BAPTISMS MULTIPLY AT JORDAN RIVER SERVICE
Israel Director Michael Z. officiated a service at the Jordan River with seven candidates for baptism in attendance. As Michael started to preach the Gospel, a big crowd of people gathered. As he continued to openly proclaim the name of Jesus, more people came to listen. Suddenly, two of them approached and asked Michael to baptize them as well. They prayed to receive Jesus and joined the group waiting to be baptized - and they were not alone. Following Michael's salvation invitation, another six people said, "Yes," to Jesus. That day, altogether, God allowed Michael to baptize fifteen people.
THE REST OF THE STORY...
Later that same day, while Michael was praying with the new believers at the Sea of Galilee, a husband and wife approached him and said that they had been listening carefully at the baptismal site. They had taken the message very seriously, but needed time to consider it all. The problem was they were from Moscow and needed to return home that day. They took Michael's contact information, and a few days later they called to announce that they had made their decision for Messiah and were ready to be baptized. The couple returned to Israel from Moscow, and Michael had the honor of baptizing them. Michael writes, "There was such joy and such tears on their faces, one had to see it to believe it. Praise the Lord!"
A JEWISH MOTHER FINDS THE SON
When a Jewish mother comes to faith, it is a day of rejoicing - especially if it is your own Jewish mother! Long-time staff member Boris Goldin, who has prayed for his 90-year-old mother to meet Messiah for over twenty years, reports that his prayers have been answered. To make it even sweeter, it was Boris who led her in "the sinner's prayer." For many years, she considered her son a traitor to the Jewish people - but his family's faithful witness at last enabled her to see that it is reasonable to be a Jewish person and believe in Messiah Jesus. Now Boris' mom says she no longer fears death, because she knows where she is going.
FRIENDSHIP LEADS JEWISH MAN TO FAITH DECISION
Paul Cruz, who serves with Chosen People Ministries in Philadelphia, is rejoicing that the Lord has answered his prayers for Carl,* an older Jewish man who received the Lord shortly before he passed away. Carl's son, a Jewish believer, asked Paul to call on his father in the nursing home. Paul soon established a good rapport with Carl since they both had served in the Navy, were both originally from the New York City area, and both loved classical music. As they continued their friendship, the talk deepened to matters of faith and Paul asked if he could pray for Carl. Finally, at the right moment, Carl placed his faith in Messiah.
Chosen People Ministries notes with sadness the passing of Clara Rubin. Clara, who passed away in Florida at the age of 97, was one of the true pioneers of 20th-century Jewish evangelism, along with her husband, Joe Rubin, who had previously passed into the presence of the Lord. She was also one of the last living links with Chosen People Ministries' early work, the Williamsburg Mission to the Jews in Brooklyn. In 1956, the Rubins relocated to Huntington, Long Island, where they served the Lord for the next quarter century. We pray that her family will take "strong consolation" in "the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:18).
I hope you are well and that you are being blessed in your walk with the Lord. It is good to know that spring is just around the corner with some warmer weather. Here in Brooklyn, the ministry opportunities are warming up as well!
Feinberg Students - In Their Own Words
As you probably already know, one of my passions and priorities is educating and training the next generation
of evangelists to the Jewish people. That is why my team of gifted co-workers and I have devoted ourselves to launching the Charles L. Feinberg Program for Messianic Jewish Studies.
I cannot tell you what a joy it is to see our students so hard at work and ministry! I thought I'd pass along some of their stories to you, so that you can hear from them directly about how the program is inspiring them in their studies and their ministries.
"My coursework in Jewish Studies is helping me in terms of increasing my knowledge of Jewish history and culture. The Hebrew language studies have really helped me when I visit synagogues because I feel as though I can participate more fully in the services. Also, the Hebrew I’ve learned helps me to relate to the Orthodox and secular Jewish women to whom I am ministering.
"For instance, this past summer I attended quite a few Sabbath meals and was able to form relationships with two Orthodox Jewish women - one older, and the other about my age. We go for coffee, take walks, talk and exchange views about God and life. We have very open discussions, and the trust we are building in friendship is very meaningful and is opening doors. These women know I am a believer, but in the context of a growing friendship, it is quite natural to share my faith in Messiah with them.
