The Friends of Israel in Action Mar/Apr 2022
FOI Launches New Ministry
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry (FOI) has launched an exciting new work called Encounter to expose Christians to the Jewish culture and community of the northeastern United States.
Bruce Scott, director of Program Ministries, organized the first trip last fall for seven Christians eager to learn more about the Jewish people. In four days, the Encounter team interacted with one of the largest Jewish communities in the world as members traveled between Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City.
They visited Crown Heights in Brooklyn, New York, and saw where modern scribes handwrite Torah scrolls. They toured the famous synagogue of the late Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whom some Orthodox Jewish people believe to be the messiah; and they went to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which was the center of Jewish immigration from 1880 to 1924.
And, of course, no tour of the Lower East Side is complete without eating at the famous Katz’s Delicatessen, a staple in New York Jewish cuisine. Team members were immersed in everything Jewish to enhance their love and understanding of God’s Chosen People.
In Philadelphia, Rabbi Albert Gabbai welcomed them for a Shabbat meal with his congregation in the fellowship hall of his synagogue, Congregation Mikveh Israel. Founded in 1740, it is known as the Synagogue of the American Revolution because it is the oldest continuously functioning Jewish assembly in the United States.
After the meal, Bruce briefly shared about FOI’s love and support for Israel and the Jewish people and how the Bible tells us that, as Christians, we are spiritually indebted to them (Rom. 15:27). A young Jewish couple told him, “We’ve never heard of Christian support for Israel and the Jewish people before. Thank you so much!” Others also told Bruce how much he had encouraged them.
Encounter, of course, involves more than taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Jewish life. The program is designed to fulfill The Friends of Israel’s mission “to bring physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.” Before departing for home, team members assembled more than 100 gift bags of food for Holocaust survivors.
“The Encounter program,” one member told us, “helped me develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of Jewish culture and of the pain and struggle of the Jewish people and Israel. A greater sadness for me is knowing where their lack of eternal salvation will lead. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I cannot ignore service to the Jewish people and Israel.”
You can help support Encounter and other ministries in North America outreach with The Friends of Israel. Thank you for your prayers and financial support!
In Canada, please give here.
Often God allows our teams around the world to see new generations of believers in Messiah grow and minister for Him. Although The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry (FOI) has no workers yet in Belarus, our Polish and Ukrainian teams have had many opportunities to minister there over the years. Some Belarusians have attended FOI events in Poland, come to faith, and taken the gospel message home with them.
This is the remarkable story of Andrew, a Jewish Belarusian who was saved at one of our Holidays With the Bible in southern Poland. Andrew quickly began sharing the Good News in his home village of Bobruisk, where he helped our partner churches distribute gift baskets to low-income Jewish families, hosted Shabbat dinners, and began speaking of his faith to his Jewish family and neighbors.
Andrew continued to stay in touch with some of our field representatives in Poland, including Timothy Rabinek, who recently updated us on how God is using Andrew in the currently closed country of Belarus.
In 2021, Andrew began teaching a regular Bible study. Attendance was small at first. But as the weather warmed up, the group began to grow beyond Andrew’s expectations. Before he knew it, his little Bible study had almost 50 people! He needed a bigger place to meet.
So Andrew approached the local rabbi about using an outdoor gathering place owned by the Jewish community. He told the rabbi his group includes both Christians and Jews and that he will share his faith in Messiah, just as our FOI Poland team shared with him. And the rabbi agreed! Today the name of the space is also the name of Andrew’s ministry: The Jewish Courtyard.
“We read the Bible,” Andrew said, “and comment, pray, and praise Yeshua and the Father. Our prayer is for the Holy Spirit to have those who are being saved join the church. The keys to the Courtyard were given to us by the rabbi of Bobruisk. He knows everything and approves of our meetings. This is wonderful, and we pray for his family and the Jewish people.”
What an amazing heritage God is giving our field workers in Eastern Europe. Since the inception of our ministry there more than 70 years ago, the Lord continues to bless our efforts to bless His people in that beautiful region. Please pray the seeds our Polish and Ukrainian teams sow today will continue to produce generations of individuals who love and bless the children of Israel.
You can help support our Polish or Ukrainian team and other FOI ministries like this around the world. Thank you for your prayers and financial support!
In Canada, please give here.