We started off 2022 where we ended 2021 – breaking new ground and connecting with new scattered Jewish communities. If the six-week period between early March and the beginning of April is any indication, this is going to be an amazing and busy year for our Global Outreach team. The Lord opened a door of opportunity for us to hold a Medical Outreach in Zimbabwe, then meet with elders in two communities we haven’t worked with in the past, plus visit a new country to lay the groundwork for future ministry. Our leadership team was also able to meet with one of our incredible Messianic partners in Ukraine. All this in a span of forty days! We hoped to have weeks like this when we said yes to His call to reach “All Tribes.”
Our first Outreach of the year was in Chivi, Zimbabwe. Chivi is a new location, and the name means “sin” in the local language. Our team was determined to bring blessings to a community that carried this name for too long. Weeks before the Outreach started, we received a word of encouragement from one of our amazing partners who joined us in the field. She had been reading the Word of God and Acts 13:49 jumped out at her. That verse proclaims that “the word of the Lord spread throughout the whole region.” The team carried this verse as our mission statement from the Lord. Chivi was thirsty to hear about the Good News of Yeshua, and our team of volunteers and Messianic Lemba ministers spent the week making Him known.
The Clinic was a success! Two thousand three hundred and fifty-nine people heard the Gospel presentation and, out of that number, 191 made the decision to accept Yeshua as their personal Savior. We served 7,274 patients and distributed more than 200 LifeStraw family units in local Jewish villages. The Zehra Kids Program visited a local school and hosted hundreds of children who learned about their Jewish heritage and identity. These are all exciting figures, but the greatest blessing from the Outreach isn’t found in a number but in two statements.
First, our medical director said, “We really made a difference to so many people this week by treating ailments that would have gone untreated” because of the high cost of health care.
Secondly, one of the police officers assigned to our Clinic made a remarkable statement after observing all the Lord was doing. She told me, “You have no idea the investment you are making in the community. There will be lasting fruit.” The Lord changed the identity of a community once known as “sin” to a community that now sees itself as “blessed.”
In the weeks after the clinic, we continue to receive incredible reports of the follow-up work being done by our Messianic congregation partners including the planting of three new congregations. That’s lasting fruit!
After the Outreach in the middle of March we embarked on our annual scouting trip. We scout to identify new Jewish communities in countries where we currently minister and to meet with others in new counties. Always, the highlight is sitting with Jewish community leaders and hearing about their history and traditions. We are blessed to be able to meet so many wonderful people. We met with two unique groups in March.
First, we spent time with Jewish elders in eastern Ethiopia. Jewish Voice has worked with members of this group in the past, but we are hoping to develop a lasting relationship that will bear fruit for years to come. This group has been persecuted for their unwavering belief that they are a scattered Tribe of Israel. In fact, when asked why their settlement are forced to continually relocate farther and farther outside of town, they gave a simple answer: “Because we are Hebrew.”
The second group we visited found us a few years ago during a Zimbabwe Medical Outreach. Their leaders had traveled many hours to seek medical attention for members of their community. During the visit they made themselves known to JVMI leadership. This group lives in a refugee camp on the Zimbabwe border and their oral history traces back to Israel. We are gathering more information about both groups and will know more in the coming months about ministry opportunities resulting from our visits.
After departing Zimbabwe, we traveled north to a place that has been on our radar for a couple of years – Zambia. This wasn’t our first visit to the country; Our team from Messianic Jewish Voice Zimbabwe identified a community back in 2019, and our Global Outreach team held a LifeStraw® distribution there that same year. In the two years since, we have strengthened our relationship with one of the local Messianic congregations in the capital city of Lusaka. Now, the time has come to serve the Lemba living in remote parts of Zambia. On this trip in March, we sat with the elders to assess their needs. Please join us in prayer as we pursue the permissions to hold our first Medical Outreach in Zambia this year.
The final stop on our six-week trip was in Eastern Europe. For decades, Rabbi Jonathan Bernis and Jewish Voice have ministered in Ukraine. The recent conflict with Russia hit our leadership in a personal way as friends found themselves in the middle of a war. We have many incredible ministry partners in this region, and we wanted to visit some of them to encourage them and hear their on-the-ground assessments.
After spending a few days with ministries in Poland, our team walked across the border into Ukraine. We met with a Messianic rabbi who has relocated from Kiev because of the bombing. He and his ministry continue to meet the needs of congregation members and elderly Jewish people unable to flee the area, transporting food and medicine to them.
This was just one of many examples of Messianic congregations and churches mobilizing at this critical time to meet urgent needs. It’s amazing to see the Body of Messiah in action! We are daily assessing the needs and help we can provide to the Jewish community and their neighbors during this devastating conflict. And, of course, we join them in prayer because we know the Lord is their protector and provider.
This six-week period was only the beginning. Stay tuned! We have multiple Outreaches scheduled for the rest of 2022, and we are continuing to address the situation in Ukraine, responding to the needs of the Jewish community that are being affected. I can’t wait to update you again soon. Blessings.
Director of Global Outreach
Jewish Voice Ministries International