November Update - 2020


Welcome to my November blog. I am writing this during the second period of national lockdown due to the Covid restrictions; however yesterday more encouraging news was announced about pioneering vaccine developments.  This provides hope for a way forward in managing and eventually overcoming this virus. 

I am sure many of us within the Romans 15:8 network have been reflecting on this - my latest ‘Thinking Aloud!’ article (see News & Views, Issue 4, 2020) explores the freedoms and restrictions we have as Christians and tries to connect this to the freedoms and restrictions we all are currently facing with Covid.  Again I would welcome any comments and insights you may want to share in response to this.

With love and prayers to you all in these testing times.



P.S.- If you are visiting this blog for the first time and you are in Church leadership please consider signing up to the network.  It’s great to see this network increasing and your participation in it will be greatly appreciated.

Ministry News Update

I mentioned in the October blog that three key colleagues were coming back to work post furlough.  This however was immediately followed by news of a new lockdown and an extension of the furlough scheme.  However, I am pleased to say that it was decided that all three colleagues would return back to work this month albeit on reduced hours - it’s great to welcome them back, and already they are making important contributions to the ministry of CMJ.

This month I have contributed two sets of sermon notes (Advent 1 and 3) in partnership with our CMJ colleagues at Christ Church, Jerusalem, if you do not receive these notes please fill in the form at the bottom of the page and register.  The notes are helpful and engage well with the four lectionary readings for each Sunday.  Also, when relevant, they try and focus upon the Hebraic context of the text.

Book News

If you have not yet clicked onto our new CMJ UK shop page, please do so.  Most months at least one new book is added.  I am currently re-reading and would like to recommend the following two books - Bazyli and Anna Jocz- Jewish Christian Victims of the Holocaust by Kelvin Crombie and God is Good - Exploring the character of the Biblical God by Martin Kuhrt.  Both Kelvin and Martin have served CMJ well over many years and they write with clarity, insight and passion.

In addition to this, you may like to consider a book especially relevant for Advent/Christmas, namely my book – Prepare the Way!  In addition to private reading this little book is currently being used by a number of church home-groups/study groups as teaching material for Advent.  The home-group I attend (online at present) at my home church is currently using this book - it’s somewhat strange and a bit disconcerting to be in a group when someone else is leading and discussing your book!

Monthly Memory Verse

A truthful witness saves lives, but one who utters lies is treacherous.  (Proverbs 14:25)

Teaching reflection of the month

This month I include the third (and final) part of my draft chapter in the new LCJE book project.  The previous two parts can be found in the blogs for October and September


The History of Jewish Evangelism (part 3)

  • The Holocaust and the rebirth of Israel

The Holocaust and the rebirth of Israel caused a fundamental change in many aspects of Jewish identity and self-perception.  This change is echoed in areas of Jewish evangelism, as the Holocaust and the rebirth of Israel began to reshape Christian thinking and mission practice.  It is said that today all Jewish-Christian encounters are always shaped to some degree by the Holocaust.

The reality of the Holocaust has led some Church groups and missionary institutions to turn away from direct Jewish evangelism and towards a ministry with a greater focus on dialogue and mutual learning and support.  This shift is often underpinned by a theological realignment, namely the endorsing of a Two (Dual) Covenant position, which often points to a wider pluralistic worldview.  In a few cases this is linked to extreme forms of Dispensational Theology.  This shift is a timely reminder (if one is needed) that the importance and validity of Jewish evangelism will not always be apparent (let alone a priority) to many within the Church.

The rebirth of Israel as a nation has also impacted significantly on Jewish evangelism.  Arguably the most significant growth in recent years in Jewish evangelism has focused upon new ministry initiatives in Israel which has resulted in growth in the numbers of Jewish Believers in Jesus.  Although there is often debate over specific numbers, it seems reasonable to state now that there are in Israel, about 30,000 Believers in Jesus who would define themselves as Messianic Jews.1 Most of who would be part of Messianic Jewish congregations throughout Israel, and at times some of these congregations face hostility and persecution from other Jewish groups, who seek to undermine their legal rights and to restrict key aspects of their congregational life.  While 30,000 may not sound a large number, it is a major increase from only a few decades ago.  This growth has resulted in many significant landmarks, such as the establishing of the first Hebrew speaking Messianic Bible College, based in Netanya.            

