of course, we will respond to the opposition with love, prayer and understanding.
The most amazing part of this recent attack against Your Mission to the Jewish People is that they continue to let their readership know about our Isaiah53.com website - thus reaching people who would never have heard about it otherwise!
Opposition often amplifies the proclamation of the Gospel.
A Godly Response
Sometimes the opposition will be fierce, but I know that the Lord loves the anti-missionaries. Therefore, we will try to follow two principles.
1. We are called to proclaim the Gospel, not to provoke opposition.
I try to present the message of Jesus in the most winsome, irenic and clear way, so that Jewish people can meet their loving Savior. I want them to know the Messiah who loves them and died and rose for their atonement. I believe that if they really get to know Him, they will become followers of Jesus, as I did, and no longer be opponents of the Gospel.
2. We will not retaliate against those who oppose us.
The second principle I try to follow is that I will not answer anger with anger. The Apostle Peter showed how we should respond to those who attack us when we are innocent. He writes,
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth;" who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:21-23)
Therefore, we will always try to follow the example of Yeshua our Messiah, who faced His opposition with both love and truth!
I hope that the words of the apostle will encourage your heart as well, as I realize that Chosen People Ministries is not the only one who receives undeserved opposition. You may be going through this very challenge yourself and seeking His strength to respond as Messiah would to those who treat you poorly.
So we do not retaliate; instead, we pray for strength to love when we are hated and respond with grace and kindness when we are mistreated - as Messiah teaches us to do with His words and His example.
Why the Opposition?
I want to try to help you understand why Jewish people oppose the proclamation of the Gospel and why Jewish believers of Jesus are often particularly reviled and viewed as traitors.
The fundamental issue is this - although it was not always the case, Judaism presently cannot accept the possibility that one can believe in Jesus and remain a Jew. There are a number of reasons for this. Some are theological issues, such as the deity of Christ and the Trinity, which Judaism views as heresy for other Jews to believe.
But opposition to Jesus is based even more upon the way Jewish people were treated by "Christians" throughout the centuries. This, above all, is the basis of the emotional distress so many Jewish people feel about Jesus and the Church. Allow me to illustrate.
When I told my mother and father that I had become a believer in Jesus, they eventually asked me to leave my home. After I also told my grandparents on my mom's side, they never spoke to me again, although they loved me dearly. In their minds, my decision placed me on the side of those who had persecuted and murdered Jewish people for centuries. This, more than anything having to do with the message of the Gospel or even with Jesus Himself, is what broke their hearts.
This is why we MUST have compassion towards our "opponents." Their hearts are bleeding, whether they know it or not. Paul, a Jew to the core who could understand the nature of persecution better than almost anyone, wrote,
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:28-29)
What is our course? We should continue to proclaim the Gospel as truthfully, clearly and sensitively as possible, knowing that opposition is sometimes not avoidable.
We should also pray for God to open the hearts of the Jewish people who oppose our work - that they would recognize that Jesus is the promised Messiah, and that the Gospel is a message of love for humanity, and not hate.
We need your help in showing His love to the Jewish people.
First of all, I am hoping that you would be willing to share the Gospel with your Jewish friends, colleagues, and family. To help you with this, I'd like to send you a free copy of the little booklet I wrote entitled Presenting Messiah to your Jewish Friends. It is yours for the asking, and you do not need to send a donation to receive a copy. I want you to have this as a gift.
I am also hoping you will consider becoming a regular supporter of Chosen People Ministries. This is easy to do, because we have created the Watchmen for Jerusalem program that allows you to make a recurring gift by simply clicking here and selecting "recurring gift" when prompted.
Finally, I am praying that you might be able to help us with our Isaiah 53 Campaign in Israel! I am sure I do not need to explain why, after reading the above article on the anti-missionary website. Based upon our projected costs for advertising, production of the books, follow-up and creation and monitoring of the website, it will cost us about $10.00 to place a copy of the Isaiah 53 Explained book into the hands of an Israeli.
By God's grace, your gift can be doubled today!
