Bobbie Ann Cole, a British-raised Jewish lady, travelled to Israel after experiencing a shattering divorce. She lived through a tense breast cancer scare. She was invited to visit Israel with friends. The goal for the visit was simple - find new meaning and purpose to life.
In Jerusalem, her friends invited her to a meeting at King of Kings, a vibrant Christian congregation led by Pastor Wayne Hilsden. (This was out home church too!)
Bobbie was overwhelmed by the worship and quickly with wise guidance from friends she encountered a liberating fellowship with Jesus. (In Israel, the Lord is more frequently called Yeshua, which derives from the original Greek name meaning ‘Lord of salvation”).
There is a growing number of Jews in the world today, who are finding faith in Jesus. A Messianic Jew is Christian by faith and Jewish by blood, as were the disciples of Jesus in Israel two thousand years ago.
A Messianic Jew or a Gentile Christian believer is an individual who believes in Jesus, has personally called on the Lord for salvation, trusting solely in Jesus’ blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of their personal sins and iniquities.
In the USA there are approximately 250,000 Messianic Jews. In Israel, numbers have gone from 10,000 to about 20,000 but observers report the number as ‘growing.’
In Israel suspicion is high. The tiny nation is continually under threat of physical and military intervention. Terrorism has a constant presence and every person in Israel is expected to be alert and aware. The threat of evangelism in Israel is seen by most authorities, as another form invasion. Ellen Horowitz, Content and Research Director for the Israel-based group Jewish Israel, says they are educating Israelis about the ‘spiritual destruction’ caused by evangelism.
Nevertheless Messianic congregations are active throughout the land. Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Galilee are key locations for an estimated 120 to 150 groups, some meeting in the Israeli settlements and among the ‘Palestinians’ in the West Bank.
A series of video testimonies entitled ‘I met Messiah’ has had an immediate impact. Produced by the Israeli Messianic group One for Israel, in cooperation with Chosen People Ministries believers share their personal stories. Mottel Baleston has had more than 5 million hits. So many Catholics spoke to him that he thought Jesus was Italian! In his testimony he describes how he learned the New Testament was written by Jews. “I couldn’t believe it! When I open it, I’m reading a story written by Jews about the Jewish people,” he says.
“As I came to faith that Yeshua – that Jesus was the Messiah – it was clear that was the most Jewish thing I could do. This is the One who was promised in our Bible,” he declares. (See the full story at Israel Today – Millions Watch Testimony of Jewish Believer in Yeshua – israeltoday.co.il)
Benjamin Disraeli, a Messianic Jew, was elected Prime Minister of Britain in 1868. He wrote, “In all church discussions we are apt to forget the second testament is avowedly only a supplement. Jesus came to complete ‘the law and the prophets.’ Christianity is completed Judaism, or it is nothing.” He hoped his fellow Jews ‘will accept the whole of their religion instead of only half of it, as they gradually grow more familiar with the true history and character of the New Testament.”
Alfred Eldersheim the author of the classic ‘The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah’, was a Messianic Jew.
Prolific author Joel C. Rosenberg was raised in a Jewish home. He started an evangelistic bible study at his high school in 1984. His best selling books include ‘The Last Jihad’, ‘The Ezekiel Option’, “The Twelfth Imam’ and ‘Epicenter’ – all highly recommended.
Ron Cantor says ‘Messianic Jews are the most hated people on earth.” Cantor is a Messianic Jew himself and he made these observations:
“We are believers in Yeshua—and increasingly today anyone who believes in the Bible and the principles therein are being classified as fanatics and bigots.
“The non-Messianic Jewish community is being poisoned against us—teaching their children that we desire to destroy Judaism, which is ludicrous.
“Much of the Christian community sees us as Judaizers (Gal. 3), trying to bring believers back under the Law (which, of course, is also ludicrous).
Many Christian leaders who believe we are legitimate, often distance themselves from the Messianic community for fear of offending other Jewish people, particularly Israeli government officials.”
John, the Apostle wrote “Jesus came to His own, but His own did not receive Him.” (John chapter 1, verse 11) Obviously this referred to the religious Jews for the disciples were Jewish and they received Him wholeheartedly.
Today more Jews are embracing Yeshua, the Lord of Salvation. A first wave of Jews came to know the Lord in the USA during the seventies. The second wave came among Russian Jews in the 1990’s now some see a third wave emerging. “I have never seen the breakthrough like we’re seeing now,’ said Tuvya Zaretsky, chairman of the board for the Israel branch of Jews for Jesus. “We’re seeing a steady stream of Israelis who are coming to Jesus from all walks of life, though usually among the young.”
Every year the Israeli Knesset (parliament) hosts appreciation ceremonies for Christian groups including Bridges for Peace and the International Christian Embassy. Their work assisting the poor and needy is very highly regarded.
Last year important recognition was extended to Be’ad Chaim, a Messianic pro-life and women’s health organization. They were singled out for their ‘significant contribution to mothers and children.’ Led by Messianic pastor Tony Sperandeo, they initiated a fight against abortions in what they called ‘the shedding of innocent blood.’
I visited their website – beadchaim.com – and studied the smiling faces of babies they helped to rescue.
These are great signs for all believers. God is still calling His people to represent Him in the most loving way.
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ron Ross previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html