Good Things Are Happening! A Messianic Praise and Progress Report
God is doing great things in our midst! It is good to bear one another’s burdens, but we also need to lift one another’s spirits with good news. So rejoice with us!
We have a saying in Jews for Jesus: Every knock is a boost.” That certainly proved to be the case for our Odessa branch on Rosh Hashanah.
It came as no surprise when the Chabad in Odessa rented a hall on the same street as ours. We knew they would attempt to divert people away from our service, and that they would use teenagers to interfere. But Elizabeth T., who heads our Odessa work, rounded up all the teens, gave them a lecture and sent them on their way. Meanwhile, volunteers from a local church served as ushers to make sure our guests were able to come to our services unhindered.
Since some of our “friends” came and held signs that declared the “real” High Holiday services were down the street at Chabad, one of our volunteers stood in front of their hall with a sign inviting people to come to our meeting and learn about Jesus the Messiah.
We were overjoyed that more than 500 people attended our service, and 12 Jewish people made decisions for Yeshua. And in Moscow, 480 attended, and that included an overflow of about 100 people packing out the ante room. Praise God, 42 people came forward to pray for repentance and a new life in Yeshua, one of whom was a Gentile.
We also had a fantastic summer of Witnessing Campaigns in New York City, Toronto, Paris and Moscow. A total of 2,258,991 individuals received gospel tracts. Plus, 2,509 Jewish people gave us their names and addresses to hear more about Jesus. Even better, 565 souls prayed on the streets, asking Yeshua to be their Lord and Messiah, 74 of whom were Jewish.
That’s not all! Every week our New York staff reports more decisions from post-Campaign contacts. A few Jewish people who have come to faith since Campaign ended are: Jacqueline, whom Campaigner Tali met at the Brooklyn Bridge; Daniel, who is confined to a wheelchair and has been angry with God; and Barry, who for weeks has been praying for God to help him accept the truth about Jesus.
In other news, from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Los Angeles, California, our missionaries find God continuing to work in the hearts of those who seemed to have lost interest in Jesus. Peter and Jay, Jewish men from the above mentioned cities, both recently came to faith in Jesus. Both had cooled considerably toward the gospel, then suddenly God’s Spirit reawakened their interest. So don’t be too discouraged if someone you know who once seemed open to the gospel appears to have lost interest. Keep praying and be ready to respond when God starts to work!
We hope these bits of good news give your heart a lift. The format of this “Mishpochah Message” is a bit different because we want to share more praise and progress — not only from Jews for Jesus’ victories — but progress that various ministries and congregations are enjoying in the Lord.
So let us take encouragement from one another’s victories and cheer for one another’s successes, remembering that all the glory belongs to the Lord!
God Moves Through Music!
Members of Jews for Jesus’ traveling music team, The Liberated Wailing Wall, often phone local Jewish people to extend an invitation to their presentations. Team member Anna was discouraged one day because she mostly left messages on answering machines. Yet that night, someone she’d called came to the presentation and asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior!
Team member Joshua said, “It’s exciting to see the fruit of those who went before us. This month I have met two Jewish believers who came to faith through the ministry of The Liberated Wailing Wall. I also met a Gentile who came to the Lord through the LWW; she brought a Jewish friend to one of our meetings!”
The Advantages of Adversity
A news release from Chosen People Ministries reported how God takes what is meant for evil and uses it for good. A riot broke out on Kings Highway in Brooklyn, New York, when 60 Hasidic Jews surrounded the book table from which Chosen People staffers were distributing tracts. One angry man overturned the book table, screamed, and shredded the literature. A woman who had cursed a police officer for protecting the team was taken to jail. Several more CPM team members were across the street, and many of the secular Jews passing by began asking them questions, accepting tracts, and defending the right of Chosen People Ministries to continue their outreach!
Haim Levi of Beth Israel Congregation has also seen opposition work for good: “Our congregation is now located about three miles from the Jewish Community Center. Some rabbis, in expressing anger over our presence, aroused peoples’ curiosity. We’ve had more Jewish visitors and some have come to know the Lord, including an 83-year-old gentleman. He then invited his wife and she, who is from an Orthodox background, also has come to know the Lord.”
