I never imagined my visit to England this month would put me smack dab in the middle of one of the greatest episodes of civil unrest in British history. Violence and mayhem on the streets of London and other major cities throughout the country have shocked the British people, if not the entire world.
As I write, a pervasive sense of crisis prevails as people struggle to process what is happening. What apparently started as a relatively peaceful protest over the police shooting of a black man in Tottenham has spiraled into random acts of violence and hooliganism with decidedly racial overtones.
Normally left-leaning Londoners are calling for the army to intervene; some are convinced that nothing short of that will save the Cameron government from utter collapse. No doubt much of the fear is being fueled by 24/7 media coverage that makes it seem like all of London is burning. The violence is relatively isolated to particular neighborhoods, and I have only seen evidence of it on television. Yet for those who are watching the destruction of their homes and livelihoods, it may as well be all of London that is burning.
How can this be happening? There is a whole lot of finger-pointing going on, but my mother always told me be careful when you point your finger at someone else, because there are always a few pointing right back at you. Our civil societies are often protected by little more than the thin fabric of social contract most people agree is necessary to live together in relative peace and prosperity.
But peace and prosperity are not guaranteed, either by our form of government or by the quality of our leaders. It was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who pointed out that democracy is the worst form of government—except for all the others that have been tried! When society begins to erode, civil unrest can occur in a domino effect—and the fingers we point, point right back at us.
Today’s unrest in Britain is but a symptom of the unrest in human hearts. The longing for peace and prosperity is an expression of what French mathematician Blaise Pascal called “a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Perhaps this crisis will provoke some in Great Britain to turn to the only hope for calm in the midst of their storm, Jesus the Prince of Peace.
The situation in England has also provided a pointed backdrop to the primary purpose of my visit: to attend the ninth international gathering of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE). The LCJE is a network of mission leaders, academics and church leaders from around the world, all of whom are dedicated to seeing the gospel proclaimed to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. Jews for Jesus is strongly committed to this network as a platform for encouraging cooperation and stimulating effectiveness in carrying out the Great Commission; we have always believed that Jewish evangelism is a very necessary component of world evangelization.
I was asked to bring a paper at this meeting on Moishe Rosen’s legacy and the inspiration for the LCJE. Moishe and several of our staff were involved in the birth of this network, which remains a part of the greater Lausanne movement begun by Billy Graham and John Stott back in 1974. The LCJE network today has seven annual regional gatherings throughout the world in places like North America, Israel and Europe, as well as conducting international gatherings like this one in England every four years.
Moishe continued to be supportive of the LCJE throughout his lifetime. In fact, his very last plane trip was to attend a North American LCJE meeting in Phoenix. Moishe’s passion for Jewish evangelism and his commitment to fostering greater cooperation to that end provided much of the impetus for this network’s continued effectiveness over the years.
Relationships cultivated through the LCJE have resulted in agencies working together in evangelistic campaigns all around the world. Entire ministries have been birthed and rebirthed as a result of people gathering together with others committed to this cause and this network. Many have been renewed to keep on in the work of Jewish evangelism when they were so discouraged they may have otherwise thrown in the towel. Others have been able to cooperate and reach new levels of effectiveness in ministry through the things learned from colleagues.
Thankfully, the same passion for Jewish evangelism that gave birth to the LCJE still burns brightly among many who participate and so it was a privilege for me to bring that paper to this conference at this time. (You can read my paper, view the LCJE statement and learn more about the conference and the LCJE by clicking here. Tip: to download papers, click on the number of the paper, not the title.)
Jewish evangelism is important, not because the Jewish people are more important than any other people, but because God is faithful to keep His promises, and because He has chosen to use Jewish people in His plan of salvation for the world.
You have heard the maxim of fighting fire with fire. London may be burning today, but if a passion for souls burns in the hearts of God’s people, we can rise up with a response to the unrest we see around us—wherever it may crop up. It is only through the Prince of Peace that people’s needs can be met today, including those facing the unrest and chaos visiting England at this time.
I am more convinced than ever that the gospel provides the solutions to the most perplexing problems of our day … and the days to come. And until He comes again I am privileged to proclaim the message of His gospel, side by side with our Jews for Jesus family here in England and all around the world.
Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Britain, that the current crisis will spark a revival of renewal in the proclamation of the gospel. May God’s people burn brightly with a holy fire for this lost and dying world—and may many be saved and Jesus be worshiped as the Lord and Savior He truly is.