Last month’s Real Time mentioned Hanukkah and suggested that you send Jewish friends a holiday greeting. Hanukkah ended Tuesday night, December 14. Several of our branches planned Hanukkah events for local Jewish believers to celebrate together, and also for inquirers to come and investigate. Here are highlights from a few of last week’s gatherings:
Garrett Smith reports, We had our Hanukkah party on Saturday. Sixty adults and 25 children came. Eight of the adults were Jewish people who don’t yet believe in Jesus. Included in that number was Iggy, who I’ve been meeting with every few months for the last year or so. He is about 65 years old, and grew up in a ‘Jewish Ghetto’ as he calls it, in Dorchester Boston. His mother used warn Iggy about the Irish Catholic gangs that would come through the neighborhood to beat up Jews. He is always curious about Jesus, but each time he begins to really believe the gospel may be true, all those memories come back and he retreats. I was encouraged to see Iggy at the party. I gave a little relating Hanukkah to Jesus. Afterwards, Iggy came up to me, looked in me in the eye and said, ‘You made a very strong case, you made a very strong case,’ and then he continued to look me in the eye, and he nodded. I could see in his eyes a combination of the peace that comes from understanding, mixed with the fear and unease of how believing in Jesus would affect his life. I pray Iggy will face that fear and come to the one who will give him the peace he has longed for.
For a few hamishe (homey, family style) photos of the Boston Hanukkah party, go here.
Stephen Katz reports, “Forty one adults—including at least three Jewish non-believers—and 20 kids came to our branch’s Hanukkah party this weekend. I led the group through the Hanukkah story and then related those events to Jesus. One of the Jewish visitors became offended at the mention of Jesus and left as soon as the story was done.
One Gentile woman who came was excited, as this was her first Hanukkah experience. She had come dressed in a blue shirt and sweater and white pants. She said since everyone wears red and green Christmas parties, she thought blue and white would be appropriate for Hanukkah. Nice. She also brought what she thought was a dreidl, but it turned out to be a Chinese top! Her enthusiasm really added to the atmosphere of the party.”
Joseph Steinberg reports, “Our Jews for Jesus Hanukkah party was the first event that we’ve held in our new offices in Camden Town. We were so happy to have 30 Jewish people attend, six of whom were not yet believers and had never attended one of our outreach events before.
The party was fun for the whole family. We had a 45 minute service before we broke into traditional Hanukkah food like donuts and latkes (potato pancakes). We lit the Hanukkah candles, sang traditional Hebrew songs and had a fun skit retelling the Hanukkah story. Before we closed the service Amer Olson gave an evangelistic message from John’s gospel where John records Jesus celebrating Hanukkah.
Katie, a Jewish woman, had visited a church last spring where one of us was sharing our story and had entered into a deep gospel conversation there. She came to the party a little nervous, but excited. Joan, also Jewish, felt the same way, having met one of us on the street. Both Katie and Joan had some challenging conversations at the party and said they would return to our Outreach Centre to continue discussions with us.
Martin came to the party with a believing friend who has been witnessing to him for quite some time. We spoke for about 45 minutes. He had many questions and he wants to get together in January.
Please pray for Katie, Joan and Martin, that the seeds that were sown that night would take root and produce the fruit of saving faith.