Annual Report 2006 for LCJE Latin America
By David Sedaca, LCJE Coordinator for Latin America
It is with much joy that I report to you on the ongoing work being carried out by individuals and organization that are reaching the Jews for Christ in Latin America.
Although there has been no one single event that can be pointed out, the outreach in general and the work in particular areas are being consolidated.
I was in Argentina from December 30, 2006 through January 7, 2007. There I met with some of the leaders who reported to me on their various activities. Again, I must repeat what I have informed in previous reports, which are that the work in Latin America is mainly the work in Argentina, followed by the work in Brazil. Yet, the work in Argentina and Brazil differ substantially.
Argentina has had a long history of Jewish missions and Jewish outreach by mainline churches. There, Jewish evangelism is carried out by credible messianic centers and organizations. The work of the American Board of Missions to the Jews (now Chosen People Ministries,) was first established by Pastor Emmanuel Liechtenstein in the 1940’s when through the sponsorship of the Lutheran church, many Hebrew Christian families arrived to Buenos Aires, escaping the horror of World War II and the impending Holocaust. It was then that Hoffman Cohn, President of the American Board of Missions to the Jews, decided to join in the efforts to help settle war refugees as well as engaging in evangelism among the thousands immigrating to Argentina. In the 60’s Victor Sedaca, who had been founding member of the first Hebrew Christian church of Buenos Aires in 1936 and member of the Executive Committee of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance, was asked to go to Argentina from the United States, where he was Director of the Pittsburg branch of the American Board of Missions to the Jews. With his return, the work of evangelism took a different turn, as he established a new missionary outreach now independent from the Lutheran Church. It was this one event that revitalized the work of evangelism in Argentina, which continues to this day through the Messianic Jewish Center in the heart of Buenos Aires. Now, Ricardo Chemi, trained as traditional rabbi and graduate of the Baptist Theological Seminary is the Director of this work, and weekly Shabbat services, seminars an a Messianic Jewish Institute are the main activities carried out in Buenos Aires, with branches in other major cities, such as Rosario, Cordoba, Mendoza and Mar del Plata. The recent translation into Spanish of Dr. Michael Brown’s “ANSWERING TO JEWISH OBJECTIONS” in addition to two new books written by Ricardo Chemi, have boosted the number of material available to churches by which they are encouraged to engage is Jewish evangelism.
In addition, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Argentina has been active in maintaining unity among the many Jewish believers, members of traditional evangelical churches. The driving force is Natalio Krauthamer, President of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Argentina and the longest serving Vice-President of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance. Mr. Krauthammer, son of the late Jonas Krauthammer, who for many years was pastor of the Hebrew Christian Church of Buenos Aires, has throughout the years maintained excellent relations with all churches, especially Brethren and Baptist. In spite of his frail physical condition (he has had polio since early childhood), he organizes monthly meetings for all Jewish believers regardless of church affiliation or missionary involvement. It is nice to see different Jewish missions attending and supporting this monthly meeting, which usually have an average attendance of 150 people.
Brazil, is “discovering” the Jewishness of the church, and although this ought to be something positive, in many cases it has lead to extreme interpretations. A corollary of this is that genuine Jewish missions have first to prove their biblical integrity before they are given a chance to be heard. Nevertheless, as time goes by, we see credible Jewish outreach being carried out, not only in Sao Paulo, which has the largest concentration of Jews, but also in Rio the Janeiro, Recife, Santos, Curitiba, and other smaller cities as well.
There hasn’t been much progress in the work in Mexico, and the work there continues to be the personal endeavor of Elias Habif in Mexico City and Manuel Hernandez in Guadalajara.
A major event is in the works, and we may see our long dream of having a conference for Latin American Messianic Leaders realized sometime in 2008. Chosen People Ministries has offered to help in making this event possible, without being involved in the program itself. We are presently considering all the options, venues, people involved, dates, and it’s my hope that before too long we will have a first exploratory committee meeting set up.
Continue to pray for the salvation of the almost 1,000,000 Jews in Latin America, who need to come to the saving grace of Yeshua the Messiah.
Sincerely yours in His service,