GATES OF ZION
What a great trip it was to the USA! I thank all of you who extended
love and hospitality (you know who you are!) to our family during our stay.
Also thanks to those of you who took such good care of me after they were
gone! We saw so many dear old friends (actually many are getting old and
gray!) and we made many new ones. Janet and myself strongly sensed the
grace of God upon us throughout our stay. This was a time for us to
strengthen our ties with many of you and also a time for building new and
Our first order of business in the USA was my nephew Landon's Bar Mitzvah.
We had not seen our immediate family in over 2 years. It was a great joy to
see our children Yaron, Eliya and Ariana reunited with their cousins (my
sister Rhonda's 3 boys: Shaun, Landon and Derin.) The Bar Mitzvah was a
full-blown affair - the kids had a ball. Janet and myself realized how old
we really have become as our chief joy was watching our kids have fun! Times
are a changing!
After we all braved wind-chill factors of 40 below in NJ and NY State,
and the children flew back to 'balmy' Kazakhstan on January 28. I stayed in
the USA for an additional 2-½ weeks. I spoke at 21 different places flying
to a different church or Messianic Synagogue almost every other day. It was
exhilarating and joyful to meet so many brothers and sisters who were eager
to hear what the Lord put on my heart. My message was the same everywhere I
went. "The Lord has called each of us to a great purpose - find out what it
is and take that first step - NOW! - to bring it to pass."
BACK IN KAZAKHSTAN
STUCK IN THE MUD
I am now reunited with my family back in Almaty. The snows are
(although it snowed again last night) and the entire region is becoming one
huge mud pit. This of course is desirable since we are near the time of
Passover. How else can I experience what it was like to be in the mud pits
of Goshen where my ancestors made bricks for Pharaoh when we were slaves in
It has become literally impossible for us to park our vehicle, without
and ourselves becoming splattered with mud twice a day. I am forced to pull
the car back into the mud in order to park, get out in the mud and open the
huge lock of our heavy metal creaky garage doors. You have to watch this in
order to really appreciate it. Maybe I'll arrange for an exclusive digital
video of this daily experience via e-mail.
One of the favorite games of the traffic police (GAI) here are to watch
whether or not you go through a flashing green light so they can stop you
and take some of your money. The traffic lights here work as follows: The
light is green and you are happily moving along - the green light then
begins to flash, turns yellow for less than one second and then red. It is
a cinch to get caught in the midst of the change and if you do and the GAI
is there you are dead meat! They pull you over with a glowing red baton
which is the Kazak version of a light saber. They then walk toward your car
and salute you. I always act like a fresh new foreigner muttering some
English mixed with some elemental novice sounding Russian. I want him to be
thinking, "Stupid foreigner". About 50% of the time the GAI expects that
you have been heavily drinking. So they ask. rather they have the audacity
to accuse you of drinking alcohol and when you deny it or try to explain
that you do not drink they laugh and literally tell you that you are lying!
One time they convinced me I was drunk! I actually began to feel as if I
was drunk going through this absolutely ridiculous routine!
A DRIVERS PARADISE
The winter also leaves in its' wake huge potholes all along the city
streets. A lunar rover would be an appropriate family vehicle here. The
dirt road leading to our apartment building is an obstacle course of huge
rocks, mud, and water holes. Hey! At least living here is not boring!
To make matters worse there is a huge busy intersection very close to
building, which we must pass through on a daily basis. Since I have been
back here until this very day the traffic lights have been off. Of course
there is no one directing traffic so everyday all day and night this is a
"drive through at your own risk intersection" - a virtual free for all.
There is very little difference between driving in this city and driving in
an amusement park bumper car arcade. To add injury to insult the GAI are
stationed only about 100 yards away trying to catch people going over 40 Km
per hour. Why you may ask are they not directing traffic at this extremely
dangerous intersection? There is simply no money in directing traffic! As
you can tell, I love the GAI!
