Jews for Jesus in Montreal
In September of 2005, we asked you to pray for our Behold Your God Campaign in Montreal, and announced that we would be opening a branch. This has been a long-term dream of Jews for Jesus Canada.
Jews for Jesus Canada began in the hearts of committed Canadian Christians who heard how God was using Jews for Jesus in the USA in the 1970s. And so in 1980, Jews for Jesus came to Toronto to establish groundwork for its first branch outside of the USA. At last, we are ready to branch out” to Montreal.
At this point the branch is really a “twig” (or outpost, if we want to be formal) consisting of the deSouza family and Sandie Betsalel, a part- time Office Administrator. But thanks to your prayers and the Behold Your God outreach a couple of months ago, the outpost is off to an exciting start.
Montreal: a bit of review from the September BYG Pic
Montreal is a very diverse city and cultural center, located in the province of Quebec. The first language in Montreal is French, but a large proportion of people are bilingual, while some speak only English. Montreal has been referred to as “the most unreached city in North America.” (This refers to the city as a whole, not just the Jewish population.) Hedonism, relativism and secularism are rampant. This is indeed a city that needs the gospel!
The Jewish population of Montreal is approximately 100,000, and the people are more religious than many Jewish communities in North America. Many Holocaust survivors reside in Montreal, and a third or more of the Jewish population are French-speaking Sephardi Jews, originally from Morocco.
THE DESOUZA STORY, TOLD BY KARL:
As far as I know, I am the only Jew for Jesus who was born in Karachi, Pakistan. My father, a Catholic, was of Goan origin (Goa is a western province of India), and my mother comes from the Bene-Israel Jewish community in India/Pakistan. We moved to Quebec, Canada when I was about four years old.
Mom never “converted” to Catholicism, but she held Jesus in high esteem. Though I wasn’t raised typically Jewish, I knew I had Jewish roots, especially when we visited relatives in Israel. At age 16, I stopped going to my father’s church in order to find the “true religion.” However, I didn’t get too far until my last year in university, when I came across a TV program that focused on prophecy, Jesus’ return and the need to receive Him as Saviour. My friends and I discussed this show and as a result, one friend invited me to church. It wasn’t long before I understood the gospel and received Jesus as my Saviour.
I trained at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Theoretical Physics. I worked for a while as a Systems Officer (computer support and programming) with the Ontario government where I shared my faith in Yeshua with many. I felt God calling me to ministry so I attended a missions conference, where I met my wife, Kristen.
Kristen was born in Seoul, Korea to an unbelieving family. She immigrated to New York City when she was ten years old and then to Toronto a few years later. She began searching for God at a young age, attending church services and Sunday school on her own. When she was 13 years old, she went to a church retreat. The love of Jesus overwhelmed her and she embraced it immediately. She repented and received Jesus as her Lord and Saviour.
As Kristen matured in the faith, she committed her life to serving Him and trained to do so—which is how we met at a missions conference. We were married in 1998, having both enrolled in Heritage Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. We graduated together as a married couple with a newborn baby. We are blessed with two children, Elizabeth and Nathanael. Kristen spends most of her time caring for our children, and although she is not officially on our staff, she shares my burden to reach Jewish people for Jesus and is a vital part of my ministry.
I began my ministry with Jews for Jesus in 2001 as a trainee in New York City. I have been stationed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada since August of 2001, where I continued training and began digging into the work. I graduated from the Jews for Jesus missionary training program as of May 2002.
THE BEHOLD YOUR GOD “JUMPSTART”
The following are excerpts from some of the daily reports we received from the campaign in September.
“The trainee team went on our first sortie (tract passing expedition) today for the evening rush hour in Montreal. Although the weather was cloudy and humid it was a little cooler and people were willing to talk. Two Jewish people gave their names and addresses to find out more. Stav was particularly interested. Claude also gave his details while his Jewish girlfriend listened.”
“We really sense God at work. We did our first cold-calling from the telephone book tonight as it was raining. Every Jewish person we talked to seems to have heard of us because of our opposition’s constant publicity. (More ads from them appeared in local and Jewish newspapers this week.) Despite this, three people we phoned were willing to find out more about Jesus. An Israeli who had heard about the fuss sounded genuinely open to seeing if what we say has biblical weight. Please pray for Rafael. Also, despite the weather we did a downtown sortie, during which five Gentiles prayed to receive the Lord. Please pray for Mike, Talkia, Chelsea, Yusin and Betty.”
