By the time you receive this newsletter you will be either counting the days before the new millennium or wondering why so many Y2K doomsday prophets are not more grateful for the universal repeal of stoning laws! Nevertheless my bet is that life will continue as usual after the clock strikes 12 at midnight Dec 31. The fight of faith will intensify. The world will grow darker and our light will shine brighter and brighter.
I do not think that when 2001 arrives it will bring us remotely close to a manned voyage to Jupiter but I am believing that China, India and Mongolia are at least for us more realistic destinations!
Forgive me! It is becoming more and more difficult to produce and get our newsletter out on a monthly basis. This is partly good news in that we have become so busy with our work here in Central Asia and beyond. Nevertheless I believe these delays will only be temporary, as my desire is to be communicating with you more and not less.
CENTRAL ASIAN MESSIANIC JEWISH CENTER
Praise the Lord! Our newly renovated office has been dedicated to the Lord and is now fully functioning. I am so glad we do not have to settle for the usual drab, grey, cold, soviet style office complete with a bathroom you might choose death to before you would use it!
Our office is modest yet warm, bright, colorful and bustling with activity.
It is painted white with a beautiful dark blue linoleum floor. One of our
congregants made dark blue curtains to match. The office has three sections,
which will serve many purposes:
In the central room there will be a computer and a map of Central Asia. This will be the “command center”. Our goal is to map out all of Central Asian Jewry and city by city bring each one the gospel. The second room is a classroom to be used each day with language and bible classes. Classes in both English and Hebrew continue. Janet has been faithfully teaching English every week for almost one year and Natasha, a native born Almaty Jew and a super fluent Hebrew speaker teaches Hebrew.
The third room is our fellowship room complete with a small kitchen. This is where relationships are both established and strengthened. It is wonderful that after Shabbat services we can all descend two flights of stairs and relax and get to know one another over cups of coffee and chai (tea).
Thus far we have held outreaches to the Jews of Almaty, Kazakhstan and Bishkek, Kyrgzstan. Our next target cities will be those in Uzbekistan, beginning with Tashkent its’ capitol. By the Lord’s grace we hope to reach out to most of the regions in Central Asia where the lost sheep of the house of Israel are scattered. This is the primary focus of Gates of Zion. One of our members has begun a home cell group in the Kazak City of Karaganda. We have already began to reach the many Jewish people scattered all throughout the Republic of Kazakhstan.
PRAYER IS THE KEY
We will need divine wisdom before we venture into Uzbekistan where it is illegal to proclaim the gospel. Different Islamic factions have been fighting there, so before we go I will inform you to request much needed prayer cover!
We must realize we can do little in the kingdom of God without prayer.
It is the key for the expansion of our work here in Central Asia.
Therefore this next season of prayer is of utmost importance. Won’t
you join us in interceding for our ministry and especially the Jewish people
of Central Asia.
INTO AND OUT OF ZION
We have now established what will be an annual pilgrimage and equipping trip from Kazakhstan to our congregational home base in Israel. We are privileged and committed to fulfilling the prophetic word by bringing the gospel Out of Zion. Therefore as I explained in previous newsletters it was expedient and biblical that our home sending base be Zion! As you might remember, before our family moved to Kazakhstan from Russia in 1998 we first journeyed to Israel to be prayed for, anointed, and sent out by our partners and elders from Congregation Ohalei Rachamim. We literally are now able to fulfill the words of Isaiah: " For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. This is exciting!
In November our leadership team from Bishkek - Sasha and Tatiana and our Almaty team - Janet, myself and our local co-leader, Isaac all flew to Israel for our conference near Haifa at the new building now housing Ohalei Rachamim (Tents of Mercy). We received loving care, clearer insight into the future, and further training to equip us to better serve and oversee our newly planted congregations in Central Asia. It was a wonderful time of learning and strategizing with our “Out of Zion” partners for 2000 and beyond.
We now can look forward to our annual visit to Israel once a year to be strengthened, equipped, prayed for and refreshed. It was especially a joy to see some of our Russian Jewish friends who were part of our congregation back in Moscow now living and serving the Lord in Israel.
THE SILK ROAD
In ancient times there was a trade route which reportedly ran from Jerusalem all the way to the Far East. Almaty, Kazakhstan was one of the cities along this ancient byway. The Silk Road extends through what is known today as the 10/40 window. These latitudes contain the last nations on earth who have not been reached with the gospel. A number of months ago I was invited to come and share at a conference of believers who are very interested in the Messianic Jewish movement. These people live on the easternmost end of the Silk Road – Japan.
THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN
So, instead of returning to Almaty with Janet from Tel Aviv I flew to London and then on to Tokyo. I was absolutely amazed to see the extent of love and profound interest Japanese Christians have for the Jewish people and in particular Messianic Jews. There is one Japanese Christian who has a synagogue on the first floor of his home! He holds Sabbath evening services every Friday! There is also a group of Christians I met that has been praying faithfully for the Jewish people continually for the past 65 years! Imagine hearing a Japanese congregation - men adorned with Yarmikas (traditional Jewish head coverings) singing Havenu-Shalom Aleichem in Hebrew and Japanese! Since most NY Jews grew up in Chinese restaurants it was natural for me to eat with chopsticks – which was a delight to my Japanese hosts! I even taught one evening wearing a traditional men’s Kimono.
