Hooray, I get to step down! It’s not that I haven’t loved being the Executive Director. But while I’ve won my races of leadership, I’ve been training leaders for twenty-five years—and one of them is destined to take over.
Jews for Jesus has many leaders who are creative, committed, compassionate people with strength of character. It’s this strength that enables them to endure and transcend the trials we encounter in Jewish missions. That strength comes from the Lord as He directs and coaches the Jews for Jesus team.
Teamwork enabled us to do what too many individual mission workers found discouraging. It enabled us to endure opposition and rejection, to keep seeking the lost until we found those Jewish people who were waiting for someone to come tell them about Jesus. Teamwork enabled us to bear each other’s burdens—and they became lighter. It also enabled us to share one another’s joys, achievements and victories—and somehow, they were amplified. I want to see Jews for Jesus keep on winning and I want to remain part of this winning team—but as a player, not the captain.
I was at the right place at the right time to found” Jews for Jesus, but it was God who provided the vision for this ministry. He provided the people who have made our mission what it is today: the cutting edge of Jewish evangelism.
As the Founder, I’ve led Jews for Jesus for 26 years—first as a movement, then as an organization. Now I am eager to see a younger, more energetic approach that will keep Jews for Jesus on the cutting edge of evangelism.
Many leaders in Jews for Jesus are the same age or a bit older than I was when Jews for Jesus began. Now is the time to pass the baton to one of them while they have the energy and teachability of youth. When this ministry began, I had a lot to learn about things that they already know, because we learned together. I am still capable of learning and leading. But they are capable of learning faster and leaping farther into an even greater future that God has for Jews for Jesus.
I’m not an old soldier, so I’m not going to fade away. I’m glad that there are some positions on the mission team that don’t require a lot of athletic prowess, or else at sixty-four I guess I’d have to retire. I never enjoyed anything more in life than my work, so I’m not going to retire. Besides, I don’t feel my mission work is ended! I will continue doing what I’ve done since 1953 when Ceil and I became believers: I’m going to witness to everyone I can.
None of this will come as big news to many in Jewish evangelism; I made the decision a couple of years ago and have been steadily moving toward the goal of stepping down. I have spoken about it here and there and have been telling some of you friends and supporters through letters you receive with your receipts.
I was concerned to hear from a dear friend who wrote:
“Dear Mr. Rosen:
I just read a letter saying that you are not going to continue being the head executive.
I have known you [for more than 20 years] and don’t want to lose you. I enjoy your articles in the newsletter and your occasional letters and cards to me.”
This friend goes on to say that if I don’t remain, she doubts her interest in Jews for Jesus will continue. I don’t think she realizes that would make me a loser. The proof of my effectiveness in building Jews for Jesus will be how the team grows and keeps on winning when I am no longer captain. (Just remember that God is the owner and the coach!) More than ever we need the kind of friendship, encouragement and support that is based on principles rather than personalities.
I’m excited about the new opportunities that Jews for Jesus will have under the next leader. I am enthusiastic about many of the great, imaginative ideas for outreach I hear from our leadership cadre. I’ve watched their growing zeal to tell of Yeshua (Jesus). I know the spouses and children of those who are married. I know what makes our missionaries smile, and I see them balance a serious sense of servanthood with a great deal of joy. I don’t know who it will be, but I like the next Executive Director already. He is going to be better than I could be because of all we have learned and experienced together.
Some who have asked who I’ve chosen to be the new leader were surprised that I haven’t chosen anybody. I never intended to make that choice. The next Executive Director has got to be God’s choice, and I planned from the beginning to remove myself from the process. I don’t want to influence those I have taught to discern God’s leading. They don’t need me to tell them what He wants. They have been in direct touch with the Great Coach for a long time.
I want to see God’s choice confirmed like it was in Acts 15:28, which says, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us.” There are times like that when the will of God becomes apparent through unity in His ranks. The Lord moves in the hearts of His concerned and prayerful people. That is one reason why I am writing to you now.
