Thank you for asking me to describe our difficult situation today. We live in Sderot, an ordinary, small city in Israel. But there is something that makes life here different than other places in Israel. We are one and a half miles from the border of Gaza!
For almost 14 years, enemies have fired missiles at our city and during the middle of the recent conflict, the number went up to 40 rockets a day.
It has been so frightening for my friends and me. Sirens go off all the time, day and night, and sometimes up to nine or ten per hour. Only a few seconds separate the siren sound and the actual time the rocket or bomb falls, and we hear the bombs hitting some targets either in our city or in Gaza.
Of course, we are terrified that the next target might be our home. We are even more afraid that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren who live in cities like Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Ashdod might be bombed!
We are on the verge of a nervous breakdown and are living in permanent fear.
There are around 80 people like me who survived the Holocaust and live in the social apartments, and we cannot afford to leave. Most of us never thought that we would experience the fear of being killed again…especially in our own homeland!
As the president of Chosen People Ministries, I am privileged to lead one of the oldest and largest mission agencies reaching the Jewish people with the love of Jesus the Messiah. The above is just one of the many moving stories that have crossed my desk recently, and it moved me to tears!
I know you love the same Lord, and that your heart is broken over the recent events related to the war between Israel and Hamas terrorists. Innocent victims suffered on both sides, and we continue to shed tears for those whose lives were shattered by the conflict.
One of the hidden groups of Israelis who have endured the most distress is the almost two hundred thousand elderly Holocaust survivors still alive today in Israel. These dear people, who have been through so much in the past, need the help of loving Christians today.
Maxim, one of our faithful staff members who leads many of our ministries among the Holocaust survivors, writes:
Esther wrote the above letter. Seventeen years ago she came to Israel from Ukraine. She was in the Ghetto during the Holocaust, and her mother was shot before her eyes. Being a child, she was about to be shot together with other Jews but someone pushed her, she fell and somehow was spared.
Nowadays, she is responsible for the Holocaust Survivors Organization in Sderot and helps us in various projects. As you remember, our ministry among these precious Holocaust survivors began with the second Lebanon war when tens of thousands of Israelis living within the range of missiles fired from southern Lebanon fled their homes and moved as far south as they could.
We put together a team that fed and cared for almost 300 people for more than a month. Many of these were elderly Holocaust survivors; they grew to love us and we grew to love them too. We discovered that the survivors were organized into groups in various regions around Israel. We were especially drawn to the small group of elderly Holocaust survivors in Sderot. We began visiting them and doing what we could to help them experience God’s love through Jesus the Messiah and to teach them the Scriptures.
Thank you for helping me reach these precious people through trips, holiday events, Bible studies, food distribution and
so much more. But now we need to do even more, as they have suffered terribly during the conflict.
Maxim organized a Hanukkah party for Holocaust survivors in Sderot
I am so grateful for Maxim's ministry! I asked him for some suggestions on how we might help after the conflict is resolved... for now! Let me summarize Maxim's suggestions for you:
Show Love in Practical Ways
We need to show these people love in very practical ways in order to win a hearing for the Gospel. Let me offer the following suggestions as to how we might help in this time of emergency, now that the terror of the conflict has subsided. The real work of rebuilding shattered lives begins now!
Maxim mentioned three key groups to me who will need our help - the Holocaust survivors, the children and Israeli soldiers - especially those who do not have family in Israel.
Maxim told me that he wants to bring Holocaust survivors to Poland for a break, as he has done before. There today, in contrast to the horrors of the past, they are loved and ministered to by committed Polish Christians. They also have a time of Bible teaching and the chance to get far away from the stress of living so close to Gaza. We need funding to take them to Poland. These beautiful people range between 75 and 95 years old, and we think that the Lord is offering us the opportunity now to change their view of Jesus! We need your help to do so.
Helping the Children
We have also been asked to organize a camp for children from the South (the areas closest to the conflict) that would focus on providing biblical and godly counsel to help these kids process their experiences during the war. Remember, many of them come from homes where a parent was called up to active military service.
There is another group of people we cannot forget. Last time, after the military actions, we organized a weekend conference for soldiers. We asked believing soldiers to take their nonbelieving friends to a place where they could have rest, fellowship and Bible teaching. I think that it would be good to do this again.
