Christmas Past and Present
Our print newsletter is edited well in advance, so the seasonal stories tend to be from the previous years—but be encouraged for Christmases past and know that stories just like these are presently unfolding in Jews for Jesus branches around the world!
Rob Wertheim, who heads up our evangelism in the City by the Bay, passed on this letter:
This morning at the train station I received a pamphlet from a man explaining how Christmas should be a Jewish holiday. As I was reading, I could feel the Holy Spirit engulf me. I have been a Christian for many years but sometimes it’s hard to have the courage to share the love of Jesus Christ. I would just like to say THANK YOU to the man standing there handing out the love of Jesus on a little green paper. What you are doing may not be important to everyone, but it is impacting some. Have a very Merry Jewish Christmas.”
Rob also reports: “With assistance from several Jews for Jesus headquarters staff, volunteers and the help of 21 faithful volunteers from a local church in our area, St. John’s Anglican Church of Petaluma—our team distributed 45,650 broadsides during the month of December! On the last full day of the outreach, I met two vacationing Israelis. They noticed my Jews for Jesus sweatshirt and asked what it meant. I explained and in return asked if they had ever heard about or seen our ads in Israel. They had! I asked if they would be open to hearing from us when they returned home and they agreed, giving me their contact information to pass on to our Tel Aviv branch. Please pray for continued openness and for salvation for Gil and Rami. Thank you!”
Vlad Mitnitsky* writes: “On the day after Thanksgiving, we gave gospel tracts to thousands of shoppers. I was near Macy’s, handing out broadsides and trying to engage some people in conversation about Jesus. Suddenly a young Hasidic guy approached me and said that he would like to ask me a few questions. His name is Igor; he’s a Russian Canadian who recently moved to New York. Igor’s questions were sincere. He really wanted to understand how I knew that Jesus was the One. I shared with Igor a few major prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures about the Messiah, and he had never read them, nor had he ever opened the New Testament.
“Igor had passed by the Jews for Jesus office many times, had seen our window displays and was glad to finally talk to one of us. He took a gospel tract and told me that he would consider whether Jesus might be the promised Messiah. Please pray for Igor to surrender his heart to Jesus as he searches for the truth.”
*Vlad finished the New York portion of his training and is now back with our Tel Aviv branch
Maxim Ammosov reports, “Every year at Hanukkah, Jewish organizations in Moscow arrange a big concert in the city’s best concert halls. The last couple of years it was held in the main concert hall of the country, the State Kremlin Palace. Six thousand Jewish people from every corner of Moscow come to the concert! That makes it a great place to hand out broadsides and to receive Jewish contacts, which we do every year.
“This year I saw a group of people walking in the direction of the Kremlin Palace. I asked if they were going to the Hanukkah concert. They said ‘yes.’ One of them, Emilie, wanted to continue the conversation with me. She explained, ‘I am a leader of this group.’ She was from a Jewish center in Vladimir, four hours from Moscow. People from Jewish centers are not supposed to interact with Jews for Jesus. I thought she would quickly end our conversation, but I was wrong. Instead she gave me her contact information and agreed to receive literature about Yeshua! Please pray for salvation for Emilie.”
Can the Music and the Message of Christmas touch Jewish hearts?
Absolutely! The following excerpts from Ceil Rosen’s story give a resounding “Yes!” that can encourage you to pray for the Jewish people we will be meeting during this season:
“The winter I was sixteen, my high school chorus had a major role in our school’s Christmas program. In grade school, I had always felt drawn to Christmas carols, but my parents would never allow me to participate in Christmas programs. Now, having taken the music class, I had to sing in the concert or fail the entire semester. I concocted a half-truth for having to be at school that evening, smuggled my costume out of the house and went off to the Christmas program. Dressed in long skirts and head scarves to approximate biblical garb, we moved across the stage in a kind of slow dance, singing, O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel. Though we had rehearsed those words many times, I suddenly found myself pondering their meaning. Was there something true about Jesus being for us Jews?
Fast Forward two years …
“One day about a week before Christmas, I put on the Christmas album [Moishe had given me]. Suddenly the words of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ struck me as they never had before. I wondered. What did it mean, The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight? Did the hopes refer to the messianic hope? But who would fear the coming of our longed-awaited Messiah, and why? The Gentiles said that Jesus was the Messiah. Did we Jews feel threatened by their beliefs? Were we afraid to think about Jesus in those terms because it might be true? Was that why I was never allowed to mention His name at home, and why, whenever the beautiful church music that drew me came on over the radio, my parents would quickly turn the dial to another station? Was Jesus the Everlasting Light the song mentioned?
“I listened to another song, ‘We Three Kings,’ and thought about the miraculous star they said led the wise men to the newborn Christ child. I had grown up hearing those carols in public school. I had even secretly enjoyed singing them except for the awkward parts that called Him ‘Lord.’ Now, for the first time, I was considering those songs in a new way and wondering if their message might be true. I felt I must ask God about that. I prayed, ‘God, is there anything to what the Christians are saying about this Jesus?'”