RAMADAN IN CENTRAL ASIA
The beginning of Ramadan in Central Asia (called Ramazan here) brought
unusual yet eye-opening Islamic Central Asian ritual right to our front
door. Smack in front of our building Janet witnessed a freshly slaughtered
sheep hanging from a tree! Upon investigation we discovered that a local
custom here is to slaughter a lamb at this season AND that it atones for
sin! Amazing! Even the religions that are contrary to our faith, point to
the sacrificial death of Messiah! Imagine instead of seeing an ice creme
truck, as a sign of spring, in front of your home, there is a hanging bloody
Upon returning to minister at our congregation in Almaty it became clear
that we had some major needs to focus upon. Of course, people everywhere
are hurting and we all need the Lord's healing hand BUT here in the former
soviet republics there is such a crying need for deliverance and divine
healing on every level. Due to broken dysfunctional families combined with
the abuses, deceitful doctrines, and eventually the collapse of the
communist society, people here have been badly battered spiritually,
mentally and emotionally. As a result so many here have almost no
understanding of how to live wholesome and productive lives. Views on
marriage, work ethics, and family life are distorted and unbiblical. Even
views among those who have been believers for years are astoundingly way off
We therefore see this season as a time to bring wholeness and deliverance
the people God has entrusted to our care. We are trusting Him to do this
through the power of His Spirit. Your prayers would be especially helpful at
PURIM IN ALMATY
We celebrated Purim as a congregation with a special Purim Play and
outreach. Since one of our congregants is the choreographer of the local
Almaty circus the costume designs could have won Academy Awards. Many
unbelieving Jewish people attended, and our hall was packed as the truth was
proclaimed. We all had a great time. Now preparation for Passover is
underway. It is a wonderful blessing that Almaty has a beautiful Jewish
restaurant called the Star of David in the center of the city. A further
blessing is that its' Korean owner has a believing daughter who loves the
Jewish people. They will allow us to use this beautiful and well-known
facility for less than half the usual cost. Last year we hosted 80 most of
who were Jewish and who did not know Yeshua. This year we will host 120.
The Seder will take place on the first night of Passover which is April 19.
ALONG THE SILK ROAD
In about 5 days after sending off this newsletter to be printed I will
my first journey to the Republic of Uzbekistan. I understand that Tashkent,
the capital, still has about 30,000 Jewish people. This nation has laws
making it illegal to proclaim the gospel. Therefore we are going to need to
be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. There were once ancient
Jewish communities in Central Asia and at one time the center of the Jewish
community was in the Uzbek city of Bukhara. My close assistant Isaac was
born there. We hope to visit Bukhara on this trip. By the way Isaac has two
brothers named Abraham and Jacob! His moms' name, you guessed it - is Sarah!
LESSON # 1
I promised many while I was in the USA to begin a series of brief teachings
within the context of our newsletter on how to effectively reach Jewish
people with the gospel. I will keep each lesson short and hopefully sweet!
I am starting out assuming you already believe it is biblical and essential
to reach Jewish people with the good news of Messiah and that you believe
the following scripture is as valid today as it was when it was first
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of
salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the
Greek. (Romans 1:16)
So let me begin by helping you to think like a Jew. This also wouldn't
in other areas of life as well as evangelism! Remember Paul said, "to the
Jew I became as a Jew"(1 Cor 9:20). If Paul who was a rabbi said he needed
to "become a Jew" to reach the Jews how much more do you? So let this be
your first step in becoming an effective witness to Jewish people. Begin
thinking Jewish or put in the "mother tongue" - get yourself a Yiddishe Kup.
(Literally a Jewish head) Don't worry (men) you only need to become Jewish
from the waist up! Lets therefore first take a look at what Jews today
think about Jesus.
It is important to realize that "not believing in Jesus" has tragically
become one of main beliefs of Judaism. Most Jews are sure, "Jesus is for
"them" and not for us." "Them" - meaning the gentiles. Many Jews think
Jesus or at least Paul began a new religion called Christianity. You must
realize this is simply not the case. Jesus lived and died as the most
Orthodox Jewish rabbi ever!
Paul himself was directly taught by the famous rabbi Gamaliel.
Paul himself proclaimed, "though I also might have confidence in the flesh.
If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of
Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;
concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which
is in the law, blameless."(Philippians 3:5)
Although most Jewish people do not realize this (as well as most
Christians!), Paul in no way converted from Judaism to another religion
called Christianity. No! Jesus Himself, Paul and the first apostles and all
the first followers of the Messiah were Jewish through and through. Jesus
taught in the synagogues and in the temple. He never stepped foot in a
church. (There of course were none) He taught the Hebrew scriptures with
authority. He kept the law of Moses perfectly and taught his disciples to do
" Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did
come to destroy but to fulfill. "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven
and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the
law till all is fulfilled.
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and
teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever
does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore it is essential that you clearly communicate that Jesus and
following Jesus is thoroughly Jewish. After all He was sent by the God of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to Israel for the salvation of the Jewish people.
He lived, died and rose again according to Moses and the prophets. He was
born, King of the Jews, died King of the Jews and will return to Jerusalem
to sit on David's throne as King of the Jews.
To be continued.
1. Please keep our ministry to the Jewish Community of Uzbekistan in
2. Please pray for the finances to come in enabling us to purchase a
ministry van to distribute humanitarian aid and transport the elderly and
infirm to our meetings. Goal: $15-20,000
3. Please continue to keep our entire family - Jeff, Janet, Yaron, Eliya
Ariana before the Lord in your prayers.
Many thanks to you - all our faithful, loyal and wonderful praying friends
Remember: . let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season
shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9)
Blessings and Shalom from Almaty, Kazakhstan!
Your fellow servants in Messiah Yeshua,
Jeffrey and Janet Bernstein
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Gates of Zion
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