The Bridge is our monthly e-publication featuring exciting stories from some of our field staff and donors. If you would like to receive these monthly stories in your e-mail inbox, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Bridge stories are also compiled tri-annually and sent as a printed publication. If interested in receiving Bridge stories as a printed publication, click HERE. See below for our latest "God at work" stories!
At Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, students participate in PCM (“practical Christian ministry”) as part of their education. For my PCM, I meet weekly to teach English to elderly Russian-Jewish folk who live in a building next to Moody’s campus.
One of the most difficult things I deal with is the loneliness of our elderly students. Each week we are given the same variety of responses when we ask how their weeks have been: “It was a rough week”; “I missed my husband a lot this week”; “I didn’t go out much this week.”
They often feel helpless and seem sad.
Recently one of my fellow English teachers decided to do something about this. She spontaneously invited her elderly Russian students to a brunch. I loved this idea! She asked her students if they wanted her to bring donuts and coffee. They said they would come, but they would rather have bagels and tea.
After some lengthy discussion with the building superintendent, we were given permission to hold the brunch in a common area.
We had a great time! We simply ate and talked. Each one of our students has their own story, and I was blown away by some of what they have experienced in their lives.
Overall, it was a wonderful time to connect with our students and show them the love that they so desperately desire. It was a great reminder that God can use us just as much when we are simply lovingly listening to the people to whom we are ministering as when we are speaking to them.
Please pray for the continual building of relationships with our elderly Russian-Jewish friends, many of whom struggle with failing health. Many have heard the Gospel numerous times. Pray the veil will be lifted from their eyes and that they will come to know their Messiah personally before passing from this life to the next!
– Chase, Partner of LIFE
This fall a church group came on their first ministry trip to Immanuel House in Brooklyn. Training included teaching by our staff and also street evangelism.
For most in the group, this type of outreach was outside their comfort zone. Often Jewish people are hesitant to take our material – even if they may be interested – because of pressure from the community. Some won’t even look up to see the signs we have set out.
One of our colleagues came up with a wonderful form of "creative outreach": writing "In Search of Shalom" on the street with a stencil and chalk. Passersby couldn’t avoid seeing this logo on the street. There was a greater chance they would try to discover what “In Search of Shalom” is by privately looking online.
That afternoon we saw a remarkable increase of visitors on our website! It did have an effect!
The team also did a more direct form of outreach: handing out material at a book table. We didn’t see much response, which can be discouraging.
Our colleague, Kori, spoke to the team: “Thank you so much for coming. We’re glad we can share with you the burden God has laid on our hearts. Since you have experienced the streets of Brooklyn and the rejection that comes with it, you now know better how to pray for us and our work.”
The group’s leader, Joe, transitioned last year from pastoring full-time to Jewish ministry with LIFE. Joe says, “In all my years in ministry I have never had so many attacks from the enemy as since we started in Jewish ministry. The devil doesn’t like this work. In other ministries you see people come to faith regularly. Jewish ministry is a lot harder.”
We know those things, but sometimes hearing it from others is a good reminder. And with that we want to ask you to pray for us. Pray for our personal relationship with the Lord, our marriages, our families, our relationships with those around us – and the salvation of the Jewish people.
– Alike, LIFE Staff
Our team (three groups of two) was handing out tracts in a busy Jewish section of Toronto on a Friday morning. I couldn’t help but wonder if our efforts would really make a difference that day. So many people passed by that morning. Some politely said, “No, thank you,” when we offered a tract. Others shook their head, waved an angry hand, or said something not worth repeating.
Yet, some people did take a tract. And for one man, our presence made a difference!
As this man – a native Russian speaker – was walking, the Holy Spirit had been working on his heart. After accepting a tract he stopped to look it over. Resuming his walk he “just happened” to encounter two others from our team—one of whom could speak Russian!
The man asked these team members if they would be willing to talk with him about what he was reading. Our Russian-speaking volunteer was able to answer this seeker's questions about spiritual things. He was overwhelmed with many difficulties in life, and said it was a “miracle” that he found our team that day. After a discussion, he was invited to attend a local congregation.