- Misty Fraser was raised in California and is about halfway through the Feinberg Program. She is presently seeking the Lord’s guidance for her future in ministry.
"Unlike those who have sensed their calling to be in New York City, Israel or elsewhere, I am presently using the knowledge I have acquired at the Feinberg Center here in Arizona. I am serving in a Messianic congregation and coordinating some ministry activities with Cathy Wilson, Chosen People Ministries’ other staff member here, such as a Fall Feasts outreach we put together.
"One of the most valuable fruits of my Feinberg studies is that beyond equipping me to pursue my calling, it has increased my level of confidence in approaching Jewish ministry and made me better able to preach and teach the Gospel from a Jewish perspective. That is, to translate sound theology into a Jewish context. It has also helped me to deal with objections to the claims of Messiah within a Jewish religious and cultural perspective. I am mainly focused now on teaching. I lead a Bible study and another mid-week class that emphasizes sound Bible interpretation and well-constructed arguments to support the claims of the Gospel."
- Jeffrey Kran, who received his degree in 2011 as part of the first cohort of Feinberg graduates, now serves with Chosen People Ministries in Phoenix, Arizona.
"In the Feinberg Center, I learn how to reach Jewish people for the Gospel in a culturally sensitive way. The program helps equip me with good understanding of the Hebrew language and competency in Hebrew exegesis, as well as develop skills for ministry specifically appropriate for the Jewish community. Learning with both non-Jewish and Jewish schoolmates brings me new insights and enlightening comprehension of the Bible and the Jewish roots of my faith.
"The location of the Feinberg Center gives me great opportunities to not only receive knowledge of theology, Jewish culture and values, but also have a readily accessible environment to practice what I learn by reaching the Jewish people in Brooklyn. Here, nearly one in four residents is Jewish. There are also opportunities to serve in congregational settings in our Russian-speaking and English-speaking congregations. Moreover, there are plenty of chances to make friends with Jewish neighbors as I go about my daily activities in the neighborhood. God can use me and everyone who has a heart for the Jewish people to pray for them; in Brooklyn, God can use me and others to reach the Jewish people in more direct and personal ways!"
- Ariel Wu, originally from Taiwan, was drawn to the Feinberg Center "because I feel God put in me a special love for His people, the Jewish people."
"As a recent Charles Feinberg Center graduate, I see myself as a farmer in the field I am presently called to cultivate. I live in the heart of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, where I have become deeply immersed. I am blessed to be used by God to plant seeds of the Gospel message throughout my daily encounters. Other times, I am given the opportunity to prune by helping individuals flesh out the hard questions they have about the Gospel. I have been equipped to sit side-by-side with someone who is learned in Judaism and not be intimidated, thanks to my education in Jewish studies at the Charles Feinberg Center.
"I am now living my life as a community member here in Brooklyn, and this level of involvement gives me opportunities I would not have otherwise. This is something unheard of; usually, Orthodox people run from Jewish believers, but there I was! This is a testimony that God has His hand in my relationship with the Orthodox woman who invited me. I know I am in her life for no other reason but to share the Gospel."
- Ally, who prefers not to reveal her last name for privacy reasons due to living in the Orthodox community, graduated from the Feinberg Center in 2013.
What Your Gift Accomplishes
Your gift today will help us train a new generation of leaders for the field of Jewish missions. We now have an operating, debt-free Messianic Center and training facility in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn!
What better place to train a new generation of workers than Brooklyn, where they can apply their learning to daily missionary activity in the largest concentration of Jewish people outside of Israel? Every day, teams are leading Bible studies, interacting with religious Jewish people, and doing more than can possibly be described in the space available in this letter.
Your generosity helps form future leaders. So, please lend your generous support to the Jewish Evangelism Fund, which provides much-needed resources to a new generation of staff and younger adults who are training for a lifetime of ministry among God's chosen people!
We are budgeting $20,000 per month to help our new staff and to provide for their training. Would you consider contributing to the cost of one month or two? Whatever you can send today will be an investment in the future of Jewish evangelism and Your Mission to the Jewish People.
As many of you know, Dr. Charles Feinberg was a remarkable servant of Yeshua (Jesus), and through his passion for the Scriptures and his love for Messiah, he introduced many to the Savior. Both our training program and our new Messianic Center in Brooklyn carry his name.
