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Posts tagged ‘Messianic Judaism’

Why a Chinese Pastor Follows the God of Israel.


Chinese Christians
Chinese Christians know how to sing and dance, and they do it with all their hearts. (Maoz Israel)

Pastor Paul is one of a multitude of Chinese Christian leaders who has a burning desire to see his nation converted and brought into abundant life in this world and everlasting life in the world to come.

He founded a church in 2003 and then sent his young leaders out to start more churches, and today he has 40 growing churches bringing the gospel to his people—the Chinese!

He also has connected with many other pastors in his area, understanding from God’s Word that our Lord loves unity.

Most of all, he understands that the first and foremost act of obedience to bring forth a harvest in his land is a strong network of prayer.

One day a fellow pastor urged him to go to the All Nations Prayer Convocation in Jerusalem, led by Tom Hess. At first Paul thought, Why go to Jerusalem? I’m working in the harvest field in China, and that’s where my heart is.

But he attended the conference in 2008, and his heart was stirred. However, when he felt God prompting him to come to Jerusalem every year, he said he felt shocked. “I will obey,” he said, “but I don’t know why.”

The Jewish Connection to China

After attending the conference for the next two years, Pastor Paul began to understand that Israel is very important in God’s plan and, indeed, for the salvation of China.

He began to read everything he could find on Israel in the Chinese language. Books like Don Finto’s Your People Shall Be My People: How Israel, the Jews and the Christian Church Will Come together in the Last Days began to open up before him a huge horizon. (You can order Don’s book here.)

Pastor Paul devoured the Bible, now seeing the Jewish connection that runs from Genesis to Revelation. He also heard about Christians in the West giving donations to nonbelieving Jewish organizations, some of whom actually fight against the Messianic Jewish believers. Instead, he felt stirred to help the local body fulfill its purpose in the land.

Pastor Paul explains the spiritual journey he underwent:

“I thought deeply about the new awakening concerning Israel that I saw happening around me among my Chinese fellow Christians.

“I developed a profound desire to go deeper with my understanding of God’s plan for Israel. Most of all, I wanted to connect with the local believers. In 2011, I and my tour were in an Arab hotel in Jerusalem praying and struggling to understand what God was saying to us.

How Can I Bless Israel?

“I knew that I wanted to do something that would enable China to bless Israel. This verse shouted its message to me:

“‘Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, lift up a banner for the peoples!’ (Is. 62:10).

“I felt God was telling me to host a conference in Jerusalem between Chinese pastors and local Israeli Messianic Jewish leaders. I was shocked. Absolutely shocked.

“I said, ‘But Lord, I am an unknown pastor. I am not famous or rich. I don’t even know any Messianic Jews in Israel! God, you could use someone from Hong Kong or from Taiwan—some famous father in the faith.’

“But then I said, ‘Lord, I have faith. I will obey, and I know you will open the door.’

“The very next day, I met a Messianic Jewish couple, Noam and Debra, who worked for the believing tour company, Sar El. A further shock—without Debra knowing my struggle with the directive from the Lord, she simply said to me, ‘God will use you to organize a conference here in Jerusalem.’

“I left to catch my plane and entered the airport heading towards my airline check-in counter. As I walked, I happened to glance at a man sitting by the side, looking at his iPhone messages. I recognized him although I didn’t know his name. But I remembered I had met him for two minutes at a prayer meeting some time before in Tel Aviv, hosted by Tom Hess.

“Something leaped in my spirit. I went over and introduced myself, reminding him where we had met. He was Ari Sorko-Ram. He began to tell me his vision for the local body of Messiah. He told me how he had begun studying Chinese a year before.

“I had brought with me an offering of about $2,000 from my churches but hadn’t known what to do with it, because until that day I hadn’t met any Israeli spiritual leaders. I had been feeling sad that I would be taking the offering back to China!

“Now I felt that I was to give Ari that offering. Of course, he was very surprised! As we talked, I told him, ‘I want to organize a conference next year between Chinese pastors and Israeli Messianic leaders.’

