Jews for Jesus Spokesman: Groups Opposing Evangelism of Jews
- Jenni Parker and Chad Groening Agape Press
- 2004 16 Jan
A Messianic Jewish ministry is warning Evangelical Christians not to let attempts to prevent evangelism of Jews keep believers from sharing the gospel with the Jewish community.
San Francisco-based Jews for Jesus (JFJ) is the largest Messianic Jewish ministry in the world. Recently JFJ's executive director, David Brickner, wrote a six-page letter titled "The War on Jewish Evangelism" and sent it out to more than 110,000 JFJ donors. In the letter, he warned that many Christian churches are being turned away from Jewish evangelism.
"The Jewish community is trying to change the perspective that Christians have on evangelism to the Jews to where it is deemed no longer acceptable and something to be scorned," Brickner says.
According to the Jews for Jesus spokesman, the efforts of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and his International Fellowship of Christians and Jews have affected donations to his ministry as well as Christian perceptions about evangelistic outreach to Jews. Brickner says certain Evangelical leaders have uncritically accepted Eckstein without examining his underlying motives.
"As far as we're concerned, he's weakening the Evangelical community because the money that he receives -- the people who receive it from him take that money and use it oftentimes in a way that is counter to the gospel," Brickner says.
A Misrepresentation of the Facts
The Messianic Jewish leader contends that Eckstein and others like him have convinced many Christians that supporting Israel should not include sharing the gospel with Jews. In a recent Associated Press interview, Brickner noted that some Jewish leaders have even attempted to use an out-of-context statement made by evangelist Billy Graham to discourage Christians from sharing the gospel with Jews. to undermine and invalidate Christian evangelistic outreach to that group.
"[Dr. Graham's] statement that he does not focus his ministry on Jews as Jews has then been taken and used by Jewish community leaders to try and imply that he actually does not believe that Jewish people need Jesus," Brickner says. He contends that this idea, if it were true -- and he stresses that he does not believe it is so -- undermines the work of a ministry such as Jews for Jesus in the eyes of other Evangelicals.
But the JFJ spokesman doubts that Graham intended for his words to be interpreted this way and urges him to clarify his original point -- which was that his ministry has not participated with any project that especially targeted Jews. Brickner notes that Graham has always been supportive and has done "a lot of good for Jews for Jesus and Jewish evangelism," adding, "I can point to many Jewish people who have come to Christ through his ministry."
Jesus for Jews and Gentiles Alike
At any rate, scripture makes it clear, Brickner asserts, that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life for Jews as well as for Gentiles. Although some Jewish groups have convinced churches that Christians are saved through Calvary and Jews through Sinai, he notes that the apostles Peter and John were addressing Jews when they stood before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4 and declared "There is no other name given among men under heaven whereby we must be saved." Brickner points out, "There were no Gentiles in the Sanhedrin; so we believe that if Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah, he can't be the Savior of anyone."
Despite the fact that JFJ has experienced a substantial drop in invitations to churches and a corresponding $300,000 drop in financial support during the past year, Brickner insists that the complaints he is making and which he voiced in "The War on Jewish Evangelism" are not driven by financial considerations. Rather, he says, those complaints are based on the fact that well-meaning Christians are being duped.
However, Brickner says the letter to JFJ's donors has already begun to have a positive effect. "Thankfully, in response to this letter we have had many people stepping forward, saying we're concerned, and churches saying 'We want to have you,'" he says.