by David Brickner, Executive Director | September 28 2023
I’m so thankful for the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) and for the recent opportunity to take part in its 12th international conference in Wisla, Poland. The LCJE is part of the Lausanne movement, a wider body of ministries and missions focusing on the Great Commission. As an arm of that movement, we focus on Jewish evangelism, sharing our passion, progress, and perspectives on reaching Jewish people for Jesus around the world.
It was a wonderful time of fellowship and cooperation. Colleagues representing Denmark, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Canada, and the United States—among others—reported on what we’ve been doing and how we can keep moving forward in our calling to bring the gospel to Jewish people. It was great catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. Many in this network have been good friends and partners with Jews for Jesus, and it gives me nachas (a Jewish way to say pleasure or pride in someone else’s accomplishment) to see how our staff were able to serve the group on many levels.
Dan Sered (Jews for Jesus co-chief operating officer, along with Aaron Abramson) is the president of the LCJE. Eli Birnbaum, our Israel director, gave one of the evening plenary addresses. I was especially proud of the many younger Jews for Jesus staff who participated and shared in the workshop on the diverse Jewish audiences that we all want to reach, from ultra-Orthodox men and women, to Jewish members of the LGBTQ community, to Gen Z. I overheard other missionaries from around the globe who were inspired by some of the amazing work God has been doing through our teams. Maybe I am bragging on our staff a bit much, but as I have recently turned 65, I guess I do feel a bit like a proud papa.
I have to tell you though, that even with all the encouragement and bright spots we shared, this was also an extremely difficult and challenging time due to the history of the location. We were not far from Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the notorious Nazi death camps. I had never been there, and I took a group tour with many of my colleagues. And, as one person in the group observed, “This is the closest place to hell on earth.”
I was struck by the fact that the Nazis were not only anti-Semites, they were anti-life! They inflicted pain and suffering with expert precision, causing as much death as possible. What they did was so evil you could feel it oozing out of the ground. Their whole approach to the world around them was satanic. Some think that when the Second World War ended, Naziism was defeated. How I wish that were true. But the spirit of Naziism is not dead because Satan is very much alive and working his plans for death into the fabric of our human society. Much of it is plain to see. But he also works in subtle ways that people don’t always realize.
After staring the Holocaust in the face, many Christians have felt that they ought not talk to Jewish people about Jesus. After all, the Nazis twisted and misinterpreted Jesus’ death to justify murdering Jewish people. But to turn away from sharing the gospel with Jewish people because of the Holocaust is to give Hitler power to reach beyond the grave. That is repugnant to me, as I believe it should be for anyone who cares about Jewish people.
As gut wrenching as it was to tour that death camp, it gave me a greater determination than ever to share the life-giving, all-loving message of Messiah Jesus. The Holocaust must not be given the power to deprive Jewish people of eternal life. I have personally met many survivors who became ardent followers of Jesus, including Rose Price, whose biography, A Rose from the Ashes, is deeply moving. And amazingly, it is not only people like Rose, but the modern state of Israel has been reborn out of the ashes of the Holocaust. God remains sovereign, despite the evil in the world.
We have more than 50 full-time staff ministering in Israel, where over 50 percent of the world’s Jewish people now live. What a blessing to be a part of His plan for ultimate victory over Satan and the evil he has planned.
Thank you for standing with us to point our people to Yeshua (Jesus), the only hope for our world. Please pray for more believers to share our concern and commitment to bring the life-giving gospel to Jewish people.