‘I Can Help You’

“Ari looked straight at me and said, ‘I can help you. You have met the right person! In fact, I will adopt you! I feel like the Lord has said to me to adopt you.’

“I didn’t know what the word adopt meant, and perplexed, I stopped to look it up in my Chinese-English dictionary!

“Ari continued, ‘I know the Israeli leaders here in the country. I can help you organize a conference.’

“Back in China, I shared with my elders the story. We prayed, and God gave me this plan—to create an alliance of Chinese Christians who will pray for Israel, who will love Israel, who will build a bridge between Christians in China and Israel’s Messianic body, and who will help Israel and China realize their destiny.

“We held three conferences in China last year to bring the knowledge of God’s plan for Israel to our people. I also visited Israel several times and found the Messianic leaders I met excited about such a conference.

“In 2012, some 100 Chinese and I came during Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), and at our first conference we met with a number of Israeli pastors.

“This year, 150 Chinese leaders interfaced with 80 Messianic Jewish leaders. We prayed, worshipped and gave Israelis opportunity in small groups to share their vision and their work in the land. I was amazed at the connections being made—even though it was through translators!

“Next year, we are planning for somewhere around 100 Israelis and 200 to 300 Chinese pastors and leaders to meet, again during the Sukkot holiday.

“Yes, I am amazed what God has done with an unknown pastor like myself. Through divinely directed encounters, God has begun to build a bridge between the Christians in China and the Messianic Jewish leaders of the land of Israel.”

For the original article, visit maozisrael.org.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Why a Chinese Pastor Follows the God of Israel.


Chinese Christians
Chinese Christians know how to sing and dance, and they do it with all their hearts. (Maoz Israel)

Pastor Paul is one of a multitude of Chinese Christian leaders who has a burning desire to see his nation converted and brought into abundant life in this world and everlasting life in the world to come.

He founded a church in 2003 and then sent his young leaders out to start more churches, and today he has 40 growing churches bringing the gospel to his people—the Chinese!

He also has connected with many other pastors in his area, understanding from God’s Word that our Lord loves unity.

Most of all, he understands that the first and foremost act of obedience to bring forth a harvest in his land is a strong network of prayer.

One day a fellow pastor urged him to go to the All Nations Prayer Convocation in Jerusalem, led by Tom Hess. At first Paul thought, Why go to Jerusalem? I’m working in the harvest field in China, and that’s where my heart is.

But he attended the conference in 2008, and his heart was stirred. However, when he felt God prompting him to come to Jerusalem every year, he said he felt shocked. “I will obey,” he said, “but I don’t know why.”

The Jewish Connection to China

After attending the conference for the next two years, Pastor Paul began to understand that Israel is very important in God’s plan and, indeed, for the salvation of China.

He began to read everything he could find on Israel in the Chinese language. Books like Don Finto’sYour People Shall Be My People: How Israel, the Jews and the Christian Church Will Come together in the Last Days began to open up before him a huge horizon. (You can order Don’s book here.)

Pastor Paul devoured the Bible, now seeing the Jewish connection that runs from Genesis to Revelation. He also heard about Christians in the West giving donations to nonbelieving Jewish organizations, some of whom actually fight against the Messianic Jewish believers. Instead, he felt stirred to help the local body fulfill its purpose in the land.

Pastor Paul explains the spiritual journey he underwent:

“I thought deeply about the new awakening concerning Israel that I saw happening around me among my Chinese fellow Christians.

“I developed a profound desire to go deeper with my understanding of God’s plan for Israel. Most of all, I wanted to connect with the local believers. In 2011, I and my tour were in an Arab hotel in Jerusalem praying and struggling to understand what God was saying to us.

How Can I Bless Israel?

“I knew that I wanted to do something that would enable China to bless Israel. This verse shouted its message to me:

“‘Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, lift up a banner for the peoples!’ (Is. 62:10).

“I felt God was telling me to host a conference in Jerusalem between Chinese pastors and local Israeli Messianic Jewish leaders. I was shocked. Absolutely shocked.

“I said, ‘But Lord, I am an unknown pastor. I am not famous or rich. I don’t even know any Messianic Jews in Israel! God, you could use someone from Hong Kong or from Taiwan—some famous father in the faith.’

