Donuts, Coffee and Salvation
Missionary Greg Savitt, who makes his home in Florida, was put in touch with a Jewish man whose wife is a believer. For the past year, Greg has met faithfully with him every few weeks at their favorite place for coffee and donuts. The man was open, curious and sincerely seeking the truth. As Greg writes, “He devoured each evangelistic book I gave him.” Then Greg got a birthday present he was not expecting: “On my birthday, my dear Jewish friend finally prayed with me to receive the Lord.”
Jewish Woman Finds New Birth Through Terminal Illness
Veteran staff member Carole Bahm, who also serves in Florida, met a seventy-one-year-old Jewish woman who has suffered with cerebral palsy since birth. Recently, she was told she has stage four colon cancer and has been given six months to two years to live. She and her late husband had no interest in spiritual matters, but now that she has been confronted with her mortality, she wanted to know what happens after death - as well as the truth about Jesus. Carole spent many hours with her, sharing from the Hebrew Scriptures and how they were fulfilled in the New Testament. Finally one night, this woman received the Lord. Carole asks, “Please keep her in your prayers, as she has a lot to go through.”
Not Too Old to be Born Again
Cathy Wilson, who ministers faithfully to many Jewish seniors in the Scottsdale, Arizona vicinity, often forms warm, personal ties with them. A 91-year-old Jewish friend, Lina* has come to faith in Jesus the Messiah! Cathy noticed that she was nodding in agreement during the Tuesday Bible study Cathy leads at the retirement center. Following the study, Cathy approached her. Lina said that she had learned a great deal from Cathy’s teaching and then expressed frustration at not having known about Jesus previously. Lina then said that she believed that she was a sinner and that Jesus had died for her sins. In the middle of a crowded room, she and Cathy prayed together for her to receive the Lord.
Passover Seders in Russia Bring Jewish Faith Decisions
Reports of new faith decisions from our busy Passover season are still reaching us. Kirill Polonskiy, who is helping to pioneer our revived work in Russia, reports, “We telephoned the Jewish people in our area to invite them to our Messianic Seder, and fifty-two new Jewish guests attended. We gave everyone a copy of the Hebrew Bible as well as the book Isaiah 53 Explained. During the meeting, I asked the people to pray with me to dedicate their lives to the Lord, and many of the new people did so! Also, Mira, our missionary in Moscow, held a Passover Seder in her local Messianic congregation. Twenty-four new Jewish visitors came to this event, of which eight prayed to receive the Lord!”
“Isracamps” Growing in Faith and Service
Summer camps can be a great place to make a faith decision - and it is no different in Israel. Chosen People Ministries’ first Messianic camp was conducted eight years ago for our community in Tel Aviv. At the time, there were ten children and two assistants. Since then, our worker, Maxim K., has organized and held more than forty camps. Today, more than sixty children from different communities in Israel and more than twenty assistants participate in our “Isracamps.” All the helpers are teens who have reached seventeen years of age and, most significantly, were once young campers with us. Our next “Isracamp” will be in Poland in July. More than thirty children from Israel and a group of Jewish children from Russia and Germany will be our guests.
Chosen People Ministries Now Partnering with Southern Baptists in Argentina
Partnership in ministry with like-minded churches has always been a cornerstone of Chosen People Ministries’ evangelistic efforts. That is why we are especially happy to announce a partnership with the Argentine Baptist Mission. One of our ministries together is the Sababa Center (Hebrew for “No Problem!”), a ministry to young Israeli tourists who have recently arrived in Buenos Aires. Our contact in Argentina will be Rick Kunz, who leads a Messianic congregation there. Please pray that the Lord will make this newly-formed partnership fruitful for the Kingdom.
Shalom! The Brooklyn Messianic Center is coming closer to completion, and we are already planning for our new ministries this fall. I want to tell you about what we hope to do - but first I wanted to share with you something more personal.
As you know, our new Messianic Center is in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn, surrounded by synagogues, Yeshivas (Jewish parochial schools), kosher restaurants, Jewish bookstores and other familiar landmarks of well-established Jewish neighborhoods! It reminds me of the neighborhood where I grew up, in the borough of Queens, New York. I had many friends at that time who were ultra-Orthodox Jews and did not go to public school, instead attended the nearby Yeshivas. We played sports together, met on the streets and went to the same Jewish summer camps!
I learned very early that just because someone is raised religious and wears the clothing of a religious Jew, it does not mean that they are not searching and open to new ideas - even to Jesus Himself!
I cannot tell you exactly how we hope to reach this intensely religious group, which is so fully shaped by tradition, but I know the Lord will lead us to ways to show our Jewish people His love and the truth of the Gospel. One thing I can say with assurance is that we cannot do this without your prayers!
