Two hundred Israelis recently came to view an art exhibit at our Moishe Rosen Center in Tel Aviv. Most did not know Yeshua—and nearly all had a gospel interaction with our Jews for Jesus staff!*
What amazing opportunities to share the good news God is giving our team in Israel these days! The recent gallery event was part of a series of Jews for Jesus projects in which art plays a part in reaching out to people, and especially Jewish people. It was also a way to interact with many more Jewish people at once than is usual.
Most of our evangelism is carried out on a one-to-one basis. So when events like the recent gallery at the Rosen Center allow us to share with larger groups of people, these are very special times indeed. But even when our space is filled to capacity, as with the above-mentioned event, it’s still but a fraction of the multitudes we are called to reach.
I enjoy the thrill of being with a crowd. The excitement, the energy crowds generate at a sporting event or a concert can be exhilarating. At the same time, crowds can be intimidating and challenging to relate to, especially when it comes to ministry. It’s easier to care for and relate to individuals.
No doubt in this age of globalization and information overload, it’s easy to get overwhelmed just thinking about the tremendous needs beyond those in our own backyard. And unfortunately, it’s easy to view the masses of people outside one’s own particular neighborhood as an amorphous crowd—their needs can seem abstract or impersonal. But I get concerned when I see trends in some church missions that emphasize local ministries to the exclusion of the wider community of people around the world. I believe God wants us to care for people locally and globally, and that we should avoid an either/or mindset when it comes to missions.
Messiah Jesus showed great care for individuals. Think of Nicodemus, who came to Jesus at night, or His encounter with the woman at the well. Some of His most dramatic and powerful ministry was one-on-one, and the pathos of those personal encounters is captivating. Yet our Savior was just as constant in ministering in depth to multitudes as He was when intimately caring for individuals. Think of the Sermon on the Mount, or the feeding of the 5,000.
I believe Yeshua (Jesus) wants us to care for multitudes the way He does: “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). This is one of 27 different references to the multitudes found in Matthew’s gospel, and it reminds us of the expansiveness of God’s love for His lost creation.
Jesus is our example. I find His compassion for the multitudes as well as for individuals instructive for our mission strategy. That’s why I’m excited to share a couple of things that are happening right now in Jews for Jesus.
First, we commissioned one of our Jews for Jesus founders, Steffi Geiser Rubin, to paint twenty original works of art depicting stories from the Gospel of Matthew.
The Gospel of Matthew is considered by many to be the “most Jewish” of the four gospels. Matthew’s eyewitness account of Jesus’ ministry, as well as the way he documented the fulfillment of so many Messianic prophecies, underscores the continuity of God’s inspired Word. Almost every chapter of Matthew refers to the Hebrew Scriptures.
Steffi has portrayed these themes in the original art she created for this project, and we now have a stunningly illustrated Gospel of Matthew. We are calling it Multitudes. This beautiful artistic rendering of Matthew’s gospel is being released in English, French and Hebrew this month, with the hope of producing it in more languages in the future.
It’s particularly significant that we have it in Hebrew, because this year Israel’s Ministry of Education has challenged all Israelis to study and read through the Hebrew Bible a chapter a day (929 chapters) all the way up to Israel’s 70th birthday in 2018. There’s a special website for Israelis to read the Scriptures and even leave comments. We see this as a wonderful opportunity to encourage Israelis to at the same time engage with the Gospel of Matthew through this Multitudes project, and see for themselves the incredible continuity between the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) and this amazing story of the life of Yeshua. Please pray with us for this project.
Second, beginning this month and stretching all the way through September, we will be conducting extensive efforts across the globe to reach the multitudes with the message of Messiah. In June and July we’ve got outreaches in Paris, New York City, Toronto (coinciding with the Pan Am Games), London and Berlin. Our Budapest outreach begins the last week in July and extends to August 9, and our Moscow campaign takes place in September. Though we don’t like to broadcast it too specifically, our next Behold Your God Israel campaign will also be happening somewhere between June and September.
If you simply add up the total population of each of these cities, it amounts to approximately 39,518,000 people—quite a multitude! That doesn’t even include the throngs of tourists who will be visiting these cities, and who will see and engage with our missionaries and volunteers.
It can seem a bit overwhelming—each of these outreaches represents a great deal of planning, prayer and people who are participating. I especially want to invite you to pray with us for these outreaches as they unfold over the next few months. We’ve compiled week by week calendars giving you specific prayer requests for each of these events, and if you receive RealTime, our online newsletter, you will receive timely updates and specific prayer requests throughout this intensive season. Updates will also be posted at least twice a week on our Jews for Jesus Facebook page.
I want to emphasize that Jesus saw the crowds, but He saw the individuals as well. So must we. I want to look upon these multitudes as Jesus did and have compassion on them because they are like sheep without a shepherd, desperately needing the Savior. I want my capacity for compassion to be expanded along with my commitment to pray for the multitudes and for individuals, don’t you?
Recently our Israel director, Dan Sered, explained this balance well in an interview on TBN. I hope you’ll watch Dan as he explains that our methods are a balance of proclamation and presence. Our high profile ministry of proclamation is designed to reach the multitudes. Our highly personal ministry of presence means being available to demonstrate the love and care of Christ, often on an individual basis, and sometimes through sharing our space, our facilities, as Dan describes. These are two sides of the very same gospel coin.
Through both presence and proclamation we can demonstrate the compassion of Jesus, both to the multitudes and to those individuals who have ears to hear. Won’t you join with us?
David Brickner is also an author, public speaker and avid hiker. Find out more about David, his writings, speaking schedule and possible availability to speak at your church.