Because of the language barrier, none of this conversation would have been possible without this volunteer. This was clearly a “divine appointment.” You just never know what God is going to do when we step out in faith and obedience.
– Beth, LIFE Staff
"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9).
Some of the best memories I have from my six months volunteering at the guest house in Patagonia took place in the dining area. Each Friday night we hosted a Shabbat dinner to which traveling Israelis were invited. Some traditional Jewish elements were included during these meals (such as kiddush and challah), which gave our Israeli friends a taste of home.
After the meal, one of the Shelter staff always led a short Bible study where the gospel would be clearly presented. When the study was over, we would ask our guests what they thought about the message they had heard.
In-depth gospel conversations routinely occurred as a natural part our Christian community life. One time a visiting guest walking around the Shelter overheard such discussions taking place throughout the building. He said with surprise, “Wow! Jesus is everywhere!"
As a Chinese believer from Hong Kong, I was always encouraged when Jewish guests at the Shelter sought me out. Not only is there no history of anti-Semitism by Chinese people, but most Israelis assumed I was most likely a Buddhist. When they asked why I am a Christian, I was free to present clearly why I believe in Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, as my personal Savior. Many were open to receiving gospel literature to read as they continued their travels.
Now that I am back home, I participate in various events organized by LIFE’s Hong Kong team. We are trying new strategies to build bridges with the local population, as well as the Israelis and other Jewish tourists who visit our part of the world. We always show love and respect for them, and are happy when presented with the opportunity to explain the basis for our care for them.
Please pray LIFE’s work in Asia will continue to expand, and many will hear the message of God’s love revealed in Messiah Jesus.
– Suki, LIFE Volunteer
Our paths first crossed with Gal* and Eli* in 2015 when we were serving at the Shelter in Argentina. Back then, Gal’s heart was so soft that by the end of our time together, we wondered if he would profess faith in Yeshua. He left us without a profession, but he was deeply grateful and eagerly accepted a New Testament and some literature about Isaiah 53.
Less than two years later, the four of us were thrilled to be together again in Israel. This time around, we had three days with Gal, and most of it was spent talking about Yeshua. One day, while Eli was at work, Gal told us he had “really believed Yeshua is the Messiah” back in Argentina.
"I really felt Him," he said. "I felt like that for the rest of the trip. I read some of the New Testament and some of the book about Isaiah 53. When I got back to Israel, though, I couldn’t believe.”
“Why?” we asked.
“I’m Jewish. It is too hard to believe here. When I came back to Israel, it felt like Yeshua left me.”
The three of us continued to talk for two hours. By the end I challenged Gal, “Will you agree to pray for one month and ask God to show you the truth? I will also pray with you and for you during this time.”
“Deal!” he said as he extended his hand. And we shook on it.
Before leaving Israel, we gave Gal a letter I had stayed up the previous night writing. It challenged him to pray, study Scripture, and attend a Messianic church where he can ask his questions before giving up on God. We also gave him an English Bible, which he loved. English Old Testaments are easier for many Jewish people to read instead of the ancient Hebrew of the Tanakh. Now Gal can study the Jewish Scriptures with greater comprehension. We prayed together, hugged, and departed.
Gal is so close to the Kingdom! Please pray for him and many others who are seeking truth about Messiah despite the difficulty of going against the grain of Jewish culture.
– LIFE Staff Member
A simple prayer recently reminded me that “ordinary” is opportunity. When we faithfully follow Him, God delights in adding five letters (e-x-t-r-a!) in front of “ordinary.”
My plan was go to the mall to buy a few gifts for an upcoming birthday. Sounds pretty straightforward. But I said a “simple” prayer before setting out. I asked for a “wise buy,” and for any God-ordered opportunities to present themselves. This prayer set off a series of divine appointments all related to just one shopping trip.
On the way to mail these gifts, I met an older man struggling to carry a large boxed bicycle. When I saw he was struggling, I offered to help him. He responded, “I don’t have money to pay you.”
“Great,” I replied, “because I don’t want money. I only want to help.”
During the four long-blocks to schlep the large bicycle box to the shipping office, with a few rest breaks sandwiched in, I had the opportunity to meet Michael.* In a voice choking with emotion he told me, “This bike is important. It was my son’s. He passed away three weeks ago.”