“But then I said, ‘Lord, I have faith. I will obey, and I know you will open the door.’

“The very next day, I met a Messianic Jewish couple, Noam and Debra, who worked for the believing tour company, Sar El. A further shock—without Debra knowing my struggle with the directive from the Lord, she simply said to me, ‘God will use you to organize a conference here in Jerusalem.’

“I left to catch my plane and entered the airport heading towards my airline check-in counter. As I walked, I happened to glance at a man sitting by the side, looking at his iPhone messages. I recognized him although I didn’t know his name. But I remembered I had met him for two minutes at a prayer meeting some time before in Tel Aviv, hosted by Tom Hess.

“Something leaped in my spirit. I went over and introduced myself, reminding him where we had met. He was Ari Sorko-Ram. He began to tell me his vision for the local body of Messiah. He told me how he had begun studying Chinese a year before.

“I had brought with me an offering of about $2,000 from my churches but hadn’t known what to do with it, because until that day I hadn’t met any Israeli spiritual leaders. I had been feeling sad that I would be taking the offering back to China!

“Now I felt that I was to give Ari that offering. Of course, he was very surprised! As we talked, I told him, ‘I want to organize a conference next year between Chinese pastors and Israeli Messianic leaders.’

‘I Can Help You’

“Ari looked straight at me and said, ‘I can help you. You have met the right person! In fact, I will adopt you! I feel like the Lord has said to me to adopt you.’

“I didn’t know what the word adopt meant, and perplexed, I stopped to look it up in my Chinese-English dictionary!

“Ari continued, ‘I know the Israeli leaders here in the country. I can help you organize a conference.’

“Back in China, I shared with my elders the story. We prayed, and God gave me this plan—to create an alliance of Chinese Christians who will pray for Israel, who will love Israel, who will build a bridge between Christians in China and Israel’s Messianic body, and who will help Israel and China realize their destiny.

“We held three conferences in China last year to bring the knowledge of God’s plan for Israel to our people. I also visited Israel several times and found the Messianic leaders I met excited about such a conference.

“In 2012, some 100 Chinese and I came during Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), and at our first conference we met with a number of Israeli pastors.

“This year, 150 Chinese leaders interfaced with 80 Messianic Jewish leaders. We prayed, worshipped and gave Israelis opportunity in small groups to share their vision and their work in the land. I was amazed at the connections being made—even though it was through translators!

“Next year, we are planning for somewhere around 100 Israelis and 200 to 300 Chinese pastors and leaders to meet, again during the Sukkot holiday.

“Yes, I am amazed what God has done with an unknown pastor like myself. Through divinely directed encounters, God has begun to build a bridge between the Christians in China and the Messianic Jewish leaders of the land of Israel.”

For the original article, visit maozisrael.org.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

SHIRA SORKO-RAM AND PASTOR PAUL

Don’t Bend Your Knee to Baal.


 

Do you often find yourself bending your knee to the spirit of Baal?
Do you often find yourself bending your knee to the spirit of Baal? (Lightstock)

The apostle Paul referred to Jewish believers in Yeshua as the “remnant” of Israel (Rom. 11:5). He compared them to the 7,000 people in the time of Elijah who did not bend their knee to Baal (v. 4).

Since I am a Messianic Jew and do not participate in idolatry, I certainly qualify as one who does not bend the knee to Baal.

Really?

Baal was the Canaanite god promoted by Jezebel. In Revelation 2:20, we are told not to tolerate the spirit of Jezebel (and thus Baal). This spirit permeates modern society in rebellion, sexual sin and carnal entertainment.

To “bend the knee” may be a physical act, but it may also refer to yielding in one’s thoughts and emotions.

Have I let myself yield to evil imaginations?

Perhaps I’m bending the knee to Baal-Jezebel sensuality and self-indulgence more than I would like to admit. Perhaps you are too. I shared this with our team last week, and we all knelt on the floor and repented.

