You are now holding a half-sized Jews for Jesus newsletter wrapped around a full-sized Journal!* This New Jews for Jesus Journal is our third; we published the last one in 1995. We felt it was high time to update that Journal and I’m very pleased to present you with this, the latest.”
If you have been a part of the Jews for Jesus family for some time, you’ll recognize many of the faces and places that you’ve seen in our Jews for Jesus newsletter. But whether you’ve been with us for two months or 20 years, this Journal will help introduce you to The New Jews for Jesus.
Some of you who met Jews for Jesus back in the 70’s or 80’s may find it difficult to picture how much we’ve changed since then. Imagine an uncle who takes a snapshot of his niece as a toddler, then moves overseas. Over the years, that uncle may hear regular reports of his niece’s growth through adolescence into adulthood. Yet the image he carries in his mind is still that little girl taking her first awkward steps. Now, imagine the uncle returning after some twenty years and seeing his niece again for the first time.
We want you to see that we have a new picture, a new image. Toddlers are endearing and many of you were very patient when we were so clumsy and just finding our footing. Well, I can’t say that we’re exactly “smooth” these days, but we’ve learned how to work much more efficiently and we’re bursting to try new things. As we look back, some of the things we did in the “old days” give us cause for serious reflection while others make us smile.
For example, our first New York Summer Witnessing Campaign in 1974 was a great adventure. We handed out a lot of gospel tracts and faced a great deal of opposition. Twenty-four years later, campaigns are still a great adventure. We still hand out lots of tracts and meet with a great deal of opposition. But we hand out even more tracts with fewer people because our campaigners are better trained, better equipped and our schedules are better coordinated. In 1974, if someone harassed one of our campaigners, other team members would stop handing out tracts, gather around the harasser and blow whistles until he decided to leave. Now, when a campaigner is harassed, we’ve discovered it’s better for one team member to get the police and let them blow the whistles while the rest of the team continues to hand out gospel tracts.
In the early days, most of our leaders were themselves spiritual toddlers. Because we faced constant opposition, we developed a reputation for being thick skinned. I’m afraid we may have been hardest on our own people. Well, the opposition is still strong and we still need to teach our staff to withstand it. Nevertheless, our leaders are learning to serve those whom they lead as it becomes more and more clear that this is what it means to serve the Lord.
In our early days, Jews for Jesus was comprised mostly of college-aged Jews who were the first in their families to believe. While this is still true of many of our staff, now we are seeing an influx of second generation Jewish believers, children of Jewish believers who are growing in their faith and want to tell others about Jesus. Our burgeoning children’s ministry and camp programs reflect a new emphasis on nurturing and raising up this new generation.
Of course there are things that we should not and will not change. We are rooted as firmly as ever in the gospel that the Apostles Peter, James, John and Paul preached so faithfully. We remain committed to being on the “cutting edge” of creative communications in Jewish evangelism.
When it comes to those areas that are not new—those unchanging principles and values at the core of Jews for Jesus—I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I told you that we’re finding ourselves renewed. You’ll find one aspect of that renewal in our recently adopted mission statement: “We exist to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide.” Our organization’s very reason for being is to find new ways to ensure that Jewish people everywhere will hear about Jesus in ways that cannot be dismissed as “someone else’s religion.”
We have a renewed commitment to prayer which includes an ever increasing desire for you to pray with us and for us. You will find a prayer calendar in the center of the New Jews for Jesus Journal. We hope you will pull it out, fold it up, keep it in your Bible and remember to pray with us and for us throughout the year.
Yes, we’ve made mistakes and learned many lessons over the years, and I’m sure we’ll continue to make different mistakes—maybe even bigger mistakes since our ministry is not a toddler anymore. However, we can also accomplish bigger things for Jesus than ever before.
The New Jews for Jesus is no longer a band of young American Jewish ex-hippies. Our staff members are in their teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and yes, a few are even in their sixties and beyond. Some of us speak with a New York accent, but others have British, Israeli, even Russian accents. (In fact, some of our staff don’t speak English at all!) To visit all of our missionaries at work, you’d not only have to jet around the world, you’d need to rocket into space…cyberspace that is.
So fasten your seat belts as you open your Journal for a tour of The New Jews for Jesus. We hope you will rejoice with us in what God has done and what He is going to do. “He has put a new song in our mouth—praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord” Psalm 40:3.
*Wonder why we wrapped half a newsletter around your Journal? Please flip to the back of this newsletter…