Missionary group targets Ukrainian refugees, to ‘baptize 15’ by Passover

"Please pray that our staff in Israel will share the gospel with" these new immigrants.

 New immigrants arrive from Ukraine in February 2022 (photo credit: IFCJ)
New immigrants arrive from Ukraine in February 2022
(photo credit: IFCJ)

Chosen People Ministries may be actively working to convert Ukrainian immigrants in Israel to Christianity, according to statements they made on their website.

The New York-based organization formerly known as the American Board of Missions to the Jews, which “exists to pray for, evangelize, disciple and serve Jewish people everywhere,” according to its website, has existed since 1894. It was founded by a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, Rabbi Leopold Cohn, who ultimately converted to Christianity and sought to “share the knowledge of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah with God’s chosen people.”

On Chosen People Ministries’ website homepage, it claims that a group of immigrants have already “attended our congregational meetings and some of them have already received the Lord” and that the organization plans to “baptize 15 people” by Passover.

“Neriyah A. has given much time and effort to help four Ukrainian families relocate in Israel after fleeing the war zone,” the website says. “He writes, ‘We not only met them in the airport, but also found and furnished the apartments for them, thanks to donations from the congregation. These people have attended our congregational meetings and some of them have already received the Lord. Before the Passover, we are planning to baptize 15 people. Please pray for more leaders that can help in our congregation. On a regular basis we have about 70 adults, plus children. Now, we need a bigger sanctuary.’”

The quote was first revealed by World Israel News (WIN). 

Shannon Nuszen, founder and director of Beyneynu, a nonprofit organization that monitors missionary activity, told WIN that her organization obtained a recording of a Chosen People Ministries conference call on which the participants “describe how they are targeting the women and children who are here without the men and want to provide Bible lessons for these children.”

She said in a WhatsApp interview that "no doubt we are in a crisis situation, and the Israeli government is in an 'all hands on deck' state right now. The missionaries are taking gross advantage of the situations, and this particular group makes no effort to hide their intentions."

Nuszen added that the Ukrainian Jews are "fleeing from a very real physical threat... only to land in the Holy Land and be greeted at the airport by those seeking their destroy their souls."

Nuszen later explained to The Jerusalem Post that "I think they know Israel is in a state of emergency in dealing with this and they see it as a free for all feeding ground with nobody to stop them … because who will turn down aide in such a crisis?"

In a recent Chosen People Ministries donor conference call, the recording of which was shared by Beyneynu with the Post, the organization stressed that they have a "lot at stake" in this conflict.

Speaking during the call was Vladimir Pikman, a Ukrainian Jew who heads the Chosen People Ministries' partner in Germany, Beit Sar Shalom, and who explained the state of Messianic Jewry in Ukraine.

"The Messianic movement in Ukraine ... is 10 times larger than in Russia, but the number is difficult to determine," Pikman said. "But I would roughly estimate that it's around 100 Messianic congregations around the country."

As explained by Boris Gordon, a Ukrainian Messianic Jew who helps coordinate Chosen People Ministries' operations and network in Ukraine, "We've developed a four-stage program to help people in our Messianic congregation and their Jewish and non-Jewish contacts. We've developed programs to help people in different cities to provide food, medicine, gasoline - any needs they have in the meantime."

Already, they have been able to help 100 Messianic Jews escape Mariupol and are working to help 100 children escape from Zaphorzhzhia. 

"Our expenses are $3,000 to $5,000 daily," Gordon stressed.

But while they do plan on helping, they also plan on taking advantage of vulnerable Jewish refugees.

Many Chosen People Ministries' missionaries in Israel are native Russian speakers, and the missionaries are well aware that many of the refugees are women and children because the men have all been conscripted.

"I know that when they end up in Israel, we're going to do everything we can to minister to these people ... and show them the love of Jesus," the organization said on a conference call.

The Chosen People Ministries also works to help and minister to refugees in Poland.

"It's very important to keep the kids engaged because, remember... the men are being left behind to fight the war. You have a lot of single moms who are overwhelmed with young children, and so we really want to be of service and be able to show them love, teach them Bible lessons and all those things."

This effort was condemned by Rabbi Tovia Singer, founder of Outreach Judaism and an expert in Christian missionary efforts against Jews.

"What they're really doing is they are all weaponizing humanitarian aid to preach the Gospel. They're exploiting vulnerability to teach the Gospel," Singer explained to the Post.

"The crisis in Ukraine is something they're exploiting," he said. "People need homes and assistance, and they're willing to provide it."

In another story shared in Chosen People’s weekly news update on March 7, the organization talks about meeting a woman from Odessa who had arrived in the country via Poland.

“Her son serves here in the Israel Defense Force. Now, she needs to draw up documents for aliyah (becoming an Israeli citizen), which is not an easy process. We promised to be there to help in any way possible,” the ministry wrote. 

It also describes how a young man who had just arrived in the country was looking for “believers. It was a sign; we prayed and decided to start a hospitality ministry for those coming from Ukraine, with a warm, safe place to stay.” 

The ministry asked its followers to, "please pray that our staff in Israel will serve these new immigrants well and share the gospel with them" and to "pray for the continued movement of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the unbelieving Jewish people of Ukraine."

It is against Israeli law to target minors for conversion or to offer goods or services in exchange for conversion, Nuszen stressed. She said the work of Chosen People Ministries "is clearly crossing lines on both of these fronts."

But Singer said that Chosen People Ministries seems to be doing exactly that, though it is unlikely that anything will be done about this.

"Israeli leaders look the other way when it comes to Evangelical Christians," Singer explained. "They know they don't have reliable friends in the European Union. No Israeli leader looks to the United Nations as an ally, but they know that in the United States 70 million Evangelical Christian Zionists are staunch supporters of Israel.  As it turns out, it is those fundamentalist Christians that are dedicated to evangelizing the Jews."

The more immediate goal of all of this, Singer said, is making money.

"Chosen People Ministries are competing with the other missionaries for money. They must be out there making their case that they're bringing the Gospel to vulnerable Jews," he explained. "They put this out there because they need the funding of bringing Jews to the Gospel. They expect to baptize 15 Jews by Passover – and I'm sure it's going to be more than that – and it's all for money because no money for this comes from Israel, it all comes from abroad."

The Post reached out to Chosen People Ministries for comment but has not yet received a response.