The most comprehensive Jews for Jesus campaign ever takes place in Jerusalem
June 4, 2018 (San Francisco) Jews for Jesus said, “Behold Your God Jerusalem,” in an unprecedented way this past month. With over 200 staff and volunteers participating, the group engaged in over 5,000 conversations with Israelis about Jesus one on one and had over 200,000 check out their social media posts. In addition, they got the names and contact information of 1,747 Israeli seekers who want to know more about Jesus. During the four-week outreach, 58 Israelis responded to the message by embracing Jesus as their personal Messiah. And Jews for Jesus expects to see this number increase as their regular presence here continues. Jerusalem is home to 750,000 Jewish people and the focal point of world attention, especially in light of the recent opening of the U.S. Embassy there and the activities surrounding the 70th anniversary of the modern state of Israel.
“Behold Your God” is an eighteen-year effort by the organization to conduct in-depth evangelistic campaigns in every world city with a Jewish population of 25,000 or more. Of the 77 such campaigns that have taken place, this one, centered in Jerusalem, is the “grand finale.” However, Jews for Jesus Executive Director David Brickner says “This is just the beginning of a new era of outreach for our 45-year-old organization. We are reaching out to all kinds of people in the city: university and yeshiva students, artists, millennials, boomers, sports enthusiasts, Russian speakers, those trapped in addiction, the poor and the Haredim (Orthodox Jews). We have experienced relatively little opposition and lots of enthusiastic engagement.” He went on to say, “When Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem, he also had a diverse audience, from tax collectors to beggars to teachers of the law and wealthy business folk. We think he set the precedent for us in 2018 and beyond.”
Unlike previous efforts, Jews for Jesus significantly stepped up the diversity of their approaches to this complex city. Most people recognize that Jerusalem is beset with conflict between religious and secular Jews, between Jews and Palestinians and between followers of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. However, some don’t realize that of all the cities in Israel, Jerusalem has the highest poverty level and is fraught with a multitude of social ills. Part of the Jews for Jesus approach is to serve the city and encourage others to do the same. “As believers in Jesus, we see how our Messiah lived for others and we want to follow in his footsteps. We are feeding the poor, cleaning up parks and renovating houses and, in the process, demonstrating that the One we believe in wants to heal that which is broken or in need,” says Dan Sered, Israel director of the organization.
Jews for Jesus has offices in Tel Aviv as well as in 27 cities around the world. The next center going forward will be in Jerusalem.
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Evangelicals in Brazil show strong support for Israel in annual March for Jesus
The Brazilian capital of Sao Paulo was host to a huge display of support for Israel during an annual Christian march on May 31.
Some 2 million Brazilians and other pilgrims from Argentina, Mexico, the United States and some African countries who attended the March for Jesus waved Israeli flags and prayed for the Jewish state in the parade that stretched 2.5 miles through the city.
Dori Goren, Israel’s consul, and Zelia Sliozbergas, president of the local B’nai B’rith branch, joined the evangelical Christians, the first time in 20 years that a Jewish official was invited to attend.
“Attending the march is our way to express our gratitude for the evangelical people and the Brazilian people,” Goren said. “The people of Israel bless Brazil and the evangelical people of Brazil.”
The consul told the crowd that he expected to see the Brazilian embassy move to Jerusalem soon, following the transfers of the American, Guatemalan and Paraguay embassies fromTel Aviv to the Israeli capital last month. They crowd applauded in agreement. Goren said that in 1947 Brazilian diplomat Osvaldo Aranha presided over the United Nations vote in favor of partitioning the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, Jewish and Arab.
“There is a very important alliance between Brazilian Christians and the State of Israel,” Gorel told Gospel Prime news website. “It was a blessing to be able to see the affection of Brazilians for their country and that it was a great celebration of friendship between the two peoples.”
Estevam Hernandes, the founder of the March for Jesus, said the march is not meant to be a political platform, “but we pray for everyone.”