For your gift of $100 or more to our Jewish Evangelism Fund, I will send you Dr. Charles L. Feinberg's biography, beautifully written by his granddaughter, Sarah Giddens. The book is entitled, The Story of Dr. Charles Lee Feinberg: A Chosen Servant of the Messiah. You will enjoy this remarkable story of the life of a dedicated follower of Yeshua.
Thanks for caring!
P.S. Thanks again for your prayers and generous support!
CONGREGATIONS WEST... AND EAST!
Scott and Dana Nassau, who minister in Southern California, have recently partnered with a church in West Los Angeles to plant a Messianic congregation to reach the community's significant Jewish population. After preparing for some time with monthly services and other gatherings, the Nassaus are excited to announce that they have begun weekly services right in the heart of West Los Angeles, along the famous Venice Boulevard. If you want to read more about it, go to www.kehilacovenant.com.
Randall and Luda Ford, who minister to the well-established and populous Bukharan Jewish community in Queens, New York, have started a new, English-speaking fellowship. It takes place on Saturday nights for Messianic teenagers and adults who cannot attend their Wednesday morning service. Luda met with two teen-aged girls from the group who talked and prayed about how hard it is to be a witness for Messiah as high school students because of the many unhealthy peer pressures they encounter in school. In addition, the teenagers struggle with how to identify themselves as Messianic believers in the Jewish community. Nonetheless, the Fords rejoice to see several of them growing in their faith - and regular fellowship is an important factor, especially among young people.
JEWISH AND A CHRISTIAN - WHO KNEW?
For the past nine years, Cathy Wilson has organized a special holiday celebration in the Scottsdale, Arizona area where she ministers. This year, she was thrilled when Irma,* an 80-year-old-plus Jewish woman to whom she has witnessed before, responded to the testimony of Rachel,* a Jewish believer. Irma exclaimed, "I didn't know you could be Jewish and a Christian!" Later on that evening, Irma told her friend Susan, a local pastor's mother, who has been a loving witness to Irma for decades, "I believe!" It was truly a Hanukkah/Christmas miracle over which to rejoice.
MINISTRY MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN NEW ZEALAND
The Gospel-oriented social events hosted by Chosen People Ministries staff in New Zealand are a real draw for Israeli backpackers. Our worker Robin B., who leads short-term evangelistic teams to assist in the New Zealand ministry, reports great conversations with a young Israeli traveler named Effie,* and her father who was also there in New Zealand to be with her. As Robin spoke with Effie's father, she shared about her own observant Jewish upbringing and other parallels between their lives. As Robin and Effie's father spoke further, they realized that Robin had also met his son in New Zealand and had shared the Gospel with him as well. Effie's father, who questioned Robin thoughtfully about her belief in Messiah, realized that this was no mere coincidence. Robin writes, "I also got to share with Effie about God’s love. It is clear God is doing something in their lives."
Robin also reports that about twenty-five Israelis attended a Christmas Party where the host clearly shared the Gospel. Amidst the food, the spirited live music and games, discussions about Yeshua (Jesus) sprang up in small groups. One young Israeli lit up when Robin told her in Hebrew that she was a Jewish believer. She said she'd heard of such people, but had never met one. They went on to have a great discussion about prophecy and the Lord’s ability to transform our lives. The Lord is touching hearts in New Zealand!
Shalom. God's hand is at work - all over the world! This glorious truth was brought home to me yet again as I spent a week visiting our partner ministry in Australia, which goes by the delightful name of Celebrate Messiah. Lawrence and Louise Hirsch, dear friends of mine, began this ministry more than two decades ago to serve the Lord among the Jewish people in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and many other cities in this fascinating country with almost 100,000 Jewish people!
Lawrence and Louise are both immigrants to Australia from South Africa. Lawrence is from a very strong Jewish home, and Louise is from a non-Christian Gentile family. They fell in love as teenagers and both became believers soon after high school. After they were married, they immigrated to Australia. After receiving further Bible training back in Johannesburg, Lawrence and Louise initiated the work of Celebrate Messiah - which coined the wonderful phrase, "bringing the message to the original messengers."
