Shevat/1 Adar 5774 February 2014
THANKS VERY MUCH!
Israel’s regathering and revival in the time of Ezra, Nehemiah and Zerubbabel included the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. This great task was completed in just 52 days (today you’d be fortunate just to get permits pulled from the local zoning board in that time)! We read that it was accomplished so quickly because the favorable hand of God was upon them. A wall around a city acts as protection. This wall was much more than a mere construction project, because Jerusalem is the city of the Great King and the place where God chose to make His name dwell. It was a costly, time-sensitive and dangerous endeavor, and those who contributed to its rebuilding are forever memorialized by name in Scripture. It’s a fact that we give our finances, our time and our energies to the things we love and value. We are grateful for the many of you who support Shema with your giving and prayers – a sign that you value the advancing of the Good News and consider the salvation of human beings to be of utmost importance. Thank you so much for your commitment to Yeshua and your confidence in us!
LOOKING BACK ON 2013
Building The Community From Within
Four Impact Stories: What Shema Means To Me
Impact Story #1. Helen writes: Congregation Shema Yisrael is a blessing to me because, according to Romans 3, the Jewish people have been entrusted with the very words of God. Shema has two rabbis who take great care in teaching the whole revelation of God – which is the most important thing in life. Praise God for the advancement of technology so that so many can access the Internet and be blessed at Shema.com! Also, I now understand why the Bible teaches us to share the love of God through Yeshua the Messiah to the Jew first and also to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).
Impact Story #2. Vanessa writes: Shema has been a great blessing to my spiritual life by teaching me the importance of Jewish evangelism – something very explicitly taught in Scripture but seldom taught in most churches. I look back, with regret, and think about all the Jewish people I have known socially and professionally over the years, that I could and should have told the Good News, but did not, because I was never encouraged to do so. Because Jewish people are strategically insulated against Jesus by their leadership, I now understand that this mission really does belong to Messiah’s Community. Thank God for biblical teaching under our two rabbis, and His precious Holy Spirit. Now, whenever I heed the Master’s voice and share the Good News with a Jewish person, my faith is strengthened and my relationship with that Jewish person can deepen.
Impact Story #3: Jerry writes: Shema has made a major impact on my life in a variety of ways. I have been attending the synagogue since elementary school and it has had as much an impact on my life as my public education. To be honest, when I was very young I had little interest in Shema. That changed when a member of the synagogue gave me the opportunity to help run our overhead projector system (the dark days before PowerPoint!). That caused me to feel part of Shema as opposed to just attending Shema. Shema also helped me deal with being persecuted for being a Messianic Jew. Through persecution, along with the teaching at Shema, I was able to find and share the answers for the faith that I had in Messiah Yeshua. I’m now in my mid-20s and Shema has been my spiritual home for years. Many of my best friends and mentors have come through Shema. Through Shema, I’ve had many opportunities that I am very grateful for – attending seminary, representing the congregation at various events, being able to teach and preach the Word of God, developing the Shema website and reaching out to others via the Internet. Without Shema, my life today would be very different.
Impact Story #4: Marv writes: I was brought up Jewish in Metro Detroit. But, even after going to a conservative synagogue and becoming a Bar Mitzvah and involved in Jewish youth groups, I felt disconnected to my Jewishness. I was proud of being Jewish, but knew something was missing. In the 1970s, I began to sense the reality of Jesus when friends and I would talk about Him or when He was referred to in music. After moving to Montana in 1979, I studied with Coptic Christians and knew that Jesus had a place in my life – but without the Jewish connection, something was still missing. I didn’t know about Messianic Jews. I thought a person had to be either Jewish or Christian. Over four years ago I received Yeshua with Dan, my best friend. My body literally trembled and Messiah’s Spirit filled me. But still, there was a missing connection. I wasn’t fully embracing my new, born-again self and experiencing the Spirit very much or often. That changed when, in March, after finding Shema on the Internet, I attended the Bible study and my first Messianic worship service and Messianic Passover Seder. I always loved Passover but now it had new meaning to me. Shema helped me make the connections I needed and integrate my Jewish identity and Christian faith. I knew I belonged at Shema. I was baptized and began studying the Bible. 2013 was the most incredible year, filled with the most intense feelings of Yeshua’s presence and His impact in my life! I was blessed and touched by the love and the Spirit of the Lord. My life has changed, regained purpose, passion, feeling and meaning. Shema is the perfect place for me!
2013: Reaching Those Outside The Community
You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8). 2013 was a significant year for us being the Lord’s witnesses. During the summer, Rabbis Loren and Glenn had evangelistic outreaches in their neighborhoods. In August, we mailed postcards to 18,000 Jewish homes across the Metro Detroit area, inviting people to consider Jesus and join us at our High Holiday services. One person who received one of our postcards started a conversation that gathered a lot of attention on a Facebook page dedicated to Jewish people in Metro Detroit. The postcards also led to an article in the Detroit Jewish News. In addition, we reached 50,000 people through Facebook ads, proclaiming that Yeshua is the Messiah and inviting them to our High Holiday services. More and more people are visiting the synagogue’s website and Facebook page. We handed out thousands of pamphlets and had many conversations with people at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, “Arts, Beats and Eats” in Royal Oak, the Woodward Dream Cruise and the Thanksgiving Day Parade. We baptized a number of people, and several families and individuals joined the congregation.
In 2013, we had some good opportunities to be on Christian radio and TV.
In 2013, we were able to help with the follow-up from the showing of The Miracle of Israel film, which a couple of hundred thousand people watched in Metro Detroit.
Because Rabbi Glenn and I have been blessed with good theological educations, and because we are willing to take a stand for truth, we consider ourselves to be “gatekeepers” in the Messianic Jewish Community. In 2013, I continued confronting a serious and growing problem within the Messianic Jewish movement – conversion. A significant number of Messianic Jewish leaders have begun converting Gentiles into so-called Jews or Messianic Jews. This is a very serious and destructive error in faith and practice. It’s being practiced by some and tolerated by more within the Messianic Jewish movement. We are very concerned because we know that a little leaven can leaven a whole lump. Pray for us as we continue confronting this error, and pray that the error would be corrected.
In 2013, some of our members continued receiving training in Bible college and seminary to better equip them to carry on the work of teaching and disciple-making.
In 2013, we developed closer relationships with some of the key leaders of the Evangelical Christian Church in Metro Detroit – which is a very good thing.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2014
In response to the last financial crisis, over the past five years the Federal Reserve “printed” trillions of dollars out of thin air and injected that funny money into the financial system. While it prevented the banking system from collapsing, it didn’t fix the structural problems in the US economy. Meanwhile, the number of people on food stamps continues to increase and the middle class falls farther and farther behind. I believe things are going to continue to get worse for the real economy in 2014 until we reach a crisis point and experience the fullness of the “Greater Depression.” While that is going to make life much more difficult for most people, it should also reveal to many that they should not place their hope in this world, but seek a better world – God’s world. It’s my prayer that we gear our minds and hearts for this possibility so that we will be mentally and spiritually prepared.
Thank you so much for the love you have shown us through your generous giving and your prayers. We would like to do even more in 2014, especially to equip our members to creatively and confidently share their faith and to make use of new technologies to creatively proclaim the Good News “to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel pour out His choicest blessings on you!