Soon after, I was at the local mall, and near the entrance was a giant advertisement of a woman dressed only in underwear. I felt the fear of God (Prov. 1:7; 8:13). I went into the store and politely yet firmly requested to have the poster removed and to register the request with the management of the chain of stores across the country. I had a sense that the poster would be removed in three days. On the third morning, workmen arrived to change the poster. May God grant us grace not to bend the knee to Baal!

 

Where Your Israel Donation Really Goes.


Where your israel donations really go
(© istockphoto/ewg3D; morguefile)

At a time when Israel is facing the threat of nuclear annihilation and many believe the world is nearing the midnight hour on God’s prophetic clock, millions of evangelical Christians are rallying to support Israel. Even the Jewish community—long suspicious of conservative, Bible-believing Christians—is beginning to notice.

The support comes in many forms, from increased travel to Israel to thousands journeying to Washington, D.C., for a festive “Night to Honor Israel” event as a part of Christians United for Israel’s annual summit—and staying the next day to lobby on Capitol Hill and ensure the United States remains a strong ally to Israel.

Many ministries have tapped into this groundswell of support. They’ve learned that if they highlight end-time Bible prophecy or anything related to Israel, people seem to rally more than they do for other pressing issues, such as the sanctity of life or traditional marriage—or even righteous living, for that matter. Other ministries have sprung up to take advantage of this newfound interest in the six decades since Israel became a state. As a result, an estimated $210 million a year flows into Israel-related ministries.

Yet Christians’ interest in Israel is varied and complicated. Much of it stems from an understanding that Israel’s formation fulfilled the prophet Isaiah’s 2,600-year-old prophecy that a nation would be born in a day (Is. 66:7-8). Most believers also carry a biblical understanding that Israel is key to God’s end-time plan, which includes many Jewish people becoming believers in Jesus as the Messiah. While Jews appreciate support from anyone in a world where they have few allies, it is this last part that gives most in the Jewish community heartburn.

At the same time, Christians’ increasing support parallels the noticeable rise of the Messianic Jewish movement in the past few decades. When Derek Prince, the late Bible teacher, lived in Israel after World War II, there were almost no Israeli-born believers in Jesus. Today the latest reports estimate almost 20,000 and 150 congregations in “the Land” (as Eretz Yisrael is called), while globally the reports range as high as 300,000 Messianic Jewish believers. (For more on this phenomenon, click here.)

Into this complicated milieu have popped up Israel-related ministries as diverse as Jews for Jesus, whose purpose is to evangelize Jews, to Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which promises its Jewish friends they don’t need to fear being proselytized at events. There are compassion ministries, such as Vision for Israel, and there are “activist” movements such as United With Israel. Between these extremes are ministries that focus on everything from prophecy and end-time teaching to media and publishing.

This report aims to sort out the basics of who’s who and to diminish widespread confusion over what some of these ministries actually do. Indeed, there are considerable differences among the motives of these organizations. Yet the average Christian who has a heart for Israel and wants to bless the Jewish people will often send a donation to a ministry that touts its support for Israel without having any idea where that money actually goes. Worse still, many Christians never bother to bless Israel because they fail to recognize the importance of doing so—and the confusion over which ministries do what becomes an easy excuse not to give.

After being aware of these factors and making many inquiries, Charisma decided to shine a light on some of the major Israel-related ministries and, specifically, their financial stewardship. We researched—as much as we could, with the ministries’ cooperation—where money is actually going by conducting interviews and pulling financial records, all so you can make informed decisions with your donation.Charisma’s readership has historically been among the most loyal and giving Israel supporters in America, and we want you to be wise stewards as you sow into what God calls His people and His land.

The Misperceived Rabbi

Wisdom requires discernment. And when it comes to being wise stewards of what you give toward Israel, it’s crucial to understand some of the glaring misconceptions among Christians. Chief among these is the belief that when you give to help the Jewish people, your donation actually aids believers who administer those funds to further the gospel. The truth is, some organizations—including ones in this report—not only fail to support Messianic believers, but often use donations to support initiatives that actually hinder those brothers and sisters in Christ.

