Shalom from Jerusalem! I am visiting our staff in Israel for a few weeks and it is exciting to see what God is doing in the Holy Land!
As you might know, we have a beautiful center in Jerusalem as well as a new facility we are renting in the greater Tel Aviv area. Our Israel team has grown to over 20 staff members and they are serving the Lord in many different ways: ministering to the poor and elderly Holocaust survivors, leading congregations, reaching out to families and young adults, conducting children’s camps, and a whole lot more.
We are also continuing our Isaiah 53 Hebrew campaign and expanding it to Russian Jews living in Israel. We now have our Isaiah 53 Explained evangelistic book available in Russian, as well as a Russian version of our Isaiah53.com website. Over the last year we have received book requests from more than 1,000 Hebrew-speaking Israelis who want to know more about the Lord, and we have been doing our best to follow up with them.
I expect that once the Russian campaign gets going in Israel, we will have many more Jewish people from the former Soviet Union show an interest in the Gospel. The Russian Jews have been very open to Jesus ever since the fall of the Soviet Union and we have found this to be true in the United States, Germany, and Israel where we have already planted a number of Russian-language Messianic congregations.
We are able to continue these ministries because of your generous support and fervent prayers.
I also cannot tell you how delighted I am to see a second-generation movement of Israeli young people serving Jesus. Some years ago, during the Jesus movement, many Israelis and Jewish people around the globe became believers in Jesus. Some came to faith in America, others in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and in the former Soviet Union. The Israelis of my generation who came to the Lord most often returned to Israel to start ministries in the Holy Land. Also, many of the Jewish believers of my generation made aliyah and moved to Israel to both live in the land and to reach Israelis with the Gospel. By God’s grace, a cadre of leaders was created and ministries were started, congregations were planted, and there were many youth programs that began as well.
Now almost a generation later there are hundreds of young Israelis—the sons and daughters of those who came to faith during my generation, who are now serving the Lord in Israel. They have been raised in Israel, speak Hebrew as natives, have served in the Israel Defense Forces and are making an impact in Israel for the Lord through their lives, their jobs, and their involvement with their local congregations. In fact, one of the reasons I am in Israel during these weeks is to participate in our Living Waters mentoring seminars where we are investing time, energy, and finances in training this new generation of young Israeli believers to serve the Lord as leaders of the local body within Israel.
It is important to keep our eyes on the goal of reaching Jewish people today, but it is also important to ask the question, “What does the future look like for our ministry among the Jewish people around the world and within Israel?” I addressed that question a few months ago at a dinner we had in England celebrating the good work Chosen People Ministries is doing in the greater London area (where there are more than a quarter million Jewish people). May I share a summary of what I said that evening? It applies to God’s work in Israel, the United States, and wherever Your Mission to the Jewish People is serving—now in 18 countries around the globe!
A Vision for the Future of Chosen People Ministries
Our vision for the future and mandate for the present hinges upon one critical verse and a series of passages found in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. First of all, the former rabbi tells us in Romans 1:16 that Israel is to somehow be prioritized for Gospel proclamation during this age, as the Jewish people were chosen by God through covenants made with our fathers (Romans 11:28-29). The text reads as follows,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Though difficult to apply perhaps outside of Israel, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and areas where many Jewish people live today—we must still take the Apostle at his word and find out how we are to interpret this verse and apply it to our mandate to “make disciples of all nations” and yet prioritize Jewish evangelism at the same time.
And by the way, I believe praying for the salvation of the Jewish people you know, perhaps your friends and family, is a great place to start!
The second string of passages is found in Romans 11:11-12 and 25-26 where the Apostle turns his face towards the future and, in particular, the second coming of the Messiah. He writes,
So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
And then again Paul writes,
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written…
God has preserved the Jewish people because of His love and faithfulness to the fathers, but also because He is still planning to use the Jewish people to bless the world, as promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:3.
We should make sure that our present ministries and priorities align with the future God has revealed to us through His Word. Therefore, bringing the Gospel to the Jewish people has great prophetic importance—far beyond the fourteen and a half million Jewish people in the world.
This leads me to four particular goals I envision for the work of Chosen People Ministries.
To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus to the Jewish people as best we can—whether or not the Jewish community is listening.
To find called and capable staff and train and equip them for this task.
To build a base of prayer and support within the church that will enable our brothers and sisters to fulfill the mandate of Romans 11:11 and use these very same brothers and sisters to help us fulfill our calling as well.
To discover the strategies and methods that enable us to accomplish the three aforementioned goals and to encourage creativity, steadfastness, and joy in the work until He returns or we hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Methodologies change but the message stays the same.
As Isaiah said,
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8)
We are excited about all we are doing through our current ministries. Yet, we know that the strategies of today will give way to new ones tomorrow. That is because we change, technology changes, and nations change but God never changes. His plan remains the same. Jewish people need to hear the Gospel and believe, and in obedience to God we are all called to bring the message of Jesus to the Jewish people. Gentiles specifically are called to make Jewish people jealous (Romans 11:11).
Every evangelistic method or strategy we use is designed to help our staff meet Jewish people who want to know the Lord. We look to God for His opportunities, relying upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit to seize the moment as the days are evil and the time is short.
Thank you so much for what you have contributed towards reaching Jewish people for the Jewish Messiah. Please continue to pray for this work!
And again, thank you for your faithful support and prayers on behalf of Chosen People Ministries!
Blessings to you from Jerusalem,