We now have more than a dozen “next generation” staff who were nurtured and mentored through our Camp Gilgal program. Here are what a handful of some of those we invested in are doing now:
Elisheva R. not only directs our East Coast Camp Gilgal, but for three years has held a seat on the Jews for Jesus Council, giving input for our quarterly strategy planning sessions, and exhibiting a real knack for interviewing potential missionary candidates.
Aaron Trank serves as Minister-at-Large at our San Francisco headquarters. (His wife Rachelle was also a camper with Camp Gilgal). He spearheads our recruiting, and is a strong advocate for unity across the spectrum of Messianic congregations and Jewish missions. You can read his godly wisdom on the subject here.
Sean Trank (Aaron’s younger brother) heads up our multi-media department at our San Francisco headquarters. He specializes in creating videos and is incredibly creative and adept with social media. Click here for an example of Sean’s work and an invitation to join the network of volunteer cyber evangelists he’s been heading up. (More about Sean when we come to prayer requests.)
Eli Birnbaum did not come up through the ranks of Camp Gilgal, but his wife Shoshana did. Together they are spearheading our young adult ministry in Israel, much of which is happening at the Moishe Rosen Center in Tel Aviv. They also led this year’s Israeli Massah, mentioned in our November 2013 newsletter.
Isaac and Shaina Brickner, while still in training with us in NYC, were asked to lead worship for the East Coast Grass roots event a couple of months ago. Grass Roots brings together Jewish believers in Messiah from various congregations and missions groups. It was a great privilege and joy to be able to send young people who grew up with Jews for Jesus to minister and lead others of their generation in worship. And it was a joy for our “Bronx” (Melissa Moskowitz) to be invited to address the group on their first day!
That is just a sprinkling of examples of how God is answering your prayers for the next generation.
The majority of participants at our recent meeting of CYM/YAM (Children’s and Youth Ministry/Young Adult Ministry) were people we’d invested in before they came on staff. “Old Timers” Moose* (David Garrett) and Bronx* (Melissa Moskowitz) were also present … and very gratified to see this generation brainstorming, problem solving and getting excited about the challenges and opportunities of ministry to Jewish people.
We have become an intergenerational ministry to be sure! That means that we greatly value energy and input from our younger teammates, while recognizing that those of us who have been around for a long time still have much to pass on by way of life lessons and principles. It also means that we have made a conscious choice to maneuver through the tensions and rough spots that are a natural part of intergenerational relationships.
The road to raising the next generation of Jews for Jesus was paved long ago, though new entrances to the road have been added and/or have undergone construction. “Moose,” one of the major investors in our next generation recalls,
“Thirty years ago Moishe saw that I had a vision for ministry to kids; he asked me to begin the camp on the West Coast and Bob Mendelsohn to start one on the East Coast. It was his vision to minister to children of Jewish believers in Jesus, and to invest in future generations of Jewish believers in Messiah. He saw this as a critical need for our ministry and for our movement. He looked for opportunities to invest in young people and develop their gifts. His love and commitment to young people was deep and is part of his legacy.”
When Moishe stepped down in 1996, David Brickner cast his own vision of investing in the next generation. He understood that the process had to be ongoing, intentional, and one of our primary prayer focuses. David’s commitment to sharing the reins of leadership and listening to the vision of the next generation has been a big part of how far we’ve come – and how far we hope to go for the Lord with a continually renewed and reinvigorated energy to bring the gospel to Jews and Gentiles.
Even as we rejoice in how God is answering prayers for the next generation of Jews for Jesus, we need to share some pressing requests with you.
Please pray for Micha Cohen and Sean Trank, as well as their families.
Micha, the son of former staff Steve and Jan Cohen, has been involved with Jews for Jesus from childhood, and could hardly wait to be old enough to join staff.** He was joyfully accepted as a missionary and has served faithfully, with his wife Leah by his side. Micha took a leave of absence some years ago to help his dad care for his mom, who has since gone to be with the Lord. Jan had Huntington’s disease, a genetic, degenerative disease for which there is no known cure. Micha is now battling that same disease, which has manifested much earlier than it did in his mother. You would have a hard time finding a braver, more loving ambassador of the gospel than Micha Cohen. He and his wife Leah are the parents of two beautiful girls. Please keep the family in prayer.
Sean is the young man David referred to in this month’s article, “What will happen in the New Year?” As we are writing this, the diagnosis of stage 3B lung cancer is still relatively new. It is possible that by the time you receive this, Sean will be close to completing a very tough thirteen weeks of treatment. Please pray for Sean and his wife Sarah (they have been married for just two years). Sean is an avid blogger and is openly sharing about his journey on a Facebook page called “Sean Trank Versus Lung Cancer.” He also has a blog at seantrank.com. If you’re someone who follows blogs, we think you’ll find Sean’s faith and transparency truly inspiring.
These guys are much loved throughout our ministry and if you knew them, you would love them, too. Prayers for healing, for strength, for courage, and most of all for the faith of all concerned to flourish through these trials, would be greatly appreciated.
*Camp Gilgal has a tradition of using special camp names for counselors or others in leadership roles.