One such example is International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), led by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, chief executive officer of the Chicago- and Jerusalem-based ministry, who is among the most familiar faces on the Israeli ministry scene. Eckstein is an orthodox Jewish rabbi from the Windy City who launched the Fellowship in 1983 with support from well-known Christian leaders, such as Total Living Network founder Jerry Rose, the late author Jamie Buckingham and late Christian publisher Robert Walker.

With the help of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, Eckstein also tapped into the interest on Christian TV for information on Israel and became a fixture at the annual National Religious Broadcasters convention, pitching his various programs, from 30-minute infomercials to teaching series such as Journey to Zion.

Today, programs such as On Wings of Eagles and Guardians of Israel tie directly into supporting IFCJ’s outreach initiatives while being seen by millions on more than 25 Christian stations in the U.S. (and dozens more around the world).

For most believers, these programs come across no different than watching Perry Stone or Benny Hinn on a broadcast airing from Israel, complete with a Bible teaching about the Holy Land. Eckstein has a charming demeanor, is telegenic and is an effective communicator. When he talks about the Torah or Jewish customs, his teaching comes across like something you might expect from a Christian teacher.

That’s part of the problem. Many who support him think he’s a “nice Messianic rabbi.”

“Our biggest concern is that a lot of Christians support his work, thinking they are supporting Messianic Jews and Messianic ministries—but he’s not a believer,” says Sue Perlman, associate director of Jews for Jesus. “He has forthrightly said he opposes Jewish evangelism, and when we tell Christians that, they are shocked because they have been sending money to him [thinking] that in Jesus’ name all this money is going to help Jews come to Israel.”

Reaching out to the Christian community and tapping into its deep love for Israel has not been a wrong strategy for Eckstein, even if he is an Orthodox Jew. His organization claims to have raised more than $600 million since its inception, and it has expanded recently to generate more than $110 million per year in donor money.

Meanwhile, according to 2012 tax returns, Eckstein raked in more than $530,000 in salary and $670,000-plus in benefits last year. His total pay is almost five times the average direct compensation that executive directors at similar-sized religious organizations earn, according to a compensation comparison generated by Linda Lampkin, the resource director at Economic Research Institute in Washington, D.C. (For more on this, see “Worth His Weight in Gold?” on p. 54.)

In addition, Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries in New York City, says both his organization and Jews for Jesus have a global scope unlike IFCJ.

“Both [Jews for Jesus] and I lead organizations that do a lot more than work in Israel and in relief, and Eckstein and some others only do Israel-related work,” Glaser says. “Eckstein is not a believer in Jesus, and his organization should be viewed as a secular nonprofit organization. This is reflected in his remuneration. Believers simply need to understand the difference. If Christians want to help Jewish people both physically and spiritually, there are a number of good options to choose from.”

Eckstein did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

“People need to be discerning and listen to God, knowing He is going to bless their heartfelt gifts to reach Jewish people in Israel—even if they are misplaced in organization’s like Eckstein’s,” Perlman says. “But it’s incumbent on us to help inform Christians that if they want to see Jews come to faith in Jesus, they should be praying and giving to those organizations that have that as their No. 1 priority.”

Straddling Community Lines

Another example where many unwitting Christians think they are helping Messianics in Israel is Christians United for Israel, headed by founder John Hagee and its executive director, David Brog.

Hagee is undoubtedly the most public face of Christian support for Israel. Respected in both the evangelical and Jewish communities, he’s even garnered support from national media celebrities such as Glenn Beck. Politicians recognize his influence and curry his support, though this backfired for him when then-presidential candidate John McCain famously threw Hagee under the bus when a left-leaning Jew accused the pastor of being anti-Semitic. The charge was entirely unfounded and based on a fallacious misinterpretation of an obscure comment Hagee made in a sermon years ago.

Interestingly enough, leaders in the Jewish community were the first to jump to Hagee’s defense. They know he actually may be—as conservative Rabbi Aaron Rubinger from Orlando, Fla., said after attending a CUFI event—the best friend Israel has in America. Hagee has long been an avid supporter of Israel and was influenced by Derek Prince and other believers in the 1980s. Since he launched “A Night to Honor Israel” in 1981, the events have raised almost $80 million for humanitarian aid in Israel.

