Investing in Young Jewish Lives
Jeannie Goldstein serves with her husband Efraim in Tel Aviv. Their two sons, Daniel and Gabi, are 17 and 15. Jeannie spends much of her time preparing for and conducting Bible clubs, that serve as an important time for young Israelis who believe in Jesus to study the Word and be with others who believe as they do.
I truly want each week’s Bible club meeting to be special for these children and that means planning a project that they can take home to remember what we talked about. The children also learn Bible verses each week. If they can recite a verse a week for seven weeks in a row, they receive a prize. The youngest to the oldest have recited verses—and some of these children work very hard and have earned prizes three or four times! I realize that the real prize is having the Scriptures hidden in their hearts and I pray that God will use His Word to make a difference in their lives. I have taken the time to speak to each child individually about his or her faith. I pray for each child, that the words they hear now will continue to change their lives as they grow. The Bible clubs are a valuable time and I don’t know who looks forward to them more—the children or me!”
Mitch Forman runs the day-to-day operations in our New York branch where his wife Kina also serves as a missionary with us. Mitch is not in any of our official youth programs, but his availability and interest in reaching college-age people have brought him some interesting opportunities.
“While on vacation, I attended the 25-year reunion for my fraternity house at UMASS. I went to connect with some old buddies that I have not seen since the ’70s. At the meeting someone yelled over to me, ‘Hey, Forman, what are you doing?’ I told him that I was working for Jews for Jesus. Everyone started to laugh. (I doubt if my frat brothers would have voted me most likely to become a missionary.) ‘No, seriously,’ the guy said, ‘what are you doing?’ To everyone’s surprise, I repeated my answer.
After that, I had a chance to share my story with most of my friends. I was surprised by how the young people who currently live at the fraternity house responded. Many younger guys made a point to come and talk to me. In fact, the president of the fraternity, a Jewish guy named Dan, works in New York City and knows us. He wanted to come by and see me at our office. He had been drinking and I was curious to see if he would still be interested when he was sober. Sure enough, he kept the appointment and talked to me about how I might be available to speak to the guys about spiritual issues should they feel a need.
Please pray that the Lord would give me further opportunities to minister to Dan and to the guys at the frat house.”
Other youth workers include:
Janie-sue Wertheim has been working to reach Jewish youth for years on a volunteer basis—practically since the time her and Steve’s firstborn came along. Since her own children Benjamin, 19 and Rebekah, 16 are more and more independent, Janie has been working part-time in an official capacity, sharing an office with Dave Garrett who has pioneered our Camp Gilgal program. Janie reaches out in so many ways to the youth, particularly the girls she meets at camp. She mails them devotionals on a regular basis, invites them to hang out at her house in a kind of unofficial club several times a year and keeps in touch with many through email all year long. Janie also co-authored the book, Walk with Yeshua Through the Jewish Year with Kathy Shapiro. This book is a must for parents who want to teach their kids about Jewish holidays in a way that integrates our faith in Jesus.*
Dave Garrett (father of Virginia, 9 and Monica, 6) has worked hard to develop our Camp Gilgal program. While his duties in the Minister-at-Large office also involve recruitment, during the summers at camp and in the fall at our Ingatherings, Dave is known as “Moose” by hundreds of Jewish kids who love Jesus. His determination for these kids to have fun while learning more about the Lord and their Jewish identity has earned him the ongoing affection of countless kids (many our own staff kids) and their parents. Moose shouts himself hoarse as the “Walnut Man” during Ingatherings and dresses in the most amazing get-ups to keep the kids entertained. But he is always serious about the Lord and it shows.
Melissa Moskowitz (mother of Kayla, 20 and Jessie, 16) has also been involved in our Camp Gilgal program, working on the West Coast for four years and directing the Midwest camp for three. Melissa has an artistic flair that brings a classy touch to the kids’ projects—this year, for example, she taught mosaics. Melissa works part¡time at our Chicago branch.
Josh Sofaer (who reported on Camp Gilgal in our July newsletter) is the father of Eliana, 23 months and he and his wife Annette are expecting their second child in November. Josh is stationed in New York as a full-time youth ministry missionary. Josh was responsible for expanding the teen track at our West Coast Ingathering to include separate plenaries (including a worship band) and workshops for teens. He also leads Jewish believing college students on evangelistic trips to Florida during Spring Break. He heads up one of our most crucial youth programs, Halutzim, a teen trip to New York, every summer. Participants join our summer campaigners for several sorties (tract-passing expeditions) as well as visit Jewish museums and other historical sites to help them explore their Jewish identity. They discuss matters of spiritual concern, get to know other Jewish believing teens their age and, in many cases, get a taste of evangelism that brings them back as full-time campaigners when they come of age.
Lyn Bond (mother of Asher, 21 and Bethany, 18) works part-time in our Chicago branch (where her husband Alan is also a missionary). This year she had the opportunity to train our Jews for Jesus Players, a group of college-age Jewish believers who gave their summer to serve the Lord as a traveling evangelistic drama team. Lyn, who majored in speech and drama and traveled with our New Jerusalem Players in the early days of our ministry, was excited to come full circle. She was able to train others to do the type of ministry that she did with Jews for Jesus over 25 years ago! Lyn says, “Youth is not always wasted on the young—particularly not with this group. I feel ten years younger when I am with them and they love the Lord so much—I am excited to see how they will serve Him in the future.”
There are many more Jews for Jesus staff and volunteers who have invested themselves in young people. Please pray that God will bless us and help us to be effective in helping to build a strong foundation for these youth.
*We offered this book with last month’s newsletter, but if you did not see it, this 68¡page book costs $6.00 and can be ordered by calling our toll-free number: 1-877-463-7742.