Next stop for the Isaiah 53 campaign - Israel!
Shalom in the great name of Jesus the Messiah. In just a few weeks, I will be leaving for Israel to work on the details for our Isaiah 53 Campaign in Israel. This is exciting because I believe that the time is right for this kind of outreach in Israel - especially among younger Israelis.
If I were to describe young Israelis to you, I would say that most of the younger generation is secular. Although current surveys suggest that Israelis are becoming more religious, this is primarily due to the growing birthrate among Orthodox Jews rather than young, secular Israelis returning to Jewish observance.
On the other hand, young Israelis are also becoming more and more spiritually-minded. Many are seeking some type of spirituality - often on the “exotic” side. Hinduism, Buddhism, and other types of Eastern religions are appealing to young, secular Israelis because they do not seem to conflict with their Jewish identity and do not require them to become Orthodox Jews.
Because of the looming threat of war with Iran, the spiritual search of many young Israelis is intensifying. One striking piece of evidence for this is the growing Messianic movement in Israel, which now numbers more than 10,000. Believe me, this represents remarkable growth!
In fact, I remember my first trip to Israel in 1976, when there were fewer than 1,000 Israeli Jewish believers. God has done a wonderful thing - and more Israelis are now hearing the Gospel from fellow Israelis. This is happening in schools, universities, the military, and through many of the wonderful and dynamic Messianic congregations in Israel.
It is time for young Israelis to hear the Gospel in a way they can understand, and we must make the message of Jesus more accessible to them. This is why we are going to bring our Isaiah 53 campaign to Israel within the next twelve months.
Let me give you a few reasons why I believe this campaign will be successful:
- The Isaiah 53 campaign links digital advertising with personal contact, focusing on the web and social networking - and those who order the book Isaiah 53 Explained in Hebrew or Russian will be personally contacted by Israeli believers who are trained for follow-up.
- The Isaiah 53 campaign is distinctively Jewish; no one in Israel would ever think that the prophet Isaiah is anything but Jewish! We are presenting the Jewish Messiah through a Jewish prophet who is well-known to Israelis.
- Although Isaiah 53 is well-known as a Messianic prophecy among Christians, it is a “closed chapter” to most Jewish people. However, through the use of the web, many young Israelis can explore this neglected chapter privately. Who knows how large a response there could be as this little-known, but very powerful, portion of Scripture is revealed?
Reaching Tech-Savvy Young Israelis
Knowing how much young Israelis rely on the web, we are developing a website in Hebrew about Isaiah 53, which Israelis can browse on their computers or mobile devices. Additionally, we have already printed the Isaiah 53 Explained book in Hebrew and Russian, and we are currently working on Hebrew and Russian testimonies for the website.
There are a half-dozen key sites that Israelis use all the time (such as www.ynetnews.com and www.walla.co.il), and this is where we are planning to put our creative advertisements inviting Israelis to visit the Israeli version of our Isaiah 53 website once it is completed.
A Brief History - The Isaiah 53 Campaign in New York City and Los Angeles
In the summer of 2010, Chosen People Ministries launched our Isaiah 53 Evangelistic Campaign in New York City. We used various media outlets to share our Isaiah53.com website where individuals could request our free evangelistic book Isaiah 53 Explained.
By God’s grace, over 4,000 individuals ordered the book during the New York City campaign - 600 of them Jewish seekers! Many Christians also requested the book to help witness to their Jewish friends. Staff members and volunteers personally followed up with the new Jewish contacts in the months following the campaign.
After seeing the success of the New York City campaign, we launched the Isaiah 53 Campaign in Los Angeles, which is home to over three quarters of a million Jewish people, in the spring of 2012. During that campaign, there were almost 20,000 new visitors to the Isaiah53.com website from the Los Angeles area and an additional 12,000 from outside of Los Angeles, which showed that the advertising was working! Over 11,000 people also watched the new 30-minute documentary The Mysterious Prophecy of Isaiah 53, produced by our friends at Day of Discovery, part of RBC Ministries. As was the case in New York City, our Los Angeles area missionaries continue to interact personally with the new Jewish contacts.
The Isaiah 53 Campaign in Israel
So, Lord willing, the next stop for the Isaiah 53 Evangelistic Campaign will be in Israel during the spring of 2014. There are over six million Jewish people living in Israel, and although Hebrew is the common language, there are also 1.5 million Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants. To accommodate them all, we have translated and printed Isaiah 53 Explained in both Hebrew and Russian. We are already working with our team in Israel on the campaign, preparing the advertising, filming the testimonies, organizing the follow up systems, and training those who will personally engage the Israelis who respond.
I am confident that the Lord is leading us to do this, and we just received a large gift enabling us to produce the more than one dozen personal video testimonies in Hebrew and Russian that will be featured on the website in Israel.
We hope to launch this campaign in time for Passover 2014!
We need your prayers and financial support. We have established a budget of $200,000 for advertising. This includes the creation of the ads as well as their placement on the websites that Israelis are constantly surfing.We will also be looking into billboards and television ads, but these are more difficult to secure, as Israelis are generally opposed to evangelism! This is why your prayers are so essential right now as we work on securing the publicity for the campaign.
