Picture above: Missionary Will Rosenberg creating one of the paintings recently exhibited at Upside Down, the coffee shop/gallery that we run in Westwood, the Los Angeles neighborhood that is home to UCLA
Thank you for helping our Los Angeles team be among the first to welcome people back to public events, now that COVID restrictions have eased up! Your prayers and support also make it possible for us to have personal Bible studies with Jewish seekers and to welcome new believers into the family of Messiah. From public to personal ministry, you are helping our Los Angeles team reach Jewish hearts!
Art as a way to help people process and move forward from the pandemic
We were especially excited to reopen our Upside Down café, because, as Will Rosenberg (who used his art for various ministries before joining our children and youth ministry team) said, “The last year has been hard. The Exodus theme was a biblical way to help people process what they’ve experienced during the pandemic, and to think about how to go forward.” During the event, one young woman told Will that her Jewish boyfriend is in rehab, and that they have been reading the Bible together. She was drawn to one of the journals Will had painted with the Hebrew letters spelling out “hope.” Will inscribed the journal for her boyfriend, and when he offered to pray right there for the two of them, she enthusiastically accepted.
Melissa Moskowitz, artistic director of Upside Down, says, “The arts can be used to reach Jewish people for Jesus, as evidenced by Will Rosenberg’s vivid images of faith, hope, and joy.”
There is an art to listening and helping people consider how Jesus is the true hero they are seeking. That’s what Will and other team members did at our Exodus exhibit, and that’s what Lucy and Jesse Eshleman did with two women who recently prayed to receive Jesus.
Families coming to faith
We love stories of families coming to faith! Back in 2018, when Lucy was a new intern with our Los Angeles branch, Lydia called our office from Pennsylvania. She was a relatively new Jewish believer in Jesus, and, at first, her family was very upset about her faith. But Mia, one of Lydia’s daughters, eventually decided to investigate for herself whether Jesus really is Messiah. Since Mia lives in the LA area, Lydia called our branch to ask if someone from Jews for Jesus would meet with her.
Missionaries Jesse and Lucy Eshleman
Lucy, along with Melissa Moskowitz (who has been investing in the next generation of Jews for Jesus for years), met with Mia once a week for months. She eventually surrendered her life to the Lord, and before long, her boyfriend (not Jewish) also came to faith! The Eshlemans co-officiated the wedding in New Hampshire in September 2020, and that’s when they met Mia’s sister, Nicole. (By this time, Lydia’s husband and youngest daughter had also come to faith!)
Like Mia, Nicole was initially shocked and upset about Lydia’s faith, but eventually became interested to learn more. Her life-long best friend, Anna (who is not Jewish), also began seeking God. So, in February 2021, the Eshlemans, who are both on our LA team, began weekly Bible studies with them via Zoom (Nicole lives in Pennsylvania and Anna in Delaware).
Both women were very engaged and asked thoughtful questions. In May, Anna shared that she had begun praying to God for strength in the midst of social anxiety. Nicole chimed in that she had recently felt like she needed to leave a party, and when she got home, she read her Bible. Lucy said that what they were describing sounded like faith. She asked if they felt they were ready to receive Jesus as their Savior, and they both acknowledged their need for God, and that Jesus made a way to God through His death and resurrection. Then they each prayed to receive Him!
Friends and family often provide the best contact with people who are open to the gospel, and we love nothing more than personal Bible study with seekers. Yet it is also crucial for us to maintain a public ministry so that Jewish people who are not yet exploring the gospel can see Jewish expressions of what it means to follow Jesus. Then, when they become seekers, we can be among those they trust to help them on their journey. Please keep praying as we reach out to Jewish people personally (as the Eshlemans did with Mia, Nicole, and Anna) as well as publicly, through Upside Down!
The Exodus exhibit was a great way to welcome people back to our Upside Down gallery and café.