The beginning of our work in Washington, D.C. can be traced back in 1978, when Efraim and Jeannie Goldstein were finishing up their theological training in the area. It wasn't until 1989 that we established an official branch, under Bob Mendelsohn's leadership, and we've had a presence there ever since.
The D.C. area is home to 215,000 Jewish people, with another 105,000 in the nearby Baltimore area. Except for one area, D.C.'s Jewish community is largely secular, with many well-educated and affluent members—lawyers and consultants who work with the government and military. On the other hand, Baltimore has been described as the most Orthodox Jewish community in America on a per capita basis. The University of Maryland has 6,000 Jewish students, and George Washington University has another 4,200. These and other area colleges are an important part of our regular outreach. On Thursday nights we host a Bible study; it's a great place to bring a Jewish friend to learn about Jesus in an informal and non-threatening atmosphere.
Meet our Missionaries
Branch leader Stephen Katz was born in Illinois, raised in a Conservative synagogue and became a believer during his college years at the University of Illinois—after writing a paper for a Jewish professor on "Why the Jews at the time of Jesus didn't believe He was the Messiah." He has served with Jews for Jesus for 22 years. In addition to being branch leader for D.C., Stephen oversees our work in Israel. He also enjoys reading and speaking Hebrew, playing guitar, and spending time with his wife Laura. They have four children, the youngest of whom is in college.
Lynn McCoy was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1983, while attending the University of Hartford, she and other Jewish students went to heckle a Jews for Jesus missionary who was scheduled to share his testimony on campus. After listening to what he had to say, she began to consider that the gospel might actually be true. Within a month she had come to faith in Jesus. She has been serving with Jews for Jesus since 1987. Lynn loves to cook, spend time with her husband Wayman, and cuddle with their two cats, Lady and Winston.
Larry Dubin says "Home is wherever my head rests." He describes himself as having been born in Arizona, reared in Colorado and matured in the United States Navy. He came to faith through the witness of a godly naval officer. After graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary, Larry started to work with Jews for Jesus in 1999. Larry enjoys the "sport" of politics.
Debby Dubin was raised in a secular Jewish home in Merrick, New York, where she attended synagogue and Hebrew school regularly. In the summer of 1996 she received a broadside tract from one of our New York City summer witnessing campaigners and began attending the New York Jews for Jesus Bible study. It wasn't long before she received Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Deb joined the Jews for Jesus staff in 1999. If she weren't in ministry, Deb would probably be in horticulture. She doesn't have a dining room ... she has a greenhouse!
Bits from the Branch
"You Never Know Who's Listening"
by Debby Dubin
Missionary trainees Kata and Simon were taking the bus back to New York after visiting the D.C. branch. Kata began to share her faith with the Muslim woman seated next to her—with no idea that a Jewish woman sitting nearby was also listening. When Michelle returned to D.C., she contacted us via our website and I have been visiting with her for several months.
Michelle was raised in New York, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. She has recently acquired her own copy of the Bible. She brings a notebook to all our visits and always jots down my answers to her questions, as well as the references to the passages we've discussed. When I asked her to read Isaiah 53, she couldn't believe that it "sounds like just what happened to Jesus."
Michelle's son is a believer in Jesus and has been speaking to her about eternity. He shared with her how he wants her to know Jesus so that they will be able to spend eternity together.
Like many of our people, Michelle is now wrestling with the question, "If I believe in Y'shua, what will the rest of my family think?"
As Michelle is counting the cost of following God, I've asked her to consider what Jesus has done for us. She understands that He was our atonement for sin, but knows that if she acknowledges Him she can never go back. Will you pray that Michelle will receive Jesus into her heart?
"The Fool Hath Said..."
by Stephen Katz
A Jewish woman prayed with one of our missionaries to receive Christ, and her mother did so as well a year or two later. The daughter called to ask me to meet with her father, Harry. She said he was a difficult man, and she thought I was the right person to try to share the gospel with him. I'm not sure why she thought so, but in the two years since I've been meeting with Harry I haven't seen his heart soften or his mind open.
Harry let me know right away that he thought my faith—actually any faith—was nonsense and he frequently sprinkled in four-letter words to make his points stronger. Though he could see that his daughter's faith had been good for her, he didn't hesitate to ridicule the idea that God exists. Harry had seen so much suffering during World War II, and afterward had been turned off by the hypocrisy he saw in a local synagogue. He was also very convinced by the theory of evolution and couldn't see any place for the idea of God.
Try as I could, it seemed that my visits with Harry never really progressed. We'd talk, I'd open my Bible and challenge his way of thinking, but he wouldn't budge. In some ways, he was a nice guy with a lifetime of interesting stories to tell. But spiritually he was a bottomless pit of stubbornness and bitterness.