We hope that you know the special role that God has given Jews for Jesus in His economy of world redemption. We know that our task is very important, and therefore, the person who is going to lead Jews for Jesus will be a key person in missions today. Now is the time to be praying for God’s choice.
Let me tell you something about the process so you will know how to pray. As far as I know, it is unique to Jews for Jesus. Whenever I’ve explained it to leaders of other missions, they’ve expressed surprise and admiration for this spiritual approach to a practical matter.
I mentioned that the scriptural phrase “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us” is our model for this decision. Our “us” is a dynamic combination that employs the wisdom and experience of our Council along with the oversight of our Board of Directors, in submission to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Jews for Jesus Council is a group of nine of our missionary leaders. They meet quarterly to evaluate and vote on new missionary candidates, brainstorm methods of evangelism and discuss strategic aspects of the mission.
The Council was established by our Board of Directors as an advisory committee to the Executive Director as he oversees the day-to-day operations of the ministry. As such, they have counseled me on all important matters.
Council members are elected by their peers—that is, the senior staff of Jews for Jesus—to serve for three-year terms. Various leaders rotate in and out of the nine seats, but the current Council is comprised of six chiefs of station (including three from overseas) as well as three of our home office missionaries. These men and women will meet to discuss and nominate the next Executive Director.
All senior staff are invited to the special Council meeting May 7, where the next Executive Director will be nominated. The Council is committed to unanimity in its selection of one nominee. (In the unlikely event that they fail to be unanimous, our Board of Directors will choose from among the twenty or so people who are qualified for the position according to our bylaws.)
Once the nomination has been made, the name of the nominee comes before our Board of Directors in a meeting to take place from May 31 through June 1. The next Executive Director will be elected at that time.
Our Board consists of15 men and women of strong Christian faith and character. A little over half of them are Jewish Christians. Members of the Board are knowledgeable and well-respected people. Most important, they have demonstrated a love and commitment for the Lord and for the proclamation of His gospel among the Jewish people. These legal trustees of Jews for Jesus are very well informed and provide excellent oversight and guidance.
The election of the new Executive Director will be announced in letters sent out with donor receipts beginning immediately after the aforementioned Board meeting. There will also be an announcement and an introduction of the new Executive Director in the July newsletter.
If you’ve been reading our newsletter, you’ll probably recognize the person. It will be someone you’ve read about or someone who has spoken at your church—perhaps even someone who has stayed in your home! I hope you are as excited as we are to find out who the Lord has chosen to lead this ministry into the future, should He tarry.
As for me, well, I imagine the new Executive Director will have me write a column or a missionary report from time to time. I intend to be his most loyal staff member.
I am so eager to see how this ministry will move ahead and so ready to do my part—perhaps you can understand why I was saddened by my dear friend’s letter, even though she meant to express personal appreciation for me.
This ministry is built on biblical and ethical principles and policies as well as on teamwork. Those things are not going to change, nor will the urgency of our task diminish. Jewish people need the gospel more than ever! We need each and every one of you more than ever as we move ahead with God’s chosen leader of Jews for Jesus. We must look to the Lord and to friends like you to help us meet the opportunity and challenge.
If you are new to us, I hope you will come to know and appreciate the ministry of Jews for Jesus. To those of you whom I count as dear friends, you can be a great encouragement to me at this time by your show of support. Such a show of support would tell me and whoever succeeds me that you look forward to loving and supporting Jews for Jesus as much as ever. It might be a simple postcard—or it might be a commitment that you will continue to be as generous as you can be as we remain true to our purpose and faithful in our outreach.
If you like the forthright way that Jews for Jesus proclaims the gospel and if you believe that God is at work in this ministry, you will be delighted with the freshness that a new leader is about to breathe into our organization. Won’t you stand with me as I support whoever the Lord chooses to carry on?