Hanukkah Outreach in Paris
From Joshua Turnil, director of our work in Paris:
“We’re having a ‘Campaign of Light’ in the City of Lights. Paris is a rough place for ministry—now more than ever. Because while Paris has always prided itself on its light, religion and faith have never been a part of that light. Paris is proud to present the light of education, culture and humanity. Talk of God is unwelcome. It’s all seen as religion, and religion is blamed for the jihadist fervor and the terror that has massacred Paris youth.
“How to minister to people in a terrorized city? In a city that thinks religion is part of the problem, not the solution, we have decided to reach out to Jewish people through music, handing out New Testaments and by calling people at home to ask a series of eight questions.
“We’re asking, ‘Do you feel safe?’ ‘Have you ever been a victim of anti-Semitism?’ ‘Do the recent terror attacks draw you closer to or further away from God?’ These and other questions are helping us to get to know the Jewish people in our city a little better and also to create a point of entry to better share the gospel.
“One lady asked me to promise to not tell anyone she was Jewish. Another said, ‘I’m moving to New York! I cannot stay in France.’ Another said, ‘I refuse to be a victim. The last time someone called me a ”dirty Jew” I punched him in the face!’ So far, ten of these phone interactions have led to planned visits with these people next week. Chantale spoke with a woman, ‘G,’ who said that the situation keeps her at home, and in general she is afraid of what might happen next. Chantale offered to read the Bible with her at home. G said, ‘I have a pretty hard head, but I guess you can try and convince me!’ Chantale and G will be meeting next week. With every person on the phone we left them this quote from Jesus: ‘I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.’
“Going out on the streets is more difficult, but we’re seeing God at work there, too.”
Karl deSouza reports: ”Chantale and I were singing a mix of Christmas and Hanukkah carols in a very Jewish neighborhood, as well as handing out Bibles with brothers and sisters from a local church. (See group photo at bottom of page.) The police stopped us because of the terrorist alert level, and asked if we had authorization. After confirming our authorization, they left. A second pair of police came and insisted that we did not have the right to hand out the Bible. The mayor then came and explained that because of the climate and threat level, we should desist. As we were packing up, a woman came by and asked the police and the mayor about Jews for Jesus. She said she was Jewish, and I said, ‘I’m Jewish, too, and I believe in Jesus!’ I shared my story while the mayor along with the two police officers listened with rapt attention. Later, Joshua met with the mayor and the mayor mentioned that he’d really enjoyed listening to Karl’s story.
“Josh was handing out New Testaments at the top of the elevator coming out of the metro. ‘V’ is a Jewish woman whose mother, grandmother and great-grandmother escaped the Nazis during the war by going into hiding. Considering recent events, V has been attracted to various forms of spirituality. Jesus was one of them. Her husband told her, ‘I think Jesus stands out from the rest, somehow.’ She was reflecting about this as she was on the escalator. She stepped off the escalator to see Joshua in his Jews for Jesus shirt. Though he was in conversation with another Jewish man, she interrupted, asking for a New Testament and telling Josh that she had to speak to him. She described spirituality as a mountain and that God was on top and everyone is trying the best they can to make it to the top. Josh explained that Jesus came down the mountain for her. She started crying and said she would stay in touch. Josh has already tried to contact her, but hasn’t heard back.”
Josh has a personal prayer request. ”Before the police asked us to stop singing and handing out New Testaments, one of the volunteers met “N,” my wife’s cousin, on the streets. N is Jewish and quite traditional. She approached the volunteer and said, ‘I know Josh! Please tell him to call me!’ The volunteer inquired a bit further, and told me, ‘She said in no uncertain terms that she was ready to hear the message she was previously closed to.’ Please pray for N and my wife Delphine’s family, who are not believers.”
How can you pray for us?
- We want to hand deliver 500 New Testaments into the hands of Jews and Gentiles alike.
- We would like to call 500 Parisian Jews at home to share the gospel and the survey questions.
- Pray for V, and the mountain in her heart.
- We have a Hanukkah event planned for Saturday evening. Many have expressed their fears at coming to a Jewish establishment and leaving alone afterwards, although we have a professional security agent keeping watch over us during the event. Please pray that fear would not keep people away from the event.
- Pray the police don’t keep us from handing out the word of God this week.