I was able to speak words of comfort to him and as we talked more I found out he was from a Jewish background. After arriving at our destination, Michael looked at me with teary eyes and said, “You were sent from someone above today.” I agreed, and told Him it was the LORD who put us together. Further, as a believer in Jesus, I knew our LORD was where true comfort could be found.
Before continuing to the post office to mail my own packages, I let Michael know if he needed help in any way or wanted to talk further, I was available. His tight lengthy handshake at our departure told me God had touched his deeply wounded heart.
Ask God to add those five letters to what we think of as “ordinary.” With Him, even mailing a package can become an “extraordinary” opportunity!
– Jeff, LIFE Staff
Recently Jesse,* a new believer from an Orthodox-Jewish background, was asked, “How can we reach the Orthodox community?” His answer was simple, yet profound:
His response had come just at the right time and was a wonderful reminder of a truth that can be easily forgotten – prayer is not only powerful, but it is necessary!
Honestly, I had been feeling discouraged this particular week, because I hadn’t been able to join our team’s outreaches due to my responsibilities with our children. It wasn’t until our Field Ministry Director, Levi, reminded me, “Prayer is an essential part of evangelism!” that I began to change my thinking. Here I was feeling discouraged that “all I could do” was pray, yet in reality my prayers were helping members of our team complete their roles! It was then that I realized what a privilege it truly is to be able to lift up in prayer those who are serving, even when we aren’t physically laboring alongside them.
Your prayers are vital as well. Our ministry (really, all ministry) is completely dependent upon prayer. It is God who softens hearts and draws unbelievers to Himself. Our role is to be available and ready both in-season and out-of-season with the truth of God’s Word. And even when we can’t be “on the front lines” in evangelism, we can join the battle by intercession.
Jesse, a new believer, understood the necessity of prayer. It is just as important for us at any stage in our walk with God to never lose sight of this critical truth.
Thank you to those who invest in prayer with us.
“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16b).
– Kori, LIFE staff
Occasionally we may have the privilege of seeing God’s growth of the seeds we have planted. This is such a story, as told by a believing friend in the Chicago area.
“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
I found myself teaching music in a quaint Jewish violin shop, where the owner’s young son was a student of mine. With the chutzpah (audacity) for which Jewish culture is famous, I was taken care of on every level. I was fed and cared for as if I were a family member. We grappled with every topic from politics to religion. Each week I would set forth some well-thought morsel to share my faith, only to be fiercely opposed.
At one point, another woman took lessons from me at the shop. She saw the burden of my heart for these precious people. We regularly took time from her lesson to pray for this Jewish family. She also created a beautiful calligraphy art piece of the 23rd Psalm. The Psalms are a connecting point for our religions. The owner thought the piece was very nice and hung it on their shop wall.
Years later, although now living in a different city, I received a phone call from this young student’s mother. She thanked me for the prayers said on her behalf. She was now a “completed Jew,” trusting in Jesus as her Savior. Wow!
Within that year she had called back twice – when her husband became a believer, and again when her son came to faith in the Lord. They had endured a crisis in their family and when looking for truth, they turned to the Lord.
That was in 2009. We still keep in touch. For them, life is far from easy. They have been disowned by many of their extended family and suffered great opposition for their faith – even here in the USA. Their problems are still very real, but so is their relationship with Jesus. May God be praised.
— Cindy, Friend of L
At a recent church event “Eric” informed me his boy had decided to follow Jesus at a Passover meal I led. My heart was elated and thankful to God for this news. The unexpected thing is, this particular Passover meal took place two years ago!
Many times we do not get to directly see how the Lord uses us. There is always the possibility that someday the Lord may bless us with a glimpse of the ways He has used us. Yet for now, we labor without fully knowing all the fruit God is bearing through our meager efforts. On unique occasions such as my experience with Eric, the Lord shows us the fruit He has produced through our obedience in serving Him. A little boy's heart was transformed during a Passover meal. This was the same meal, a Passover supper, that Jesus participated in before His death and resurrection. What a special experience for this young man, a new follower of Yeshua!
This scenario is a good reminder that we should always be sharing the gospel. While we may never see the fruit of our labor during our time on earth, we can trust God to work in the hearts of those with whom we share the love of Messiah.