A generous Foundation has told us that if we receive $40,000 in donations towards this campaign, they will award us an additional $40,000 grant! This means that a gift of $100 will become $200, and a gift of $500 will become $1,000!
Our goal, of course, is to have as many as possible of the six-million-plus Israelis receive a copy of the book! How many will respond? We believe the number will easily be in the thousands... so please pray, give as you are able, and let's trust the Lord together that He will work powerfully through this outreach - even in the hearts of those who might oppose us.
Maybe the next Apostle Paul is among them!
Your brother in the Messiah,
 Posted by "Jewish Israel" on May 28, 2013 at 7:30pm
It was only one year ago when Hurricane Sandy stormed through the East Coast of the United States, leaving terrible destruction in its wake. The homes and hopes of families were destroyed, tens of thousands were out of work, personal property - from family pictures to cherished memorabilia - were swept away in the floods, and many were left homeless and helpless for weeks.
In the midst of this tragedy, God's people were faithful and generous, as many followers of Yeshua the Messiah gathered clothing, food, electrical generators and so much more – distributing them to needy families in many areas. Chosen People Ministries focused on the thousands of Russian Jewish homes lining the shores of Staten Island, New York City, where there was tremendous loss and suffering because of the hurricane. We cleaned homes; distributed food, blankets, electrical generators, heaters, small refrigerators and stoves; and wept with those who wept… prayed with those who did not know how to pray… and stood alongside the victims of this terrible event that still traumatizes many of the families who suffered the most.
In the midst of what was a very difficult season, we saw God's faithfulness and care for individuals and families, which was nothing short of amazing. Believers from all over the country came to the eastern seaboard, and many focused on some of the poor residents of Staten Island – mostly Russian Jewish people, who suffered tremendously – and showed God's love in the most tangible ways.
Our ministry developed many personal relationships with folks who needed help, and those relationships continue until this day. Very few of us on the Chosen People Ministries staff were experienced in disaster relief, but we knew that God wanted us to love those who were hurting. We spent weeks and even months serving the hurting, and it was really wonderful to see how that love was received by many Jewish people in particular… who knew that the One motivating our love and actions was the Messiah Jesus – the Savior of the world.
We actually distributed tens of thousands of dollars to those who needed to rebuild their homes and lives, from paying contractors to rebuild their homes and having funds to survive!
I want to thank those who helped support the hurricane victims during this very difficult and dark time – because of you, the Light of the Messiah was able to shine brightly through us and others who served the suffering of Staten Island and many other communities during this time.
As we look towards November and the celebration of Thanksgiving – which of course falls on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah – I remember setting up tables outside with Hanukkah menorahs, gifts for children, hot chocolate and some Hanukkah foods in devastated neighborhoods of Staten Island. It was during those dark and gloomy nights that the lit candles on these tables reminded me of Messiah's presence among us in ways that I personally will never forget. This passage from the writings of the prophet Isaiah became very dear to me:
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Please remember to keep praying for some of the victims who have yet to rebuild their homes and be restored in their finances, jobs and family lives.
Perhaps one of the lessons that we learned from this tragic event was that God wants us to be willing, and though we may not always be able or have the resources to do all we want – we can always do something, and that something might make a huge difference in someone's life. I learned this lesson as a result of Hurricane Sandy, and I'm grateful to God for all that He did through so many to show His presence in the midst of the storm.
Your brother in the Messiah,
Shalom from the "other Holy Land" - Brooklyn! These are exciting days for Your Mission to the Jewish People! We recently finished dedicating the new Brooklyn Messianic Center, and it was a wonderful celebration. We are now in the process of moving in and kicking off some of the dynamic new ministries based at the Center.
The Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies (our joint program between Chosen People Ministries and Biola University's Talbot School of Theology) is gradually moving into the Center as well; please pray that these transitions will go smoothly. It is not easy to move and stack 12,000 books!
Shalom Brooklyn: A Summer Outreach in New York City
Shalom Brooklyn was a huge success! Remember that there are almost one million Jewish people living in Brooklyn - which is only one of five boroughs of New York City.