The March for Jesus, established in 1993, is one of Brazil’s largest religious events. Brazil is home to the world’s largest Catholic population, the second-largest overall Christian population after the U.S. and the ninth largest Jewish community in the world, about 120,000, according to Beit Hatfutsot.
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
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International worship, dance mark Shavuot gathering of Israeli believers
While the memory is still fresh, it is a pleasure for me to reminisce about the congregational Shavuot Celebration that took place at the moshav Yad HaShmona near Jerusalem this May.
I purposely use the word “congregational” because the pleasant day and the joyful atmosphere were marked by sincere, exuberant worship and dancing dedicated to the one and only God that we – from multiple congregations – have in common.
We were believers from all over the country, from the North (in the Golan Heights) to the South (in Arad), and though we attend different fellowships we all serve the same God daily in our own lives, families and congregations.
My husband and I came along with our young children and a person with special needs, which added extra meaning to this day. We arrived in time for the afternoon session which was rich with dynamic worship, folk dancing and more.
Diverse groups from all over the world – from Hawaii to Korea – presented powerful, authentic, instrumental worship and Holy Spirit filled songs that touched those present.
This was also a great opportunity to meet believers from all over the country and to invest quality time in people we know or get to know as we praise our Lord together.
Thumbs up for the organizers of this annual event! It enables us to step out of our comfort zone and to get to know others. It was amazing to experience the day together with people from around the nation under open skies.
There are activities for children of all ages. HaChotam holds a Bible quiz for children. I wandered through the “market” replete with attractive stands from book publishers such as HaGefen and Israel Bible Society. Others sold beautiful floral wreaths special to Shavuot and handcrafts. I enjoyed an ice cream and good conversations with people I hadn’t seen for a long time.
What made this annual gathering extra special this year? I felt that the dynamic international performances in worship and dance made this day unique. For Israeli believers who focus mainly on matters in our own country, I believe it is a must to experience how our brothers and sisters from abroad worship the same King through their unique hymns, praise, dance and instruments.
I call on all believers in Israel to set aside this day next year, Shavuot 2019, and to encourage other members of their congregations to join as well.
Next year in … Yad HaShmona?
Irma van de Visch is married and mother of 2 young children. Podiatrist, owner of two foot clinics, certified English remedial teacher, student, and inspirator.
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Marty Goetz and Misha’s live concert in Jerusalem
In the early 2000s, when kids didn’t have personal electronics and car rides meant either playing – or fighting – with your siblings or staring out the window, we would have CDs playing on repeat in our green Chevy van.
One of our favorites was “He Is My Defense” by Marty Goetz. And on May 28, an audience of a few hundred of us got to see him and his daughter, Misha, perform live in Jerusalem.
Ours is not a particularly musical family. Out of four kids, only two of us play an instrument at a beginner’s level, and neither parent plays at all. In short, there’s no particular reason why kids aged 3 to 16 would ask for classical music. Sure, sometimes we’d have Christian kids’ music playing or another Messianic artist, but in terms of our family’s collective musical taste, Marty was a favorite.
When I first heard about the concert two months ago I immediately told my husband, “We have to go.” He’d never heard of Marty or Misha, but he agreed. (We danced to Misha’s “Aaronic Benediction” at our wedding – oh, well.) You know how small children feel when they find out they’re going to meet a Disney character or Marvel superhero? That’s how I felt in anticipation of this concert.
The night was warm, the vista from Trinity Broadcasting Network’s outdoor venue was breathtaking, and – to quote The Jerusalem Post – “Israel’s finest chamber orchestra,” the Tel Aviv Soloists Ensemble, was conducted by the Israeli Messianic composer David Loden.
Only in Israel can one experience a Messianic concert in a city dotted with minarets. So after the evening Muslim call to prayer ended, Marty and Misha walked onto the stage. Three songs stood out to me that night. As dusk fell and the stars began to shimmer, Isaiah 62 and Yeshua’s lament recorded in Luke 13 rang out once again in “For Zion’s Sake.” I was simultaneously there, breathless over the Old City and the Mount of Olives, and back in the family van hurtling down a highway in North America.