This focus on Israel is very important although it should not distract from the very important narrative of significant Jewish evangelism taking place throughout many other nations.  For example, significant and pioneering Jewish evangelism has taken place (and continues to take place) within in the USA (which contains a large percentage of the worldwide Jewish population)2 the UK, South Africa, Australia, and in key parts of the Former Soviet Union, especially in former provinces such as Ukraine, Moldova and Kazakhstan.  Clearly the work in the Former Soviet Union impacts the work of evangelism in Israel, as many Russian speaking Jews have made Aliyah to Israel in recent decades.  A similar reality and demographic shift can be traced within Ethiopian Jewry.3

Without doubt the rebirth of Israel has impacted significantly the on-going history of Jewish evangelism.  Space once again does not allow for a full analysis of this, but let us focus on the following five points:

Firstly, the rebirth of Israel deepens the hope of those Christians who have always held together the twin foundational pillars of Jewish evangelism and Jewish national restoration.  For if the LORD has restored the people to the land in fulfilment of Scripture, how much more can we trust that the LORD will restore His people to Himself through the Messiah.

Secondly, the rebirth of Israel changes how Christians may read some of the prophetic Scriptures.  For example, Isaiah 19 now has a renewed immediate, as well as a future eschatological context.  This may well strengthen evangelists working in both a Jewish context and those working in a predominantly Muslim context among the nations listed along the Isaiah 19 highway.  One of the hoped-for mission outcomes from Isaiah 19, is that many ‘Sons (and daughters) of Ishmael’ will become Believers in Jesus and help many ‘Sons (and daughters) of Isaac’ find saving faith in Jesus, and equally in turn many ‘Sons (and daughters) of Isaac’ will find faith in Jesus and help the ‘Sons (and daughters) of Ishmael’ to do so as well.

Thirdly, the rebirth of Israel changes the focus of Jewish evangelism.  For if this is the first time in over 2000 years, that more Jewish people live within (or identify primarily with) Israel than in other nations, beyond Israel’s borders, then this requires Jewish evangelistic institutions, which would have previously focused primarily in reaching Jewish communities in Europe (or elsewhere), to redeploy resources to address faithfully the new opportunities and challenges of working within an Israeli context.  This redeployment also has another potential dimension: namely it is not simply bringing the Gospel back to Israel, but it is also resourcing the work to enable the Gospel to go forth from Israel.  This ‘going forth’ from Israel replicates in many ways the pattern of the New Testament, and this ‘two-dimensional’ flow of evangelism and wider mission work has important spiritual and theological dimensions.

Fourthly, the rebirth of Israel often changes (or should change) the relationship between the sent mission worker (and his or her ecclesiastical support stream) and the receiving community, especially when such receiving communities are indigenous and to some degree function as independent Messianic congregations.

Fifthly, the reality of a Jewish State has given to many Jewish people a renewed confidence in their own identity.  Maybe a Gospel message which was once anathema to a Jewish person in the context of a closed and marginalised ghetto community, becomes a possibility worth exploring as an Israeli citizen, within a democratic secular state on a sunny Tel Aviv beach or within a vibrant Jerusalem, the city which is the focal point for so much of the teaching and ministry of Jesus, as recorded in the gospels.  Alongside this possible personal openness there has been a similar openness identified in some areas of Jewish theological and historical scholarship; namely in what is often referred to us the ‘Jewish reappraisal of Jesus’.  Clearly one must not however overstress this ‘openness’, or play down the ingrained opposition to the Gospel which resolutely remains in many contemporary Jewish settings, especially among the ‘more closed’ Hasidic communities.4

The history of Jewish evangelism cannot be changed; there is much to learn from ‘successes’ and ‘failures’ of the past.  There is much from this history for all practitioners in Jewish evangelism today to reflect upon and, in some cases to seek forgiveness for.  This spirit of honest reflection is shown in the numerous documents and statements made on the subject of Jewish evangelism (and on the wider issues of Jewish-Christian Relations) by various Churches and mission networks in recent years.  Again space does not allow for a full list, or for any analysis of these documents, but listing these following documents will be a helpful place to start:

Nostra Aetate, from The Second Vatican Council (1965).

The Church and Jewish People, from The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (1964-68).

Israel, People, Land and State, from The Synod of the Reformed Church, Holland (1970).

The Church and the Jewish People, from The Lutheran World Federation Consultation, meeting in Neuendettelsau, Germany (1973).

The Oneness of God and the Uniqueness of Christ, from The Lutheran World Federation, meeting in Oslo, Norway (1975).

The Willowbank Declaration, on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish People, from The Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (1989).

Jewish Evangelism: A Call to the Church, from The Lausanne Consultation for World Evangelism, meeting in Pattaya, Thailand (2004).

The Cape Town Commitment, a Confession of Faith and a Call to Action, from The Third Lausanne Consultation (2010).