We will invite Christian counselors who provide biblical counseling on how to cope with post-traumatic stress in the aftermath of war. This will be very helpful to them.
Your Prayers and Gifts Matter!
Thanks so much for caring - and most of all for praying for the peace of Jerusalem. There were times we thought this war would never end!
Your gift will go towards the work of Chosen People Ministries in Israel. You can specify if you want it used for the Holocaust Survivors, the Children or the Soldiers.
If you do not specify, we will use your generous gift to fund our work in Israel: our centers in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and all of the various ministries that we are engaged in each day - especially now - to reach Israelis with the Gospel.
For your gift of $300 or more, I will send you a copy of our new book published by Kregel Publications entitled, The People, the Land and the Future of Israel. This is a very timely book and I know it will be a great blessing to you!
Yours for the Gospel,
Shalom dear friend in the Messiah,
Your Mission to the Jewish People has had what I can only describe as an electrifying summer! It has been action-packed! We’ve had four summer camps for children in the United States and Israel, as well as two weeks of intensive outreach during Shalom Brooklyn. Additionally, we conducted two short-term mission trips to Israel and a heightened season of ministry in the war-torn Holy Land, enabling us to show the love of Jesus to elderly Holocaust survivors and many others.
We need a rest from the summer!
Thank you for your prayers and generous financial support that allowed us to reach so many Jewish people for Jesus during the last few months.
We are turning our eyes and hearts to the tremendous opportunities ahead, as Jewish people will begin celebrating the High Holidays in September: the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement
(Yom Kippur) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). We will be inviting Jewish people to attend services at Chosen People Ministries’ branches and congregations to hear the Gospel with the holidays as a backdrop.
New Beginnings in Brooklyn
This will be our first full year of ministry at our wonderful new Brooklyn Messianic Center in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn—the very borough where Chosen People Ministries began in 1894.
There are almost one million Jewish people in Brooklyn, and less than a half of one percent of them believes in Jesus. There are more religious Jewish people in Brooklyn than anywhere else in the world outside of Israel. Brooklyn is “Orthodox Central” and the key rabbis that lead the more Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish movements around the world are based in Brooklyn.
Religious Jewish people rarely travel outside of their communities, so it would be impossible to reach them without living and ministering among them. This is why I believe our new Messianic center in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn is important.
There are also hundreds of thousands of Russian Jewish immigrants in the immediate vicinity of the new center who have shown a tremendous interest in the Gospel.
Forty Russian Jewish people gave their hearts to the Lord last summer during Shalom Brooklyn. We have planted Russian Jewish Messianic congregations in Brooklyn as well.
The Charles L. Feinberg Center in Brooklyn
As you know, Chosen People Ministries has purchased and renovated a 14,000-square-foot former Orthodox Jewish funeral home that now serves as our headquarters for our ministries in Brooklyn. It is the perfect location for Jewish evangelism.
The center has ample space for classrooms, a library and offices to house our Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies program. This is our seminary training program affiliated with the Talbot School of Theology of Biola University. The students who train at the seminary are active participants in local outreach to the Jewish community surrounding the center.
We are able to help Holocaust survivors and elderly Russian Jewish people who recently immigrated to the United States. We also give support to Jewish families whose children have become deeply involved with drugs and sadly are in and out of prison.
We are now planting an English-speaking Messianic congregation, which meets in the chapel of our beautiful Feinberg Center. We conduct Bible studies, lectures, café outreach, Jewish movie nights, and more…all designed to reach the diverse Jewish community surrounding the center.
Rich F., one of our new staff members who is planting the English-speaking congregation that will meet at the center, writes,
I wish you could see with your own eyes what God is doing in Brooklyn. After extensive renovation, our Brooklyn property has been transformed into a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility to be used by God’s grace for worship, the witness of God’s people to the Messianic identity of Jesus, and the training of the next generation of Messianic Jewish leaders—all of this right in the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn!
Our total budget for Brooklyn projects this year is $150,000. This will cover the staffing of the building as well as utilities, and give us adequate funds to provide what is needed for some of our ministries, food for the poor and elderly, advertising for outreach meetings, and much more.
The Lord blessed us abundantly and we do not have any debt for the building. As a nonprofit ministry, we do not pay any real estate taxes. So, praise God we have a great head start and so much of the funding we receive is used directly for our ministry programs and caring for the facility.