A NATION OF SERVANTS
I have never met such a servant people! The Japanese Christians who hosted me did not know what to do next to insure my comfort. In fact upon hearing my mom (when she heard I was traveling to Japan) asked for a Kimono, a woman at the conference went shopping and presented me with a beautiful silk Kimono. The woman in Japan bow and serve tea to you on their knees! Rodney Dangerfield would not be able to do his “I get no respect” routine in Japan!
The Japanese are a people who once aspired to world conquest. They had never lost a war until WWII! As many of us who drive Japanese cars know, the Japanese have a strong work ethic and a drive toward achieving excellence if not perfection. The theme of the rising sun is one that alludes to the greatness the Japanese aspire to. The Lord gave me a word for the Japanese Christians:
“ Before you see the rising sun, the bright morning star must first rise in your hearts!
Japan is a Buddhist nation. I was saddened upon seeing people rubbing a bronze idol at the Buddhist temple hoping to gain favor from the lifeless statue. The modern Japanese however, have made SONY, Panasonic and their careers their god and their devotion to “The Corporation” their religion. The recent economic collapse in Asia has left many in Japan greatly disillusioned and tragically, suicide is a major problem.
MESSIANIC JEWS & MESSIANIC JAPANESE
The Japanese Christians amazingly have much in common with Messianic
Most of them like us are first generation believers. It sounded so familiar to hear their prayer requests as they asked for the salvation of their close relatives. Many Christians in America do not realize how blessed they are to have parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters who are also of the household of faith. For both Japanese Christians and Messianic Jews this is not the case. Most of us are the only ones in our entire families who know the Messiah.
As in the Jewish community of past generations, the Japanese have a legendary respect for their elders and for authority. They naturally honor their mothers and fathers. Honor is an extremely important character attribute in Japanese culture. Although the emperor is no longer considered divine he is nevertheless greatly honored by the people. If the Japanese had a small glimpse into the majesty of Yeshua I believe they would become among His most fervent followers.
As is the case with Messianic Jewish believers, Japanese believers are
only a small remnant of the total population. As we are the few among
many so it is the same for our Japanese brethren. I believe the Lord
wants us to pray for and encourage one another.
Both Japan and Israel are on the opposite ends of the Silk Road. I believe both nations have a role in the evangelization of the unreached people groups in the 10/40 window who live along this ancient trade route.
THE MESSIANIC JEWISH GOSPEL
The Japanese and indeed many through Asia will not quickly turn to what they see as a “white western religion”. They are quite satisfied with the faith of their ancestors. The Japanese Christians believe they need to proclaim not the Christian faith of America and Western Europe but the Messianic Jewish gospel from the orient – (Luke 24:47) "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
The Japanese brethren seem to sense that they need to present the Christian faith as an expression of the faith that began in first century Israel as a religion of the east rather than the west. They have eagerly sought our help to enable them to understand the Jewish roots and foundation of their faith. I believe we have a special call to the nations of the east and our light as redeemed sons of Abraham is to shine upon the farthest ends of the earth. (Acts 13:47) "For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.' "
LIGHTENING SHINES FROM EAST TO WEST
As the entire Muslim world suspiciously eyes the west and insulates itself from its influence, there is a wind blowing from the east that will take them by surprise! Revival in Korea, the Philippines and China and, a growing interest among Japanese Christians to bring the gospel to the Islamic world has world-changing ramifications. The Muslims are not expecting the winds of the gospel to come from Asia. But Asia is where the most explosive growth of the body of Messiah is now taking place. A spiritual typhoon is coming from the east! And it holds the promise of blowing all throughout the Islamic world – that great stronghold which for so many years has resisted the rule of the King of Kings. So as the Muslims look with growing distrust toward the west they will be caught off guard when the truth comes as a sword from the east! We need to be praying for this great strategic move of the Spirit.
Our family will be traveling west before the new millennium. Janet’s family in England have not seen our children in over three years. So we first will set out for the UK for about two weeks. On Jan 4 we are scheduled to fly to NYC for my nephews’ bar mitzvah (Jewish rite of passage when a boy at age 13 enters manhood). We hope to see many of you during our time in America. Our visits there seem fewer and further apart these days. No wonder as we now live half way around the world!
We wish you a blessed 2000! One thing we can be sure of: The Lord is nearer to us now then when we first believed!
With love from your fellow laborers in the gospel now in Almaty, Kazakhstan,
Jeffrey and Janet Bernstein
If you are inspired to financially support our work in Central Asia please send your gift in the enclosed return envelope. Please make all checks payable to “Gates of Zion”. All gifts are tax deductible and received with thanksgiving!
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Gates of Zion
PO Box 55123
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Phone/fax – 7-3272- 25- 68- 28
The Gates of Zion is registered as a non-profit corporation in compliance with IRS standards in the USA and is under the oversight of a USA based board of directors and the eldership board of Congregation Ohalei Rachamim, Beit Yam, Israel.