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Community invited to Passover service at Rehoboth Baptist

Dr. Al Reichman will present Messiah in the Passover at Rehoboth Baptist Church on March 28 at 7 p.m.

Dr. Al Reichman will present Messiah in the Passover at Rehoboth Baptist Church on March 28 at 7 p.m.

Once destined to become a rabbi, Dr. Al Reichman now travels from church to church teaching about the Passover and sharing the testimony of how he came to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

A representative of the organization Chosen People, Reichman will demonstrate the ancient Jewish feast in a program titled Messiah in the Passover at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Conyers at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 28.

"I've known Al for years," Rehoboth Senior Pastor Frank Penley said. "Last year he came and shared his testimony, but didn't do the Passover Seder. This is the first time I've had him do that. I just wanted all the people to see it."

Everyone in the community is invited to attend the special presentation, Penley said, adding that the unleavened bread, Passover wine and entire program of Passover are instructive in understanding the Last Supper and the redemptive significance of the crucifixion.

Messiah in the Passover gives the Christian community insight into Jewish traditions so that the Jewish roots of Christianity can be better understood, the pastor stated.

Such a program is also designed to help the Jewish and Christian communities understand their common heritage.

The Passover Seder is a service held as part of the Passover celebration and is observed on the first night of Passover. The Seder involves several parts including sanctification, handwashing, offering blessings, telling the Passover story, a dinner and other elements of worship.

The eight-day festival of Passover commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.

Reichman and Penley met when they served in a Baptist church together in Charlotte, N.C. Penley was an evangelist based at the church and Reichman was traveling representing Chosen People.

Founded in Brooklyn, N.Y. In 1894, by Rabbi Leopold Cohn, a Hungarian Jewish immigrant with a zeal to share the knowledge of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, Chosen People Ministries "exists to pray for, evangelize, disciple and serve Jewish people everywhere and to help fellow believers do the same," according to the organization's website www.chosenpeople.com.

Chosen People now serves in 13 countries and its outreach programs include evangelism and discipleship, messianic centers and congregations, equipping local churches for Jewish evangelism, print and web publications and benevolence work.

Reichman, who is now based in Ft. Worth, Texas, is a regional director for Chosen People, and has been with the organization since 1984, sharing the gospel and demonstrating the celebration of Passover.

"I've been in 100 churches a year over the last 15 years," Reichman said. "It's not the only thing I do, but I do it quite a bit."

Reichman's family "produced a steady lineage of orthodox rabbis," Penley said, adding that Reichman's family had groomed him to someday become a rabbi.

Reichman said his life changed after his father moved to Israel.

"None of it would have happened had my father not left because he kept us from ever hearing anything about Jesus," Reichman said. "Once he left, my mother had five kids to take care of. She was working five days a week and lost control of some things."

He tells how a friend invited him to Vacation Bible School and how he enjoyed going to VBS with his "buddy." Later that summer, his two older sisters went to youth camp with a local church and accepted Jesus as their messiah, he said.

"Mom just let us do whatever we wanted at that time," Reichman said. "I started going with them (my sisters) and I got pushed into a sham profession of faith. Somebody dragged me to the altar and somebody prayed. But it kept me coming to church.

"Eventually as a teenager, the Lord got hold of my heart in the morning service."

Reichman said he realized what the pastor was preaching about Jesus was what he had learned as a boy from his father about the messiah.

When word reached his father that Reichman had become a Christian, he said his father sat shiva, the Jewish mourning ritual.

"He grieved me as dead and I no longer existed, which is typical when dealing with orthodox Judaism," Reichman said. "It probably is the one thing that causes Jewish people more often than not to resist believing in Jesus. They don't want to lose their family."

Despite his father mourning him as dead, much of Reichman's family began to embrace his newfound beliefs. All his sisters and even his mother became believers.

After his mother became a Christian, her parents disowned her and her children for about 10 years, Reichman said.

"They treated us as though we didn't exist," he said. "They broke down and started visiting with us again. We took them to a youth banquet at the church and they liked that."

They took them to more church services until finally their grandparents accepted Jesus as the messiah when they were in their 80s. The grandparents had emigrated from Russia in 1917.

Penley said he is excited about Reichman coming for the Messiah in the Passover program and tells how his friend is burdened for the Jewish people who have not accepted Jesus as the messiah.

He said the two men share a passion to reach the lost and that Rehoboth Baptist Church is a church that puts its emphasis on mission work. Rehoboth has planted five churches in Guatemala, helped start a seminary and an underground churches in Cuba and is helping spread the gospel in Nicaragua.

"We've lost people because we've put money on mission projects instead of growth," Penley said. "People left because we weren't putting money on buildings. That's not what Jesus went to Calvary for. Buildings are important. They're tools, but not temples."

Rehoboth Baptist Church, part of the Stone Mountain Baptist Association, is a new church plant started more than three years ago by Penley and Charles Rawls, the associate pastor.

Also called "The Well," Rehoboth Baptist Church met in Penley's home until two years ago when it purchased the former Salem Baptist Church facility located at 2711 Salem Road in Conyers.Beth Slaughter Sexton is a freelance writer based in Snellville.