An excerpt from the forthcoming biography by Ruth Rosen
This way, Moishe!” Jhan pointed to some small boats on the river. He then darted to the other side of the road before his boss could reply.
It was a small town in Thailand, but even so, Moishe looked both ways to be sure it was safe to cross. He paused as a Vespa whizzed by. The occupants, catching sight of Moishe, pulled off to the side of the road as they screeched the motor scooter to a halt. Two diminutive men quickly dismounted and came running back to Moishe. Smiling shyly, first one, then the other, reached out to rub the large, American tummy. They laughed—not derisively, but with delight—ran back to their scooter, and quickly rode away. Jhan, watching from across the street, stood shaking his head in disbelief. Moishe, hands aloft and both eyebrows raised, shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “Who knows?”
“Have you noticed,” he asked Jhan, “that the Thais are such a very attractive people? Their smiles are so open and friendly.”
“Well those guys who rubbed your belly certainly were friendly.”
“I wonder what that was about?” Moishe’s expression was somewhere between thoughtful and bemused.
“Well, look at how many of the tourist attractions around here are Buddhist Temples, statues, you know, Buddha this and Buddha that. Buddha is built into the fabric of life here. And you know how they keep saying it’s good luck to rub the Buddha’s belly?”
“You mean the laughing Buddha? Well, I know I’m fat, but do I look like the laughing Buddha to you?” He pulled his face into a caricature of a glower.
Moskowitz laughed. “No, Moishe, I don’t think anyone could ever mistake that face for a laughing Buddha. But still, how often do people in Thailand lay their eyes on someone your size? You’re probably the closest thing they’ve seen to those statues, you know?”
The above events took place in 1980, when Moishe went to Pattaya to participate in a conference called COWE, the Consultation on World Evangelization. The 1980 conference in Pattaya was the second meeting of that group. The conference included seventeen mini consultation groups to focus on specific areas of world evangelization. Jews for Jesus was part of the group for reaching Jews with the gospel.
David Harley, then the principal of All Nations Christian College in England, was the COWE coordinator of the Mini-Consultation Group on Reaching Jews. He had met Moishe in the late 70s; Moishe had come to talk with people from CMJ,1 one of the Jewish missions in the UK. At the end of the conference, a group of participants decided to form a task force, so they could continue meeting for mutual encouragement and the added stimulus of cross pollinating ideas and experiences. They called themselves the Lausanne Task Force on Jewish Evangelism, which later became the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish evangelism (LCJE).
When asked to comment on Moishe’s level of support for the conference and subsequent development of LCJE, David Harley, the group’s first international coordinator recalled,
Incalculable! LCJE would never have come into existence but for the enthusiasm and support of Moishe. If I remember correctly, a small group (Moishe, Murdo MacLeod, Ole Kvarme, Susan [Perlman] and myself) met over a meal during the conference in Pattaya and discussed the possibility of forming an international task force on Jewish evangelism. Moishe was very enthusiastic about the idea from the start and his subsequent support in terms of advice, encouragement and financial commitment was invaluable. LCJE would never have come into existence or continued as one of the most significant products of the Lausanne Movement without Moishe’s wholehearted involvement.
The history of the LCJE is worth explaining in this biography because it helps demonstrate that, whereas Moishe’s identity was inextricably linked to his founding and leading the ministry of Jews for Jesus, his influence stretched far beyond that mission. He was an international force for the cause to which he devoted his life: making Jesus known to Jewish people.
Even prior to the LCJE, Ruth Wardell, who was in charge of the ABMJ’s Long Island work, had encouraged Moishe to become involved with the Fellowship of Christian Testimonies to the Jews (FCTJ), a 1970s network of Jewish evangelism professionals. In Moishe’s view, the FCTJ was a precursor to the later LCJE.
The LCJE continues to meet internationally and in continent-specific meetings. Their web site can be found at www.lcje.net
And watch for announcements of the biography’s publication in the coming months.