Shalom and Happy Holidays!
I do hope you have a joy-filled holiday celebration this season!
We are reaching Jewish people for the Babe from Bethlehem in seventeen countries around the globe. We are thrilled to see Jewish people opening their hearts to the Messiah!
The Chosen People Ministries family remains very grateful for your continuing prayers and generous support.
May the One who fulfills the Messianic promises of the Hebrew Scriptures be with you and your family this coming year!
Your brother in Yeshua our King,
President, Chosen People Ministries
Repentance and New Life in Messiah
Vladimir Pikman, the director of Chosen People Ministries' work in Germany, tells a moving story about a Jewish businessman who engaged him in conversation at a wedding celebration they were both attending. "I have everything," the man said. "Other people envy me, but nobody knows how miserable my life is. I am such a sinner."
After patiently listening to the man's sorrowful story, Vladimir told him the Good News of the Lord's forgiveness. When Vladimir asked him if he was willing to start a new life with the Messiah, he gave a confident "yes" and prayed to receive the Lord! Please pray for him, as he grows toward maturity.
Surprise Invitation Leads to Jewish Faith Decision in Israel
While visiting a Messianic congregation led by a friend of his, Eugene Lempert, who serves with Chosen People Ministries in Israel, was suddenly invited to give the message, without any warning beforehand. Praying for God's help, he accepted the challenge and spoke on God's timing in the life of believers - and particularly for his fellow Israelis. The question and answer session that followed became quite lively!
Later that evening, at dinner with the friend and his family, Eugene learned that one participant had brought an unbelieving relative to the service - and that he had prayed to receive the Lord after the message!
Searching Woman Finds Faith Through Messianic Ministry
Not long ago, congregational leader Michael Herts was introduced to Karen.* Karen was searching for God, and shared with one of her friends that she planned to visit a local synagogue. The friend, who is a believer in Jesus, suggested that Karen visit the Messianic congregation Michael leads in Virginia. After the service, she told Michael how powerfully his message had impacted her.
The next week, Karen came by herself, and before long, she prayed with Michael and his wife, Debbi, to receive the Lord. Please pray as Michael and Debbi follow up and help Karen grow in her new-found faith.
First Spanish-Speaking Jewish Evangelism Conference in Miami
David Sedaca, Special Assistant to Mission President Mitch Glaser, coordinated the first conference in Spanish on "Evangelizing the Jewish People in the Last Days." Held November 1-3 in Miami, this event was the fruit of dozens of church meetings and special events raising awareness among Christians for the need to reach Spanish-speaking Jewish people with the Gospel. David also made appearances on several radio stations and television networks in South Florida, speaking on the need to bring the Gospel to "the lost sheep of the House of Israel."
Chosen People Ministries received the sad news that Irina N. (last name withheld for safety issues), the wife of staff member, Henry, and mother of teenagers Adi and Magda, passed away on November 10th in Israel after battling cancer.
Irina has been used of God in powerful ways to touch many hundreds of lives as she served at her husband's side in Ariel as part of the congregation he leads, ministering to many women and children. She was a greatly gifted musician and used her skills by leading others in worship and training many children - including her own - to play the piano. Chosen People Ministries' President Dr. Mitch Glaser writes, "I will remember Irina as a sweet, gentle soul who loved the Lord and her family and served her Messiah with remarkable dedication and faithfulness."
Hanukkah on Thanksgiving!
Dear friend of the Jewish people,
Shalom from New York City! The chill in the air lets me know that the holiday season is around the corner. But this year we have a most unusual occurrence!
For the first time in history, we began the Jewish festival of Hanukkah on the same day as the American celebration of Thanksgiving. And the calendar mathematicians suggest that this will not happen again for another 79,811 years! So, allow me to take this unique opportunity to make a few small comparisons between these two great holidays.
The great Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Jewish Maccabean leaders over the Syrian Greeks. You may already know that their ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes - known in Jewish history as Antiochus the Madman - terrorized the Jewish people during the years 168-165 BC. He wanted the Jewish people to speak the Greek language, worship the Greek gods and give up their Jewish identity.
As you would imagine, the Jewish people did not accept this. The emissaries of Antiochus came to the town of Modi'in, which today is between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and demanded that the residents bow down to an idol in the center of the town. According to our tradition, the Maccabees - a family of Levitical priests - refused and instead killed the emissaries. Soon thereafter, they began waging guerrilla warfare against the Syrian Greeks for a three-year period.