Your gift today will enable us to purchase the advertising and prepare the ads, which are so critical for reaching Israelis for Messiah through the powerful Messianic prophecy in Isaiah chapter 53. We have lots to do and need your support today in order to budget well and maximize our efforts for the Isaiah 53 Campaign in Israel. We know the Lord will provide and guide us through your generosity! There is no chapter in the Bible that presents the person and work of our beloved Jesus the Messiah more exquisitely than Isaiah 53.
Please help me share this message of hope with my Jewish people in Israel! Thanks so much for your love and concern for the Jewish people.
Your brother in the Messiah,
P.S. For your gift of $253 or more (which allows us to send 50 evangelistic books on Isaiah 53 to Israelis), I will send you a copy of The Gospel According to Isaiah 53. This book will equip you to present the redemptive work of the Messiah to your Jewish friends and relatives.
* The amount of the contribution that is deductible for federal income tax purposes is limited to the excess of money contributed by the donor over the value of goods or services provided by the organization.
PREMARITAL COUNSELING LEADS TO NEW LIFE FOR ENGAGED COUPLE
Two young people who had decided to get married were urged by relatives to receive premarital counseling from Vladimir Pikman, the Director of our work in Germany. They were both seeking spiritual guidance, but Vladimir soon discerned that their level of biblical knowledge was quite low—so he patiently unfolded the truths of Scripture to them, starting from the basics. After their first meeting, they both decided to receive the Lord.
MESSIANIC WORSHIP DRAWS JEWISH MAN TO RECEIVE MESSIAH
Boris Goldin, who serves in South Florida and who comes from the Former Soviet Union, was invited to teach at a seminar in Moscow, where the leaders of more than twenty-five Messianic congregations throughout Russia gathered for fellowship, teaching, and worship. As the group was singing Messianic songs, a Jewish man was passing by. Attracted by the singing, he stopped to ask who they were, and Boris explained about Jewish people who believe in Yeshua (Jesus). Boris writes, "He was so eager to know more. After we talked further, I invited him to pray and receive the Lord - and he did! One of the leaders of the local Messianic congregation will follow up with him."
FAITH BLOOMS FROM SEED PLANTED IN CAMPGROUND
Anna Bortsov, who serves with the Mission in Toronto, is rejoicing about a Jewish faith decision for Messiah. The seed had been planted on a camping trip some months ago, when she and her husband, Vladimir, met and talked with Mike*, a father of five who had lost his job. Recently, Mike found a job in Halifax - and before moving there, he called the Bortsovs to say, "Our meeting and your prayers were not in vain. I repented and got baptized, and now I am going to Halifax as a new man." Anna writes, "I cried with joy! The Holy Spirit continued His work... Praise the Lord!"
NEEDY ISRAELI WOMAN FINDS FOOD FOR BODY AND SOUL
Brian S., who ministers in Israel, reports that a Jewish woman who was seeking practical aid has also received the Lord. He writes, "She came to our Netanya Food Bank Outreach Center with another sister, desperate and hopeless because her husband had been put in jail for crimes she says he never committed. This young mother has a baby and a small child. The Lord turned her mourning into joy (Psalm 30:11) as she ended up crying out to God and praying with me in repentance for her salvation. Now she has eternal hope and a whole new family."
JEWISH HUSBAND AND WIFE UNITED IN FAITH DECISION AFTER 8 YEARS
Larry Feldman, who ministers in Southern California, is one of our longest-serving congregational leaders. He has seen many faith decisions in Jewish marriages throughout his ministry. Sometimes married couples come to faith together—and sometimes over a period of years. Not long ago, after a service, a non-believing Jewish businesswoman who had been attending with her believing husband for about eight years, approached Larry to tell him she had finally received the Lord. Larry writes, "I rejoiced with her and her husband, as we had spent a lot of time with them sharing our faith."
SPECIAL OUTREACH SERVICE REAPS HARVEST IN MOSCOW
Several weeks ago, Kirill P., our staff worker in Moscow, planned a special outreach service that was attended by forty-seven Jewish guests. After the sermon, Kirill reports, "I urged everyone to pray the prayer to dedicate their lives to Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. Most who had come for the first time prayed this prayer." At the end of the service, Kirill made sure that Bibles were distributed. Please pray for effective follow-up.
"I SEE. IT'S TALKING ABOUT JESUS."
Joseph R., one of our newer missionaries, found wonderful opportunities to share the Gospel with Jewish fellow-travelers on flights to and from Israel. One was with Moshe*, a young Orthodox man from Brooklyn who has studied in a yeshiva (a center for higher Jewish learning) in Jerusalem. He was quite open as Joseph shared his testimony and listened intently as Joseph shared from the Scriptures about the Messiah. Joseph writes, "Moshe read Isaiah 53 from my cell phone as I waited quietly and prayed for the Lord to give him revelation. Without any prompting, Moshe finished reading and said, 'I see. It's talking about Jesus.'"
