As one of the Gentile members of the Jews for Jesus staff, I appreciate the fact that one of our core values is the deployment of frontline missionaries who are Jewish or married to a Jewish believer. That core value preserves the integrity of our name and provides a distinctively Jewish story where one is needed.
The name Jews for Jesus clearly identifies us and states our purpose: we are Jewish people who believe in Jesus and want to tell other Jewish people this great news. And we are seeing results. Not only are Jewish people coming to faith in Jesus, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to deny that there are Jewish people who believe in Jesus. That was not the case 25 years ago.
When the Jews for Jesus movement began in the early seventies, the group didn’t have a name. They used slogans like Jesus Made Me Kosher” and “Jews for Jesus” on placards (signs they carried in parades and demonstrations) and broadsides (gospel tracts). The slogan became a name when the media began using it to identify our group, and in September of 1973 Jews for Jesus was born.* Yet from the very beginning of our ministry, Gentile Christians have worked side-by-side with our frontline missionaries to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide.
I became involved with Jews for Jesus in 1975 while attending California Lutheran Bible School in Los Angeles. Jeff Fritz, then a Jews for Jesus missionary, was a classmate of mine. Jeff was so eager to proclaim the gospel that he didn’t mind schlepping along an 18-year-old Gentile kid to hand out broadsides. I learned a lot and began supporting Jews for Jesus, but as a Gentile, it did not occur to me that I could become part of this ministry.
About two years later, my girlfriend Kathleen (who had met up with Jews for Jesus at the same time I did as we were attending school together) encouraged me to read the book, Jews for Jesus. I had transferred to Concordia College in River Forest, Illinois at the time, and was praying for God’s direction on how I might serve Him. After reading the Jews for Jesus book, I was even more enthusiastic about the Jews for Jesus ministry, but again, it didn’t occur to me that I could be part of the staff.
Soon afterward, I was reading my Jews for Jesus Newsletter and was astonished to see a list of available positions “for Jewish or Gentile Christians.” I was so excited that I hardly knew what to do! Kathleen and I began to sense that this was where God wanted us to serve Him. We were married in 1980, and the following year we moved from Chicago to San Francisco to join the Jews for Jesus headquarters staff.
Most of our work over these 18 years has been behind-the-scenes, but we’ve had ministry opportunities we never could have imagined. Both of us have participated in our New York Summer Witnessing Campaigns and we’ve worked closely with Moishe Rosen, David Brickner and most of our missionary staff. Kathleen and I are Goyim** for Jesus, but Jews for Jesus is our ministry too.
a.k.a. “Moose” by kids at camp Gilgal, “Walnut Man” by kids at our West Coast Ingathering and “Daddy” by beautiful daughters Virginia (age 8) and Monica (age 4).
*Actually, our mission was originally incorporated under the name Hineni Ministries, but people called us Jews for Jesus anyway, and it quickly became apparent that this was the name that was meant to be.