Eventually, the Jewish rebels were victorious. But tradition tells us that when the Maccabees sought to cleanse the Temple, they discovered that there was only enough consecrated oil to sustain the eternal light in the Temple for one day. It would take at least eight days to crush more olives and cure more olive oil so the light could continue to burn. According to tradition, the oil that should have only lasted one night kept burning for eight nights.
Today, Jewish people light the Hanukkah menorah every night of the eight-day holiday, and the children receive little gifts. We also eat foods fried in oil, such as potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts, to commemorate how God preserved the Jewish people, conquered our enemies and allowed us to reach a new season of life.
There's a lot more I could say about Hanukkah, which is one of my favorite holidays and also has incredible theological importance.
You see, without Hanukkah - there would be no Christmas. If the Jewish people had forfeited their Jewish identity, then how could a Jewish virgin in the first century give birth to a Jewish child who would be raised as a Jew to fulfill God's will for His life to be the atonement for our sins? I view the story of Hanukkah as another demonstration of God's unfolding plan of redemption, whereby He preserves the Jewish people so that His promises could be fulfilled.
I am very thankful for Hanukkah - I am grateful that my people survived and that Jesus the Jewish Messiah was born!
It will teach you the story of Hanukkah, provide some delicious Hanukkah recipes, and reveal the significance of the holiday for believers in Messiah.
The Wedding of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving
I have celebrated Thanksgiving with gusto my entire life. It is not bad for a non-Jewish holiday... all we need is some chopped liver to go with the turkey! The Pilgrims believed they were the chosen people, identified with Old Testament Israel, believed they had come to the "promised land," and the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the fall because the Pilgrims believed they should honor the Feast of Tabernacles!
This year, both of these great holidays - Hanukkah and Thanksgiving - converged. As both an American and a Jew, I am filled with joy to live in a country where I can practice my faith as a Jewish follower of Jesus the Messiah. I travel quite a bit around the world and believe me - there is no place like home! I praise God that my grandparents made the sacrifice to come to America, and that I had the privilege of growing up in this great country where I was able to hear the Gospel freely and come to faith in Messiah.
Gratitude and Giving
I wish you could be sitting across the table from me, sipping a cup of tea or coffee and eating a piece of my wife's incredible banana bread (recipe is available upon request)! I would tell you about all the wonderful things that God is doing through Chosen People Ministries' staff around the globe - from Brooklyn, New York, to Israel, Los Angeles, Chicago, Australia and so many other places where there are large numbers of Jewish people.
I would tell you more about the hearts that have been transformed through the Isaiah 53 Campaign. I would tell you about the more than a dozen Jewish seekers who wandered into our The People, the Land and the Future of Israel conference (see videos.chosenpeople.com for the conference media!) in October at the historic Calvary Baptist Church in the middle of Manhattan, and heard the message of the Gospel. And how can I not mention our Charles L. Feinberg Messianic Jewish Center in the heart of Orthodox Brooklyn - now proclaiming the good news of Jesus right in the center of one of the most important religious Jewish communities on earth?
Dear friend, I could go on for pages telling you about how great our God is and how powerfully He is working through Your Mission to the Jewish People around the world.
We could never do this work without you. I am so grateful for your partnership, and I believe that God has called us to walk together in this great and even prophetic work to reach Jewish people with the good news before Jesus returns.
Wrapping up the Year for Jesus
We are now entering the season of the year when American evangelicals tend to give quite a bit of their annual donations to ministries like ours. My hope and prayer is that you will give generously, out of gratitude for all that the Lord has done in your life. I pray that this would be your heartfelt motivation to give a portion of what He has provided to the work of reaching Jewish people for Jesus Christ.
I still remember the letter I received from an elderly supporter of Chosen People Ministries, who wrote and said, "Brother Mitch, I would like to give, but I don’t know how much you need. Would you please be clearer in your letters?" So, my friend, let me follow this brother's advice and be specific, so that you could pray about what the Lord might lead you to give - out of gratitude for Jesus the Messiah and the role that the Jewish people have played and will yet play in the plan of God.