We also ministered in Queens and Manhattan, and when you add up the Jewish communities in all five boroughs, there are more than two million Jewish residents of New York City - and this does not include the hundreds of thousands of Jewish people that commute into the City to work every day.
New York City, and Brooklyn in particular, is home to the largest concentration of God's chosen people in North America. This is why our headquarters is in New York City, and it is also our reason for establishing the Charles L. Feinberg Messianic Jewish Center in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn.
Faith Decisions and Seeds Planted
More than a hundred volunteers and staff members participated in the two-week summer outreach program, and prayed with fifty Jewish people, as well as many non-Jewish people, to receive Jesus as their Savior!
Many of the Jewish people who received Messiah are recent immigrants from Russia. This is what we experienced in the early 1990s and I thought that this movement of Russian Jews to Jesus in Brooklyn was over - but I have been wonderfully proven wrong! I am so glad we have two Russian Messianic congregations led by Chosen People Ministries staff where these new believers can go and grow!
We met many non-Russian Jewish people who were open to the Lord as well. We even had some great conversations with religious Jewish people about Jesus... a number of whom are willing to receive and read the Isaiah 53 Explained book!
Here are some wonderful testimonies from two of our volunteers:
God continued to use Shalom Brooklyn, even on my train ride home. I was wearing the Isaiah 53 t-shirt, and a Jewish man sat down next to me. We talked for an hour and a half and as I shared about Yeshua, his eyes gently filled up with tears. He lives in my area, so I am mailing him a copy of Isaiah 53 Explained, and I will keep in touch!
- Nancy Poultney
We met a Jewish man named Daniel,* who was very nice and willing to talk to us. He made it clear that he would always be Jewish. I explained that he would indeed, and that everything about my faith was Jewish. The great thing was that we encouraged him to check out the literature table (a long way from where we were talking) and he did! He walked all the way down the boardwalk and got some more materials.
- Jason Murray
During the last couple of months, our staff members in Brooklyn and around the New York area have been faithfully and personally following up with the hundreds of seekers we met.
So please keep praying, as a number of the Jewish people we met during Shalom Brooklyn are on the verge of giving their hearts to the Lord!
Strategy for Reaching a New Generation
One of the reasons I love "old-fashioned" street evangelism campaigns is that they motivate us to create new materials and strategies that raise the quality of our evangelistic tools. We created a number of new Gospel tracts, which were used on the streets, at book tables, at health fairs, and in the parks where we ministered this summer.
Some believers might think that handing out Gospel tracts, conducting open-air preaching, or even just sitting at book tables on campuses is old-fashioned and fanatical. Well, if this is true, then I am definitely a fanatic - and so is the rest of the Chosen People Ministries family!
Of course, we are also using all the latest media tools on the web, which I believe is the new "Mars Hill" of modern society. But there are still lots of people walking the streets of great urban centers like New York City. This is why handing out tracts, sitting at book tables, and doing various types of open-air outreach is still effective.
Street evangelism is an old strategy that can be used effectively for a new generation if we allow the Lord to use our creativity for His glory.
You can download one of our brand new Gospel tracts, which focuses on the new Freedom Tower that was just completed in Manhattan. This great symbol of our freedom in the United States helps us explain the spiritual freedom we have in Yeshua the Messiah. Please read it, and if you want printed copies, you can call us to order some.
This tract will be relevant all over the country, especially as the festivities dedicating the Freedom Tower continue throughout the year.
A New Congregation to Disciple New Jewish Believers
A fruitful season of evangelism creates its own set of fresh challenges. We are convinced that new believers must become part of a local community of believers in order to grow. This is why our Brooklyn Messianic Congregation Project is so critical! And this is why I'm hoping that you will help us, as we are starting this month.
We have established a budget of $200,000 for The Brooklyn Messianic Congregation Fund, for the first year of planting a new Messianic congregation. This amount includes the cost of the pastor, musicians, advertising, building expenses and more.
As with all church plants - Messianic or otherwise - we believe that once people start attending the congregation and growing in their faith, the congregation will eventually be able to sustain itself.
