February Update - 2019
Welcome to the second of my Romans 15:8 monthly blogs for 2019. If you are one of the six leaders who joined the Romans 15:8 network last month (Jan), may I thank you for doing so. It is so important to build up a “high profile public community of like-minded Church leaders” who will stand for God’s ongoing purposes for Israel and the ongoing call to share the Gospel with Jewish people. I think this is especially poignant as we sadly see the rise of anti-Semitism within many contexts. For anti-Semitism to flourish it simply needs a few highly motivated, hate-filled individuals alongside the indifference of the many.
If you are reading this and have not yet signed up to the network, please do so. Equally, if you have joined, could you encourage one or two other colleagues to do so over the next few months? It is straightforward to sign up online.
Teaching reflection of the month (February)
This month I shared in the “On the Derekh: Helping the Haredim Find Yeshua” conference. This may well have been the most important conference on Jewish outreach this decade. It took place between 27th and 31st January at the Feinberg Messianic Centre in the heart of Jewish Brooklyn. It was an invitation-only event aimed at outreach workers, theological practitioners and prayer warriors who have a special burden for reaching the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) around the world with the Gospel.
In preparing for the conference I re-read three Olive Press Research Papers by Michael Eldridge- paper 9 (2011) - “Flawed Messiah-The Story of Sabbatai Sevi”, paper 29 (2016)- “Understanding Hasidic Jews-General Observations” (Part 1) and paper 30 (2016) - “Understanding Hasidic Jews- Distinctive Beliefs”(Part 2). All these papers can be downloaded for free from the CMJ UK website.
The conference had a number of important teaching streams and some practical mission initiatives. I particularly appreciated the reflection upon how best we can reach out to the Haredim and the spiritual and practical challenges which we face in doing so. I want to share with you the following 20 points which were all agreed to be key in trying to do this and should be part of any outreach strategy and discipleship support.
- Commit to praying regularly for the Haredim.
- Study the Haredim communities and find out as much as you can about their values, hopes and fears.
- Be prepared for a long-term focus and commitment.
- Realise you can only deal with people where they are (only God knows where they will be in the future).
- It is better on balance to trust and believe a testimony of faith in Yeshua and be proved wrong (vulnerability) than to choose to be suspicious and not to trust and close down any possibility of a deepening relationship. However, as always, we must exercise appropriate discernment.
- Don’t just teach discipleship, try and model it.
- Keep confidences.
- Maintain appropriate privacy. Don’t turn new disciples into trophies.
- Build up knowledge and share from the Scriptures.
- Realise all decisions have consequences.
- Resist giving too much advice to new disciples. Do not become the ‘Holy Spirit for them’; resist becoming their new ‘authoritative Rabbi’. Realise that ‘power dynamics’ are being played out in every discipleship encounter, but this is especially true for those from ‘closed communities’.
- Provide safe houses when necessary. Have you ever the right to tell (or suggest) someone to step away from a ‘closed community’ unless you can offer some meaningful support?
- Realise there is no such thing as a ‘closed community’ – the LORD is also at work within.
- Show compassion, develop empathy.
- Learn to deal with your fear.
- Know your calling.
- Try and build supportive teams, networks and communities.
- Be willing to start small.
- Realise that the Gospel spreads naturally through relational networks and identity groupings.
- Don’t necessarily try and extract individuals from a community but equip those to stay who can open up new networks for the Gospel and subsequent discipleship.
I hope you find these 20 points helpful. Please pray for this important Gospel work.
Ministry news update
The past few weeks, in addition to sharing in the “On the Derekh: Helping the Haredim Find Yeshua” conference, I have had the opportunity to engage with all the other Jewish mission leaders at our meeting hosted by CWI in Witney and preach at Stamford Hill United Reform Church. I am currently, preparing a future Olive Press Research Paper on the theme of Biblical hermeneutics. At the Witney meeting, we agreed to meet to pray once again at a venue in London to mark Yom Kippur. This united prayer event is open to all and will take place on 9th October; mark the day now – more details in a few months.
In addition to the above, I have also been preparing for teaching events at Hepzibah (Cambridge) and All Nations Bible College (Ware) along with prep for the CMJ Council which will meet on 22nd February.
I have enjoyed reading the book - Hard Border: Walking through a Century of Irish Partition, by Darach Macdonald (Published by New Island Books, 2018). This is both an interesting contemporary travelogue and also an excellent perceptive insight into Irish history. It may also have something to say about the current Brexit negations and the complexities of the so-called ‘back-stop’.
Monthly Memory Verse
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
(1 Corinthians 14:12 – Messianic Jewish Family Bible).
Posted on 07 March 2019.