And whatever you do, be sure to mention that I am married to a very lovely lady named Patti.” That was David Brickner’s parting remark when we interviewed him for this article. Patti is not only David’s marriage partner, but also a fellow missionary and one who is especially gifted musically. But perhaps we can tell you about Patti another time.
Meanwhile, David is our “missionary of the month.” He is a senior missionary and a member of the Jews for Jesus Council. David claims the rare distinction of five generations of Jewish believers on his mother’s side of the family. That means he can trace the line of Jewish believers back to his great-great grandmother.
David accepted the Lord at the age of six. He said he found it easy to be a Christian when he was small. After all, his family and friends in the Boston area were all Christians. Then David became a teenager and his family relocated to Michigan. Suddenly, he found himself an object of ridicule because of his faith. He had never had to face rejection on account of Jesus. David decided that acceptance and new friends were more important than his relationship to God, and he began to behave accordingly. He never doubted the claims of Jesus, but he had decided to live, as he puts it now, “in open rebellion to God.”
It so happened that during that difficult period in David Brickner’s life, Jews for Jesus was just beginning as an independent Jewish missionary organization. David remembers the Liberated Wailing Wall coming through Michigan and staying in his family’s home. “They always made an effort to reach out to me,” David recalls. “I was impressed by the group, but I was too stubborn to give up my new friends and rebellious lifestyle.”
After high school, David began his studies at Boston University. One day, he saw a couple of Jews for Jesus missionaries handing out gospel broadsides on campus. David says, “God used them to ‘love me back to the Lord’.” He relates his experience to the words of Jeremiah 31:3, a verse that has become very personal to him: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore, with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”
After rededicating his life to Jesus, David moved in with our Boston branch leader and his wife. He began handing out tracts and doing the work of an apprentice missionary. He decided to transfer to a Bible college, and eventually moved to Chicago, where he attended Moody Bible Institute. He completed the Jewish Studies program, was married, and he and his wife Patti came on staff with Jews for Jesus. Their first assignment was to serve with the Liberated Wailing Wall. After nine months, David was given the leadership of the team.
David and Patti served with the Liberated Wailing Wall for three and a half years. They traveled worldwide, bringing Jewish gospel music everywhere they went. Of all the places they visited during that time, David enjoyed New Zealand the most. He said that not only was the landscape breathtaking, but the atmosphere was calm and relaxing. The quiet beauty of New Zealand was a welcome relief after the opposition and threats the team had faced in South Africa and Australia.
Upon completion of their tour of duty with The Liberated Wailing Wall, David and Patti were assigned to missionary work in our Chicago branch. In addition to the diploma David received from Moody, he has also earned a bachelor of arts degree in Judaica from Northeastern Illinois University in conjunction with approved classes in Judaic studies from Spertus, a local private college. He hopes eventually to earn a graduate degree.
David recently was appointed leader our Chicago branch of Jews for Jesus when its former leader, Jhan Moskowitz, was transferred to fill a strategic post in our New York branch. As Chicago branch leader, David’s duties include supervision of all our local approved scholarship students (Jewish believers enrolled at Moody Bible Institute and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on a Jews for Jesus work/study program). He also leads our Chicago Liberated Wailing Wall, which presents the same Jewish gospel music as the mobile evangelistic team, but does not travel so widely.
What does David Brickner enjoy? Besides passing out tracts and visiting unbelieving Jewish people, he is partial to Chinese food. He also enjoys cooking, or, as he puts it, “throwing things together.” Music is important to David. He plays the trumpet quite well, and met Patti (who is quite accomplished on the violin) at the Wheaton Conservatory of Music.
When we asked David if there was anything he would especially like to learn, his answer was, “I would like to be fluent in Hebrew.” David is very analytical and people-oriented. He loves his ministry and derives particular satisfaction from training newer missionaries. He admits that sometimes he does grow impatient—”with my own inconsistencies and with people when they are unwilling to take responsibility for their mistakes.”
Now that you know something about David Brickner, perhaps you will be praying specifically for him as you remember our ministry. David would appreciate prayer for his wisdom and patience in developing the apprentice missionaries on our Chicago staff who are also students. You can pray also that David will be able to balance effectively his many ministry duties with being a considerate husband to his lovely wife!