My name is Murray Tilles. I became a believer in 1978 while a student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. I was raised in a very religious Jewish home. Needless to say, after accepting Jesus as Messiah, my parents were not overjoyed, in fact, they became extremely angry and tried desperately to dissuade me from my faith.
Growing up in North Carolina, I did not know any other Jewish believers. But, I needed help. I was being rocked by my family’s opposition and did not know where to turn for advice. I called Jews for Jesus. Moishe Rosen and other senior staff members gave me advice and helped me through a very difficult time with my family.
After meeting my wife, Alana, in 1983, and getting married in 1984, we decided that the Lord was calling us to full time Jewish ministry. We applied to join the staff of Jews for Jesus, were accepted, and began our ministry with them on June 1, 1985. We drove into Chicago to begin our ministry with a tremendous amount of excitement. In my mind, I was joining the preeminent mission to the Jewish people in the world. I was becoming a marine”, a soldier for the Lord. I also knew that the training I was going to get would be invaluable to me for the rest of my life.
I began my ministry with Jews for Jesus as an “approved student”. I was working with Jews for Jesus, training to be a missionary half of my time, and the other half I was working on my seminary education. The work was hard and demanding. There were times I felt pushed to the limit. But, at the same time, I saw other seminary students with the same grueling schedule and hours. I was not alone. We all encouraged one another to persevere. The fact is, most seminary students have wives, families, and work other jobs in order to make ends meet.
In Chicago I was supervised by three different people, David Brickner, Jhan Moskowitz, and Dan Strull. All of them pushed me to meet my goals, told me when I needed to do better, and, encouraged me when I needed encouragement. I was fortunate. We had a great team in Chicago from 1985-1987.
In 1987 Alana and I were asked to join the mobile music and drama team of Jews for Jesus called the Liberated Wailing Wall (FYI she’s the singer, not me, I faked it well!). We lived on the Liberated Wailing Wall bus with anywhere from three to six other people for three years. I led the team for half of that time. The schedule was grueling, pushing us all to our limits. The restricted quarters and intense schedule made for some very difficult interpersonal conflicts. Jews for Jesus headquarters was not always able to know what was going on, and many critical managerial decisions had to be made by very young leaders, including myself. Mistakes were made, as they will always be in situations like that. I made many mistakes, have sought out those who I may have hurt, and asked forgiveness. For others who may read this, I would covet your call to clear up any misunderstandings or hurts. It is never to late to seek or grant forgiveness.
Though a difficult ministry, serving with the Liberated Wailing Wall was an amazing opportunity. We saw more people come to the Lord, distributed more gospel literature, ministered in more churches, and saw more of the world in three years, than most people do in their entire lives.
Alana and I left the Liberated Wailing Wall in 1989. We worked briefly back in the Chicago branch of Jews for Jesus, and then felt the Lord moving us on to finish seminary. I completed my seminary training at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1991. After my schooling we founded Light of Messiah Ministries, an outreach to the Jewish community in Atlanta, GA.
I am forever indebted to the ministry of Jews for Jesus. I was directly supervised by Moishe Rosen, David Brickner, and Jhan Moskowitz. Though we did not always see eye to eye, I was always treated with respect, encouraged in ministry, pushed to do my best, and given reasons for decisions by my superiors. If it were not for my superiors in Jews for Jesus giving their time and experience to me, I would not have been able to move on into the ministry the Lord has raised up in Atlanta. We are continuing the work that we were trained to do in Jews for Jesus, but in a city where they would probably never have come.
Jews for Jesus is an intense ministry. Alana and I knew that when we joined the staff. Any organization will have its’ peculiar dynamics. Jews for Jesus had its’ own dynamics when we were on staff. However, what was most important to me was that Jews for Jesus was, and is, a single minded ministry focused on proclaiming the Gospel to the Jewish community. I have always appreciated and admired Jews for Jesus for their unwavering focus on proclaiming the Good News.
It saddens me that there are former staff who are choosing to try to malign Jews for Jesus. I am sure there are hurts that need to be healed. But, to bring personal grievances into a public venue is wrong. In my mind, those who malign others publicly only reflect on themselves. I pray that they would put away all bitterness, anger, wrath, and unforgiveness, and move on to have fruitful lives without feeling the need to malign others in the process.
Being on staff with Jews for Jesus has blessed my life. I grew tremendously as a believer, and as a minister, while working for them. For all of this I am grateful. I am honored to be a friend of Jews for Jesus.
Light of Messiah Ministries
Founder and Executive Director
Jews for Jesus staff member 1985-1990
Liberated Wailing Wall leader 1989-1990