TO THE JEW FIRST IN 2021
Shalom, dear friend,
It is hard to believe that we are already in the middle of February 2021. Time is moving forward so rapidly and so much is happening all around the world, both good and bad. Last February, Celebrate Messiah celebrated our 25th birthday as a ministry dedicated to “Bringing the Message to the Original Messengers.” We looked back at the Lord’s faithfulness to our ministry, and the way He has used us in reaching our Jewish people with the message of the Messiah. We were so excited at the opportunities to serve the Lord ahead of us to reach Jewish people with the gospel, and the Celebrate Messiah staff was ready to go.
But then tragedy struck, and however you feel about the virus, it has impacted all of our lives in many ways. The effects of COVID-19 on our friends, families, and congregations have been severe. Our economy and the overall stability of our nation suffered as well.
My dear friend, 2020 was a challenging year!
But the Lord is ALWAYS in control. He is sovereign, and loves us with an everlasting love. He created us, sent His Son to redeem us, and is coming back, so we are hopeful.
Job’s sentiments very well express how you and I might sometimes feel: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him” (Job 13:15).
When there is nothing else to hold onto, we can always cling to the nature and character of our God. He will never disappoint, though His ways, thoughts, and will are so mysterious to us at times (Isaiah 55:8-9).
But we know in the depth of our souls that the Lord is always worthy of our trust.
While I anguish with those who have lost loved ones, businesses, and more to the virus, I believe that 2021 will be a year of restoration. I also have an even greater sense of urgency than ever before to proclaim the gospel to the Jewish people. Your Mission to the Jewish People will move forward in hope, fulfilling the mission and vision that the Lord gave us 26 years ago when we started the work of Celebrate Messiah.
The Messianic Jewish Apostle Paul expressed our vision at Celebrate Messiah when he wrote,
“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.” (Romans 1:16)
I like to remind our staff and prayer partners of this verse at the beginning of every year. It is best to read this verse – and the entire Bible – as literally as possible. David L. Cooper, a missionary to the Jewish people who lived and ministered in the 40s and 50s in Los Angeles, said this about reading Scripture: “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” He explained that, unless there is an obvious reason not to, we should apply Scripture literally.
A LITERAL APPROACH TO ROMANS 1:16
If we take Romans 1:16 literally, we see that we should not be ashamed of the gospel as it is the power of God for salvation. I know this is true, as I experienced God’s power when I was nineteen years old and accepted Jesus. He transformed my life!
This verse also teaches that we should not keep this glorious and powerful message to ourselves. It is the power of God for salvation, not just for us, but for everyone who believes. Our divinely appointed goal in life should be to present the gospel in ways that others might see the power of the good news and believe in Him as well.
Finally, the text tells us that the gospel should be proclaimed to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Here is where some people find it hard to take this verse literally.
The Greek word translated “first” is protos and does not need to be understood sequentially. I do not think Paul intended for the Roman believers to witness to all the Jewish people in Rome before sharing the gospel with non-Jews. Paul used a nonsequential application of the word first.
To the Jew first means that bringing the gospel to the Jewish people should be a heart priority for every believer in Yeshua.
We must find a way to apply the plain truth of God’s Word to our lives. Whether through prayer, giving, or witnessing to Jewish people we know, we all need to be involved in sharing the good news with God’s chosen people.
NEW MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES TO REACH JEWISH PEOPLE
As we move on from celebrating our 25th anniversary as a ministry, we are looking forward to initiating some new outreach projects and continuing to improve and grow our existing ministries.
For example, we are excited about developing the first Messianic Training Centre in Australia with a focus on raising up the next generation of outreach workers and leaders in the Messianic movement, as well as offering Bible study courses from a Messianic Jewish perspective for those wanting to deepen their understanding of the Bible. This will be a blessing not only on the work in Australia but around the world, through our partnership with Chosen People Global Ministries which is now working in 19 countries.
Some of the other evangelistic projects we are working on are:
Video Testimonies of Australian Jewish people who have come to faith in Yeshua.
Our partner ministry, Chosen People Ministries, has done a wonderful job in putting together hundreds of very well produced video testimonies of Jewish people who have come to faith in Yeshua. If you haven’t had a chance to view these testimonies, go to ifoundshalom.com. By the way, you’ll find my testimony there too.
However, we really need to build up a collection of video testimonies of Australian Jewish believers in Yeshua to impact our local mission field. We are working on developing this strategic evangelistic project. Please pray for this new endeavour.
Reaching out to Israeli Backpackers
Our wonderful partner ministry “across the ditch,” Celebrate Messiah New Zealand, have developed a new mobile app called Planet Zula which is a highly effective tool in bringing Israeli backpackers and believing hosts together all around the globe. We are looking to adapt this for Australia, train new hosts, and roll it out sometime this year in 2021. Please pray for this incredibly fruitful mission field in reaching Israelis as they, once Covid-19 is in check, travel around the world once again. Thousands of Israelis come to our shores every year.
Reaching Inter-Married Families
Despite the huge effort of the Jewish community worldwide to combat the rate of assimilation, the number of Jews marrying non-Jews is increasing every year.
For a number of social and spiritual reasons, this group of people are generally very open to the Gospel. This can be clearly seen in the fact that so many of us as Jewish believers in Yeshua are married to non-Jewish spouses.
We believe that the best social and spiritual solution to the challenges faced by inter-married partners and their families, is Yeshua the Jewish Messiah. He is the one who has made the two one, and who reconciles us both to God through his death on the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16). Through Yeshua the Messiah we find our true identity as both Jews and Gentiles.
Since this is a growing group of people here in Australia and all around the world, we will be developing a strategy to reach out to this unique people group. The anonymity of using platforms like Zoom really lend a hand to this kind of outreach. So, we would like to ask you to please pray for Celebrate Messiah as we develop an effective outreach program to inter-marrieds in 2021.
PRAYER AND SUPPORT
God has given us a big vision and ambitious goals, and I hope you are ready and willing to partner with us as we initiate these strategies in 2021. We have already done a lot, but now we are prepared to move full steam ahead. We can only do this with your help.
We expect to receive quite a bit of opposition, and we need to have the prayer support and financial resources to press on.
This year, we hope to raise enough funds to provide for these new ministries, as well as continue to support the general ministry of Celebrate Messiah and our existing missionaries in the field. Your continued prayerful support will be greatly appreciated.
The gospel is still powerful, and it is still for everyone; it is the only solution that works for you, me, and every other citizen on earth. But as we apply the preaching of the gospel, we need to take Paul’s words seriously and present the gospel to the Jew first.
Thank you so much for your prayers. I see God’s hand on the Jewish people and especially the state of Israel as part of the unfolding of the end times. I believe with my whole heart that the Jewish people will turn to Yeshua before He returns at the end of days. This makes reaching the Jewish people for the Messiah Yeshua so very important.
As Paul wrote,
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery – so that you will not be wise in your own estimation – that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)
Let us lift our eyes and hearts together and, by His grace, reach the Jewish people for the Lord. Thank you for caring and for helping us bring the gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles.
Your brother in Messiah,
Executive Director of Celebrate Messiah Australia
Join us for Celebrate Messiah’s Community 2021 Online Passover Celebration on Sunday 28 March 6PM. Check our website for details closer to the event.