Stacie Knable-Crook reporting for Ariel Ministries: “This year’s twenty-first annual Camp Shoshanah discipleship program was “packed out” once again. Campers came from as far away as New Zealand and Germany. More than a dozen received tvilah (immersion). And even as we write, our fourth special week-long Shoshanah for Russian-Jewish immigrants comes to a close. Of the 50 plus campers, at least 12 professed saving faith in Messiah! We thank Yeshua for His grace in this regard, as well as His protection during Arnold’s successful five-week intensive study trek in Israel.”
Fred Hartman, for Friends of Israel: “One of the most exciting things we are seeing is ministry among Russian Jews. In the Atlanta area we have a Tuesday night Bible study running about150 Russian-speaking Jews. About 35 have already come to know Jesus as their Messiah. That is one of the most thrilling things we have seen in a long while. We also are working among Russian Jews in Newport News, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati. God is blessing in each one of these areas. And we are planning an outreach into Russia with our workers from Poland this fall.
“Another exciting thing is the fact that the Lord has enabled us to broadcast in Hebrew into Israel three times a week. And this is done by Motel K., who is the son of Tsvi, a Holocaust survivor.
“One other area I’d like to touch upon is that our name, Friends of Israel, has given us opportunities to minister to some of the leaders in Israel as well as the top leaders of Israeli government in the United States!”
A Joyful Meeting occurred when a German Jewish believer who came to faith 12 years ago met another Jewish believer for the first time. Stewart Weinisch, who was part of the Chosen People endeavors in Germany last summer said, “I’ve never seen a person cry when he met other Jewish believers! Everything that came out of his mouth was a praise to God!”
Opportunities to be heard: “We have been very encouraged by the increasing openness of our community. Newspapers now send people to us for interviews, rather than simply printing hearsay. We were invited to participate with a huge float in the Fourth of July parade. Our klezmer orchestra played Dixieland jazz while our children, clad in Ruach Israel T-shirts, waved to the crowd. People are becoming more aware that there is a congregation where they can come and feel free to ask about Yeshua.
“We are also developing in terms of our adult education program, and this is very important.
“But the best thing is that more and more Russian Jewish people are coming among us and finding Messiah. This is a very joyful course of events and one we would like to see continue.”
New Resources Available for Outreach to Russian Jews
Jim Melnick of Friends of Soviet Jewry reported: “We are excited about our new Russian messianic songbook. I visited a congregation in Maryland; they only had one copy and some overheads, so I brought more copies. The joy on their faces as they sang to the Lord was a tremendous encouragement.
“We are also excited about our newspaper, Mezhdunarodnaya Messianskaya Gazeta (The International Messianic Newspaper). We hope to reach unbelievers as well as believers, and part of our vision is to include articles on the arts and cultural topics as well as things of a spiritual nature.
“We printed 15,000 copies of our first issue and 6,000 copies of our second. Avi Snyder of Jews for Jesus in Moscow told me that his staff of Russian Jewish believers just devoured the first one. That is the reaction we are getting from many places. We hope to build a huge circulation that will give Russian Jews access to the very best materials from many different ministries. We think the newspaper can help build community among believers. We have requests from as far away as Latvia and Australia — wherever groups of Russian-speaking Jewish believers gather. We want to make sure they know that they are not alone, that there are places they can turn to for encouragement.”
If you are involved in ministry to Russian Jews and are interested in further information regarding the songbook or the newspaper, write to Friends of Soviet Jewry, P.O. Box 2567, Springfield, VA 22152 USA.
Dan Strull of Olive Tree Congregation said, “I am encouraged by people in our congregation seeing Yeshua as sufficient to deal with life’s problems. A couple who were ready to leave each other had a real neat turning to the Lord. Now they are committed to working on the marriage.
“We have a family who had $27,000 in personal debt. Everybody told them to file bankruptcy. But they wanted to pay their debts and apply God’s principles of stewardship to their lives. They got a smaller apartment, cut back expenses, started giving faithfully — and retired the entire debt in three-and-a half years. It was a step of faith and a real victory.