Charisma publisher Steve Strang attended “A Night to Honor Israel” in 2004 and was dumbfounded when he saw checks presented to three groups totaling $2.3 million.

“I’d never seen anything like it,” says Strang, who was sitting close enough to the recipients to see their emotional reaction to getting the checks.

To show his love and support for Israel, Hagee gives the raised money to charities that help the Jewish people. He makes his decisions on donations with the advice of Jewish friends. But it’s well known that none of the money gets to believers in Israel.

It’s a tightrope Hagee has walked for years. He’s friends with many Messianic believers and is quick to say he is supportive of believers in Israel. (In fact, several Messianic leaders were part of CUFI’s founding meeting in 2006.) But to publicly maintain peace with the Jewish community, which generally rejects Messianics, Hagee keeps his distance, much to the chagrin of the Messianic believers in Israel who often struggle to raise funds for their ministries.

Hagee also gets Jewish advice from CUFI’s own executive director. Brog is the powerhouse behind the Christian organization, yet he’s also a conservative (non-Messianic) Jew. He brought two other Jews on board: Shari Dollinger from Atlanta as one of his coordinators and Ari Morgenstern as communications director. Morgenstern ensures CUFI’s messaging is consistent with what Brog wants—which is to convey that evangelical Christians support Israel, yet (to his Jewish supporters) are also “safe” because CUFI will never proselytize.

Brog, who was chief of staff to liberal Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania for seven years, is said to run CUFI like a political campaign. He has talking points, stays focused and rallies his constituency. He’s well liked by those who work with him and known for being a brilliant strategist. But one by one, the higher-profile Christian leaders who helped Hagee start CUFI are dropping off as the organization becomes more focused on political lobbying.

It’s no secret that one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, D.C., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has long wanted a “Gentile arm,” and some believe they now have it in CUFI. Jewish leaders and philanthropists love to attend CUFI’s events to see the genuine enthusiasm and love expressed for Israel. Though there’s still rousing Christian music and prayer at these events, there’s most certainly no proselytizing. As a result, many wealthy Jews have pumped tens of thousands of dollars into CUFI.

Like Hagee, Brog has learned how to straddle the line between the evangelical and Jewish communities, and it shows in CUFI’s growth. The organization boasts of having more than 1 million “members,” though insiders know such membership consists of nothing but CUFI having your email address. There’s nothing to pay, nothing to sign. And even if you drop out, you’re still counted as a member. Given this, insiders say the number of actual donors is closer to 30,000 to 50,000.

Meanwhile, little is known about CUFI’s finances other than funds raised. The organization says neither Hagee nor his wife, Diana, receives any compensation from CUFI. Yet when Charisma asked CUFI the same questions asked of other organizations in this report—particularly about administrative costs, leader salaries and budgetary breakdown—Morgenstern declined to comment beyond the following: “The focus of Charisma’s article is on organizations whose missions center on ‘ministry programs in Israel and humanitarian aid to Israel.’ Having served as one of CUFI’s regional directors, Mr. Strang should be well aware that CUFI’s mission is entirely different: CUFI’s focus is on educating Christians in America about the biblical mandate to stand with Israel. CUFI simply has no place in this article.”

Given the support Charisma readers have given CUFI since its inception, that’s hard to believe.

Faithful With What You Have

What’s equally difficult to believe for most Christians is that there are now more Jews living in the 8,000-square-mile Holy Land than in the entire 3.8 million square miles of the U.S. For evangelistic ministries like Jews for Jesus, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in September, that recent demographic shift and the “spiritual openness of Israelis to the gospel demands that missions to the Jews make Israel their No. 1 priority,” Perlman says. “We have more missionaries in Israel today than any other branch of Jews for Jesus around the world, but we don’t have enough.”

Because of this need, raising sufficient funds to serve the vision and recruit additional missionaries becomes even more vital. And with President Obama calling for limits on charitable tax deductions, Messianic leaders say it’s crucial for Israel-related ministries to be good stewards of donations and to operate without even the appearance of impropriety.

