I was excited as I headed to Golders Green with fellow missionary Simon Lissak. We were about to engage with people in a different way and, at the same time, produce content to share on the web. How? We planned to film people as we interviewed them about Passover.
Not only would we have the opportunity to interact with a variety of Jewish people (Golders Green is considered by some the heart of the Jewish community in London, with a mix of secular and Orthodox families), but we also hoped our video might serve the churches here in the UK. We wanted a creative means to help Christians better understand British Jewish people, as well as a way to explain what we offer in our “Christ in the Passover” presentation.
Our London team goes regularly to Golders Green to hand out tracts and to talk to people. Filming in this area, we knew, would be a delicate affair. There are those that would be uncomfortable with us and those that might feel more open to voice their opinion.
We decided that we would not wear our Jews for Jesus T-shirts, but would explain either before or after each “survey” that we are Jews for Jesus. Simon and I took turns behind and in front of the camera, so we both had opportunities to speak to people on the street.
- Why and how do you celebrate Passover?
- Is there any spiritual component of Passover for you?
- If you could pick one word to describe Passover, what would it be?
- Can you summarize the story of Passover?
Some answers centered on tradition and family. Some people felt Passover was very spiritual; others didn’t. People generally described the story of Passover very accurately. “Freedom” was the word overwhelmingly used.
As when we are handing out tracts, we encountered different reactions to the fact that we are with Jews for Jesus. Some were very interested and wanted to know why we believe Jesus is the Messiah. They were happy to give us their details in order to be able to see the video once it’s finished.
Others clearly displayed shock. They were conflicted because while they enjoyed talking to us about Passover, they felt negative about Jews for Jesus. And they were surprised to see other Jewish people enjoy conversing with someone from Jews for Jesus.
One lady said on camera that she was having fun and was shocked to find we worked with Jews for Jesus. She clearly had preconceptions about our ministry. It was very encouraging to have such positive interactions with people and interesting to see that tension between, “I am having a good interaction,” and “How can I be having a good interaction when I don’t like Jews for Jesus?” Of course, most had not had any personal experience with us before deciding they don’t like us.
It reminded me that we all make assumptions based on hearsay, or appearances or how we’ve been raised. The Bible gives us a great illustration of this, as the prophet Samuel was looking for a son of Jesse who would be king about 3,000 years ago. Samuel assumed that God would want the strongest, the oldest of Jesse’s sons. However, God chooses differently: “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Many assumptions stem from social conditioning and that is especially true when it comes to Jewish people feeling the need to reject the claims of Jesus and steer clear of Jews for Jesus. We pray for the Jewish people of Golders Green and beyond, that they may glimpse Jesus with eyes opened by the Holy Spirit. We pray for people to see beyond the pain of the past, and realize that the evil done in the name of Jesus is no reflection on who He is, but on the sin and self-righteousness of human beings. We pray that this Passover, many Jewish people would realize that only Jesus can bring the ultimate freedom that we all need.
As for me, I didn’t really have any understanding of Passover before I met my wife Bex (Rebekah). Not being Jewish, my only experience had been a seder at my church many years before. Bex was raised to appreciate her Jewish heritage (both her mom and dad are Jewish) and also to know Jesus from a young age, as her parents were already believers when they met. Through my wife, I’ve come to understand and enjoy Passover. Celebrating it has given me greater insight into God’s plan and how the Bible fits together. Bex and I look forward to making Passover a key event in our daughter’s life.
We hope that the video Iain described will be ready to post by the time you see this, but whether or not it is posted, you are sure to find some good Passover resources here.
Also, if you missed the newsletter edition introducing Iain and Rebekah, you can learn more about them here.