Varied and Versatile: From Boston to Brooklyn and Beyond…
One of our Jews for Jesus core values is an apostolic lifestyle of availability, mobility and vulnerability.” Boston-based missionaries Oded and Bimini Cohen exemplify that missionary lifestyle, and we hope that you’ll enjoy seeing the range of opportunities God has been bringing their way as a result. As you pray for the Cohens to remain available, vulnerable and willing to go wherever God sends them, please pray that we would all, by His grace, do the same.
Did you know that many of the people we minister to have been referred to us by Christian friends like you? Bimini received a call from a Christian who wanted help witnessing to Gertrude, her 98-year-old Jewish employer. Bimini found Gertrude very open to the gospel; she had been watching Christian television shows and remarked on the joy of people who believe in Jesus. However, Gertrude told Bimini she was weary of life and was ready to die. Bimini asked if she was ready to meet our Maker and Gertrude was uncertain. After explaining the need to have our sins forgiven through the atoning death of Jesus, Bimini asked if Gertrude wanted to receive Him into her heart as her Lord and Savior. She wanted to, but feared losing her Jewish identity. Bimini says, “After I reassured Gertrude that she would not lose anything but would gain eternal life and a relationship with the God of her fathers, she prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior. Please ask God to strengthen her faith. The Christian helper is the one who really loved her into the kingdom, just as you through your prayers and support are loving the Jewish people into God’s kingdom.” Another Christian friend asked Bimini to contact a Jewish woman named Barbara. They connected by phone, but it was quite a while before they arranged a visit, since Barbara lives more than three hours away. At one point, Barbara’s adult son called Bimini and angrily insisted that she never call his mother again. Both Barbara’s children are well known in their circles. Bimini says, “I felt disappointed and confused, but I prayed for God to intervene. Within a couple days, Barbara called me to apologize for her son’s rudeness and assured me that I should feel free to call her anytime. Finally, in September, Oded and I met Barbara in person. She asked good questions about our faith and seemed eager to continue to be in contact. Please pray for Barbara’s salvation.”
Oded was speaking at a church and met a woman who had been praying for her Jewish son-in-law for a long time. The son-in-law came to the presentation with his Christian wife, and afterwards he and Oded connected. Oded told a bit of his story, and a few days later the couple invited Oded and Bimini to dinner at their home. It turned out that the husband had just recently come to faith and was vey eager to learn more. Oded is now discipling this new brother in the Lord.
Oded met a group of Christians who are reaching out to the lost through the Internet, specifically via a virtual reality world called “Second Life.” Oded has been equipping them to share their faith with Jewish people whom they occasionally encounter this way. As he was participating with this group on the Internet, Oded “met” a young Israeli who was spiritually hungry. Oded shared his story and found that the young man already believed that Jesus is the Messiah. When Oded explained what it meant to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior, the young man said he had not yet done so, but wanted to. Oded led him in a prayer of faith and he immediately said, “Wow, I feel something very special inside.” Oded connected him with our staff in Israel.
Teaming up with other local Jewish ministries
Henry is a local Jewish believer and leader of a Messianic congregation in a Boston suburb. He invited Oded to share the platform with him at an event where the topic of discussion was, “Can a Jew believe in Jesus and still be a Jew?” About 50 people attended, including four Jewish people who don’t yet believe. The discussion included time for questions and answers as well as coffee and snacks. Bimini says, “As we lingered afterward, a college student named Joel approached me. He reminded me that we had met two years ago at a church where I spoke. I recalled the time and how he patiently waited to speak to me after the service (many had come to me with questions). He’d given me his contact information then, but when Oded called, Joel wasn’t interested in getting together. This time he seemed more interested in examining the possibility that Jesus is the Messiah; some strong Christian friends have continued witnessing to him. Please pray for Joel’s salvation; we were so glad to re-connect with him.”
Brooklyn Hassidic Outreach
Oded has been in on the “ground floor” of our attempts to reach out to the extremely Orthodox community of Hassidic Jews in New York, which began in conjunction with our Behold Your God New York campaign in 2006. He continues to be involved in subsequent outreaches to this cloistered community and ministers to them via cell phone when he is in Boston.
After the September outreach, Bimini says, “When Oded returned home he was answering dozens of phone calls from Brooklyn every day, with the most calls coming during dinner or late at night when I was trying to sleep. Oded was determined to keep the phone on regardless of the hour and I had to pray for a good attitude so that I could intercede for each caller instead of wondering, ‘Why now?'”
Oded says, “It seemed that the calls were not as hostile as in previous years—each year seems to get better, thanks be to God and thanks to your prayers. I have had quite a few good discussions. One of the young Hassidic men who called me wrote down some of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, such as Isaiah 53 and Jeremiah 31. He wanted to know why the rabbis reject Jesus, and asked where he could find a New Testament.
I offered to send him one, but he said he first wanted to discuss it with his wife. Another caller began by mocking me but as we continued talking, he started to listen and ask many questions about the Messiah, sin and the Day of Atonement (the outreach coincided with the Jewish High Holidays, which includes the Day of Atonement). Please continue to pray for open hearts in this hard to reach community, and for God’s wisdom and guidance as we continue to make ourselves available to witness to them.
Planning an upcoming Behold Your God Israel campaign
Oded and Bimini have already been involved with our efforts in Israel— after all, Oded was born and raised there. He will be co-leading our next Behold Your God Israel campaign with Shlomy, one of our Israeli missionaries in the Land. The area they will be reaching is geographically larger than Tel Aviv and is more ‘traditional’ (religiously observant). Oded, Shlomy and a few volunteers have already tested the waters there, handing out literature and speaking to people. They were encouraged to find a number of people willing to hear more. They also met a local Jewish believer previously unknown to us who might be willing to help with the campaign. One challenge we face is a large area with little concentrated foot traffic (which makes it difficult to hand out literature). And, as always, we need the Lord to send us volunteers (especially Hebrew speakers). Both Oded and Shlomy would also appreciate prayers for God’s wisdom.