“We also are encouraged to see three or four non-believing Jewish people at services on a weekly basis. Best of all, Jewish people are coming to know the Lord. We recently immersed six people, including four children of people who attend the congregation. One is a teen who faces typical peer pressures, yet wanted to be immersed. It is encouraging to see the next generation making choices to honor the Lord.
“In the last four months we’ve had two bat mitzvahs and a bar mitzvah. It is a joy to see kids go through training. Of course, the fact that my daughter was one of them added to it. Many non-believing family members attended, and it has been a strong story for Yeshua.
“As President of the Fellowship of Messianic Congregations, I’m encouraged that we’ve received three new member congregations. One of our congregations shares a facility with a Conservative Baptist church. Both are led by Rich Freeman. I like that link between a Messianic congregation and a non-Messianic congregation.”
Willingness to Stretch Brings Blessings
Herb Links of Beth Messiah told us, “I was apprehensive about serving as chaplain for the Jews for Jesus Witnessing Campaign, knowing that the schedule would be rigorous and that I would feel vulnerable witnessing on the streets of New York. But as is often the case, that ‘stretch’ proved to be a tremendous blessing, not only during the Campaign itself, but afterward, as situation after situation enables me to put to use the experience I gained over the summer.
“I’ve been realizing how vastly God’s mercy differs from my own. His mercy has become a strong motivating factor in my life. At the same time, the Campaign helped me reach out with much greater boldness to others, so I feel better equipped to express His mercy.
For example, I have tried to speak to a friend of mine about his backslidden state. After Campaign, we met again, and I was able to talk to him in a refreshed manner, in a spirit of mercy. There was a balance of being straightforward without bending crucial principles, and doing so without being a judge or executioner. That ministered life to me and, I hope, to him.
“I believe there is a correlation between having been willing to serve on the Campaign and the blessing that God confirms upon us when we obey Him, even in a situation we find challenging or difficult.”
Jews for Jesus Summer Witnessing Campaign
Every day, Campaigners found themselves keeping “divine appointments,” meeting people in what might appear to be “coincidental” times and places.
For example, we had two Israeli believers on our New York Witnessing Campaign. Tali was handing out tracts in the Diamond District when someone called her by name. It was an Israeli named Mara, whom Tali had known since kindergarten. Tali explained what she was doing and gave Mara a tract in Hebrew. Mara gave Tali her phone number so they could meet again. Pray that God will open Mara’s heart to Jesus.
Campaigners take God very seriously but they sure know how to have fun!
The hot, sticky New York weather made our “Living Water” that much more appealing. Remember Jesus and the woman at the well? One Campaigner who followed in His footsteps reported:
“I had a great opportunity to share the gospel in Washington Square Park. I perched on the fence next to a water fountain and struck up conversations with people. One young man was very thin and looked ill. His arms were covered in tattoos. After hearing a simple explanation of the message of Jesus, he prayed to ask for God’s forgiveness and salvation in Jesus. Later that night, two Israelis gave me their names and addresses to receive further information, and an ex-Muslim prayed for salvation in Jesus!
You’ve probably seen pictures of people handing out broadsides, but Jews for Jesus street evangelism involves a bit more than tract distribution…like handing out free “Juice from Jesus” in the Diamond District of New York…
Every Campaigner wonders about the people who pray with us on the streets every summer. So it was particularly encouraging when, at the Brooklyn Bridge subway stop, a man waved and called out to a Campaigner, “I can’t stop now, but I prayed with one of you two years ago at this station to ask Jesus into my life!” Praise God — He allows us to do work that is eternally significant!
…or putting up posters at 2 A.M. to raise a banner for Yeshua
There are so many stories from Campaigns all over the world, but we will have to end with this one from Moscow. One of our outreach workers reported that “many Jewish friends advised us not to do evangelism at a metro station called Krasnopresnenskaya, as it is famous for nationalistic (fascist/anti-Semitic) meetings. In the first week of Campaign training, we handed out tracts there three times. Many Jewish people asked us to send further information and one Jewish lady, Lina, prayed to receive the Lord. I know God protects us and helps us to do His will!”