Thank you so much for your love and prayers, and for all you do to help us reach Jewish people for our Lord Jesus.
This is what we are all about, and by God’s grace we have remained faithful to the vision of our founder, Rabbi Leopold Cohn, who started Chosen People Ministries in 1894.
Please pray for us as we reach the largest concentration of Jewish people in the world!
Your brother in the Messiah,
Mitch (Brooklyn-born and bred!)
From Shalom Brooklyn team member Chris:
Our group went out to do evangelism in Washington Square Park. Unlike previous times when I've been to the park using the literature questionnaire, no one seemed interested and I was getting somewhat discouraged. Then I met an older gentleman standing next to me who does photography for a hobby and he was taking photos in the park. I asked him if he had time for some survey questions and he replied, "Actually I have some questions for you."
The man's name was D. and he surmised from the Shalom Brooklyn shirt and backpack that I was from a "religious organization." He identified himself as Catholic, though he had not been to church for many years. We discussed some spiritual questions, and it was clear that he did truly believe that Jesus was the Son of God who died for his sins. However he told me his wife M., who is Jewish, did not.
I asked D. if he would be willing to share the Isaiah 53 book and some of our literature with M. when he gets home, and I'm happy to say he took a sample of everything! We exchanged information and I plan on following up with him soon. Although I didn't get the privilege of sharing the Gospel with M. personally, my hope and prayer is that D. will. Please pray for them.
Later in the week, I was in Washington Square Park again. A woman was trying to feed some peanuts to squirrels, and she ended up being mobbed by pigeons – one of which even got caught in her hair. I helped her shoo the pigeons away. Grateful for my assistance, she was willing to do the questionnaire.
Her name was L. and she said she was Jewish, though not very observant. When I read the excerpt from Isaiah 53 and asked her who the prophet was talking about, L. said that the passage "sounds Christian." I happily agreed with her that it seems to be talking about Yeshua (Jesus) and assured her that this passage was in fact written by the Jewish prophet Isaiah.
Although L. did not take any of our literature, seeming to become uncomfortable with the conversation, I encouraged her to look Isaiah 53 up in her own copy of the Hebrew Scriptures at home. Praise God for the opportunity to plant a seed - and please pray for L., that the seed would take root and grow (and not be snatched away by the enemy).
Prayer & Conversation on the Streets of New York
R., a 30-something young lady, came up to Jerry and Israel. She is from Jerusalem, but spoke like a New Yorker. R. has dual citizenship, two kids, and lives in the Judean hills outside of Jerusalem. "As I walk the Judean hills, I feel the spirit of Jesus there. It's a faith thing," she said.
Israel said that it was no coincidence that he met her! He gave her a copy of Isaiah 53 Explained in Hebrew, as well as The Report. She was more than happy to receive them and eagerly gave all of her contact information. Definitely a divine encounter!
Kathleen and Robynne met L., a 90-year old lady and a third-generation Jewish New Yorker. She wasn't interested in talking about the Messiah until Kathleen said that the Messiah brings comfort to people. This made L's face change and she was immediately interested in hearing more. "Everybody needs comfort," she said. Robynne found out that she had a lot in common with her, and gave her a copy of The Report.
Kathleen met D., an Israeli student. He started chatting with the team about Israel, and then the conversation progressed to talking about the Lord and Scripture. He stuck with the team for hours, and accepted all of the evangelistic materials.
Kathleen and Bobby met S. in Washington Square Park. 93 years old. She did not want prayer at first, but she really fell in love with Bobby and his sharp wit. She eventually allowed Bobby to do a blessing over her. She accepted a copy of Isaiah 53 Explained, and said she would read it.
An Orthodox Jewish woman and her children were walking along the water in Brooklyn and stopped to look at the bridge. I approached them, and they could see the outreach team in t-shirts not far off. I greeted her and offered her something to read. She said "I know about Messianic Jews".
I asked what she knew, and she replied "Enough".
I then asked if she knew about Yeshua (Jesus). She thought for a moment and said "No" - so I said the best way to know about Yeshua was from the Torah(five books of Moses), Tenach (Hebrew Scriptures) and His own words. She thought again, nodded her head okay and accepted the literature.
Please pray that as she reads she would discover the true Biblical Jesus who loves her. By the time I walked back to the rest of the outreach team, there were several people in long conversations with Orthodox Jewish people sitting on benches by the water.