New Ministries for a New Center
We will begin some of our new ministries in just a few weeks, as almost a hundred volunteers and staff participate in "Shalom Brooklyn." We will be handing out tracts and conducting book tables, baseball clinics, health fairs and benevolence programs designed to help the poorest among us. Recent figures show that 38% of the Jewish population in Brooklyn live under the poverty line. We hope to help these folks in the most practical ways, showing the love of Yeshua through what we do and not just through what we say.
We will also begin an intensive local "Isaiah 53 Campaign" in Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn. This will start during the summer and continue through the end of September. We will proclaim our message on billboards, bus signs, posters in bus shelters, subway stations and other highly visible sites. We will especially be using ads on websites, such as Facebook and Google, to introduce the message of redemption in Isaiah 53 to our Jewish people!
We have decided to dedicate the Center during the Feast of Tabernacles (from sunset on September 18 to nightfall on September 25). This is the festival during which King Solomon dedicated the Temple! We have scheduled special services to celebrate this great festival as well. During our Dedication Week for the new Center, we will continue the Isaiah 53 Campaign and other types of outreach efforts - such as Jewish film festivals and an art show focusing on Isaiah 53 - to help draw the local community to the Center. We have also planned a number of concerts and worship services.
Providing a Messianic Center in the heart of Brooklyn puts us in the center of Jewish activity
A New Messianic Jewish Congregation
We also plan to begin a new Messianic congregation at the Center in early October, immediately after the Dedication events wrap up. This will be a unique effort, as there is not yet a congregation of this type in Brooklyn, which is home to 750,000-plus Jewish people. Although we have begun two Russian-language Messianic congregations, an English-speaking congregation in Brooklyn for Jewish believers in Jesus is really needed!
There are few churches in Brooklyn that are culturally comfortable for Jewish people. In fact, I often take friends on tours of the area where the Center is located and ask them to count the evangelical churches within a few miles of the Feinberg Center. Of course - the count is almost zero! Our area is filled with synagogues as well as mosques, as our Center is near a large Pakistani Muslim community. So you can see that planting churches in Brooklyn - especially for Jewish believers in Jesus - is a dire need.
We must win people to Jesus and plant new churches and congregations so that those who come to Messiah will have a place to worship and grow in their faith.
Rich F. - From Boston to Brooklyn!
May I introduce you to my friend Rich F., who is going to plant this congregation? Rich is a Jewish believer who was raised in a Jewish home in Boston. He came to faith as a young man, and God called him to the ministry. Perhaps it would be best to allow Rich to speak for himself!
I was born into a loving reform Jewish home in Newton, Massachusetts. Growing up in the turbulent 1960s, I struggled with the corruption and conflict I witnessed all around. This prompted many questions, but few answers.
I eventually came across the prophecy of Isaiah 53. I was stunned. What was Jesus doing in my Bible? The rabbis had told me that He did not bring peace so He could not be the Messiah. But now I was confronted with a suffering servant who perfectly depicted the ministry of Jesus. I became convinced Jesus was Israel's Messiah.
God called me to full-time ministry. After graduating from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with a M.Div. and a Th.M. in Practical Theology, I served as the pastor of an Evangelical Free church in northeast Connecticut for almost five years, then an additional 22 years at a second church in southwest Connecticut, near the tragic site of the Newtown murders. I even buried one of the young victims of this attack. It has been one of the most difficult moments of my ministry - but, I know the Lord will use this for His purposes!
I have come to believe the most strategic investment for the next phase of my ministry is to help train up Messianic workers (pastors, church planters, missionaries, etc.) in order to reach and influence the new generations of Jewish people.
The opportunity to serve at the Feinberg Center fits perfectly into this God-inspired desire. I am genuinely excited about all that God is going to do through the new congregation we are planning to begin and through my ministry in the lives and ministries of the Feinberg students.
Back to Brooklyn - Partners in the Messiah
We have established a budget of $300,000 for our "Back to Brooklyn Campaign" this fall, celebrating the opening of the Center and the new efforts we will establish within the Center to reach our Jewish people for the Lord.
This includes $150,000 to cover the media costs of the local Isaiah 53 Campaign. Additionally, we are asking the Lord to provide $125,000 to help with the expenses of planting the congregation: for salaries, advertising, music ministry, expenses for using the space, etc. We will also need some additional funds to provide our missionaries with Isaiah 53 Explained books, Gospel tracts and other tools needed to continue our ministry in Brooklyn.
Thanks for your partnership!
P.S. I hope you will consider joining us at our Dedication Banquet on Friday evening, September 20. Please consider sponsoring a table with some friends from your church or Bible study. We will also offer tours of the Center on Saturday, September 21.
