Many Christians have often asked the question, “How do I share my faith with my Jewish friends in a loving and sensitive way.” That question is ultimately what led Michael and Mimi Finesilver, Jewish believers themselves, to bring an unlikely group of people together in their home on Shabbat, the Sabbath day.
Shabbat is a special time to rest, reflect and spend time with family and friends, and the Finesilvers couldn’t imagine a better time to invite others into their home to share the gospel in a loving and understanding environment. Shabbat is a joyful time — a time to set aside any cares or concerns of the week and to focus on the goodness of God. It is also a time for sharing and talking and enjoying each other’s company. The Finesilvers thought this would be the perfect time to show the love of Christ in their home, where Shabbat is traditionally held. It would also provide an opportunity for community in a safe place.
A simple question
The idea came to Michael and Mimi about a year and a half ago after teaching a Jewish apologetics class at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Two women from that class approached the Finesilvers and asked them, “Do you ever have anything at your house where we could bring a Jewish friend and they could ask about Jesus? Kind of like an everything you always wanted to know about Jesus, but were afraid to ask.” This really caught the Finesilvers’ attention and made them think about the possibility of making that concept a reality. They weren’t aware of any other group out there like it.
God used that conversation as a spark that ignited the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of the Finesilvers. Shortly thereafter, they began formulating their plans for the Friday night group and sending invites to those around them.
“We asked about four Jewish friends who were not believers if they would come, and a few Jewish and Gentile believers invited their Jewish friends. They were told upfront they were being invited to a discussion group in the home of two Jewish believers in Jesus, but they would not be preached at and would be treated with respect,” said Mimi Finesilver, missionary with Everlasting Life Outreach.
Their friends came to the Finesilvers’ house that Friday night and so did the birth of a beautiful discussion group on the Sabbath night.
The evening started with talks on faith and the Old Testament, emphasizing the relationship Jewish people have with God and the importance of that relationship. Their friends listened with eager anticipation, and there were lots of questions, which is exactly what the Finesilvers had hoped would happen.
“By the fourth meeting, Michael was able to begin reading from the New Testament. It was just amazing,” said Mimi.
Discussions continued and the Friday night group grew. Within a couple of months, it seemed their living room was full to capacity. Their Jewish friends brought friends who brought friends, and every lesson continued to be taught with love and understanding amongst the group.
Michael Finesilver, missionary with Everlasting Life Outreach says, “Many of us as Jewish people have only taken other peoples’ word for who Jesus is, never studying original source material in order to think for ourselves. Through this group, we are providing an opportunity to do just that in a warm and comfortable environment.”
The Finesilvers are meticulous with every detail of the Friday night group and use a verse by verse format with discussion questions after each verse. They make sure to let their Jewish guests know that there are no wrong answers and as the verses continue, they see the full picture emerge. The group has continued to grow in their home — so much so that they are looking to start a second group during the daytime.
“It’s been fascinating watching our Jewish friends discover Jesus,” said Mimi. “He promised that if He were lifted up, He would draw all men to Himself.”
In August of this year one Jewish woman, Beatrice, in her 70s, who had been coming to the group for several months accepted the Lord. She came back the following week and told all of the others in the group, “I want to tell you, if you’re afraid of accepting Jesus because you think you won’t be Jewish anymore, you’re mistaken. Just take it from me, I’m still Jewish.”
Shortly after that, just one month later, another attendee of the group, a 96-year-old Jewish man prayed with Michael to receive Jesus. The group was amazed to see what was happening right in front of their very eyes.
“We have watched our Jewish friends come here for the first time very skeptical, but because God has poured out His blessings on these meetings, we have seen many being drawn to Jesus through questions and discussion about the Jewish Messiah,” said Michael.
The attendees feel welcomed and keep coming back every week.
Mimi said she believes a huge reason why people want to keep coming back is because of the Christians who attend, (both Jewish and Gentile believers) who show Christ’s love. “I sit back and look around the room and am just so blessed by it all. It’s just amazing what God is doing.”
Michael and Mimi Finesilver are missionaries with Everlasting Life Outreach. If you would like to learn more about the Friday night group, contact the Finesilvers at [email protected] or visit their website at everlastinglifeoutreach.com.
Melissa Zelniker-Presser is an attorney who is following her God-sized dream of becoming a full time writer. Melissa currently runs a blog workforthecausenottheapplause.com and is also working on a non-fiction book detailing her journey to Christ as a Jewish believer. She can be contacted at [email protected].