Shalom and Happy New Year! For almost a century, the prayer partners and supporters of Chosen People Ministries have received a January reminder of the imperative to bring the Gospel “to the Jew first…and also to the Gentile.” This is a phrase drawn from the wonderful and powerful passage penned by Paul in Romans 1:16,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
I believe that the message of this passage is as true today as it was in the first century. It compels us to witness for Messiah in the power of the Holy Spirit as often as possible, so that our family, friends and coworkers have the opportunity to believe and be saved. This verse also reminds us that the Gospel we preach is powerful to change lives and change our world.
God’s Power to Save – Me!
This great Scripture also reminds us of the miracle of salvation. You might already be familiar with my personal testimony, but if not, let me take a moment and describe what God did in my life. In many ways, I am typical of those whom your Mission to the Jewish people reaches on a regular basis. Both of my parents were Jewish; my mother was more traditional and my father was more liberal. I was raised in New York City, where I had my Bar Mitzvah at thirteen years old. Though I was reluctant to go to Hebrew school for a few hours each day after regular school, I still loved my people and identified strongly as a Jew. My family and friends were all Jewish, and I don’t think I ever met a born-again Christian until I dropped out of college (after one semester) and traveled out to San Francisco to “find the answers to life.”
After almost a year of living a typical “hippie lifestyle”—which I found to be quite empty—I began searching for something greater than myself. After working my way through the meaningless maze of Eastern religions and what are now called “New Age” philosophies, as well as experimenting with drugs, even I realized that I was a mess!
It is now clear that although I was not searching for God, He was searching for me. One of my best friends, a Jewish young woman from New York City, came to know Jesus as her Messiah through the testimony of a group of Gentile Christians living in Oregon. After she became a believer and was transformed by the power of the Gospel, she quickly came to tell me about Jesus the Messiah. I thought she had gone nuts, as I told her, “Jews do not believe in Jesus—everybody knows that!”
I traveled up to Oregon, where she was living on a Christian commune, and began arguing with the wonderful people who had led her to the Lord. After a week-long debate, I returned to the San Francisco Bay Area where I was working for the Marin County Board of Education as an outdoor education counselor, spending my days in the Redwood forest at a beautiful campground sixty miles south of San Francisco. Surrounded by the great outdoors, I finally asked this all-important question: God, if You really exist—will You show me how to get close to You?
That evening, I found a copy of the New Testament in a phone booth in the middle of the Redwood forest. My first prayer had been answered, and it proved to be my first encounter with the God of the universe, whom I now realized was listening to me. This was awesome beyond words for a 19-year-old Jewish kid from New York City!
I read the New Testament and the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the truth that Jesus is not only the Jewish Messiah, but also God Himself. A week later, on a cloudy day in Northern California, as I was walking along the marshlands next to Highway 1 by the Pacific Ocean, I looked up to heaven, cried out to the God of my fathers and received Jesus as my Messiah and personal Savior.
To say that my life changed would be the understatement of the century! I was no longer the same person. I understood that I had not only been saved from sin and received the gift of everlasting life, but now had such an overwhelming sense of the presence and power of God in my life. Even now, I know that He is with me and will always be with me—and I am sure you understand what this means.
Thanks for taking time to read my story; I wanted to share my testimony with you at the start of this new year to try and describe why my heart breaks for the salvation of my fellow Jewish people. I wish I could persuade my own family members and my neighbors—not to mention the almost 3,000,000 Jewish people in New York City or the almost 15,000,000 Jewish people in the rest of the world—that Jesus (Yeshua) is God’s power unto salvation for all who believe.
To The Jew First and To The Gentile
I wish I had more time and space to share with you some of the great testimonies of other Jewish staff members of Chosen People Ministries and how the Lord is now using each of these wonderful workers to proclaim the Gospel to Jewish people. Maybe in a future letter I will tell you more!
But right now, I believe that the Lord wants me to let you know what resources we need to do this work. I can tell you that our greatest need and greatest opportunity to make an impact for Jesus among Jewish people today is by supporting our individual missionaries.
Our greatest investment for Jesus should be in the lives of our missionaries, who bring the power of the Gospel to Jewish people—day by day, home to home, and heart to heart in some very difficult and oftentimes expensive cities.
We have created an Under-Supported Missionary Fund, which is used to help individual missionaries who are not able to raise their full support get the funding that they need to remain on the mission field.
The budget for this year— which includes a number of workers who have lost support because of the recession, as well as Russian Jewish missionaries in Brooklyn, workers in France and Russia, and of course some of our staff in Israel—is $300,000.
May I ask you to begin this New Year by taking Romans 1:16 to heart and giving—and perhaps even pledging (through our Watchmen for Jerusalem program)—to support missionary work among Jewish people around the world? Would you help me by praying and by giving generously to our Under-Supported Missionary Fund, so that those doing the work can be free of concern about raising funds and instead be able to focus all their time and energy on reaching Jewish people for Jesus?
Thanks so much for your love and prayers, and for caring about the salvation of Israel!
Your brother in the Messiah,
P.S. Click here to watch a video of my full testimony through an interview with my friend Jonathan Bernis of Jewish Voice Ministries