ORTHODOX JEWISH MAN RECEIVES MESSIAH IN MIAMI
Staff member Manuel Goffman, who leads a congregation in Miami, had the joy of leading an Orthodox Jewish man to faith. Elisha* had been attending services for some time with his Hispanic wife and children. Over the course of months, Manuel could see Elisha moving slowly yet steadily closer to a faith decision. He finally received Messiah, and wanted to make his decision public. During a service, he addressed the congregation, saying that they are now his family, that he felt the love of the Lord through all the brothers and sisters, and that he loved them, too. He closed his testimony with the words, "I also have Messiah in my heart."
SPIRIT-LED PREACHING HELPS JEWISH WOMAN COME TO FAITH IN NEW YORK CITY
Mark Surey, who serves with the Feinberg Center in New York City, has been encouraging believers to invite their Jewish friends to worship services. One new believer named Debbie took his exhortation to heart—she appeared with three Jewish friends at a church where Mark was preaching and introduced them just before the start of the service. One of them, a native New Yorker called Ruth,* seemed to have a truly seeking spirit. As Mark preached, it seemed as though the Holy Spirit enabled him to preach straight to her heart and mind. Ruth was deeply moved, and after the service, a church elder, who is also a Jewish believer, counseled her for two full hours—after which she prayed to receive Messiah!
SHARING JESUS – IN A JEWISH WAY
One of Chosen People Ministries' most experienced and gifted field workers was blessed that his second book, Sharing Jesus in a Jewish Way, was eagerly received by over 400 students, including Christian student leaders, at the five-day Urbana student missions conference. There must be something to it, because three days before our worker left for Urbana, a young Orthodox Jewish man with whom he had been sharing the Gospel for two years finally received the Lord! If you would like to obtain a copy of the book, it is now available through the online store on our website www.chosenpeople.com/store.
NEW LIFE AT THE DEAD SEA
Our dedicated Israel staff member Maxim led a trip to the Dead Sea with a group of over 50 Holocaust survivors. They enjoyed ample time for rest and fellowship, and under Maxim's direction, there was a gentle sharing of the Gospel and prayer. However, the day the group was to return home to Sderot, which is near the border with Gaza, the town was under attack from rocket fire. Maxim called the Israeli Home Front Command, and they advised him to delay the group's return to Sderot. With God's help, they were able to stay for another three nights in the hotel by the Dead Sea - and during that time, an 88-year-old woman opened her heart to Messiah.
SANDY'S RIPPLES REACH EVEN TO ISRAEL
Staff member Justin Kron, who was leading a trip to Israel at the time Hurricane Sandy hit, had the opportunity to meet Deborah* while on a boat off the shores of Eilat in Southern Israel. Deborah had chosen to extend her stay in Israel because her high-rise building in lower Manhattan was without power. Justin writes, "She was alone, and was clearly interested in chatting to pass the time during our four-hour excursion. One topic led to another, and eventually spiritual issues came up. Deborah was very interested in knowing why I thought that Jesus is the Messiah. Before we parted, she asked for more information."
MESSIANIC JEWISH ISRAEL CONFERENCE IN GERMANY BLESSES HUNDREDS
Vladimir Pikman, our Germany Director, reports that the first Messianic Jewish Israel Conference that he and his co-workers organized was a huge blessing. He writes, "It was the first conference that united all the Messianic leaders of Germany in our outreach to German society. We experienced unprecedented unity in the Spirit. Hundreds of participants who joined us for this event were deeply impressed by the love of Yeshua (Jesus) visible there. The conference has not only strengthened the Messianic movement and Jewish outreach, but also was a great testimony of the Messiah."
Vladimir also reports that a Jewish man - a friend of a woman whom Vladimir had led to the Lord only weeks earlier - visited the Messianic congregation. He approached Vladimir after the service and said, "Svetlana,* my colleague, told me about Yeshua. She is so excited about Him. I need Him, too!" He then prayed with Vladimir to receive the Lord.
PLEASE PRAY FOR PORTLAND OUTREACH WORKERS
Chosen People Ministries' volunteer outreach workers in the Portland, Oregon region have been experiencing difficulties bearing witness to the Gospel of Messiah. Security staff has been escorting them out of large events in public parks, even though there is a federal court injunction confirming the right of Chosen People Ministries and other religious speakers to attend such events and distribute literature. Please pray that First Amendment rights would be upheld in Portland and elsewhere, without the need for further litigation.
YOUNG LEADERS GET MUCHAN (READY)
Paris was site of the second Muchan (Hebrew: Ready) Conference for Messianic Young Adults from around the world. Over 160 young adults came from 16 countries to learn together, to praise the Lord and to take daring steps for Him. The speakers from Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Israel and the United States shared stories, Bible teaching and exhorted one another to step out in boldness for the Lord. We pray that the young adult leaders in their communities who came will become even more motivated to share the Gospel. Rachel, one of Chosen People Ministries' gifted young leaders, reflected afterward, "We ate some great croissants and baguettes but most of all, the sweet sound of young people praising the Lord in English, French, Russian and Hebrew will be a lasting memory."
* name changed