One of the most memorable parts was when the event was interrupted by the Muslim neighbors celebrating the end of the day’s Ramadan fast with a banquet, and breaking out into uproarious singing. As it became evident that the noise – which would interfere with recording – would continue for a while, Marty began playing the Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem.
Finally, before performing his iconic “He Is My Defense,” Marty joked, “The hyphen in ‘move-ed’ is there to make the whole thing sound more biblical.” I had a flashback to the congregation I attended when I was young and how whenever we would sing this song, that hyphen always gave me a secret thrill. It made me think of Shakespeare, who had manipulated syllables at the dawn of modern English when most people couldn’t even read or write.
As I carefully lifted our sleeping daughter out of her car seat after the two-hour drive back to Haifa, I looked at my husband and admitted, “I’ve pronounced ‘Goetz’ incorrectly my entire life until now.”
CD and DVD recordings of the concert are due out later this year.
Violet moved to Israel in 2013. She lives in Haifa with her husband and their daughter.
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My quest for a miracle
I was a skeptical college student searching for confidence – confidence that the Biblical world view was true. I studied the Bible as well as other religions and philosophy to gain that confidence. (My thinking was that if I did not find that confidence in the Bible, that I would construct a world view formed from the best of the different major religions.)
One thing seemed clear to me. If there were contemporary miracles which could not be explained by natural cause and effect, then that would at least show the supernatural realm to be real. In addition, if such miracles were mostly to be found in contexts of prayer in the name of Jesus, then this would give evidence for the truth of His claims. I was then a student at Wheaton College in Illinois, USA.
I wrote to Kathryn Kuhlman to ask regarding miracles. She replied with a personal letter and recommended a book by a cardiologist, Richard Casdorf. Her letter also referred me to a fellow student at Wheaton who had been healed of a club foot when he was a youngster, in a documented miracle.
My Quest Questioned
Many sought to persuade me that the quest for evidence of contemporary miracles was wrong headed. They were of two opinions.
First – the classic cessationalist position – in which the rationalists thought that philosophical and historical evidence was sufficient. They felt that wanting contemporary miracles as evidence was foolish since miracles were mostly for the first century.
The second opinion pointed to the issue of faith being by the Spirit. For them the quest for evidence and miracles as evidence was itself a perverse orientation. They quoted Yeshua’s rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39, ESV). They misunderstood Yeshua’s teaching about the lack of response to miracles from those with hardened hearts. They had an opposite view to the great apologist from Fuller Seminary in California some 50 years ago. Edward John Carnell argued that, “Faith is trusting in the sufficiency of the evidence.” I now know that we can just have that intuitive grasp of the heart that the Gospel is true. I never was convinced that my quest was wrong. And I did find some great miracles to help me along the way.
The Miraculous or Supernatural Today
However, in the 21st century we seem to be living in a different age. Miracles that can be documented are happening throughout the whole world at levels that have never been seen before. It is as if the pages of the book of Acts are now a worldwide reality. The noted scholar Craig Keener’s two volume book, Miracles, gives wonderful documentation in a reasoned presentation that cannot be refuted by any open minded person. And the miraculous is a major factor in the spread of the Gospel. Recently our congregation in Jerusalem sponsored a seminar teaching people how to hear the Holy Spirit and to bring the miraculous into their presentations of the Good News. It was a wonderful thing to see people come alive and to see miracles happening through them.
The Coming Move of the Spirit in Israel
As I look back on my four years of college skepticism, I now see the evidence of our faith as, almost a tsunami of evidence, an overwhelming flood of evidence (as Josh McDowell says). It is wonderful to see God working in this way, and I do believe we will see a growing level of miracles in witness here in Israel and around the world as part of a great move of the Spirit. Evangelism will again be empowered and supported by the miraculous, just as the Bible records: “God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Hebrews 2:4 ESV).
This article originally appeared in Israel’s Restoration newsletter, June 2018, and reposted with permission.
Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.