The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Galatia, wrote: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9). Your Mission to the Jewish People is in the heart of Jewish communities worldwide, many of which are in places where there are significant obstacles to reaching the Jewish people with the gospel, including Israel, India, and the United Kingdom.
Andrew and Levanya Yelchuri, our global partners in Goa, India minister to traveling Israelis who have completed their mandatory military service. The Yelchurris have been married for twenty years and have three beautiful children—Liza Grace, 13; Ben Jacob, 9; and Alyiah Gold, 6.
Andrew and Levanya offer free housing to young Israelis through their Messianic outreach center, which also hosts a café called “Mika Mocha” (a pun from the Hebrew prayer Mi Kamocha, meaning “who is like You [God]”). They serve them Indian food, provide local guidance, and meet as many of the needs of these Israeli young people. They connect relationally and spiritually through Sabbath dinners, music nights, Bible studies, and even cooking classes. Israelis love Indian food! The Yelchuris also train short-term mission teams from all around the world for Israeli outreach every year—including many from the United States.
Their ministry began in 2016 when God swung the doors open for Andrew and Levanya to minister to traveling Israelis. Their son started blowing a shofar on the street, and moments later, Israelis began approaching them, drawn to the familiar sound. That day, the Yelchuri’s invited twelve Israelis visiting Goa to a Sabbath dinner and gave a devotional on the weekly Torah portion (selective Bible readings that the Jewish community follows every week), which happened to be the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22. Through this passage, Andrew could point to God’s sacrifice of His promised Son for our forgiveness and give them Bibles. Since that day, twelve Israelis multiplied into thirty Israelis the next week, sixty the following week, and so on.
Israelis often tell the Yelchuri’s that they feel “a good energy” at their coffee house. In addition, many are moved to tears after hearing Lavanya’s testimony about turning from Hindu gods to the God of Israel and become curious about the gospel.
Lavanya has countless conversations with Israelis on matters of faith and spirituality—especially in her cooking class! One time, Lavanya was cooking fish with a young Israeli woman who expressed concerns about having enough fish. So Lavanya shared the biblical story of when Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves. They read the passage and prayed together, and the Israeli showed a remarkable openness to the Lord after that conversation. Another Israeli, who became an atheist after her daughter died during childbirth, said, “Andrew, when you talk, I feel like there is a God.”
Since March 2021, India has been struck incredibly hard by the coronavirus, and Goa has one of the highest rates of positive cases in all of India. Right now, one out of two people has COVID-19. Unfortunately, many young people are dying as the hospitals and equipment are inadequate. Andrew and Lavanya have also been ministering to around thirty Israeli families stuck in India throughout the pandemic, providing groceries, various supplies, and as always, prayer.
Please pray for the Yelchuris, Goa, and all of India during this terrible time. God has given Andrew and Lavanya great boldness and fruitfulness in their relational and hospitable outreach to Israelis.
Moti and his wife are a dynamic young Israeli couple serving the Lord in Tel Aviv. Moti came to faith through the ministry of Chosen People Ministries in New York City a few years ago. He moved back to Israel and began serving on our staff a couple of years back. He married Orel, an Israeli from a Russian Jewish home, and they live and serve together, making the Messiah known in the greater Tel Aviv area.
For some time, we hoped to help Moti receive theological training that would provide him with the biblical knowledge base he needs to serve the Lord and reach the Israelis he meets day in and day out. As was true for many of our staff, Moti was able to bring his ministry online during the pandemic by reaching young people who are part of the Israeli Hebrew-language video games community.
Orel grew up in a believing home and actively serves the Lord as part of worship teams, children’s ministries, and much more.
Moti and Orel are working hard for the Messiah in very challenging circumstances. We want to train them both and better equip them for Jewish ministry, which would mean coming to the United States for a few years to meet potential supporters. They would receive more in-depth theological training at our Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies based in Brooklyn. This Feinberg C is a partnership with the Talbot School of Theology of Biola University. After a few years of service in Brooklyn, we would expect to send them back to Israel to continue reaching Israelis through the work of Chosen People Ministries in the Holy Land.
One of our other staff in Israel describes the difficulties of ministry in Israel.
“The challenges toward peace in Israel today are very complicated. Politicians have had limited success to only arrive at temporary solutions. We are grateful when we live a day without war and know it is a sign of God’s presence and grace with us. Yet, true and lasting peace in the Middle East is impossible at the end of the day without the Messiah.”
Additionally, many of the younger Israelis are turning to alternative forms of spirituality, including a developing fondness for Eastern religions and new age philosophies that might give meaning to a difficult present and future. This new-age revival is happening across the country, but especially in Tel Aviv. Our Greater Tel Aviv Messianic Center in the suburb of Ramat Gan is uniquely positioned to help these spiritually wandering Israelis find their Messiah.
The United Kingdom
Our staff in England has had a particularly tough time over the past year and a half. The pandemic only added to an already challenging environment for ministry.
Simon Lissak, one of our staff in the United Kingdom, wrote,
“It is wonderful to tell you that the post-COVID-19 era presents exciting opportunities for the UK church. The epidemic has forced us to respond to the challenges of going online and maintaining community in isolation, and, as a result, many have flourished in ways they could not have imagined.”
The difficulties in England are many. For example, churches in Jewish neighborhoods are reluctant to damage their relationships with the local rabbis and synagogues. As a result, pastors are hesitant to openly associate with a Jewish missionary organization such as Chosen People Ministries. Thus, even though our missionaries can equip churches to have better relationships with the surrounding Jewish community, the opportunities to speak in churches are minimal. To compound the problem, churches in areas where there are relatively few Jewish people do not see the need to connect with a Jewish mission, and therefore the result is the same, though for a different reason.
“I struggle to find churches that I can send people to when I am doing street work in these areas!” said Simon. He continued, “The UK Jewish population is highly concentrated. Barnet [a borough in North London] has one of the highest Jewish populations in the country with the second-lowest concentration of Christians. So, we need to plant vibrant, missional, gospel-driven churches in these communities, and I am working with [a group of church planters] to encourage them to plant in Golders Green, Edgware, and Hendon. This will give me a unique opportunity to shape their attitudes toward and engagement with the huge number of Jewish people who surround them. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will fill their hearts with a desire to engage their Jewish neighbors and tell them about their Messiah.”
A recent UK newsletter discussed another challenge, “that Jewish people often think that Christians are the enemy and that the New Testament is a manual on antisemitism.” While this particular viewpoint is not unique to England, antisemitism seems to be on the rise there. “In the United Kingdom, 116 antisemitic incidents have been reported since May 9, the day before Hamas started launching rockets into Israeli cities, compared to only 11 cases in the previous two weeks.”
Please continue to pray for our staff in the United Kingdom and for the Jewish people to whom they are ministering with a timely word of hope—a hope that they can only find in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.