The Real Jews for Jesus
I don’t want to mislead you-and frankly, the number of good things happening in Jews for Jesus can be misleading. Many people have a mis-impression about our ministry-a misimpression that I don’t want to contribute to, but am not sure how to correct. People are impressed with the effort we expend in evangelism, by the number of our staff around the world and by the principles and core values that seem to exude from all that we do. Cultural norms and expectations encourage us to project an image of strength, and so we are careful to report to you whatever God enables us to achieve. But in fact what I feel about Jews for Jesus a lot of the time is just how weak we really are. At times I feel like we’re stretching ourselves to the point where everything could suddenly come crashing down. It’s true that a lot is getting done. It’s true that we have many wonderful staff and some strong leaders-nevertheless, I feel a great deal of weakness and maybe that’s a good thing in the end.
I’ve just turned 46 and was very recently reminded of my own personal weakness. During a 10-day road trip I became sick with what seemed to be a 24-hour flu bug, but which had a long term impact on my digestive system. Finally, after nearly two weeks, I went to see the doctor who upon examining me announced that he thought I might well have colon cancer. He was concerned enough to arrange for me to have a colonoscopy the very next morning, a test for which I would normally have to wait a few weeks.
Needless to say I was rather alarmed and experienced a profound sense of my own frailty. As I waited for the tests, I read Isaiah 28, which happened to be my Bible reading that day. It also happens to be an entire chapter on God’s judgment-not exactly the most comforting Bible reading before going in to a test for cancer! But the last verse of the chapter jumped out at me, All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29). Whether it is judgment or deliverance, strength or weakness, the Lord Almighty is wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom. In that moment I knew it was in that reality that I rested. I came away with a clean bill of health for which I thank the Lord, but also with a renewed sense of my own frailty and weakness.
And that’s how I feel about Jews for Jesus. We have wonderful staff, but we are scattered in 11 countries around the world so that for the most part, there’s a handful here, a handful there. Not every person is the most dedicated. Some are facing deep struggles and difficulties, doubts and distress. Some of our staff just aren’t getting along with one another. I have to admit that we are a weak bunch of people. And then I read this verse of Scripture. “For though Christ was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.” (2 Corinthians 13:4)
While I continually praise God for what He is doing in Jews for Jesus, I also want you to know that apart from the power of God it can all come crashing down very quickly. This ministry stands only by His grace and only through His power, and I’m trying to figure out how to live in that weakness with faith in His strength.
Perhaps we talk too much about our accomplishments because we are afraid if we don’t we will lose the support we need from Christians to carry on the work God has called us to. I suppose that is also a lack of faith on our part. We want your love and support and are sometimes afraid to show our weakness for fear of losing that love. But an imbalanced picture of our ministry results in admiration, which isn’t the same as love. We would be better off with less admiration and more down-to-earth love and expectations. Love always needs to have expectations, without them it is nothing short of adulation and that should only be directed toward the Almighty.
So I have come to believe that if we show our weakness as well as our strength, you won’t love us any less and you will be able to pray for us more effectively.
When I think about what God has called us to, it would be easy to shrink back. I look at the weakness in our staff, in myself, in our finances and am tempted to ask myself, “Who am I kidding?” Many of you are encouragers and may be inclined to respond to this article with words of reassurance. I appreciate your desire to encourage, but believe me when I tell you that I am not talking about our weaknesses in order to collect kind words. I want you to be aware of the realities so that you will earnestly pray for me and for our staff.
But neither am I trying to alarm you. As I said before, it is in our weakness that we find the power of Christ to be all sufficient. As the Lord told the Apostle Paul, His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I am confident that God has called us, and if He has called us He will also equip us. We glory not in our weakness, but in His strength, and in His power. I want to ask you to believe with me that the power of God will overcome the weaknesses of the flesh and the weaknesses of Jews for Jesus, that His word might be proclaimed and that His glory may be established.
Executive Director, Missionary
David Brickner is executive director of Jews for Jesus. David oversees the world-wide ministry from its headquarters in San Francisco. David received his Master’s degree in Missiology with a concentration in Jewish Evangelism and Judaic Studies from the Fuller School of World Mission. He has authored several books, and has been interviewed on national television shows such as Larry King Live. David’s daughter, Ilana is a recent graduate of Biola. His son, Isaac is on the missionary staff of Jews for Jesus. Isaac and his wife, Shaina, have one daughter, Nora, which makes David part of the grandparent club, a membership he is very proud of. See more here.