There are purposes for plagues and pandemics, and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception. Though we stop short at claiming God sent the disease, the apostle Paul once told the congregation in Rome, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom 8:28). COVID-19 has been used to open the hearts and minds of Jewish people to the Messiah!
One of our missionaries writes:
Before the Jewish high holy days in 2020, God placed on my heart a unique venue for sharing Him with many Jewish non-believers. This vision grew into Feasting, a Jewish cooking show based on Leviticus 23. The first episode aired via YouTube in September 2020. God provided a professional film crew, and we filmed seven episodes highlighting individual Jewish feasts. Each included a food demonstration, a short Bible study, testimonies, and music. After viewing the Sabbath segment, a Jewish non-believer contacted me: “I watched you share your story,” she blurted out. “I’m from the Bronx too.” A friendship began! An excited believer offered her heartfelt thanks after viewing the first four episodes. She said, “I have a close Jewish friend. Feasting has been so beneficial in knowing how to speak with Jewish people.”
As we spread the word that we needed cooks for upcoming Feasting videos, a kosher chef working under the supervision of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi contacted me. Another kosher cook working with the Hasidic community expressed interest. Both knew of my belief in Jesus. A friendly relationship developed with the management of a popular Jewish delicatessen. They have offered to assist with food demonstrations and display advertisements for our celebrations surrounding the Jewish feasts. It was then God’s time for me to meet an Israeli Jewish woman. Simcha* was our cook for the episode on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot or Pentecost). We bonded during the filming—and beyond! Following our time together on Feasting, when antisemitic individuals physically attacked Jewish people in the streets across our country, I asked Simcha if a couple of us could pray for her and her family. She shared that she was touched and warmly welcomed us into her home to visit and pray!
In March 2021, our Passover Seder was filmed and went global. An Arizona Jewish woman received the link for the Seder from two friends. She shared that she was fascinated and learned much: “When Cathy spoke of Jesus, it was over-the-top. Jesus tied up many loose ends for me.” Miriam,* her two friends, and I met for tea. I asked what in the Seder impacted her most. Her response: “Jesus!” Miriam and I are meeting regularly.
What of the film crew? The first episode excited the audio/filming expert. “Why are you connecting the Hebrew Scriptures with Jesus?” he asked. His questions continued throughout the filming of each episode. He is now attending an evangelical church and participating in their worship band!
A staff member with Chosen People Ministries—Israel also told us:
The pandemic caused many challenges in life and ministry for everyone. In Israel, many restrictions limited what we could do. We had to be creative in doing activities online or outside. Our team hosted events on Zoom, picnics, outdoor day trips and gatherings, young adult hikes, and worship under the stars. People brought friends who did not know Jesus, and many great spiritual conversations took place. We also created and are currently developing a new website for Israeli seekers that addresses life’s difficult questions. Please pray this website leads many to connect with us and come to know Yeshua.
Over the past two years, our staff have not merely continued their ministry. They have also opened new opportunities for which we give thanks. During the first year of the pandemic, Israel experienced lockdowns most of the time with heavy restrictions. One law, for instance, barred people from going more than 100 meters (a couple of blocks) from one’s home. Through it all, however, God remained faithful. He created opportunities to reach people right in their homes. Allow me to share about Anat.*
Several years ago, I met Anat in India. She sought spiritual light and truth through meditation and a Buddhist/Hindu blend of eastern ideas. Israelis often travel the world for six to twelve months after completing their army service. There are specific hotspots where thousands of Israelis gather. Goa, India, is one of those places. Imagine a Jewish Israeli going to a foreign land to seek foreign gods. She even asked me who my guru was. Wow! What an opening. I shared about the only true teacher, the only true mediator and connection to God, the true Messiah and God of Israel—Jesus. If one is searching for light, why not go straight to the Light of the world?! We often spoke in India, and when we both returned to Israel, I would follow up with her frequently. While she was always interested, she never had much time as she was busy with work, school, and social life. During the first lockdown, we started having regular Zoom meetings. Now—because of the pandemic—she had plenty of time and decided to spend it pursuing truth again.
We went through the Hebrew Scriptures together, and she asked many questions. She soon came to embrace the Bible as historical and truthful. Then, she fell in love with a God who loves His people and came to know Jesus—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—as her Messiah. Anat continues to meet with me and another young adult, Miri,* whom I also met on a post-army backpacking trip. She, too, came to faith during lockdowns via our studies on Zoom! Both women are back at work and university now, but they always make time to meet, study the Bible, and pray.
Moreover, they are excited about growing in their faith and sharing Jesus with their friends and families. There have been so many young adults whose curiosity and openness toward the gospel have peaked throughout the pandemic. Even during the strictest of lockdowns, nothing can stop God’s love and word from touching people’s hearts.
God is sovereign, and He reigns even now. Even in the face of a global pandemic, the gospel is still the best news of all, and Chosen People Ministries is ready, willing, and able to share it—no matter what!