God’s Unfailing Word- Theological and practical perspectives on Christian-Jewish Relations, from The Faith and Order Commission of The Church of England (2019).5



The history of Jewish evangelism weaves a complex and at times turbulent course through the history of the Church.  Hopefully this chapter provides a useful overview, and the following chapters in this booklet can build upon this, as the following key subjects are addressed: The Jewish Community and Jewish Evangelism (chapter 2), Biblical and Theological Foundations for Jewish Evangelism (chapter 3), Challenges Facing Jewish Evangelism (chapter 4) and Strategies and Initiatives in Jewish Evangelism (chapter 5).

Within this history and the outworking of associated theological positions, there is much to study, such as the analysis of Jewish demographics, group identities, evangelistic strategies, different expressions of Jewish faith etc.  In all of this study and analysis, it is good however to be reminded that all evangelism begins with an individual - an individual who encounters the Gospel.  In every such encounter, there are historical insights, lessons to be learnt and reasons for thankfulness.  Therefore this opening chapter draws to a close with an account of one Jewish individual encounter with the Gospel.  The individual concerned and the ‘evangelist’ involved in this account were well-known to many within the field of Jewish evangelism in the twentieth century:

   …Eric was born into an orthodox Jewish family; his father was the minister of the Hammersmith (West London) Synagogue and Chaplain to the Jewish forces during World War 1.  Eric himself went to the Jews College and ran a settlement in East London during the 1930’s.  Subsequently he worked as a resettlement officer in Sheffield, returning to London after the Second World War.

There followed a period of disruption and unhappiness in his personal life, which led him to question his foundations and embark on a period of searching for truth, help and answers.

One Sunday afternoon in his late 40’s, Eric went for a walk on Hampstead Heath and decided to visit Keats’ House.  Finding it closed, he was drawn up the hill to the interesting looking church of St John’s, Downshire Hill.  The minister ‘happened’ to be there and engaged in conversation.  “You should come and talk to our people,” he said to Eric.  “I’m not suitable. I’m a Jew.”  “So am I,” responded Rev.Dr Jakob Jocz!

So began a friendship, which lasted until Jakob’s death many years later.  Eric poured his heart out to this fellow Jew over the following months until one day he said, “I suppose it doesn’t matter how other people have hurt me - it’s where I have done wrong.”  “Yes” answered Jakob, “You have to become a Baal Teshuvah (Master of Repentance).

That was it!  Eric the Jew yielded his life to Jesus the Jew through the ministry of Jakob the Jew.  Eventually Eric became President of the British and then the International Hebrew Christian Alliance, and himself ministered tirelessly to other Jews – understanding where they came from, and was trusted by them.6

The past history of Jewish evangelism must be studied, and the present reality must be lived, and the future hope must be prepared for based on the assurances of Scripture.  The Scripture which witnesses to the salvation of all Israel (Romans 11:26), the salvation of a full number from the nations (Romans 11:26) and the eternal ‘unity in diversity’ of those saved from the tribes of Israel and those of the ‘great multitude’ from every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 7).

In all of this the Scriptures point to a deep mystery and a profound reality, namely the interdependency and mutuality between Jew and Gentile and between Israel and the Church in the redemptive purposes of God.  It is to these redemptive purposes and for the glory of God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that Jewish evangelism has sought to bear witness to in the past and seeks to bear witness to in this generation, and in the generations to come.


1 In addition to these Messianic Jews, there is a number of Jewish Believers in Jesus who would be embedded in established Church structures, and who would probably not self-define as Messianic Jews, but as Hebrew Christians within a Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican ecclesiology.  For further study on The Messianic Movement in Israel today, see the Mishkan Journal (Issue 46/2006) and consult the Directory of Messianic Organisations in Israel, hosted by Kehila News Israel.

2 Regarding the current Jewish population in the USA, recent research shows that 44% of married Jewish people are married to Gentile spouses.  Much important ‘pre-evangelistic’ work has and is taking place in regards to helping such couples grow in their marriages and to thrive well in such ‘cross-cultural’ contexts.  For further study of ministry among Jewish-Gentile Couples see the Mishkan Journal (Issue 47, 2006).

3 In the 20th century most of the long-established Jewish community in Ethiopia relocated to Israel.  A number of Ethiopian Messianic congregations have been established.  Often these Ethiopians face discrimination based on their African heritage and often find themselves in the poorest economic groupings.  Further, some religious Jews question if these ‘Ethiopian Jews’ are legally Jewish.

4 See Reconciliation and its Discontents by Karma Ben-Johanan (Tel Aviv University Press, 2020), and Two Nations in Your Womb by Israel Yuval, (Magnes Press, 2000 - Hebrew Edition) – (University of California Press, 2006 - English edition).

5 In some ways this Anglican document can be seen as a response in part to the Jewish document Dabru Emet, published in 2002.

6 Account taken from the BMJA Chai newsletter (Issue 258, Summer 2020).

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