But this is not going to be the case for at least eighteen months - and perhaps longer, as Brooklyn is a very expensive place to minister.
Would you consider a generous founding donation to the Brooklyn Messianic Congregation Fund?
Now that we have a beautiful building in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn, we want to maximize our use of it for God's glory. We are praying for our congregational planter, Rev. Rich Flashman, whom we introduced in a previous letter. Rich is a Jewish believer and has been a pastor affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church for more than twenty-five years. I have tremendous confidence in the Lord and in Rich as both a congregational planter and a mentor of younger leaders.
We also have musicians - evangelists, graduates of our seminary program - who will be working alongside Rich. I believe we are poised to make great strides in planting this congregation, but we do need some very generous founding grants to get started.
Would you pray about joining us in the adventure of planting a Messianic congregation in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn?
Whether you can give $100, $1,000, or $5,000 - I know that the Lord will multiply your sacrificial giving. We want to help the two Russian Messianic congregations as well - they will take a little longer to get established because many of the congregants are poor and elderly.
Thanks so much for caring and standing with us in the great work of reaching His chosen people!
P.S. For your gift of $100 or more I would like to send you a copy of our new Messianic Jewish Art Calendar with beautiful pictures of the "true Holy Land" - Israel! We deeply appreciate your support and prayers.
Tour the New Brooklyn Center:
1st Floor – Sanctuary, warming kitchen and multipurpose room
This street-level first floor will be the heart of our ministry presence in the neighborhood. We know that many Jewish people will have their curiosity sparked by our signs on the exterior of the building, which will include Messianic Scriptures written in Hebrew and English. We want to make sure our building is inviting and provides an excellent first impression for those the Lord leads to enter.
For this reason, our first floor is designed to be completely ministry focused. Not only will it accommodate a 170-person Messianic congregation, but it will allow us to have a soup kitchen ministry, a Gospel café outreach for young people, and a reading area for those curious about our faith.
A dynamic ministry opportunity exists in our new neighborhood, as a community of over 750,000 Jewish people reside in the areas surrounding the Feinberg Center.
Ministries planned through the Feinberg Center include:
- ESL Classes
- Addiction Care
- Bible Studies
- Messianic Congregations
- Café Outreach
- Feeding the Poor
- Elderly Care
We hope you are as excited as we are about these ministry opportunities the Lord is providing!
2nd Floor – Classroom, study area, and offices
The second floor of our Brooklyn Center will serve as the new home of our seminary program, the Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies. Through our unique partnership with the Talbot School of Theology, we offer a fully-accredited Master of Divinity degree in Messianic Jewish Studies. We began offering classes in 2007 and currently have 26 students and 11 graduates - and we continue to grow!
The Lord has been so faithful in developing this program. For the past four years we have housed the seminary in our Manhattan headquarters, but we have now outgrown that space. Included on the second floor will be classrooms, offices, and study and meeting areas. The Feinberg library, which has over 12,000 volumes, will reside in the basement.
The Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies program includes courses in:
- Biblical leadership
- Rabbinic Literature
- Hebrew / Greek
- Pastoral Care
- Jewish History
- Rabbinic Theology
- Biblical Preaching
- Theology of Siddur
Training the next generation of leaders for Messianic Jewish ministry is the goal of this program.
Though primarily used for the seminary, the second floor will also be available for ministry purposes when classes are not in session.
"Talbot School of Theology is thrilled to partner with Chosen People Ministries to equip a new generation of Christian leaders for the Messianic movement. There is no better place to do this than Brooklyn. Our heart is to provide solid biblical and theological training along with the skills for ministering in a contextually sensitive way."
– Dr. Clint Arnold, Dean / Professor of New Testament
Talbot School of Theology - Biola University
3rd Floor – Student, missionary and guest housing
The third floor of the new Brooklyn Center will serve as student living space. The floor plan neatly separates the women’s and men’s living quarters, and has a guest room for visiting ministry workers and professors. We will also use these rooms to house summer interns and other staff while school is not in session.