Training a New Generation of Leaders
“ …for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14b).
King Solomon wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). For more than a century, Chosen People Ministries has conducted children’s camping programs. We value investing in the next generation. Our camps for young Messianic children are located on the East Coast, West Coast, and even in Israel.
Camp Sar Shalom is our children’s camp in California. Sar Shalom means “prince of peace” and is a reference to Isaiah 9:7. Camp Sar Shalom brings children and teens together who would not regularly see one another throughout the year. Many Messianic congregations have smaller programs for their children, so camps broaden their relationships with youth from Jewish homes or who are part of Messianic congregations. At the end of the week, we have a final evening campfire at which time many campers have given their lives to Jesus and decided to live for Him.
The counselors share their own personal walks with Yeshua through the small groups, time in the bunks, doing sports, hiking, and during worship time. The counselors are with the campers almost twenty-four hours a day. This allows them to have a major impact upon the campers’ lives that they would not normally have in any other setting. It is an excellent way to develop leadership and organizational skills. We have had many campers return as counselors and even go on to serve on the staff of Chosen People Ministries.
Camp Kesher is the name of our camp in Pennsylvania. Kesher is Hebrew for “connection.” We chose this name because campers form lifelong connections and, thanks to social media and regional gatherings, these connections stay strong all year long. These campers encourage each other in the faith and help each other feel part of a greater community in the Lord.
Camp Kesher is full of fun activities and traditions, along with a strong focus on studying the Word of God. We combine Scripture memory verses, devotions, and camper-oriented messages from the Bible with an active schedule to create a Jesus-centered community within a Jewish cultural context. During the past three summers alone, fourteen campers, ages eight to sixteen, have committed their lives to the Lord for the first time. Countless others have recommitted themselves to the Lord.
Last month, we had our first winter weekend camp at the Sandy Cove Retreat Center in Maryland! Kesher Ice will help us maintain and build on the momentum created from our summer camp.
In Israel, we have extensive children and teen ministries, reaching children from non-believing families in addition to those who are part of Messianic congregations. We introduce Jesus the Messiah to the children who do not know Him, and for those who do, we help them learn to love Him more through worship, Bible study, and fellowship.
Since we began these children’s camps eight years ago, more than one hundred children have given their hearts to Jesus. We offer four or five camps each year. Each camp has 125 kids between the ages of eleven and fifteen, and forty leaders and helpers. Many of our campers, especially the teenagers, are only a few years away from army duty. Going to camp helps them build a solid spiritual foundation that gives them strength to remain faithful to the Lord during their season of army service.
This past December 27, 2018 through January 2, 2019, approximately 150 young Jewish and Gentile believers from the United States, Canada, Israel, Germany, England, Russia, and South America gathered in Rome for our fifth Muchan (pronounced mu-khan) conference. Past conferences have been held in Berlin, Paris, Prague, and Madrid—each city chosen for its unique Jewish history.
Muchan, which is Hebrew for “ready,” exists to impact young believers between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. The conference helps connect these like-minded brothers and sisters and serves to strengthen their faith and vision for the future. They spend time learning more about what it means to be a disciple of Yeshua and to consider the various opportunities around the world for Jewish evangelism. All this happens over a week through workshops, worship, prayer, and intensive Bible study. The participants studied the Book of Romans (of course—we were in Rome), the Jewish history of Rome, Jewish evangelism, and more!
We believe these young Messianic leaders will shape the future of Jewish ministry. For this reason, Chosen People Ministries significantly subsidizes a large percentage of the costs so that finances will not hinder any young person from attending. For example, this year we had more than forty millennials from Israel who really needed the financial help!
The attendees share a deep desire for Jewish people to know the Messiah. We hope to continue Muchan and have already started praying and planning for the next one in 2020.
Autumn, one of our Feinberg student missionaries, writes,
“I am happy that there was an intentional plan to strengthen and encourage young adults toward their unique purpose and place in the wider Messianic community.”
Another attendee, Abe, commented,
“What amazes me most is the Roman connection to the Jewish people. Walking through the Jewish ghetto and trying to imagine what it was like for the Jewish people, I was reminded of God’s promises to them, as God preserved them through hardship and persecution.”
And Charlotte, from Florida, noted,
“It was inspiring to see the global vision for God’s chosen people and hear the encouraging testimonies of what the next generation is doing to advance the kingdom. I look forward to the next Muchan conference!
Muchan gives both the participants and our leadership a sense of hope for the future of the Messianic Jewish community worldwide. Muchan makes it evident that the Lord is always doing a tremendous work among His people.
The college campus is one of the best places to engage Jewish students with the gospel. Students are more open-minded as they are often away from their parents, extended family, friends, and their local Jewish community. Jewish young adults are generally taught not to believe in Jesus but are often willing to talk about Him in a college environment, as they are usually open to new ideas.
We encourage and provide training and resources for campus ministries, local churches, and Messianic congregations near universities. We encourage them to offer guidance, warm fellowship, a home-cooked meal, and lots of love! We also try to motivate Christian students on campus to share the gospel with their fellow Jewish students.
Unfortunately, antisemitism is also on the rise on many college campuses in North America. Opposing the blight of antisemitism offers Christian students an opportunity to show solidarity with Jewish classmates, and to let them know that true believers love the Jewish people and detest antisemitism. This is a great testimony to Jewish students.
We currently have campus outreaches in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and in many other cities. We also offer some very creative and exciting ways to engage college-age believers.
This year, there is a brand new opportunity, which we are calling the House of Living Waters. It is a wonderful opportunity for young people between the ages of eighteen and thirty to serve Jewish university students at New York University—the campus with the largest number of Jewish students in the New York area.
Participants will receive free housing and a stipend for their ministry work as part of the House of Living Waters. During the course of a year, participants will reach out to Jewish university students and train believers on campus to share the gospel with their many Jewish friends and fellow students. There is still time to submit an application. For more information, or to apply, visit chosenpeople.com/houseoflivingwaters, or pass this information along to a young adult you think would have an interest in this new ministry.
Our summer ministries in Israel provide short-term opportunities to travel throughout the land of Israel and see the Scriptures come to life as the gospel is shared with Israelis. There is something profoundly palpable about standing in the very places where Jesus and his early followers stood. The idea was born when a Chosen People Ministries staff member recognized that young adults could greatly benefit from having the opportunity to walk and serve in the footsteps of Jesus. Several hundred young adults have made the trip with Chosen People Ministries.
One of our first participants, Kayla, told us this about her experience—
“It was amazing to actually be in a place where Jesus walked, talked, cried and prayed. I will never read the Bible the same way again. It really opened my eyes to the culture of the people during the time of Jesus. I now understand so much better.”
Just recently we heard from Kayla again, and she had this to add about her trip from years ago—
I went on this trip nineteen years ago, and it still impacts my life to this day! The Bible came alive and opened my eyes to things I never could imagine. Interacting with the local Israelis was so eye opening as well. It gave me a new understanding of this country and the people God loves so much! And gave me a love for it too!
This is exactly what we hope for those who serve on our Israel teams, and we pray that there will be many others like Kayla who will make the journey to Israel with us this summer and return home to pass on their love for God, His Word, and the Jewish people.