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.
Australia and New Zealand
When we think of Jewish populations, we usually think of places like Israel, North America, and the remnant of Jewish life in Europe that has lately been invigorated by the immigration of Jewish people from the former Soviet Union. We also would remember the significant Jewish numbers in South America. Few of us, however, look to places like Australia and New Zealand for important Jewish communities and mission fields that are indeed ripe for a rich harvest for Messiah in terms of Jewish souls.
Are we missing something? Just ask Lawrence Hirsch, founder and director of Celebrate Messiah, Chosen People Ministries' partner in Jewish evangelism, who oversees a thriving ministry in each of these countries. A native of South Africa, Lawrence is keenly aware of the history and development of the Jewish communities in each of these places. By the Lord's grace, he and his wife, Louise, and a cohort of committed staff are making a difference for Messiah in these far-off lands.
House of the Messiah - A Nourishing Foundation
Beit HaMashiach (House of the Messiah) Messianic Congregation in Melbourne was planted by Celebrate Messiah in 1998 and continues to bear witness for Messiah as our "flagship" ministry in Australia. The congregation is led by Lawrence and Louise Hirsch with other staff members: Jay* (Youth and Young Adults), Phil Plotnek (Worship Director), and Rita Ivenskis (Dom Misi'ee - "House of Messiah" Russian Jewish ministry).
Beit HaMashiach's average attendance over the past twelve months has been 137, including children. About 40% of the congregation is either Jewish, married to a Jewish spouse, or comes from a Jewish believing family. The congregation's outreach ministries include Sabbath services for English and Russian speakers, Youth Ministry, Young Adults Ministry, a Messianic Dance Group, Hebrew language class, and men's and women's discipleship groups.
Staff member Barry Buirski and his wife, Melinda, are particularly committed to Tikkun Olam (Repair of the World), a benevolence ministry that has distributed 1,015 food baskets to the Jewish communities in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney since the beginning of 2011 with the help of 259 volunteers. Lawrence and the rest of the staff are also particularly excited about the Melbourne Messianic Center Project, which will be a new two-story facility and a welcoming place of worship, community and outreach with which to engage the Jewish community.
Elsewhere in Australia, another Celebrate Messiah staff member* has a wide-ranging ministry that is based in Sydney. A warm, gifted and experienced missionary, this individual has the ability to connect with a large number of Jewish people. They prayerfully and diligently organize many events and activities that attract interest among members of the Jewish community in Sydney.
Regular follow up with Jewish contacts and Jewish believers is made, as well as meeting with them one-on-one, in small groups, or via Skype or telephone. Visits to Jewish people in several elderly-care homes in Sydney and other parts of New South Wales and Canberra also take place. In addition to all of this, Bible studies are held regularly, including one consisting entirely of not-yet-believing Israelis.
New Zealand - Land of the Israeli Backpacker
Jewish communities come in many different shapes and sizes. One of the most unusual is also one of the most changeable. It is the flow of young Israeli backpackers - many of them recently discharged from military service - who are stretching their legs as young adventurers with a walkabout in New Zealand's beautiful landscape. Scott Brown and his wife, Marjorie, are waiting to welcome them.
A seasoned congregational leader, Scott's vision of providing hospitality and sharing the Gospel with these young travellers through a Messiah-centered hostel setting is bearing fruit. He writes,
Having completed our fifth year managing the camp, we are seeing a steady increase of Israeli guests. We were pleased to host about a dozen young Israelis our first season, and now more than 200 stayed with us this past year. As the numbers have increased, so has our effectiveness. Nearly every Israeli who stays with us receives personal interaction of a spiritual nature, along with a Hebrew New Testament and/or other Gospel-related Hebrew literature.
I'm thrilled to report that while my enthusiasm for the ministry has not waned one iota, my strategies have improved significantly. We have worked hard to expand the network of Christians in New Zealand who host Israeli travellers. Since arriving in New Zealand five years ago, the number of hosts has effectively doubled, with approximately 530 homes now open to Israeli guests.
The ministry of hospitality is a sleeping giant in the world of Jewish evangelism. We are rising to meet the challenge in innovative ways, such as scheduling and presenting new material designed for training those wanting to host the young travellers we want to attract. Our gifted team member, Zohar Gonen, has also been visiting Israelis in hosts' homes on the South Island.
Pray for these "Down Under" Ministers of Messiah
Celebrate Messiah, in partnership with Chosen People Ministries, is faithfully carrying out the Apostle Paul's Romans 1:16 commission to preach the Gospel "to the Jew first and also to the Gentile" in far-off lands that even Paul himself might not have imagined. Pray for these faithful ministers of Messiah as they serve Him. May He make them bountiful in His service!
*name withheld for security reasons