Next month we will have our Behold Your God outreach in Johannesburg, South Africa, where approximately 65,000 Jewish people reside.
The majority of South Africa’s Jewish population is of Lithuanian origin. They began arriving at the end of the 19th century. The Jewish community in South Africa is, for the most part, well-educated with a strong social conscience. They were helpful in ending apartheid and have a history of caring for those who are in need. One example can be seen in a letter from a refugee who was on board the S.S. San Marcos in 1949. The ship was headed to Argentina (a country closed to Jews at the time) carrying 650 (non-Jewish) Russian refugees. One of them wrote:
On the way to our next stop in southeast Africa, Durban, which is past Madagascar, a trip of some 24 days or so, rations were slowly cut. It was not good. In fact, my gums showed the first signs of scurvy. If not for the generosity of some of the Johannesburg Jews in the community who brought a large quantity of Vitamin C, I might have lost all of my teeth. Somewhere along the line, the Jewish communities of Johannesburg were informed that we needed toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap. We wound up with months of supplies, including clothing, which the women and children needed.”
The Johannesburg Jewish community is accustomed to giving a helping hand, but when it comes to the gospel they are in need of helping hands to reach out to them.
Jews for Jesus has a 17-year history with this city. Our first contact was in 1984, when The Liberated Wailing Wall visited. They encountered much resistance, particularly when they sang at Witwatersrand University. It was the kind of resistance one expects to encounter when God is about to break through, so we returned to Johannesburg again and again. In 1989 we opened our first overseas branch, at the invitation of Hope of Israel, a ministry that was seeking a merger. The branch was pioneered by Andrew and Laura Barron and has since become completely indigenous.
Our staff and volunteers will be kicking off the Johannesburg Behold Your God outreach with a big Sukkot celebration. How appropriate that this joyous holiday will be a springboard for bringing the good news of Yeshua to the people of Johannesburg.
Next month’s newsletter will include a BYG prayer bookmark with some specific requests for this campaign. Meanwhile, please pray for the last-minute preparations now taking place.
Note: Our missionaries are Eliyah Gould, Natalie Sachs and Michael Sischy. Vanessa Hale, office worker, and Teresa Sischy, are both also vital to our Johannesburg branch.