“Everyone has heard of us by now. One person we phoned told campaigner Inna, ‘What you believe is bad.’ Inna replied, ‘Did you discover that for yourself or were you told?’ The lady said, ‘I was told, of course.’ Inna said, ‘Wouldn’t it be good to find out why for yourself?’ The lady agreed and gave her contact details! Also, Jerry Balswick had a wonderful experience today. The first day of campaign he spoke to a lady who was nearly ready to receive the Lord, but not quite. Three days later, after exiting a metro stop he ran right into her—literally! He said, ‘God must be telling you something!’ And Shannon prayed to receive Jesus. Pray for Shannon to grow in her faith— especially in light of the opposition being raised. So far, we’ve seen nine Gentiles pray to receive Jesus and 34 unsaved Gentiles (including quite a few Muslims) have given their details to find out more.”
“One team was surrounded at Concordia University by six anti- missionaries. Josh, the leader of this team was our only team leader without extensive experience. He did an amazing job and really experienced God’s presence during the heat of the moment. He came back on a high, but later this evening, he was violently sick before he started cold-calling.”
“Well, today was pretty eventful!! Oded and Richard (two other staff members of Jews for Jesus) and I (Jonathan Bernd) took two Hebrew banners into an ultra-Orthodox district of Montreal called Outremont (see pictures). The banners said in Hebrew, ‘Isaiah 53, so controversial you have to see for yourself!’ and ‘Isaiah 53, the Talmud agrees…it does speak about a person.’ We stood there giving out free literature and having some conversations until a crowd of three gentlemen surrounded my colleague, began raising their voices, and eventually grabbed his banner, ripped it off the post, broke it in two and put it in a minivan. I gave my banner to my colleague (they also ripped that one) while I called the police. The police eventually showed up after a second call. They were not helpful. However, we rejoice that the fuss enabled some passers-by to hear our antagonists say they didn’t care about Isaiah. Please pray for the people in this culture. There is great intimidation against their examination of the Bible for themselves and especially against their examination of Jesus.”
“God has answered your prayers in many ways. We received confirmation that we were within our legal rights when we went into the ultra-Orthodox area on Sunday to offer literature. That being established, four of us returned in our white Jews for Jesus (Juifs pour JTsus) shirts. We also had a photographer and a “prayer warrior” with us. God opened up some incredible doors. One man came to belittle us. As we began to talk about Messianic prophecy he told me (Jonathan) that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I asked if he had ever read the prophets in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). There was a complete silence, and then he said ‘No.’ I told him, ‘How about you read them and then come back to me and we can talk.’ Again, complete silence. Then he said, ‘Have a nice day’ and left.”
“Tass came today and is a real blessing. His commitment to the Lord and his bravery are a real encouragement to us. For those who don’t know, Tass is a former Muslim and a former PLO sniper who has come to faith and learned to love Jewish people. He gave a powerful story on the radio and tonight in our first public event. It has to be said that the final turnout was small. However, one Jewish lady who came wanted to know more about Tass’ story, and there were also some Palestinians who were very challenged.”
“This evening, while one team was out on the streets, the rest of us attended a showing of Forbidden Peace which also featured a panel for a time of Q & A. The turnout was encouraging in that this time, about 35 Jewish non-believers attended, and our panel (including Tass and Oded, the latter an Israeli member of our staff) were anointed in answering some tough questions.”
“This evening we had a great visit with two Jewish people who had come and hear Tass’ story. Please pray for Gabi and Ruth to come to faith.”
“We’re seeing more Jewish people give their names and addresses to know more about Jesus. Not only that, but Jewish people in extremely Jewish areas are getting used to our presence and some are getting curious, even when their friends are hostile. Please pray this trend continues.”
“Keep praying. Your daily prayers are very, very necessary and valued. You are a part of the great things God is doing here in Montreal.”
The campaign ended with a total of 99 Jewish seekers willing to receive more information from us, and four new Jewish believers in Jesus. There were also 150 Gentile seekers and 14 new Gentile believers in Jesus. Please pray for the local churches as they follow up, and for Karl as he follows up on the Jewish seekers and new believers.