A Great Heritage and a Bright Future
The State of Israel is many things to many people. For some, it is a modern country that finally fulfills the dream of Jewish nationhood. For others, it is the heart of the ancient and cherished hope of Messiah’s return. For a growing number of people, it is both.
Scholars may say that modern Israeli history began with the rise of Zionism in the late 1800s and the formation of the World Zionist Organization. After World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations mandated that England rule Palestine. Between 1922 and 1939, the Jewish population in the land increased to 445,000 from about 83,000. Most of it clustered in the area around Tel Aviv, which boasted a Jewish population of 150,000.
Finally, on May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was officially established. Since then, Israel has risen to take its place among the modern nations. Despite wars threatening its existence and the hostility of the Arab world, it has not only survived, but thrived. Its contributions to the many fields of human endeavor are disproportionately large, considering its small size.
Israel’s Jewish population is now more than five million people. Chief among the reasons for Israel’s recent population growth is the immigration of one million Jews from the former Soviet Union during the last 15 years.
History of Chosen People Ministries in Israel
Chosen People Ministries’ presence in the Land of Israel began in 1933, and its activities are deeply intertwined with the unfolding modern history of its Jewish people.
Frank Boothby was Chosen People Ministries’ first worker in Israel. He operated his “Gospel Gate Room” in Jerusalem and tirelessly worked to distribute The Shepherd of Israel evangelistic newsletter. His work continued until his death in 1940 when the mantle of his ministry passed to Sigourd Biorness, a Norwegian missionary. Under his watch, relief efforts for the fleeing Jews from Europe intensified. After his resignation in 1946, evangelism and relief efforts continued under the leadership of Herbert Singer, a European Messianic Jew who had escaped the Holocaust.
The end of the war and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 brought in more Jewish refugees, both from ravaged Europe and from the Arab states of North Africa and the Middle East. The work continued as the Lord brought faithful workers to keep up the light of Messiah’s presence in the Land.
Current Ministry in the Holy Land
The 1990s witnessed a phenomenal growth in Jewish immigration as roughly a million Jewish people from the former Soviet Union entered the Land. It was this sudden influx that created an environment for the present staff of workers who, under the direction of Michael Z., carry on the work of Chosen People Ministries in Israel.
For more than ten years, Chosen People Ministries has offered services at Beit Sar Shalom (House of the Prince of Peace) in Tel Aviv, which carries out an active evangelistic outreach to seekers and other neighbors in need of the transforming power of the Gospel. Chosen People Ministries’ staff and congregants in Tel Aviv also participate in a soup kitchen ministry and a drug rehabilitation center through which a number of people find their way to the Messiah of Israel.
Chosen People Ministries also ministers in the West Bank city of Ariel through the congregation Tikvat Shomron (Hope of Samaria). Begun in 1998 by staff members Henry and Irina N., this challenging work ministers to many who are particularly affected by the widespread hostilities in the region through Gospel outreach, practical aid, and especially music. Henry is an accomplished pianist, and his concerts provide valuable opportunities to share the message of Messiah.
In 2005, Chosen People Ministries was, through the Lord’s provision, able to realize another long-held dream-the establishment of a Messianic center in Jerusalem. It now serves as a hub for Chosen People Ministries’ activities in Israel, including evangelism, discipleship, education through publication and leadership training. It also has greatly increased the ministry’s ability to facilitate our short-term missions programs from the States and elsewhere.