The most  proactive  group of  ambassadors in New  York City this month  are not representing  foreign governments;  this despite the  conspicuous presence  of the United Nations.  Instead, they are  representing the  Creator of the  Universe, offering  His peace plan:

Now then, we are  ambassadors for  Christ, as though God  were pleading through  us: we implore you on  Christ’s behalf, be  reconciled to God”  (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Jews for Jesus has a couple dozen  such ambassadors handling street duty  right now, and despite the heat and the  grime it is a royal responsibility of  great nobility and import.

There was a time when this task was  understood; every Christian recognized  his or her responsibility to be a soulwinner.  Not so these days. Recently I  watched a television pundit interview  a well-known pastor. Said the pundit,

“When I was growing up in church  everyone was preoccupied with saving  souls. But now it seems, especially  among younger people, that there is  greater interest in doing good works  such as disaster relief.” The minister  readily agreed and indicated his  approval of this trend. I wanted to yell  at my television, “Hey, it’s not an  either/or proposition!”

Many Christians today feel  uncomfortable with the notion of  seeking converts. The word  “conversion” has been problematic  in Jewish evangelism, because many  see it as an attempt to make Jewish  people into non-Jews. The term is  widely misunderstood even though  the Jewish prophets frequently  employed its Hebrew derivation,  shuv, meaning to turn  around and head in the  opposite direction.

Nowadays the idea  of conversion is  considered offensive  by Jews and non-Jews  alike. Regardless of  people’s background,  if they ask you, “Are  you trying to convert  me?” they want to  hear you say, “No. I  would never do such a  thing.” That is because  most people interpret  the desire to see them  convert as a statement  that, “Your ideas and  beliefs are inferior to  mine but I am ready to  help you become more  like me.” Of course this is not what  conversion means, but many  Christians are either unaware of or  too embarrassed about the  misimpression to try to correct it.

But what about the idea of  reconciliation? You won’t hear so  many complaints about people  bringing the hope of reconciliation—  and that is exactly what we are doing  when we preach the gospel. All of  humanity has been estranged from a  holy God, and when we are out of  alignment with God, we quickly  become out of alignment with  ourselves and those around us. Our  sin has resulted in all manner of evil, brokenness, disaffection and  ultimately death, both spiritual and  physical. But Jesus the Messiah  broke the power of sin to keep us  separated from God. By God’s grace,  through faith and trust in the finished  work of Christ—His righteous life,  His atoning death and amazing  resurrection—we can be reconciled to  God.What a glorious reality! No  longer estranged from God, we have  been brought near through the blood  of Christ. He who was our Judge is  now our Father, our Redeemer and  our Friend. And He has given us a  royal responsibility. The reconciled  become the reconcilers.

We are ambassadors, representatives  of Jesus and all that He stands for,  pleading, urging, imploring people to  be reconciled to God through faith in  Him. And being reconciled to God  enables us to be reconciled to one  another. The first example of this was  the new relationship between Jew and  Gentile, once strangers and aliens but  brought together in Christ as members  of His body. This first century  reconciliation has far reaching effects  even to this day; it opens a wide door  for reconciliation between peoples for  whom all the best efforts of the  United Nations have failed. Here are a  couple of examples.

Carmit Vereynne and Peter Nasser  were in the same training class for  ministry with Jews for Jesus. Both  were born Israelis but Carmit is Jewish  and Peter is Arab. As they compared  their family backgrounds they realized  that their grandfathers had been sworn  enemies, fighting on opposite sides in  the same region of the Galilee during  the 1948War of Independence. Had  they encountered one another, one  might have killed the other. Thankfully  they both survived—but the amazing  thing is that now, in Christ, their  grandchildren are perfectly reconciled  to each other and serving together in  the ministry of reconciliation. That is  the power of God!

A couple of months ago a young  woman introduced herself to me at a  church in Northern California. She  asked if I had recently spoken at  another nearby church, which I had.  She explained that her parents were  members at that church. Ten years  ago, her sister had married a Jewish  man and her father had cut them  both off because of it. This caused  such pain and estrangement that  various family members had refused  to speak to one another for all those  years. The day I gave the “Christ in  the Passover” presentation at her  parents’ church, the father was ill  and unable to attend—but the  mother was there and brought the  DVD home for him to hear. After  the father listened to the message,  highlighting Jesus as the Jewish  Messiah who came to reconcile  people of every nation to God, he  called his estranged daughter and  son-in-law—who by now, was also  a believer in Jesus. They met and  now the entire family has been  reconciled. Hallelujah! Who can  account for such a miraculous turn  around but God?

I know it doesn’t always happen this  way. Many who are daily enduring  the pain of estrangement from loved  ones can’t even begin to see how  reconciliation is possible. I don’t have  all the answers but I know that  because of what Jesus did for us on  the cross, there is hope. The same  power that has reconciled us to God is  able to reconcile us to one another. All  around us we can see the futility of  human efforts at reconciliation. But  the power of God to accomplish  reconciliation is unlimited.

The power of the gospel to reconcile  gives us the confidence and the  sense of urgency to keep on  extending ourselves to unbelievers  as ambassadors. For Jews for Jesus,  being on the streets of New York  City is part of that role. For you,  perhaps it is your place of work,  your school or even your home. But  to be ambassadors, we all must  renew our hope and faith to believe  in God’s power to bring about  reconciliation and healing.

The world may misconstrue our  motives and cast aspersions on our  message. Focusing on His power,  His love, His compassion can help  us break free of the fear of rejection.  We have been entrusted with a  positive and hopeful and life-changing  ministry of reconciliation.  But we need the strength of the Lord  to rise to the responsibility. Even  that great ambassador Paul asked for  prayer for this very thing: “Praying…  for me, that utterance may be given  to me, that I may open my mouth  boldly to make known the mystery  of the gospel, for which I am an  ambassador in chains; that in it I  may speak boldly, as I ought to  speak (Ephesians 6:18-20).” I pray  that for myself, for our New York  campaigners and for all our Jews for  Jesus missionaries. And I pray this also for you, dear reader.


David Brickner | San Francisco

Executive Director, Missionary

David Brickner is executive director of Jews for Jesus. David oversees the world-wide ministry from its headquarters in San Francisco. David received his Master’s degree in Missiology with a concentration in Jewish Evangelism and Judaic Studies from the Fuller School of World Mission. He has authored several books, and has been interviewed on national television shows such as Larry King Live. David’s daughter Ilana is a graduate of Biola. His son Isaac is on the missionary staff of Jews for Jesus. Isaac and his wife Shaina have one daughter, Nora, and a son, Levy, which makes David part of the grandparent club, a membership he is very proud of. See more here.

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