Perhaps in the future someone will approach you to thank you for taking time to share with them the Good News, but perhaps not. They may not be ready to accept the gift of salvation the moment you share. Don’t let this discourage you; share anyway. In His perfect timing, God will use those moments for His glory.
"LIFE in Argentina"
As an Israeli traveling in Argentina, Shoshana* explained that they do not talk about Jesus in Israel. Yeshua’s name is not mentioned, except as a curse. She tells us she knew nothing about Him before coming to the guest house. Fate, she says, is what brought her here.
Shoshana didn’t anticipate hearing about Yeshua while traveling through the Andes. When she walked through the door of Life in Messiah’s guest house she likely did not expect to leave as a different person, a “new creation.” But that’s how Jesus works – in unlikely ways.
After enjoying a Shabbat dinner at the guest house, Shoshana sat down with Brooks, one of our faithful volunteers. With an open Bible between them, a conversation unfolded about the Messiah of Israel and His vast love for His children. As Brooks spoke words of truth, the Lord began to speak life into Shoshana. Later that evening, Shoshana sat down with Life in Messiah worker, Chelsey, and volunteer, Irina. As they were gathered, Shoshana prayed for forgiveness through Messiah.
Shoshana was lost and now she is found!
Did we experience the joy of the Lord as Shoshana explained she felt like a changed person? Absolutely. Did we praise God when she expressed that she loves how Yeshua lived His life and what He taught? Definitely. Did we smile when she told us how she prays to Him? Yes.Were we surprised? No. This is life as God designed it, and we are delighted to be a part of it. Praise Him!
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’” Luke 19:9-10.
This is LIFE in Argentina.
"In the Next Terminal"
JFK International Airport was busy with people the night I arrived in New York for the beginning of the YES! Israel trip. I walked from the terminal, looking for someone from the taxi company scheduled to pick me up. They were nowhere to be found.
I stood with my heavy luggage next to me, wondering what my next move would be. Taking the train would take more than 90 minutes and it was already late. I remembered a phone number the team leaders had given me the night before. They had run into a similar situation when they arrived in New York. The Lord worked it out so they were able to ride with Isaac,* an Orthodox cab driver. During the drive to Brooklyn, they had a heartfelt conversation about the gospel.
I called the number, hoping Isaac would answer. He did – in God’s perfect timing, Isaac was in the next terminal at that moment! He helped load my bags into his van and we chatted about our favorite baseball teams and compared New York City to Chicago.
On our way to Immanuel House, Life in Messiah’s ministry center in Brooklyn, I began an hour long conversation with Isaac. He told me of his love of studying the Torah and his discomfort with his incessant desires to do wrong. We both spoke of our high regard for Scripture. This led to a dialogue about prophecy, Jesus as the promised Messiah and the antidote to the human inclination toward sin.
It’s amazing to see God work so strategically. Isaac heard about the love of Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, from three LIFE staff members within two days!
- LIFE Staff Member
"What a Familiar Face"
After dinner, we took a guitar and drum to a busy street in Jerusalem to sing. A young man wearing a kippa (a small round cap worn by some Jewish men) was sitting by himself, holding a guitar. Levi approached to ask him to join our group for some singing.
Oh! What a familiar face!, I thought. He looks like someone I have dialogued with about spiritual topics on the internet.
His face and name, along with his musical interest, all confirmed it: this indeed was the young man from the chat forum. Several times he had heatedly debated me regarding Judaism, Yeshua, and the New Testament! I decided it was wise to wait until a later time to reveal my identity.
Asher* was happy to join us as we began to sing. We sang “Hodu L’Adonai” (Give Thanks to the Lord) and “Awake O Israel.” Asher’s friend joined us and later played “Am Israel Chai” (The People of Israel Live) and other Hebrew songs.
Asher is a lovable young guy, zealous for his religion. We have had very intense debates |because he wanted to “protect his fellow Jews” from being influenced by the Messianic faith in Yeshua.
I remembered his statement from our last online encounter in which he said, “We may cross paths again.”
Who would expect we would meet each other in Jerusalem? If this was not a divine appointment, what is?