We’d like to introduce you to our class of 2004 missionary trainees
Micha Alan Cohen is a second generation Jewish believer in Jesus, and an mk” (missionary kid). His parents, Steve and Jan Cohen, served with Jews for Jesus for many years until Steve left to head up The Apple of His Eye ministry. Micha was born in San Francisco, and has lived in New York, Toronto, Fort Lauderdale and St. Louis, as his parents served in those cities. Though raised in a believing home, it wasn’t until Micha was 16 years old (1996) that he realized his personal need for forgiveness through Jesus. Soon after, he had a desire to serve with Jews for Jesus. Micha has been with us since 1999 as an approved student. A recent graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a B.A. in Jewish studies, Micha also enjoys video editing, singing and drama. He has led teams on several New York Summer Witnessing campaigns and also served on our Behold Your God West Palm Beach campaign last December.
Micha’s wife, Leah, is also a second generation Jewish believer and also an mk! She was born in Paramaribo, Suriname (South America), her parents are Wycliffe translators. Leah has a B.A. in social studies education from Taylor University. She taught pre-school before coming on board with Jews for Jesus. Leah and Micha met in 1999 during their internships with Jews for Jesus in San Francisco.
Richard Muller was born in Niagra Falls, Ontario and raised in a Conservative Jewish home. He describes himself as having been involved in his synagogue and proud to be Jewish. However, he was struck by the lack of interest in God, even though the Bible readings and prayers he heard in synagogue spoke much of His importance. In his late teens and early 20’s Richard began to follow new-age philosophies and dismissed the idea of a personal God.
Then he met a young woman (now his wife, Lynda) who was a Christian and told him about Jesus. While at first he didn’t “get it” one day Richard caught himself talking to God and he realized that while his head said one thing about the gospel, his heart said another. That sent him on a search to discover whether or not the gospel is true and in October of 1998, Richard received Yeshua (Jesus) as his Messiah. Since then he has graduated from Tyndale College and Seminary with a bachelor’s degree in Religious education and served as a deacon in his church. Richard enjoys music, plays bass and rhythm guitars, sings and writes songs. He also likes to act and has done some directing.
Lynda has been a believer since 1974 and is a graduate of the University of Toronto with a B.A. in English and history. Like Richard, she enjoys singing and theater. She and Richard have two children, Aaron (5) and Ethan (2).
Nadav ben-Guri was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, but when he was a year old, his family moved to South Africa. He returned to live in Israel from 1992-2001 so he speaks Hebrew as a second language. Nadav grew up in a secular Jewish family, had a happy childhood and went on to study at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.
While at University, a friend invited Nadav to go on a hiking holiday. Nadav said yes and it turned out that he was on holiday with a group of committed Christians. One night, as they were all sitting round the campfire under the stars, with the waves of the sea crashing nearby, Nadav joined in a conversation about God. The others shared the gospel with him and challenged him to respond. All he could say at the time was that maybe he needed to go to synagogue more often. Nevertheless, a seed had been planted. For the first time in his 20 years, Nadav understood that God was real and wanted a relationship with him. Over the following year, he began to realize that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, but didn’t tell anyone of his belief. Then one night he experienced something quite out of the ordinary. Nadav says, “It felt like I was being washed and made to feel as light as a feather. From that instant on my life was never the same. I began to openly confess my faith in Jesus to my friends, family and people around me.”
Nadav was an architect before joining our staff. He enjoys playing worship music on the guitar, and also appreciates art and likes to paint.
Nadav’s wife, Charmaine, is also an artist and loves to sing. She worked at the Bellville Library art department before she and Nadav came on staff. Charmaine grew up in a Christian home in South Africa. As she puts it, “the Lord Jesus found me when I was 13 years old.”
Gregory Furman was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine (former Soviet Union). Gregory says, “When my parents were born, that area was called Romania, and when their parents were born, it was called the Austria-Hungarian Empire. You see, every 40 years, the borders changed.” Growing up in the former Soviet Union, Gregory and his family secretly celebrated Jewish holidays like Passover and Hanukkah. He also had a secret bar mitzvah. He was involved in theater and studied drama, directing and teaching at Moscow University from 1968-1972.
In the mid-70s Gregory immigrated to the USA. He learned English and began teaching and working in theater. Later on he opened a successful Russian catering business and restaurant in New York City. He also had a joint business venture in Russia. Though outwardly successful, Gregory had no real joy. In 1998, a friend he met at an international film festival invited Gregory to hear her sing in a church. He had never been to church before in his life, but as soon as he heard the pastor speak, he felt he had come to the right place. Gregory says, “There I found my new life, my new family and most importantly, I found the One I was seeking for—my Jewish Messiah Jesus.” Gregory speaks Russian, Ukrainian, English, Yiddish, Hebrew and some German. He still enjoys drama and also likes to cook. Before beginning missionary training, Gregory was part of our “tiger team” meaning he participated in several of our Behold Your God witnessing campaigns, one after the next. Following our New York City campaign, he went to Behold Your God Seattle, Toronto, Dallas and West Palm Beach.
Valerie Bouaziz, like Gregory, was part of our “tiger team” before she began her missionary training with the class of ’04. She was raised in a Jewish family in Paris, keeping kosher, celebrating the feasts and praying over the candles every Shabbat. She says that while she really enjoyed being a Jew and knew there was a God, she never had a relationship with Him and always felt He was distant.
One day, a missionary came with his family to Valerie’s home. (He had a flat tire and needed some tools to fix it.) His wife was Jewish, and she told Valerie and her family about Yeshua. Valerie was fascinated by the peace and joy that this couple had, but it wasn’t until a few years later when she was in college that she was challenged to consider Jesus for herself. At that time, her sister became a believer and sent a friend to visit and to tell her family about Jesus. Valerie was upset, but when her sister suggested that she ask God for herself if the gospel is true, Valerie took the challenge. From there it was just a matter of time before God answered and Valerie received her Messiah. That was in 1990.
Valerie has lived for many years in Israel. Having graduated from a school of dentistry in Jerusalem, she was a dental assistant before joining our staff. She plays viola and recorder, loves to folk dance and enjoys tennis and basketball. Valerie speaks French, English, Hebrew and Italian.