You can get the details on the banquet by visiting www.chosenpeople.com/DedicationBanquet.
OUT OF THE STORM
Robert Pristoop, who serves on staff in New York City, is participating in a new Chosen People Ministries outreach in Staten Island, New York. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, our staff ministered to many Jewish victims of the "superstorm" through relief efforts - and we have followed up by building relationships with them. Robert reports, "We will bring these new friends, many of whom are Jewish people from the former Soviet Union, together once a month on a Saturday evening for a service. Some of them have no concept of Jewish lifestyle. It will be an exciting time of teaching these Jewish people their Jewish roots!"
BLESSING THOSE WHO BLESS ISRAEL
Michael Z., our Israel Director, was pleased to find out about a most encouraging development that came as a result of a speaking engagement at a large conference held in a predominantly Muslim country in the former Soviet Union. The topic of Israel generated controversy, but Michael challenged those in attendance to start praying about Israel and blessing her instead of cursing. Now Michael has heard that after the conference one man helped start a prayer group in support of Israel that has now grown to 200 churches and almost 1,500 individuals! Michael writes, "They invited me to speak at a conference at a 10,000-member church! How faithful is our Lord!"
ONE PLANTS AND ANOTHER HARVESTS
Steve Fenchel, who leads Chosen People Ministries' Messianic congregation in New York City, is rejoicing that Samuel,* one of the Jewish seekers who has attended services for about a year, has made a decision to receive Messiah. Although Samuel had been meeting with Steve, hearing his sermons, and attending his Bible studies, it was another man whom Steve had discipled who led Samuel to the Lord while the Fenchels were away speaking in other churches. Steve, however, is doubly delighted - he observes, "This brings out the wonderful truth that Jesus taught in John 4:37, 'One plants and another harvests.' And it's true!"
CHALLAH PLUS PRAYER BRINGS SALVATION
Staff member Jon Lieberman, who is based in Indianapolis, received a call from Barb,* another Jewish believer, whom he's known for over thirty years. Her mom was quite ill, and although Barb had tried for years to share the Gospel, her mother was opposed. Jon asked his wife, Tammy, to bake a special challah bread for Barb's mom - a great favorite among Jewish people. Barb's mom ate half of it with great enjoyment, and later that day, Jon and Barb prayed on the phone for her. What Jon didn't know was that the speaker phone was on, and Barb's mom had heard Jon's entire prayer. A few hours later, Barb's mother said, "I guess it's about time that I stop resisting and receive Jesus as my Messiah." Barb then led her mom in a sinner's prayer.
ISAIAH 53 EXPLAINED HELPS BRING JEWISH MAN TO FAITH
Following staff member Alan Shore's "Messiah in the Passover" teaching in Washington State, a Jewish man approached him with the words, "I felt as though every word you said was meant for me." After more conversation, Alan gave him his last copy of Isaiah 53 Explained and expressed the hope that it would make the Gospel even clearer in a Jewish way. Weeks later, the man showed up at Alan's door-step with the book in hand. He said, "I haven't been able to stop reading this - and you've shown me how a Jewish person can be a believer. I'm ready." With that, Alan led the man in a prayer of salvation and has continued to be in touch with him.
Love Changes Lives in Israel
Shalom! As you are reading this letter, I am in Israel preparing for the Isaiah 53 Campaign, meeting with our staff, and sharing the Gospel with Israelis.
Once again, I am so impressed with the faithfulness and dedication of our staff members in Israel! They are a wonderful team of God's servants, doing His work with passion, joy, and a deep conviction of their calling to reach Israelis for the Messiah. So, please pray for our staff - for their health, safety, children (more than 25 little ones!) and for God's blessings on their ministries.
Let me bring you up to date on some of our work in Israel - especially our ministries in reaching the poor.
Ministry to the Needy
Recently, one of the elderly Russian Jewish people who comes to our soup kitchen and dry food distribution center expressed her gratitude in the most amazing way with great spiritual meaning. She said, "Each time I come to your facility, it is like a fresh water experience - like going under the waters of the Jordan River and coming up refreshed."
Another recipient (who is also a Holocaust survivor), commented, "The physical food and bread that you provide in the soup kitchen are important, however, the way you present it, with your personal touch and music, is like fresh bread for our souls."
These are the types of responses that encourage our hearts and motivate us to serve the poor and elderly in Israel. As you know, by Israeli law, we cannot link the preaching of the Gospel to the distribution of food and other types of aid... but when you extend love in tangible ways to a needy person, they naturally ask the question, "Why do you care?"
And then we are free to tell them about the One who loves them with an everlasting love.