Celebrate Messiah is part of Chosen People Global Ministries, which now encompasses sixteen countries containing 96% of the world’s Jewish population. We have established ministries - or been joined by established ministries - in this partnership everywhere from England to South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Germany, France and many more places.
Transformation - One Life at a Time
While in Australia, I had the privilege of getting together with our leaders to pray and strategize about ways to coordinate our efforts to reach Jewish people around the world for the Messiah. One of the most encouraging conversations I had was with a brand-new Jewish believer who was raised in a traditional Jewish home and is now in his early twenties. May I share his testimony with you?
While attending university, he met a "real" Christian for the first time. This first-time encounter with authentic Christian faith is not unusual for many Jewish people growing up in strong Jewish communities; we simply do not get to know born-again believers until we enter the workplace or attend university. This believer began sharing the Gospel with this young Jewish man, and eventually they began studying the Bible together - particularly the Sermon on the Mount. (By the way, this is a great place to introduce Jewish people to the New Testament, as the statements of Jesus in these chapters are so attractive and powerful.)
Eventually, the young man became more interested in Jesus and visited a few local churches. He enjoyed them, but did not feel quite at home. So his non-Jewish Christian friend suggested that he visit Beit Hamashiach (House of the Messiah), the Messianic congregation in Caulfield, which was planted by Celebrate Messiah in the heart of one of the most Jewish communities in Melbourne.
This young man visited the congregation. Though uncomfortable at first about attending a service, he was met in the hallway by a very friendly Jewish believer who encouraged him to sit down and listen to the sermon. He did, and according to this young man's testimony, tears filled his eyes as he heard the message of the Gospel in a Jewish way. As a result, he felt more compelled than ever before to consider whether Jesus is the Messiah - for both Jews and Gentiles.
It was not long afterwards that this young Jewish man received Yeshua (Jesus) as his Messiah. Since then, he has been growing steadily in his faith. But he is not the only one! I met dozens of young people at this retreat who were in one way or another involved in the growing Messianic movement in Australia.
There is also a growing movement of Russian Jewish immigrants to Australia who are coming to faith in Jesus - just as we have seen in Brooklyn, Germany, Israel and many other places. Hundreds of Russian Jewish people in Australia have come to faith in Jesus - and many attend the congregation planted by Celebrate Messiah in the heart of Jewish Melbourne. The Lord is doing great things!
The Rise of Ministry to Israeli Backpackers in New Zealand
I know that you will enjoy the remainder of this newsletter as you learn more about the Jewish people of Australia... but I don't want to leave out New Zealand!
Scott Brown, one of our most effective and respected veteran missionaries, moved his family to New Zealand a few years ago. His goal was to establish a ministry on the Southern Island to work with the thousands of Israelis who backpack through the mountains. Many travel there looking for the meaning of life after spending their required years in the Israeli army.
Scott and his wife, Margie, base their ministry out of a campground, offering Sabbath dinners and free barbecues, engaging in literature distribution, and often going hiking with the Israelis through the gorgeous scenery. With the help of teams we send from the United States to help reach these wandering Israelis for the Messiah, Scott and Margie spend their time sharing the Good News. They distribute Hebrew New Testaments and find other ways to touch the lives of these young Israelis who are eager to talk about the deeper things of life.
We have already recruited a young Israeli couple to be part of the team to serve along with the Browns' many volunteers. In fact, Scott has been providing training in Jewish evangelism to a network of Christians in New Zealand who open their homes to wandering Israeli travelers. The strategy works beautifully, as young Israelis get to see how Jesus-loving believers and authentic Christian families live. This network has doubled over the last few years! We hope to bring this wonderful tool of evangelistic hosting to other countries, and have already trained volunteers in both Scandinavia and Germany.
My heart is filled with the incredible experiences of my recent trip down under. I wish I had more time to share with you what the Lord is doing. I pray that His powerful presence will continue to fill your life and home. May 2014 be a wonderful year of faithfulness and fruitfulness for you as you serve our risen Jewish Savior.
Your brother in the Messiah,
P.S. While in Australia, I gave two sermons at Simcha (the Hebrew word for "Joy"), our Messianic retreat there. This year, we had about 450 people and it was incredibly exciting. If you want to hear these sermons, please go to www.chosenpeople.com/audio, where you can listen to my messages and those of other Chosen People Ministries staff.