Question: I’ve seen letters to the editor in newspapers where rabbis seem very upset that Jews for Jesus targets Jews.” I know that you believe what other evangelical Christians believe. Why the emphasis on witnessing to Jews? Is there really a need to have a separate organization tell one group of people about Jesus?
Moishe’s answer: That’s a question that I’ve been hoping somebody would ask. But before I answer, let me point out that the term “targeting” brings to mind darts or firearms. I can’t imagine throwing the gospel at people or aiming to harm them with it.
Actually, targeting is a propaganda term that has been misappropriated from the marketing profession. I realize that some Christians use the term innocently in the context of outreach, but those who are not Christians use it to disparage evangelism. To scoffers and unbelievers it has a negative connotation. I avoid the term “targeting” because I see the gospel as something to be presented freely rather than something to be sold. We don’t throw our tracts at people; we hand them to those who want to take them. When it comes to the gospel, the Giver, the receiver and the person who relays the message all “profit.” When unbelievers use the word “targeting” they mean to make their hearers feel that it is somehow wrong for us to believe and act upon what the Bible says is right (Romans 1:16).
But back to the reason for Jewish evangelism. Most of us Jews grow up with the belief that Jesus is not an option for us. The missiological term for that is “gospel resistant.” In other words, it takes a whole lot to bring my people to a place where they allow themselves to consider the gospel. Whereas you may imagine that Jewish people have the same opportunities to hear about Jesus as everyone else, there is a whole mindset that tells my people such opportunities are not for them. Jews for Jesus is committed to presenting opportunities that Jewish people cannot dismiss as being “for Gentiles only.”
If you can understand the need for missionaries to go overseas and tell the gospel to people who otherwise would not hear, we hope you will understand that most Jewish people will not hear the gospel unless it is delivered in a way that takes into account a lifetime of conditioning or indoctrination. Some may call our outreach “targeting.” Those of us who present the opportunity call it reaching out to people in love where they are…and we know where they are because most of us have been there!
I believe our Heavenly Father takes no more joy in a Jew coming to Christ than He does in a Hindu or a Buddhist or a pagan. Every soul is equally precious in His sight. Nevertheless, Jewish evangelism is crucial—perhaps it is the most significant issue on which the church will prove its character, conviction and commitment to evangelism.
Stop and think. If a person believes the Bible and believes that Jesus is the only way of salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 10:9,10) and then that person declines to tell a Jewish friend about Christ, it indicates one of two things. Either that person has decided that the Jew is not worthy of the gospel, in which case he would be a racist, an anti-Semite and a hater of people instead of the lover of people that God wants him to be. Or perhaps he has judged the gospel as being unworthy of the Jews in which case he has trivialized the passion of Calvary and the awesome significance of Christ’s resurrection. It is imperative that the church take a stand for Jewish evangelism.
We Jews for Jesus are willing to face the challenge and do the work. We hope you see the value of Jewish evangelism, and if you do not have opportunities to witness to Jewish people, you can encourage us in our witness.