The last time I saw Harry he had a new address. He'd moved into a nursing home because his health was in serious decline. He had been there for about a week and was very unhappy. He had no one to talk to and was grateful I came by. What he told me was very sad. "I want to die. I'm too much of a coward to commit suicide, but I go to bed every night hoping I won't wake up. The doctors know what's wrong with me, but they can't fix it, so I'm stuck here. My money will run out in two or three years and then I'm broke. I'd rather die now so at least my daughters will get my money."
What would you have said if you were there with Harry? That God gives us a future and a hope? That with God there is the real hope of healing and eternal life? That God loves him? Just as one popular worship song acknowledges, "Everyone needs compassion, the kindness of a Savior."
I tried to encourage him, but I didn't want to scrap the plan I had settled upon through prayer prior to the visit. So I found the right moment and read from Psalm 14:1 "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'"
Did these words make any dent in Harry's armor? Not that I could see. We talked about the passage briefly, but he was caught up in a lifetime of sorrow and pride that threatens to consume him.
I will continue to see Harry, but there is no indication that he will call upon Jesus' name. Visiting people like Harry is part of our calling, but it's hard to see him so close to death and as lost as ever. I know that our God is bigger than any obstacle. Please pray for Harry to humble himself and call upon the Lord.
"A time for every purpose under heaven"
by Larry Dubin
The words of King Solomon describe the cycle of life; there is a beginning and there is an end and for some, the end is an occasion to search for God.
Sam has lived in a religious Jewish neighborhood his entire life. He acknowledges that he does not follow the Torah completely, but he believes in every word of the Law. Four years ago, Sam saw a Jews for Jesus booth at a state fair and gave us his contact information. He did so because he wanted to talk to a Jewish person who believes in Y'shua (Jesus) and create doubts about Him being the Holy One of Israel. For four years Sam debated well, seeing himself as a defender of Judaism. Conversations with him were continuous.
Then one day, Sam got a headache that was no ordinary headache. Within 48 hours, a cancerous tumor the size of a softball was removed from his head.
Sam is no longer trying to be the great defender of Judaism; now he is hoping the Scripture will speak to him. He is more earnest in his desire to know if the Torah and the Prophets provide any information about the Jewish Messiah. Please join me in praying for his salvation in the time that yet remains for him.
"Seizing an Opportunity"
by Lynn McCoy
Sometimes an opportunity to witness comes as a chance encounter with a stranger at the grocery store or the gas station. Sometimes it means praying that God will provide you with opportunities to share the good news with someone you know and love, or even an acquaintance you keep running into.
When we ask God to provide that perfect moment to share our hope in Him, we can do nothing less than seize that opportunity when it comes. I was recently reminded of that at my Weight Watchers meeting. I've made several friends there, but few there know that I am a missionary with Jews for Jesus. They know about my struggles, they know my sense of humor and they know my successes and failures when it comes to food.
I've prayed for months for an opportunity to share the gospel with Estelle. We've talked about how to make the perfect potato pancake as well as other Jewish delicacies. A few weeks ago, she was mentioning a recipe as we both headed for the Starbuck's next door. She asked if I would have coffee with her, and she would take my e-mail address to send me her recipe.
This was the opportunity I'd been waiting for! It would have been easy to miss the opportunity if I'd given her my private e-mail address, but as we walked, I explained that I have a Jews for Jesus e-mail address, and I did not want it come as a surprise. Of course, that in itself surprised her, and I just know she was thinking, "But she's so normal!"
From the moment we sat down, Estelle did not stop asking about my faith, and how I came to believe in Jesus. It was amazing! I'll never forget something that Moishe Rosen, our founder, taught in his book, How to Witness. He talked about moving a conversation from the "secular" to the "sacred." God turned a conversation about recipes into the realm of the gospel.
I thought about my struggle with weight all my life. But even this, God can use for His glory. Jesus never wasted an opportunity to proclaim His message. I pray that I never miss an opportunity either. May there be many more such opportunities to share my faith with Jewish women in that group, and may Estelle come to know the peace I have in my Messiah.
Prayer Pulse Points
- Pray for the two-week D.C. outreach that will take place in July, particularly our evangelism on July 4th
- Pray for Stephen, as he takes a three-month sabbatical to marry off three of his children within six weeks! Pray that God refreshes and renews him for his next decades of ministry
- Pray for Larry as he takes over leadership of our branch over the summer
- Pray for salvation for those we are ministering to, and that God will bring more and more Jewish seekers who are willing to meet with us to study the Bible