In January of 1967, Louis Kaplan walked into KHEP Christian radio station in Phoenix, Arizona, and Jewish Voice Broadcasts was born. Fifty years later, the ministry and vision continue today in Jewish Voice Ministries International.
Louis Kaplan was born in 1915 and grew up in an observant Jewish home in New York City. At age 15, during the Great Depression, he left home to explore the country, riding the rails throughout the U.S. working odd jobs to pay his way. He met a lot of people along the way, and one of them introduced him to Yeshua (Jesus). At age 19, Louis accepted Yeshua as the Messiah. He returned home with enthusiasm to tell his Jewish parents the Good News, but they did not share his joy. Instead, they kicked him out of the house.
Louis became a traveling evangelist, preaching in cities around the country, leading revival meetings, and conducting healing services, eventually settling in Phoenix, Arizona.
In December of 1966, Louis felt God call him to begin a radio program to reach the Jewish people. The next month, Louis went to the offices of the local Christian radio station, KHEP, and started Jewish Voice Broadcasts (JVB), a weekly 15-minute radio program in which Louis proclaimed the Gospel of the Jewish Messiah to the Phoenix area.
Prayer was always paramount to Louis Kaplan, and in those first struggling years, he often called upon the small JVB staff to stop their duties and pray with him for God to provide finances to continue airing the program.
As the JVB program began to air on more stations throughout the U.S., Louis went to Israel to preach and share his dream to take the JVB radio program into the country of God’s chosen people. There, in the audience, sat a Finnish woman so passionate for Israel and the Jewish people that she had moved to Jerusalem to live and work. A short time later, in 1971, Louis and Chira married.
Chira was born in 1930 in Helsinki, Finland. She grew up in what she called “a basically atheistic farming family.” She seemed destined to go into the family business, but a love for dance compelled her to leave her agriculture courses to study modern dance in England. On her own in a new country, Chira began to question her life. She met a Jewish woman who encouraged her to seek God, and she soon accepted the Lord turning over her life to be used for His glory.
Upon her return to Finland, Chira taught dance and went to Bible school where a passion developed inside her for reaching the Jewish people with the Gospel. She moved to Israel to attend and work at a Finnish school in Jerusalem. She endured the Six-Day War and spent three days in a bomb shelter with students and staff not knowing if they would emerge in Israel or Jordan.
After marrying Louis and joining the work of Jewish Voice Broadcasts, Chira became an integral part of the now worldwide ministry. She began the first newsletter and grew it into a monthly magazine. She served as editor of the Jewish Voice Prophetic Magazine for nearly 30 years. She also traveled with Louis on speaking engagements and interviewed guests for the radio program. When the ministry expanded to television, Chira hosted the program alongside her husband—from their own living room in the early years—and often hosted alone as well. She was the driving force behind several JVB ventures including Israel Witnessing Tours and what became Phoenix Messianic Congregation.
Louis and Chira Kaplan were a dynamic ministry couple, and looking back, it’s easy to see they were “a match made in heaven.” Their passion for reaching Jewish people with the Good News of Yeshua the Jewish Messiah joined, and God used it to firmly establish the fledgling ministry of Jewish Voice Broadcasts.
Find out more about Jewish Voice Broadcasts in February’s featured JVMI 50th Anniversary blog post. Join us on the Jewish Voice Blog each month in 2017 as we unfold the Jewish Voice story and piece together for you how two ministries with the same heart merged to become the Jewish Voice Ministries International you know today.
Join us also for Flashback Fridays on Facebook where you’ll see glimpses of our 50-year journey.
Two men. Two ministries. One purpose. Discover the backstory of Jewish Voice Ministries International through the stories of two anointed men and how God merged their ministries into one. Meet Louis Kaplan, who answered God’s call by founding Jewish Voice Broadcasts in 1967; his wife, Chira, with her intense passion for Israel; and Jonathan Bernis, a Messianic congregational leader led by God in 1993 to found Hear O’ Israel Ministries, a truly unique ministry to Jewish people in the former Soviet Union. See how a radio and television ministry met a large-scale festival outreach and became the Jewish Voice Ministries you know today. This beautiful coffee table book contains over 200 photos along with biographies, stories, and reflections from television guests, partners, and staff―all chronicling the 50-year history and work of a ministry driven by one vision: to transform lives and see all Israel saved.