In 1981 The Liberated Wailing Wall came to Johannesburg and visited the University of the Witwatersrand. The opposition was so strong—with musical cables and equipment ripped up and vandalized—that it seemed like the devil did not want us Making the Messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to the Jewish people of South Africa"! We returned and had a similar experience, prayed for direction in terms of future ministry, and opportunities opened up. Jews for Jesus South Africa was established in 1989, under the leadership of Andrew and Laura Barron, who moved there from the United States.
In 1996, with Jews for Jesus firmly established in South Africa, the Barrons moved on to Toronto to lead the work there. Eliyah Gould, from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, took over leadership of the Johannesburg branch. In July, 2002, Eliyah was called to take on the leadership of Beit Y'shua, the local messianic congregation started by Jews for Jesus. Michael Sischy stepped up to lead the branch.
The Jewish population in South Africa has experienced major demographic shifts in the last 13 years—in 1989 there were approximately 150,000 Jewish people in the country. This has been whittled down to approximately 80,000. The shift is largely due to emigration of a highly professional Jewish population to the "greener pastures" of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America. The remaining Jewish population is mainly distributed between the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, with approximately 15,000 and 65,000 respectively. The numbers in Cape Town swell over the December vacation—as many flock to the beautiful white beaches over this period! This presents a unique evangelistic opportunity during the Christmas and Hanukkah season as our missionaries don sunblock, hats and bags of broadsides and head down to the beach!
In Johannesburg, street traffic patterns have changed dramatically over the last 10 years, so suitable street corners where one can hand out gospel literature and interact with interested people have dwindled. Evangelistic opportunities present themselves in the many large shopping malls where it is easy to "run into" and share the good news of Messiah with the lost sheep of the house of Israel!
Last year we relocated to new offices in Parkhurst, a "yuppie" Jewish neighborhood. Our move met with initial resistance by some in the local community. We have settled in nicely now despite the "New Age" element in the area!
Meet Our Johannesburg Staff
Dr. Michael Sischy qualified as a General Medical Practitioner from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1993. He joined Jews for Jesus in January 1999 after being active in the state and private health care sectors for five years. Michael comes from a traditional Orthodox Jewish background. His mother's death from colon cancer in 1990 started him on a search for answers to life's tough questions, and in 1994 he found the answers in Y'shua. Michael is married to Teresa, and they have two sons, Eliyah and Ariel.
Teresa Sischy has been through the Jews for Jesus missionary training in New York and is a part-time missionary, as well as full-time wife, and mother of two energetic (some say angelic) children! She and Michael met at medical school where she was studying for a nursing degree, which she received in 1994. She is gifted in the areas of drama and children's ministry, and meets with a diverse range of women to study the Scriptures.
Vivien Chomse is a Jewish believer. She is married to Michael and has three wonderful children: Raene, Tallulah and Luke. Vivien fills the vital role of booking church meetings for our missionary staff so that we might share our vision with churches countrywide. Our hope is that they will become partners in reaching out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!
Vanessa Hale has been a believer for many years and has just celebrated her ninth anniversary with us! She is our office manager, looking after the day-to-day running of the office.
Nadav Ben-Guri was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, but moved to South Africa when he was just a year old. He qualified as an architect at Wits University, Johannesburg. Nadav has worked in the field of architecture both in Israel and South Africa. He is now in the second stage of his missionary training here in Johannesburg, having completed the first stage of training in New York City. He came to us following four intense weeks of evangelism on our NYC Summer Witnessing Campaign. Nadav is married to Charmaine, who hails from Cape Town, South Africa. Charmaine was part of the admin and follow up team for the NYC campaign.
The South Africa staff would like you to pray for:
- growth of the Bible study that Michael leads for new Jewish believers in Jesus
- Doris, an elderly Jewish lady Teresa is meeting with, that she would be saved
- growth and spiritual health for new believers Gill, Michael, Basil and Alan
- salvation for seekers Harry and Bernie
- the parents of the staff who all know about Jesus, but have not given their lives to Him!
- financial support for the branch
- recruitment of more missionaries
- the staff to see fruit from their ministry
- Nadav and Charmaine to develop ministry skills as they "learn the life" of a missionary