Remarkable Outreach in Russia!
Henry Benach of the International Board of Jewish Missions reported, “In four years, more than 35,000 people have given their names and addresses, claiming to have trusted Jesus as their Savior for the first time. We use response cards in our meetings and let people know we’re interested in knowing if they are Jewish. People draw Jewish stars and menorahs to indicate that they are Jewish. Now we are getting reports of people who have emigrated to Israel and they are sharing their faith in the Lord!” Jonathan Bernis of Hear O Israel Ministries reported 10,000 people came to faith during his three-day outreach in Moscow last Spring, at least half of whom were Jewish! Hear O Israel has planted a congregation to begin nurturing new Jewish believers. P.S.: The outreach was televised during prime-time hours on Russian television.
True Reconciliation Brings Results
Haim Levi, President of MJAA, told us, “The Lord brought about a beautiful reconciliation between the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America and our brethren of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. At Messiah ’94 we asked each other for forgiveness for having hurt each other, for having acted wrongly. Then I went to San Diego where the UMJC conference took place and had a chance to ask them for forgiveness, first before the delegate structure and then before the whole body.
“This is something we have prayed about for a long time. I know that when leadership repents and gets right with God, the Lord is going to do great things. So, we expect great things!”
Rich Nichol, President of UMJC, said, “There have been a number of positive things happening in the UMJC, but number one would have to be the beginning of a new relationship with the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.
“After 14 years of antagonism between the two organizations, a new trajectory has been established. Trust is building. We are learning to be friends. That’s a big step and very, very positive.”
Jeff Forman of Beth Yeshua Congregation added, “The enemy wants strife and discord. But when the Holy Spirit shows up there is reconciliation. The UMJC/MJAA reconciliation is most significant; it involves leaders of the movement. I think that perhaps that is why there has been a visitation of the Spirit.
“I’ve been working for Beth Yeshua and messianic ministries now for nine years, and the most significant ministry I’ve seen has been taking place within the last few months. Believers are being awakened to new zeal, new excitement, new prayer life. One way to know if revival is of God is when backsliders return to the Lord. And that is happening. There also is a general openness in our witnessing; we have been more outgoing in evangelism. I know other Messianic Congregations are experiencing the same thing. One is having prayer meetings several nights a week. And that, of course, is a sign that God is on the move. Yes, reconciliation is wonderful.”
Good News for Israel Brings Good News to Latvia!
Kearney Frantsen, head of Good News for Israel, told us, “We are busily and happily involved with the Latvian Lutheran Diophenal Institute, a small Christian college that trains young people to live out their Christianity and witness to the people of post-Communist Latvia. I am concerned for the 25,000 Jewish people of Latvia, most of whom are in the Riga area, which is where the Latvian Lutheran Diophenal Institute is located. They had 36 students last semester; half are Jewish believers! We are helping them and they, in turn, will reach out to many people, including many Jewish people!”
From Israel to Mexico City
Wes Taber, leader of American Messianic Fellowship International, reported, “A couple of years ago we planted a congregation in Israel. We returned for another three weeks this past summer. The congregation, Tikvat Israel, has baptized at least nine believers now, Jewish believers that I know of. We also worked with three other Israeli congregations. I think we were an encouragement to them, and it was definitely a blessing for us to be involved with them in outreach.
“In Mexico City, praise the Lord, we have a retired medical doctor who just began a prison ministry. He reported our first profession of faith from a Jewish inmate, who is now being discipled.”
Jews for Jesus is a team. When you are part of a team, you handle discouragement better because others uphold you and share the encouragement of good things that are happening on their side of the field. When good things are happening for you, you have a group to rejoice and be encouraged by your successes. Being on a team means your joys are amplified when you share them and your burdens are lessened through that same sharing.
If you are a team worker and you want to be on a winning team, it is possible that Jews for Jesus needs you — and that you need us. To find out more, check out the opportunities in our Classifieds area, write to: Stephen Katz, Minister at Large, Jews for Jesus, 60 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.