Felix and Bonnie Halpern pray through their protective masks for a pizza restaurant owner in Wayne, New Jersey. They are collecting food purchased for health care workers at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, New York, in Nassau County on Long Island. They also are expanding their food outreach throughout the metro New York/New Jersey region.
“Every time we pray for people during this pandemic, they appreciate our comforting words because many fear contracting the COVID-19 virus,” says Felix Halpern, 68, a Messianic Jew. He is a U.S. missionary with Intercultural Ministries and leads Metro Jewish Resources (MJR) in Wayne, New Jersey, with his wife Bonnie, 64.
Halpern jettisoned a lucrative career in 1999 to serve God in full-time ministry. He led a Messianic congregation for 20 years before establishing MJR.
Operating through the Assemblies of God New Jersey Ministry Network, MJR partners with local churches in teaching seminars, conducting outreaches, and printing targeted publications that explain the fine points and pitfalls of evangelizing Jews.
“Jewish people are reached when the Church is properly equipped,” Halpern says. He estimates that 95 percent of Jews professing Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah come to faith by Gentiles witnessing to them.
Exhausted physicians and nurses care for patients at Winthrop’s 591-bed facility. Through May 2, rising coronavirus confirmations in Nassau County top all Empire State counties outside of New York City: 36,519 cases and 1,745 deaths.
The Halperns load trays of pizza, pasta, salads, chicken parmesan, and bread into their 2015 Speed the Light vehicle. Their grandson Hudson, 6, helps. Each tray contains the message “God loves you” and the Scripture verse John 3:16.
After driving 55 miles to Winthrop, they meet their daughter Tara Halpern, 31, an epidemiologist and a physician assistant who brings the food to colleagues for a quality meal.
“These blessings of groceries and meals during this time has really helped reduce the stress that we feel daily,” says Dr. Sangeeta Ramani, 30.
“Tara tells her medical friends that we donate the meals in the name of Jesus,” Bonnie says. “The food opens an opportunity for sharing her faith to Jewish doctors.”
The couple launched the twice-weekly food program to hospitals in March, as an MJR ministry in keeping with Isaiah 49:6: “I will make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” After paying up to $500 plus tolls and fuel for each food run to Long Island, MJR has raised a budget of $8,000 supported by donations.
Felix believes the pandemic presents a Kingdom opportunity to show compassion to Gentiles and Jews alike.
“We may never have a harvest opportunity delivered to the front door of the Church like this again in our lifetime,” he says.
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