On the Importance of Continuing Education
Missionary work is a practice just as the professions of medicine and law are. We are perpetually studying our craft, hoping to learn new and better ways to fulfill the Great Commission. How do we improve the way we proclaim the gospel? How can we more effectively engage Jewish people to help them understand the true meaning of conversion: loving God, one another and neighbors? How can we best demonstrate the continuity between Jewish identity and faith in Jesus?
Sometimes we learn by our mistakes. We once planned an evangelistic media campaign around a common idiomatic Jewish expression: “Don’t ask!” Few people did; the outreach flopped.
It is not enough to take the Great Commission seriously; we must take it studiously. We must continue asking ourselves how we might better serve our Lord in making disciples. So, over the past twenty-five years, we have encouraged our missionaries to incorporate continuing education into their missionary service. In 1979, we conducted an intensive study program called Avodah, which spanned the entire ministry and lasted for ten months. In 1985, we hosted the Israel ’85 Study Abroad, a summer-long academic training program in Jerusalem for seminary level students, including some of our missionary staff. Three years later, our ministry partnered with the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena to provide a Master of Arts degree in missiology for our staff and their spouses. We also had brief times of retraining the staff in 1991 and 1993.
Similarly, since 2006, we have partnered with Western Seminary through their campus in San Jose, California to provide a Master of Arts degree specialization in Jewish Ministry. We offer unique courses such as Jewish Mission History and Ministry to Jewish-Gentile Couples. This program, which is open to the public,* enables our staff and others to upgrade their skills as evangelists.
Academic training programs cost more than the tuition, books, housing and meal cards. To participate, our missionaries must spend time away from their posts to attend classes, and when they return to their post they must allocate some time and energy to studying. The leadership of Jews for Jesus believes that investing in a thoughtful, studious pursuit of missionrelated knowledge will make us better servants of the Lord of the harvest. Please pray that God would provide the time, opportunities and financial resources necessary for our Jews for Jesus missionaries to remain perpetual students as we devote ourselves to the practice of making disciples of Y’shua.
*Interested in taking some classes with us to gain greater insight on how you can help Jewish people know Jesus? Contact: Tuvya Zaretsky through this contact form or call 310-443-9553 x25.
Tuvya Zaretsky is one of the founders of the Jews for Jesus ministry. He was the first field missionary beginning his service in February 1974. Tuvya continues to serve the Lord, now as the Director of Staff Development internationally, based out of the Los Angeles office. He also chairs the Board for the Jews for Jesus branch in Tel Aviv, Israel. Tuvya was raised in Northern California in the institutions of American Judaism. During his bar mitzvah at age thirteen, Tuvya read from Isaiah 6:1-8 and declared with the prophet, Hineni-Here I am, send me!" However, his search for God and spiritual truth didn't come into focus until ten years later, when a Christian colleague encouraged him to seek God in the pursuit of truth. Tuvya came to believe in Y'shua (Jesus) on December 7, 1970. Ever since, he has been joyfully saying to God, "Hineni-Here am I." The full story is available by that title, in a booklet form here. Tuvya has provided the leadership of Jews for Jesus branches and evangelistic campaigns in major cities of the US and in Israel. He headed up the Las Vegas Behold Your God (BYG) campaign in 2005 and co-led the 2006 BYG outreach in New Jersey. He is now also an administrator for the website www.JewishGentileCouples.com. In April, 1989, Zaretsky was present at the Willowbank Consultation on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish people, that produced the watershed Willowbank Declaration. Tuvya has presented missiology papers at the Evangelical Theological Society, the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) and at the Global Diaspora Missiology Consultation in 2006. He currently serves as president for the International Coordinating Committee of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism, a networking body of Jewish mission agencies. He was editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper 60, Jewish Evangelism" A Call to the Church in 2004. He was a contributing author of Israel the Land and People edited by H. Wayne House (Kregel Publishers, 1998). His doctoral dissertation, co-authored with Dr. Enoch Wan, was published as Jewish-Gentile Couples: Trends, Challenges and Hopes (William Carey Library Publishers, 2004). He authored or edited articles for the June 2006 issue of MISHKAN themed, "The Gospel and Jewish-Gentile Couples" (Jerusalem) . And in 2008 he was coordinator and contributor for the World Evangelical Alliance Consultation that produced "The Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism in Europe Today". In 2013 Zaretsky was appointed to serve as the Senior Associate for Jewish Evangelism by the International Lausanne Movement. Tuvya has an M.A. in Missiology concentrating in Judaic Studies from Fuller Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies and the Doctor of Missiology degree from the Division of Intercultural Studies at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is married to Ellen, who is also a Jewish Believer in Jesus. They have three young adult children: Jesse, Abbie and Kaile.