Dear friends and fellow laborers with Jews for Jesus:
It hardly seems possible that we are approaching our thirtieth year anniversary as an organization. But then Jews for Jesus has been more than an organization to some of us.
I wanted to take a moment and share some brief reflections with some of you who might care. First of all I want to thank God for opposition; if it hadn’t been for organized opposition from the Jewish Community we would not have had the many opportunities to tell our message. If it hadn’t been for some disappointed staff who left I might not have thought to write a letter seeking to draw close and celebrate your participation in our adventure of Jews for Jesus.
I have been thinking of the many people who had served so faithfully and so honorably and who helped build Jews for Jesus into the witness that it has become.
I want to thank each and every one of you who had a part in making this story possible. It was back in 1969 that I realized the problem that Jewish People didn’t feel free to consider the gospel because most Jews felt that Jesus was not for us. Very few had ever met or seen a Jewish believer in Jesus. It was possible for the Jewish community to say without fear of contradiction Jews do not believe in Jesus.” Hence if a Jew believed in Jesus then you were not really a Jew. Most of us were indoctrinated to believe we must never give up our Jewishness. That doctrine that Jews don’t believe in Jesus kept most from considering that the New Testament just might be true.
Back in those days I longed to be able to stand up and shout: “But there are some Jews who believe in Jesus.” I wanted to make Jesus an issue among the Jewish people. Maybe I was overly ambitious but I wanted our Jewish people to understand that the destiny of Israel is entwined with the future of the soon coming Messiah.
I had a yearning and a vision as to how it might happen. It would take a number of activists working together like they did in the anti-war movement. But let me say that it did not happen exactly the way that I had hoped when I was executive director. We made mistakes in strategy; like the times that we picketed in front of a Reform Temple and came back and realized that was a mistake. We made mistakes in our declarations but for the most part we got out the Word. And then, of course, there were mistakes in interpersonal relationships. We had a tough job to do and sometimes I fear that I was too tough on some of you. For those mistakes, I truly apologize.
At the same time, I want to say that I thank God for those who came alongside to help me in this ministry; most of you served beautifully with love and affection. Together we changed the spiritual climate and showed that Jews could believe in Jesus.
We saw ourselves as a leadership training cadre and trained people for leadership. If God had an army, I hoped that Jews for Jesus would be the commandos or the Marines and that we could get the tough job done. Many who are leaders in the Jewish mission movement today were associated at one time or another with Jews for Jesus.
I marvel at the bravery, the diligence and the endurance that I saw on the part of most of you. And yet there were pains caused and harms done. If I could make it up to those bruised or hurt by my mediocre leadership I certainly would want to try.
But that is not why I am writing this letter. I am writing to say that I thank God that you were with me back then in this adventure. No one in the Jewish community says anymore with any confidence that there are no Jews that believe in Yeshua because they have seen with their eyes and heard with their ears and we have been out there.
In thirty years we have managed to make Jesus an unavoidable issue in the Jewish community and they are responding. I hope that you will always be proud of your service with Jews for Jesus. If you have any good memories with Jews for Jesus and would like to share with others why not send them to this web address? I know that David Brickner and the rest of us on the staff would love to hear from you. On the other hand, if you think that there is something that we should be doing to make things right with you, it is important to hear from you as well.
Let us continue to celebrate what God has done and that He allowed us to be part of it. We don’t know what the next 30 years will hold for us but it will probably be an adventure.
I hope that you will pray for David Brickner as he steers this great story. In addition do pray for the many staff, as you know from your experience it was not easy but it sure was worth it.
Most sincerely yours,