Questions Part Four: Why Don’t You Call Yourselves Christians for Jesus?
Missionary work is full of questions—those that people ask us, those we ask others to get them to think about the gospel, and those we ask ourselves. These experiences of some of the members of our Liberated Wailing Wall Mobile Evangelistic Team represent some of the queries we encounter.
The Liberated Wailing Wall was in Washington, D.C. and there I was, at 7:30 a.m., in front of a metro exit. Huge crowds poured past me as people piled off the subway trains. Most of them willingly accepted my literature, then hurried off. Occasionally a fellow believer shouted approval while scurrying by, but for the most part nobody wanted to stop and talk because everyone was rushing to get to work.
Near the end of my broadsiding time, one man who took a tract decided it was worth his time to walk back a block or two just to tell me what he thought of me. He was not commendatory.
Why don’t you just call yourselves Christians for Jesus?” he growled. I shrugged and tried to formulate an answer to his non-question, all the while feeling that I was not grappling with a particularly challenging argument for the falsehood of my faith. By the time I managed to utter a response, the man was already halfway down the block.
Many ask us why we use the name Jews for Jesus. Why not call ourselves “Christians for Jesus” or “The Jewish Outreach Society?” We are not trying to hide either the fact that we are Jewish or that we believe in Jesus. On the contrary, by using the name Jews for Jesus, we bring the central issue immediately to the forefront. When we wear our T-shirts with that name imprinted on them, Jewish people cannot dismiss us or our literature as representing something that is not meant for them. Rather, each time a Jewish person sees those words, he or she is confronted by the fact that some Jewish people have identified themselves with Jesus and still consider themselves Jewish. That Jewish person may also wonder, “Could this Jesus perhaps be the promised Messiah of Israel?”
We are not seeking to offend Jewish people by our forthrightness, but there is a time when one must get to the point: Is Jesus who He claimed to be? In Romans 1:16 the apostle Paul put it this way, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” That is our message.
Annette grew up in Fresno, CA in a Jewish Christian home. Her grandparents were the first people in her family to come to faith in Jesus. Annette came to faith at a young age and was baptized at age 13. She graduated from Biola University with a bachelor's degree in music and a minor in Bible. After college she toured the U.S., parts of Europe and South Africa with Jews for Jesus' mobile evangelistic music team, the Liberated Wailing Wall. In 1993 she moved to New York City to begin training as a missionary with Jews for Jesus. It was there that she met and married, Josh, who was also a Jewish believer from California and was a Brooklyn College student at the time. In their early married years Josh and Annette served as missionaries with Jews for Jesus in New York City, then for another five years in Los Angeles. They felt called to return to New York so that Josh could develop Jews for Jesus' youth and camp ministries on the East Coast, so Josh and Annette served in New York from 2000-2011, during which time their daughters Eliana and Taliah were born, and Josh became the branch director. During those years Annette was a full-time mom, with side duties such as leading a moms Bible study and helping wives of missionary trainees transition to life in ministry. In 2011, the Sofaer family moved to Portland, Oregon so that Josh could complete a master's degree at Western Seminary. In August 2012 the Sofaer family moved back to Los Angeles so that Josh could begin directing the Jews for Jesus work in Southern California. Though the family is still very much in the midst of transitioning to a new area, Josh and Annette are excited to see what the Lord will be doing through Jews for Jesus there. In 2015, Annette returned to part-time staff with Jews for Jesus, first in the church relations department, and now as a missionary to the Jewish women in the Southern California area.