Reaching Out in Roanoke
As many of you are aware, Word of Messiah has been assisting in the planting of a Messianic Congregation in Roanoke, VA. Hope of Israel Messianic Fellowship (HOI Roanoke), is led by Tony and Michelle Mardian. Though Roanoke does not have a large Jewish population, we believe that planting a congregation there is just as important as planting one in a place like New York City. God does not evaluate as we do; He is not ashamed of a remnant, and neither should we be. God is working in Roanoke, and HOI Roanoke is taking every opportunity to proclaim the Good News to the Jew first and equally to the Gentile.
From May 16-17, Sam travelled to HOI Roanoke in order to speak at their “Preparing for Shavuot (Pentecost)” outreach, and to provide training for those involved in the new congregation plant.
The outreach was a wonderful success, with many visitors in attendance. We applaud Tony and his leadership team for the wonderful job they did in promoting it to the community! Many of the visitors had tremendous interest in bringing the Good News to Jewish people, and were greatly encouraged by the message. Others came not knowing much about Shavuot, and were very interested to hear Sam explain how the New Covenant fulfillment of Shavuot ties in with Moses’ teachings. They were surprised to hear that Scripture assumes that all followers of Messiah observe Shavuot as a normal part of their congregational calendar, as Shavuot and all the other Feasts of Israel point to Yeshua. (For more information, see our book: Messiah in the Feasts of Israel).
Afterwards, some asked, “Why don’t most churches celebrate Shavuot and the other Feasts of Israel today?” To address this, Sam explained some of the issues of history that affect the relationship between Israel and the Body of Messiah to this day. (For more information on this, see our article, ‘’Historical Issues for Jewish Unbelief in Yeshua Part 3” in the March 2015 issue of the Shmooze Letter)
After the outreach, Sam shared a meal with five of HOI Roanoke’s committed members. They discussed challenges that face the development of Messianic outreach and the congregation’s testimony to the Jew first. As they discussed these issues, Sam was excited to hear about their dedication to sharing the Good News through one on one conversations they’ve had with the Jewish people of Roanoke.
On Sunday, Sam spoke at a church that is supportive of HOI Roanoke’s efforts to reach out to Jewish people. We are very thankful for the many churches in Roanoke who are praying for this new ministry, and are even willing to offer space if needed for their meetings. Right now, HOI Roanoke is graciously hosted by Penn Forest Worship Center.
Sunday afternoon, Sam was back at HOI Roanoke in order to lead two meetings. The first was “Messianic Congregations 101,” for people who are new to HOI Roanoke. In this meeting, Sam went over the topic of: ‘Why Messianic Congregations?’ focusing on Paul’s teaching from the Book of Romans that the Good News is to be to the Jew first, and equally to the Gentile (Rom. 1:16), and that a Messianic congregation is made up of Jews and Gentiles together who are called to make Israel jealous for the Messiah (Rom. 11:11).
As they went over this teaching from God’s Word, a question that came up was, “Does a Messianic Congregation have to do evangelism? Aren’t they a sufficient witness by their very existence?” Sam responded, “In order for a congregation to be healthy, it must be reaching out in evangelism and discipleship.” They then discussed the many different ways by which a congregation can do this: putting up posters, spreading the news by word of mouth, sending out invitations, Facebook… the options are limitless!
The next class, “Messianic Congregations 201,” was for people who are already committed and involved with HOI Roanoke. With them, Sam dealt with ongoing commitments necessary for individuals and families to make in order for the congregation to be healthy. They reviewed HOI Roanoke’s Mission and Vision statement together (For an example of a Messianic congregation’s Misson/Vision statement, see our book, (Developing Healthy Messianic Congregations). As they looked at these values that they have committed to and are growing into, they talked through specific issues that may hinder them from being fully committed.
Sam also challenged them with the fact that dual membership equals divided commitment. In light of this, they discussed the fact that a new congregation is not to take members away from churches, unless the person’s pastor sent them out for the purpose of being a part of the new plant. If a new congregation tries to recruit members from another congregation, God won’t bless them, and they will reap what they’ve sown. Paul wrote in Phil. 3:13, “this one thing I do…” Members of a Messianic congregation must have a single focus, to proclaim God’s faithfulness as they share the Good News with the Jew first and equally with the Gentile.
God has given HOI Roanoke great opportunities to be a testimony of His faithfulness in their community. This spring, for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), HOI Roanoke asked area churches to join them in putting on an outreach for the community. The first church they contacted, St. John Lutheran Church, jumped on the opportunity, and graciously offered to host the event. Several other churches also joined in the effort, and nearly 200 people came out for the service. The guest speaker, Mr. Johannes Weiss, a survivor and worker in the Dutch resistance, shared his testimony of how Yeshua changed his life, and enabled him to share Messiah’s love with those he had previously hated. Tony was very encouraged by the feedback he received from those who attended.
What a blessing to be a part of what God is doing in Roanoke among Jewish people! Please pray for Hope of Israel Roanoke, for:
- Discernment as to the best location for the congregation to settle, so they can most effectively fulfill their calling.
- Guidance as they move ahead to the next stage in the planting process, transitioning from monthly to weekly meetings.
- Wisdom as they plan outreaches for the Fall Feasts of Israel coming up in a couple months.
If you live in the Roanoke/Lynchburg area and would like to visit HOI Roanoke, go to their website or give them a call at: 540-632-0009.