All the fruit is handpicked in the field of Jewish evangelism; in other words, you don’t see droves of Jewish people pouring forward at an altar call. Most come to faith one by one, and usually after much diligence, patience and a lot of follow-up. I’m so thankful for friends in the body of Christ who rejoice over the slow but steady stream of Jewish people who are continually coming to faith. I’m especially thankful for you in light of a growing trend I’ve been seeing.
It seems like more and more missions committees and Christian foundations are applying the ROI (return on investment) business principle to ministry. In many cases, the more tangible results an organization reports, the more likely they are to receive support.
I will never forget receiving a letter from a Christian foundation that had encouraged Jews for Jesus to request their support. When we did, they declined the request. They explained, “Jews for Jesus reports hundreds of people saved per year, whereas we are able to support ministries reporting conversions in the tens of thousands per year.”
I’m sure that God does move tens of thousands of people per year to receive the gospel in some fields. But I know of no Jewish ministry that can accurately report that kind of response. Using proof of ROI to determine whom to support in fields like ours puts people in a position to compete, when we really need to cooperate, and unknowingly tempts people to exaggerate and make unsubstantiated claims. (For the lighter side of the latter, see page 3, “It really happened.”)
As the leader of Jews for Jesus, I’m responsible to evaluate our ministry’s effectiveness. We want to do the very best we can for the Lord. Our core values include accountability to Him and to those who support or might support our ministry. That’s why we keep records, not only of our efforts, but also of any tangible results we have the privilege to see. In fact, the first newsletter that new friends receive includes a summary report of our previous year on the back page. See that summary here.
All the fruit is handpicked in the field of Jewish evangelism
Even so, when I evaluate our ministry, I look for evidence of sound doctrine, good stewardship, a bold and creative witness, and just plain faithfulness in doing the day-in, day-out work of evangelists (1 Corinthians 4:1–2). That is how I measure success because, after all, we can’t take any real credit when we see people won to Him. All the honor and glory belong to God as His Word teaches: “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).
I’m so thankful for brothers and sisters in Messiah who encourage and support our efforts to be faithful to our calling, trusting God to bring the increase. I’m grateful for churches that see their prayers, gifts and invitations to have us speak in their pulpit as an important component to fulfilling the Great Commission. Together we are partners in caring for those God cares about, reaching out to those whom many have dismissed as unreachable.
It is humbling to partner with the Creator of the universe as He draws people to Himself. It’s also humbling to realize that we are partnering with others who are partnering with God, even when we haven’t met them. Most salvation stories reveal a combination of people and circumstances, seemingly random, yet orchestrated by God. More than once I’ve thought God used me to lead someone to faith, only to discover that I was only one part of their journey, and not the most significant part at that! Most of our missionaries can tell stories of years spent witnessing to someone, seemingly to no avail . . . only to find out later that all they “invested” did bear fruit as someone else prayed with that person to receive the Lord.
These spontaneous, often unknown partnerships are part of the beauty of the body of Christ, how we work together and how we learn to give God all the glory. So, why not be more intentional about partnerships that could lead to an even greater increase? With that in mind, we have been focusing a lot more on partnerships these days at Jews for Jesus.
One such partnership has been with my friend Jonathan Bernis, who leads a ministry called Jewish Voice International. One aspect of Jonathan’s ministry is his “Messianic festivals,” a series of large evangelistic meetings with music, dance and preaching in places such as Russia, Ukraine and Germany. Almost since he began these Festivals, we have been partnering with Jonathan, especially in the area of follow-up. Jewish Voice International turns over any Jewish contacts they receive at these festivals to our missionaries in those countries. We contact them all one by one, seeking to continue ministry to them in person.
And speaking of follow-up, it sometimes works the other way around. Sergio Danon leads our Jews for Jesus work in Brazil. Once a year he and his family do a weeklong marathon outreach for the crowds at Carnaval, where many people they talk to are drunk or high. Even when he prays with people to receive the Lord, it’s hard for Sergio to know if they will remember what happened the next day. He’s had to push through feelings of discouragement to remain faithful. Then last year, a week before the outreach, Sergio attended a pastors’ brunch. The chairman introduced him to speak to seventeen pastors, saying, with tears in his eyes, that five members of his church had become believers through the ministry of Jews for Jesus during Carnaval. He then said, “Sergio, we have no idea how many other churches have been receiving people that you have been witnessing to throughout these years. Only the Lord knows.” Thank God for these churches, who were able to encourage Sergio about “the increase.” See photos of last year’s Carnaval outreach here.
As we continue to forge new partnerships, I’m excited to tell you that we’re in the process of working with an organization called Delta. Together we’re laying groundwork to make all kinds of ministry opportunities in the land of Israel available to Christians here in the U.S. This is a long-term project, and we will keep you posted about our progress. If you are interested, check out the brochure here.
Throughout this month’s newsletter, look for examples of how one person’s effort to share the gospel gave another person the opportunity to witness.
Who can place a value on the life of one person? Thankfully, whether it is one or ten thousand and one, all who love the Lord have the privilege of partnering together with others—not so that we, or they, are considered “anything”—but so that the increase comes from Him. I think it is all so very worth it, don’t you? Thank you, dear Jews for Jesus partner, for your part in this increase. May all praise and glory go to God!
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 recent graduate of Biola. His son, Isaac is on the missionary staff of Jews for Jesus. Isaac and his wife, Shaina, have one daughter, Nora, which makes David part of the grandparent club, a membership he is very proud of. See more here.