Messianic Jewish missionary groups funded by Christians
Jews for Jesus and Chosen People Ministries rely on Christian donations
by JewsOnFirst, August 15, 2006
Links to sources cited in this report appear immediately below it.
To enlist Jewish organizations' support for the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) kickoff banquet last month, the group's leader, Pastor John Hagee, promised that there would be no missionizing to Jews. (See our report)
Hagee and the major religious right leaders he's brought on to CUFI's board, support Israel as "Christian Zionists" because they believe that, when all the world's Jews are collected there, Jesus will reappear and "rapture up to heaven" Jews who have converted to Christianity along with Christians. And their theology holds that only believers in Jesus can be "saved."
Nevertheless, it was an easy promise for Hagee to make.
Evangelizing of Jews proceeds apace. American Christian organizations have operated missions to the Jews since the 1800s. And Christian Zionists like Hagee's group, regardless of what they say, do some low-key missionizing. But today, the most successful Christian missionaries to Jews are two ostensibly Jewish groups -- Jews for Jesus and the Chosen People Ministries. Both rely on Christians for major parts of their operations.
Most notably, the two missionary groups raise money from Christian congregations.
Jews for Jesus
"Most of their income comes from thousands of small donations" from Christians, according to Prof. Yaakov Ariel, of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who studied Jews for Jesus for his book, Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America, 1880-2000. He said that Jews for Jesus, based in San Francisco, has connections with tens of thousands of churches around the country.
In a telephone interview with JewsOnFirst, Ariel said that while Jews for Jesus represents Christianity to Jews, it represents the idea of the "chosen people" to Christians.
He explained that Jews for Jesus' audiences "in the Christian evangelical milieu see them as evangelical ambassadors of the Jewish cause. From a Christian point of view, they are giving money to support a Jewish cause. They are being supportive of Jews."
Ariel said Jews for Jesus does hundreds of demonstrations of Passover celebrations each year in churches across the country. Its band, the Liberated Wailing Wall, performes in churches and college campuses across the US each year in churches across the country. One such performance, in a church in Indiana, announced the presentation as: "The story of Jews coming to believe in Jesus through music, drama and personal testimony."
In a somewhat breathless interview with the Christian Post, about the group's recent missionary campaign in New York, Susan Perlman, Jews for Jesus associate executive director, touched on several aspects of her group's relationship with Christian churches:
Although the outreach was a major Jews for Jesus effort, Perlman highlighted the collaboration of the entire Christian community, with some emboldened to share their faith with a Jewish colleague or friend as campaigners made themselves and the Gospel known throughout the New York Metropolitan area.
Jews for Jesus is not a church. As Perlman suggests, the group steers its converts to join established churches. According to Ariel, Jews for Jesus prefers denominational churches and may encourage converts to join Presbyterian, Episcopal or other mainline denominations.
Willing to stand on their feet
Jews for Jesus recently garnered media attention for a high-profile period of evangelizing in the New York City area. This was part of a multi-million-dollar "Behold your God" campaign, in which the group visited 66 cities with Jewish populations above 25,000, according to news reports.
Prof. Ariel attributes Jews for Jesus' success to their energetic work and willingness -- rarely seen these days -- to stand on their feet and talk to people. He also noted their attractively produced publications.
In 2004 Jews for Jesus told Charisma magazine that it was making approximately 2,250 "salvations" a year. According to news reports, a majority of the converts are Christians. The organization was established in 1973.
Jews are, however, susceptible to the messianists' message. According to Ariel, there are hundreds of Messianic Jewish congregations in the US; much of their recruiting is through networking.
Chosen People Ministries
As does Jews for Jesus, Chosen People Ministries gives presentations to churches. Its website says:
Representatives of Chosen People Ministries are available to speak to your group or church. The "Messiah in the Passover" demonstrations are ideal for any Sunday, but a demonstration that includes your communion service is especially meaningful. Passover banquets are appropriate all year, but are very popular during the Passover/Easter season. Many churches find that a Banquet works well on a Friday or Saturday.
