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To the Chabad and the Cuban

Over the past eighteen months, God has evidently blessed the ministry of CWI North America. At the end of September Stephen and Wendy Atkinson’s Green Card application for USA residency was approved which means he can now direct the ministry of CWI North America with a sense of permanency. Stephen has been joined by Dr G Michael Saunders Sr, who will be working alongside him as a full-time evangelist. In this article, Stephen introduces Michael to us so that we can pray for the progress of the gospel among the Jewish people in the United States.

Michael comes to the work of CWI with over 30 years’ experience of pastoral ministry and has a variety of gifts that are particularly suited for Jewish mission. Ordained in 1983, he has served in churches in Alabama, Indiana and Florida. Although currently living in Maine, Michael has his ministerial credentials in the South Florida Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. In January we hope to move Michael and wife Patty to the Greater Miami area, where over half a million Jewish people live. This is the second largest Jewish community in the USA, the first being New York.

Miami is a vibrant mix of communities and cultures, and contains an unusual mix of synagogues from Chabad to Cuban! There is even a synagogue on wheels, known as a ‘Mitzvah Tank’,  regularly seen in the area of Miami where Michael hopes to build his ministry. Inside the 34 foot long vehicle are benches for prayer, and books such as The Ultimate Jew. In Judaism a mitzvah is not only a commandment (as in Bar Mitzvah) but also a meritorious deed, and the rear of the trailer states: ‘One good deed can change the world.’ Oh that we could tell them about the truly ‘Ultimate Jew’ called Jesus, and how his ultimate Mitzvah did change the world!

Art, music, and the general vitality of life are exuberantly expressed in South Florida; but without knowledge of the true meaning of life, it is all an empty shell. Jewish life is similarly vibrant but also similarly empty without Jesus. It is our great desire that Michael will be used of God to reach into this Jewish community with the love of Messiah. Michael writes:

‘In 2006 I went to work for the The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida. This was a tremendous experience for me as I got to teach between three to eleven times a day and every teaching opportunity was a time to share about salvation. I was told that we had proclaimed salvation to over 500,000 people

during the two-and-a-half years I was there.

‘It was also a huge blessing to be able to do a great deal of research in the Scriptures and in the disciplines concerning the Hebrew Scriptures such as archaeology, biblical history, Jewish history, Torah studies and more. It was a time of great growth for me spiritually and mentally. I came to realise that everything in the Scriptures was about and pointed to the Messiah. Everything! I got so excited about seeing the Messiah in all the wonderful Tanakh times, events, people, activities, etc., that I wrote five books on these subjects, including The Picture of Redemption in the Feasts of Israel.

‘I left The Holy Land Experience in 2008, went back to seminary and received further degrees in Biblical Studies and Theology. I served as a special speaker in churches, camps, Bible conferences, Bible studies and anywhere I was asked to speak. My goal was to ‘awaken the conscience of the Church to their Jewish roots,’ as I have often heard Stephen say. When I was approached by the Board of CWI North America to join the CWI family in loving the Jewish people, thanking them for all they have done for us and sharing with them the blessings that have come to us through them, I was thrilled and delighted! My wife Patty and I have found great joy and excitement in coming into this precious ministry and can’t wait to get on the field. This seems like the other side of the same coin of the ministry we were already involved in.  ‘We’ll be in London next summer for the CWI Summer School and look forward to meeting the rest of our CWI family. Patty and I pray for you all every day and we ask you to pray for us as we begin our ministry here in America. May God bless you all as you love the Jewish people for the glory of God!’

*Chabad is considered by some to be the most dynamic movement in Jewish life today. The word is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of Chochmah (Wisdom), Binah (Comprehension) and Da’at (Knowledge). Also known as Lubavitch-Chabad, after the town in White Russia where the movement originated and was based for more than a century, Chabad urges Jewish people to refine and govern their every act and feeling through wisdom, comprehension and knowledge.

This article first appeared in the Winter Herald 2013

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