Isaiah 53 Campaign
We are finishing up the Isaiah 53 Campaign in Brooklyn and will begin our Israel Campaign next month. Our budget is $250,000 for this effort, and I hope that you will help. The first $40,000 that is given will be matched by a generous grant from a foundation - so please pray about supporting the Isaiah 53 Campaign.
Help Us Bring the Gospel to the Jewish People
We continue to do the everyday work of evangelism, special projects, administration and supporting God's work in Israel, Russia and other hard-to-reach places. In many of these areas, the staff cannot possibly raise support for themselves or their projects. It is your help that keeps the ministry thriving in these regions, where there are eight million or more Jewish people!
I hope that you find the details above helpful in considering how the Lord might guide you to give as we near the end of 2013. Please use this as a prayer guide as well.
May the Messiah continue to bless, empower, and fill you with His joy as we enter the new year! Wouldn't it be wonderful if Jesus returned in 2014? So please help us reach out to the Jewish people as He enables us.
Thank you for your faithfulness and generosity.
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DEDICATION CEREMONY AND NEW CONGREGATION IN BROOKLYN
On September 22, about 100 guests and staff attended the dedication of the Charles L. Feinberg Messianic Jewish Center in Brooklyn. Dr. John Feinberg, the son of Dr. Charles Feinberg, gave a brief but moving address about his father, who was a renowned Messianic believer and scholar, as well as the first Dean of the Talbot School of Theology. In other Brooklyn news, this month will be the official start of our English-speaking Messianic congregation in Brooklyn. Please pray that this community will grow together and provide a witness in one of the most important and populous Jewish communities in the world.
SHALOM BROOKLYN FINAL TALLY
During Shalom Brooklyn this past August, over 100 participants from across the globe joined Chosen People Ministries' staff in bringing the Gospel to the Jewish people of New York City. The team shared thousands of Gospel tracts, testimonies, and evangelistic books like Isaiah 53 Explained. Thanks to the Lord's presence and power, we made 368 contacts to be followed up with - and fifty Jewish and ten non-Jewish people prayed to receive Messiah!
SEEDS OF GOSPEL BEAR FRUIT FOR JEWISH WOMAN IN ILLINOIS
Igor and Vita Swiderski, who minister in the Chicago area, had a chance to visit with an older Jewish woman with whom they have enjoyed a warm friendship for a long time. Over the years, they have had many opportunities to share the Good News with her. Although the woman had listened politely, there was no visible result. This latest visit was different, however, as the woman told the Swiderskis in no uncertain terms, "I want to invite Yeshua (Jesus) into my heart." Igor writes, "We prayed with her to do exactly that!"
THE POWER OF ISAIAH 53
Penny Abrahamson, who ministers with her husband, Allen, in Portland, Oregon, led a Jewish woman to faith on the Brighton Beach boardwalk during Shalom Brooklyn. Penny approached the woman and began a conversation about Jesus' identity. She read her Isaiah 53, then asked the woman who she thought it was describing. The woman exclaimed, "It sounds like Jesus. This was prophecy!" She then prayed with Penny to put her trust in Messiah. She gave Penny her mailing address, so Penny could send her a Bible—and later called Penny, wanting to continue the spiritual conversation.
SPOTLIGHT ON NEW MESSIANIC CONGREGATIONS
Scott and Dana Nassau are now seeing the fruit of their patient labors in Messiah, with worship services starting in West Los Angeles. For two months, the Nassaus hosted small gatherings in their home. Encouraged by the turnout, they sought a new location, where they could grow and reach more people. They recently held their first worship service in the new space, located in the heart of Culver City, an area of West Los Angeles that serves as a center for both the film and television industries.
Rich Freeman, Chosen People Ministries' Vice-President of Church Ministries and Conferences, reports that we are preparing to launch our second South Florida Messianic congregation, Light of Israel Fellowship, in West Palm Beach. Rich writes, "Our vision for the congregation is to reach the very substantial Jewish community of Palm Beach County, primarily through small group home Bible studies that will be started from the congregation. We have now begun a regular weekly schedule of activities."
A NOTE OF THANKS
We are grateful for the service of David Schiller for his time on the Chosen People Ministries Board of Directors. All of our Board Members rotate off for a year after two consecutive four-year terms, but we would not want this event to take place before we gave a very public thank you to David for his dedicated and effective service for the past eight years.