We continue to serve the poor, elderly and immigrants to Israel through ministry centers in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Sderot (a little town bordering Gaza), Netanya, Ashdod and in various other Israeli cities. We also befriend many of these Russian Jewish people and lonely Holocaust survivors by bringing them on trips, such as to Poland - where many have not been since the days of the Holocaust. Polish Christians meet with these dear folks, showing them God’s love and grace, and even asking for forgiveness. This is a powerful witness to people who never would have traveled if our staff had not been demonstrating love for them day in and day out.
Our staff in the Holy Land is doing all they can to let needy Israelis know that the God of Israel loves them and sent His only son, Yeshua, to be their Messiah.
Rachel and Steve D., Michael Z., Maxim K.
"Thank you for helping us reach the poor and needy in Israel."
The Jewish Poor
Some might wonder if there really are poor Jewish people in Israel, the United States and other countries. In fact, because there is such a large segment of the Jewish population that is aging, the challenge of poverty and caring for the elderly is a big issue within the Jewish community and in our hearts as well.
Due to some uninformed stereotypes, there is a widespread perception that most Jewish people are wealthy and that economic pressures faced by others do not impact the Jewish community.
Unfortunately, these stereotypes have fueled centuries of antisemitism! Despite the common perception of Jewish affluence, poverty is a real problem for many Jewish people. In Israel, 14% of the Jewish population lives in poverty. A recent study demonstrates that poverty is an even more significant issue in the Jewish community of the United States. Present calculations indicate that 20% of New York City's Jewish population lives in poverty.
If these studies are accurate, between the United States and Israel approximately two million Jewish people live below the poverty line.
Brian and Racheli S.
"Thank you for your love and faithfulness."
Poverty in Israel
Poverty drastically impacts Israel in many ways, but here are three of the most significant:
Poverty affects a large portion of Israel's growing elderly population. According to some estimates, as many as 25% of Israel's elderly people are in desperate need of food, medicine and affordable housing. A significant part of this population includes thousands of Holocaust survivors. Those few who miraculously escaped the terror of the Nazi camps and found hope in the Jewish homeland are now hard-pressed to obtain their basic daily necessities.
Poverty plagues Israel's growing immigrant population. After the Soviet Union's collapse, almost one and a half million Jewish people fled the failure of Communism to seek a brighter future in Israel. Unfortunately, many of these immigrants have not found the prosperous life they imagined; rather, a significant segment continually struggles below the poverty line. Poverty is particularly prevalent among Ethiopian Jewish immigrants, 14,000 of whom came to Israel through an airlift known as "Operation Solomon" in the 1990s.
Poverty has an overwhelming impact on Israel's children. Many within the Orthodox community live below the poverty line, and most have rather large families. This results in an alarming number of young people living in poverty. Over 25% of Israel's children have gone days without food. Some are unable to go to school and do not have adequate clothing, particularly in the colder winter months.
I am heartbroken for those Israelis who are living in poverty as well as living with the constant threat of war! I hope you will pause for a moment to PRAY and consider how YOU can make a difference in the lives of God's chosen people.
Jesus tells us that our concern for the poor is evidence of our love for Him (Matthew 25:42-45).
Jason and Janice R.
"Thank you for caring for the marginalized in Israel."
I am grateful for the many Chosen People Ministries prayer partners and financial supporters who have given sacrificially to help us in our ministry among the Jewish poor in Israel.
One of our major points of entry in ministry to these precious people is our Tel Aviv Center. I especially want to thank those who have given towards the $10,000 per month we need to support this center, which is located in the heart of one of the poorest communities in Israel.
I wish you could see what I am seeing today in Israel. As I walk around the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities, I not only see the very spots where the promises to the Jewish people were made - I see the present needs of so many Israelis who are physically hungry, and many more who are spiritually famished. We want to be able to have the staff and facilities to minister to both the spiritual and physical needs of Israelis.
Your gifts allow us to continue this ministry in Israel! It is simply impossible for our staff to raise support within Israel itself, as there are very few churches in the Land that are able to support ministries outside of their own small congregations. I pray for the churches within Israel to grow and prosper so that they will be able to support additional mission work - but this will take some time. Until then, we cannot continue this work without your help.
Would you consider giving a generous gift towards reaching Israelis for Jesus?
Your gift will be used for the general operations of our Israel work, feeding the poor and hungry, and for the Isaiah 53 Campaign, which is planned for early next spring.
Thanks so much for your partnership - and I pray that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who promised to bless those who bless the Jewish people, will fill your home with His presence, power and blessing. (Genesis 12:3)
Your brother in the Messiah,
P.S. Our goal is to raise $50,000 to provide relief to poor Israelis, and if donations exceed this total they will be used where needed most to reach Jewish people for the Lord.
Eugene and Vicka L.
"Thank you for your help in reaching the unreached in Israel."