The group also invites Christians to join its missionizing of Jews. In a "Resources for your church" section of its website, it offers a short-term program "where individuals can participate in Jewish evangelism" and a "Jewish Evangelism Seminar," about which it says:
This presentation is best for an evening or weekend service, or even an adult Sunday school. The topics covered by the seminar include Jewish sensitivities to the Gospel, basic “how-to” on sharing the Gospel with Jewish people, and how to answer Jewish objections to the Gospel. Time is allotted for questions and answers as well.
According to Wikipedia, Chosen People Ministries dates back to the 1920s. In a profile on the website of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, the group puts its founding in 1894. It gives its purpose as "serv[ing] the Messiah in fulfilling the Great Commission with specific emphasis on the Jewish people."
On the same website, Chosen People Ministries discloses that it raised $7.73 million from donations in 2005. Prof. Ariel says the group raises money from churches.
Groups believe in end-times theology
Chosen People Ministries is playing a major role in a conference next month entitled “Jesus, the Jews and the Last Days" at the Southwestern Theological Seminary, a Southern Baptist Convention institution.
The Southern Baptist Convention has been most insistent on proselytizing to Jews. It was the Rev. Bailey Smith of the SBC who said in 1987 and 1994 that "God does not hear the prayer of a Jew." The SBC has established a formal affiliation with more than 30 messianic Jewish congregations called the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship, according to a well documented essay on the Religious Tolerance website.
The result of these and other efforts, according to Ariel, is that thousands of Israeli Jews have become messianic Jews.
Sources cited in our report.
Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America, 1880 - 2000
Yaakov Ariel, University of North Carolina Press, 2000
With this book, Yaakov Ariel offers the first comprehensive history of Protestant evangelization of Jews in America to the present day. Based on unprecedented research in missionary archives as well as Jewish writings, the book analyzes the theology and activities of both the missions and the converts and describes the reactions of the Jewish community, which in turn helped to shape the evangelical activity directed toward it.
Ariel delineates three successive waves of evangelism, the first directed toward poor Jewish immigrants, the second toward American-born Jews trying to assimilate, and the third toward Jewish baby boomers influenced by the counterculture of the Vietnam War era. After World War II, the missionary impulse became almost exclusively the realm of conservative evangelicals, as the more liberal segments of American Christianity took the path of interfaith dialogue. Continue
Jews for Jesus spread spiritual message in region
By Gary Stern and Ernie Garcia, The Journal News (Hudson Valley, NY), July 16, 2006)
If you've been through downtown White Plains lately at midday, you've seen them. If you've gone through any number of train stations here or subways in the city, they seem to be everywhere. If you live in Rockland County and have a Jewish surname, you've probably received mail from them.
They may even knock on your door. Chat you up. Ask you if you've thought about Jesus. Then they tell you they're Jewish, and you know whom you're talking to. Continue
Jews For Jesus Ad Campaign Takes Over City Subway Stations
By Bobby Cuza, NY1 (cable news channel), July 19, 2006
With its controversial ads visible in many of the city's subway stations, the Jews for Jesus $1.4 million summer marketing campaign has succeeded in eliciting a response from New Yorkers, but as NY1's Bobby Cuza reports, maybe not the positive one that the group probably hoped for. Continue
As Jews for Jesus hits New York, Jews for Judaism is out in force
By Rachel Silverman, JTA, July 9, 2006
NEW YORK, July 9 (JTA) — There’s a holy war of sorts going on in New York City. Jews for Jesus has been running campaigns here for 33 years, but the messianic group’s proselyting effort has never been as large as this summer — nor has it elicited such a united Jewish response.
