I think that being a general missionary with Jews for Jesus is more fun than being the executive director! Much of my work as the founder and chief executive officer of Jews for Jesus is desk work. It entails keeping everything connected so that our energy and resources keep flowing in the direction of evangelism. Still, I miss the general missionary work—the regular getting out and telling people about Jesus, one-on-one. Once in a while I do get to hand out a few tracts. I even get to tell some of my Jewish people about Jesus, and occasionally I have encounters where I win Jewish people to the Lord. Then I must always get back to my desk.
One of my more pleasant office duties involves writing our donors to acknowledge some of the sacrificial gifts they send us. I receive notice of these almost as soon as they come in. One of my joys that comes regularly—but not so frequently as to become commonplace—is hearing from a donor who came to Christ through our Jews for Jesus ministry.
Recently I received an extra lift as I read a notice of one such sacrificial gift. The note on the card said, He was led to the Lord by Jhan Moskowitz.” (Jhan is the current leader of our work in Chicago, having served there in previous years as well as in New York and San Francisco and with the New Jerusalem Players, one of our mobile evangelistic teams.) The individual who sent in that particular donation must have come to faith more than six years ago, because our records show that he has been a generous donor since that time, and we never knowingly accept donations from those who are not believers.
More and more I am coming to see such donations from those who have come to faith through our ministry. Of course, we still need and welcome the support of all those who believe in Jesus. In fact, we need it more than ever! But what an encouragement it is to see those who came to faith through our efforts undertaking to uphold our ministry.
Two of the men who have been on our Board of Directors and a substantial number of our staff are people who have come to faith through our ministry. As an elder in the Lord, I find it such a heartening experience to have them encourage me in the faith now or show me some portion of Scripture they have discovered that ministers to me so I draw closer to God.
This month marks our 18th year as an incorporated ministry. Jews for Jesus began as a movement in 1970 while I was serving with another ministry, but we were incorporated only 18 years ago. Maybe in two years we will have a big 20th year celebration, but candidly I am hoping—and would rather—that Jesus would come back before that time!
Anyhow, as I count the years of this ministry and see letters and donations like the one I mentioned, I see progress and healthy growth. Yet even as I rejoice, I know that the growth and success of this ministry, and indeed any ministry, are not so much attributable to their founders or to their workers, but to the Lord. Regarding success and growth, I see parallels between an evangelistic agency like ours and the church.
In Christian circles a widely discussed topic is church growth. I feel that the key to church growth or any ministry’s growth does not stem from all the schemes that are offered for recruiting new members. God’s method of growth in the body of believers is direct evangelism. In Acts 2:37-47 we read the ten most important verses in the Bible regarding how to grow a church. The last word is that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Churches are like people, and in a sense they grow like people. They grow in character, in wisdom and in capability. And the physical growth follows naturally. Although Jews for Jesus is not a church but an evangelistic agency, we grow in the same way. We had to learn much and grow up a great deal in those early years, and then the Lord “grew us” bigger in number.
Jesus had something important to say about growth. In Matthew 6:27 he said, “Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto his stature?” Can a three-year-old grow taller by standing on her tiptoes? My daughters used to do that when they were little to show me how big they were. Sometimes the church is like that.
We constantly try to stand on our tiptoes to show how big we are when we really don’t have to worry so much about growing. After all, who is the Lord of the harvest? Who superintends our growth? Who ever said that it is better for a church to have 500 members than 300 members? Or that a mission like ours should have $5 million rather than $3 million per year?
It is painful and unhealthy to walk around on tiptoe, and surely it is difficult to balance. It is easy to fall over forward or backward. And that is the second point I want to make.
As the body of Christ we need to keep our balance. We believers should be concerned that together we are not standing on our tiptoes so much that we are in danger of falling either forward or backward. Growing means getting ahead, and getting ahead means moving forward. It does not mean falling on our faces.
I am always delighted when I see someone who has come to Christ through our ministry being regular in worship and reading the Bible, being regular in prayer, being joyous in witness and mindful of the value of evangelism. It is evidence that they are growing and becoming balanced believers.
A balanced believer will pray regularly, read the Word regularly, witness regularly and attend and support his or her church. And the especially mature believers are able to support causes like ours over and above their church because they have a world-sized vision and a willingness to receive a burden from God.
I believe that God places burdens in the hearts of his people for various avenues of evangelism according to those ministries’ needs. I also believe that God knows our needs and that He has given a burden for this ministry to many who will read these words. I take seriously my obligation to the Lord and to the friends He gives us to keep this evangelistic ministry worthy of their support. I would like to be able to encourage you by saying that Jews for Jesus is the best mission of its kind. But to do so would be immodest and unfair, because I have not seen every other ministry. I can only say that I will do my best to make ours the best—and if we cannot be the best, at least by God’s grace we will be balanced!