Camp Gilgal East
Last summer 40 campers from geographic areas as far-spread as Michigan, Florida, Louisiana and New York came to eastern Pennsylvania to experience Camp Gilgal East. It was the third year for this Jews for Jesus venture of faith and adventure of ministry.
The children, ages eight through thirteen, were third through eighth graders. They came to experience camping in a sleep-away setting, ride horses, swim, learn archery and riflery and enjoy other kids their own age. Most significantly, they came to connect with the Living God.
One church in California sent money to underwrite some of the camp expenses for five Russian Jewish youngsters. One of these children was Tatyana, a ten-year-old recent immigrant from the former Soviet Union.
On opening Sunday, Tatyana and several friends arrived at camp from Brooklyn, New York, with a great deal of apprehension. Tatyana knew little about America and even less about camping in the woods with strangers. Her experience with God was limited to yeshivah (an Orthodox Jewish day school) and some incidental relationships with Jews for Jesus in our Brooklyn Russian Messianic Outreach. She was very reserved, cautious and even a bit suspicious.
After the first couple of days of camp activities and instruction, Tatyana felt herself being drawn to God. She was learning how Y’shua could fit into a Jewish girl’s life. After campfire one evening, Tatyana asked the girls’ counselor if she could pray with her. Not sure exactly what Tatyana wanted, the counselor asked, “What would you like to pray for?” “I’d like to accept Y’shua as my Savior,” Tatyana replied.
The counselor found an appropriate place for them to sit and pray. The two prayed together, asking Y’shua to forgive Tatyana’s sins and to come into her life.
No matter what else happened or will happen as as a result of our camp work last summer, we can celebrate that at least one of the lost sheep of the house of Israel has come home.
Bob Mendelsohn is the leader of Jews for Jesus' work in Sydney, Australia. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Kansas City, but became a college drop-out when he decided to look for the meaning of life in the counterculture of the '60s. He found meaning and relevance in Jesus which caused him much trouble at home. But he says, "it was worth the cost." Bob has worked for Jews for Jesus since 1979, and served as the leader of our work in Washington DC and New York City before moving to Sydney in 1998. Bob and his wife Patty both graduated from the University of Kansas and Fuller Seminary. The Mendelsohns live in Sydney near their son. Their two daughters and two grandsons live in the US. Their son has a son and is expecting another in 2019.