The “Behold Your God” campaign represents the final stop of a five-year, $22 million tour of every city outside Israel with a Jewish population of 25,000 or more. Continue
Jews for Jesus Hit Town And Find a Tough Crowd
By Michael Luo, New York Times, July 4, 2006
As part of what has become an annual summer rite, missionaries, many of them young people from across the country, are descending upon New York City, working in soup kitchens and spreading the word of God at street corners, parks and subway stations. But one group, Jews for Jesus, will be more visible than usual.
And so will those whom the group infuriates. Continue
Jews Reaching Jews Campaign Wins Hundreds for Christ
By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post via The 522 (blog), August 5, 2006
NEW YORK – Thousands of blogs, media outlets, churches and synagogues were all talk about one of the most controversial and intensive campaigns that more than 150 Jesus-believing Jews made “unavoidable” this past month.
The result of the "Jesus for Jews" July campaign: 502 first-time decisions for Jesus Christ – 241 of them being Jews – and incessant talks about the Gospel throughout the cities. Continue
Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability
Announcement of a presentation by Jews for Jesus at an Indiana church
Marion Chronicle-Tribune (Grant County, Indiana), July 15, 2006
TWIN CITY BIBLE BAPTIST CHURCH, 7252 S. Meridian St., hosts Liberated Wailing Wall of Jews for Jesus at 6 p.m. July 23. The story of Jews coming to believe in Jesus through music, drama and personal testimony. Click here.
Programs To Convert Jews To Christianity
Religious Tolerance Website
Quotation: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Christian Scriptures (New Testament), John 14:6. That passage has been a prime motivator of Christian evangelical activity towards Jews and other non-Christians:
Overview: Relations between Christians and Jews have traditionally been horrific. Christians have a past history of exterminating large numbers of Jews and/or forcibly converting Jews to Christianity. Continue
Jews for Jesus:
Targeting Jews for Conversion with Subterfuge and Deception
Anti-Defamation League, August 27, 2004
Jews for Jesus, the leading organization dedicated to converting Jews to Christianity, has long been a concern because of its aggressive proselytizing with a deceptive message: that Jews who accept Jesus as the son of God and their savior remain Jewish. Continue
Jewish education is the vaccine against conversion-itis
Commentary by Rabbi Avi, Shafran, ECHAD RESOURCES
by Rabbi Avi Shafran, St. Louis Jewish Light, August 11, 2006
This July, like so many before it, New York City's oppressive summer weather is being accompanied by another perennially irritating mass of hot air. "Jews for Jesus" this year along with "The Chosen People Ministries" and the "Christian Jew Foundation Ministries" are out in force, trying to convince Jews that relinquishing their faith in favor of a contrary belief system (one, even, in whose name untold numbers of Jews over the centuries were made to suffer and die) is somehow not an abandonment of Judaism but its "fulfillment."
Boosted by a budget of millions, Jews for Jesus alone has mailed material to 400,000 Jewish homes in the area, and Yiddish DVDs to 80,000 Orthodox ones. It is also running radio spots (complete with a klezmer Hava Nagila in the background) and placing ads in subways and newspapers. Continue
Chosen People Ministries: Resources for your church
Please click here for the page cited in the text above.
"Jesus, the Jews, and the Last Days" September 12-15 in Fort Worth, Texas
Chosen People Ministries and Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary
"Jesus, the Jews, and the Last Days" is a conference that will discuss the relationship of Yeshua (Jesus) to Jewish people and how both relate to fulfillment of biblical prophecy in the last days. Join Paige Patterson, Craig Blaising, Darrell Bock, Mitch Glaser and others for this great event. The brochure asks the question: Are we getting close to the End? Continue
A recommendation for those interested in Messianic Christianity
Darrell Bock, Darrell Bock Blog, August 7, 2006
Messianic Judaism is a kind of stepchild of Christian movment. Many criticisms of this movement come from "anti-fullfilment missionaries." Anti-missionaries are Jewish writers who wish to challenge the claim that Christianity is any kind of natural extension or fulfillment of Christianity.Continue