I was recently in Jerusalem and visited with a couple who served as volunteers for six months at the new Chosen People Ministries youth hostel in New Zealand. This is a strategic spot as thousands of Israelis wander through the South Island of New Zealand each year to enjoy the spectacular scenery and hiking trails. In fact, the word on the street is that the Israelis who go to New Zealand after the army are looking for God through nature—as opposed to those who go to India who are so often searching for God through drugs and eastern religions.
This wonderful young Israeli couple shared so many of their conversations and experiences with the 750+ Israeli young people who have wandered through what we call the Zula Lodge. They told my wife and me story after story about conversations they had with Israelis seeking the Lord. These spiritually focused conversations often took place late into the night and early hours of the morning.
I was encouraged to find out that the Hebrew version of the book I wrote, entitled Isaiah 53 Explained—which is at the heart of our Isaiah 53 outreach around the globe—was distributed to hundreds of these wandering Israelis.
Sometimes it is really difficult to share the Good News with people who know little about Jesus or who are resistant to the Gospel. Most Israelis fall into this category as they are raised in traditional, but modern Jewish homes that simply do not know anything about the Lord Yeshua, our Messiah.
Many of these young and, most often secular Israelis also pick up on the resistance to the Gospel prevalent among Jewish people for so many generations. I am happy to say that this attitude seems to be changing and many Israelis are opening up to Jesus! This is especially true of Israeli young people who are traveling around the globe looking for the answers to life after having gone through a stressful season of military service.
There is no doubt that we have undergone a slight shift in our strategy for reaching these wandering and wondering Israelis. In the past, we have sent short-term mission teams, usually Israeli believers who live in Israel, to reach their counterparts across the globe—from New Zealand and South America to India and even in the United States. However, we have now discovered that setting up permanent facilities where we can house wandering Israelis allows for a deeper and more intimate ministry. This enables us to take our presentation of the Gospel to a new level!
This is why we have recently established another center for traveling Israelis in Buenos Aires, Argentina—a city of almost 300,000 Jewish people. Chosen People Ministries has been serving in Argentina since 1942, when one of our missionaries from Austria helped many Jewish believers and non-believers escape the Holocaust and flee to Argentina from Vienna. He followed them and began the ministry of Chosen People Ministries in Argentina.
We have two wonderful facilities in Buenos Aires where we are teaching Bible studies, planting a congregation and utilizing the Spanish version of our Isaiah 53 online campaign. God has really blessed this work, which is now a partnership between Chosen People Ministries and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptists.
The Lord has recently provided us a believing Argentine Jewish couple who also lived in Israel for many years and learned to speak Hebrew. Their knowledge of Israeli culture will allow them to connect with the young Israelis who travel through our centers. Thousands of Israeli former soldiers travel to South America to hike near the lakes and through the mountains.
We have renovated a large house in Buenos Aires that serves as living space for our missionary couple, some volunteer staff, and as a hostel for about twelve Israeli backpackers. These young Israeli travelers begin their journey in Buenos Aires before they embark on the trek across South America. We greet them warmly and provide housing in a safe and comfortable atmosphere; all with a loving Argentine Jewish couple who are willing to have hours of conversation with them about Jesus!
There are lots of ways you can get involved in helping us reach wandering Israelis throughout the world. We especially need your prayers. Please pray that God will open the hearts of these wandering young Israelis to the Messiah. When this happens everything else is easy! But we do need your prayers also for God’s wisdom in running these various youth hostels, His guidance during late-night conversations and very simply for His hand in directing those He wants to reach through our efforts in Argentina, New Zealand and elsewhere.
I also ask you to get the word out that Chosen People Ministries is offering these opportunities to serve the Lord in short-term ministry in both New Zealand and Argentina. These are great winter ministries as they fall during school breaks and some are in our target areas. This is a perfect mission trip for those who are looking for something to do during the winter, as the touring season in both Argentina and New Zealand is at its height during January and February. Do you know any young people who have a heart for Jewish people or are avid hikers and are capable of sharing the Gospel with Israelis if trained? I am inserting a card that you can fill out and send to us so that we can then contact those you know and give them an invitation to these wonderful short-term ministries.
Finally, we value your support for these ministries, as we need to underwrite the hostels since we charge the Israelis very little money to stay there. Also, we would like to provide scholarship support for young Israelis who would like to go into short-term missions in either New Zealand or Argentina or perhaps India, depending on our short-term mission schedule. It takes about $2,500 to scholarship a short-term missionary to go from Israel to New Zealand for a couple of weeks and just about the same for Argentina. It is also very difficult for our dedicated staff in Argentina, Israel and New Zealand to raise funds for their ministries and so some of what you give can also go to help them.
Thank you so much for your love, prayers and engagement with Your Mission to the Jewish People as we reach Israelis around the globe with the message of eternal life through Jesus the Messiah.
This post-army season is so critical in the lives of these young Israelis. They might never again be as open to the Gospel as they will be during this time of travel.
So please pray fervently and give generously so that we can bring the Gospel to these wandering Israelis.