Although an exorbitant salary and benefit package is an easy abuse to spot in the world of religious nonprofits, more difficult to determine is whether ministries are actually being good stewards of the donations they receive.

“I’ve been working with religious nonprofits for four decades, and I can tell you that the vast majority of [them] operate with a genuine commitment to financial integrity and appropriate accountability,” says Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). “But there are a few exceptions. We say to the public that when a religious organization spends money in a manner that may reasonably be perceived by the public as benefiting its leaders in lavish, extravagant, excessive and unreasonable ways, that several bad things happen. First, that kind of conduct damages the organization’s credibility and mission. Secondly, it impacts the credibility of other organizations and raises the risk that legislators and regulators will pursue more burdensome legislation.”

Busby says it’s often difficult to determine how and where ministries spend their funds because there is little consistency in how the organizations report how much is spent on administration, fundraising, ministry programs and humanitarian aid. Lampkin agrees with Busby, saying there appears to be a bit of “creative accounting” going on.

“Different organizations tend to allocate differently among programs and administrative expenses because the incentive is to reduce your administrative expenses and allocate it across all your programs—because everybody wants to pay for programs and nobody wants to pay for administration and management,” Lampkin says. “They have an incentive to report things so they look as efficient as possible.”

Yet as Perlman points out, “When it comes to providing financial information, there is always a danger of comparing apples and oranges. What one organization understands as salary and benefits may be different than how another interprets those categories.”

For example, Charisma’s analysis found that within the category of “program services” commonly listed on Israel-related ministries’ financial records, the percentage of expenses ranged from a low of 54 percent (IFCJ) to a high of 92 percent (Dugit Messianic Outreach Center).

“In the case where [IFCJ] reported spending 54 percent on programs, if we knew they used the same methodology as [Dugit] that spent 92 percent on programs, then we might be able to draw some conclusions,” Busby says. “We might be able to say that one uses their resources more efficiently than the other. But since the data is so soft, even the country’s top nonprofit attorney testified before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee last year suggesting the IRS drop program spending from Form 990 because it was so ineffective.”

The List

As difficult as it may be to compare efficiency among ministries, donors can at least be knowledgeable not only of the types of initiatives covered, but also how money is being spent. So to help readers pick the best ministries to support financially, the following list of 17 Israel-related ministries highlights how these organizations break down the dollars Charisma readers often give to them.

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

For organizations that operate with a budget well over $100 million, higher compensation packages among top leadership is to be expected. But beyond Eckstein’s $1.2 million salary and benefit package ($530,514 in base compensation; $673,176 in other benefits), as well as at least eight leaders earning around $200,000, critics say their broader concerns about IFCJ involve the percentage of donations spent on fundraising and a mission that has “nothing to do with reconciling Jewish people to God.”

Though officials at IFCJ (ifcj.org) did not grant interviews or provide financial information to Charisma, the organization’s 990 tax return shows it collected $113 million in contributions and grants in 2012. In its most recent evaluation, the independent nonprofit company Charity Navigator reported 54 percent of IFCJ’s income went to programs, 7 percent to administration and 39 percent to fundraising. Charity Navigator gave the organization 43 out of 70 points for financial health and a perfect 70 out of 70 for financial accountability and transparency. Combined, IFCJ received an overall rating of 51 out of 70 points (three out of four stars).

Yet not everyone is convinced these ratings accurately reflect IFCJ’s financial stewardship.

“How can this charity get such a high rating when over [39 percent] of the funds raised go to fundraising expenses?” one reader on Charity Navigator’s website commented. “This is certainly not efficiency.”

In an auditor’s report posted on its website, the IFCJ states its mission is to promote “understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians and to build broad support and other shared concerns. It is the Fellowship’s vision that Jews and Christians will reverse their 2,000-year history of discord and replace it with a relationship marked by dialogue, understanding, respect and cooperation.”

Aside from media programming, the Fellowship’s main projects include helping Jews make aliyah (return to Israel), aiding needy Israeli families, assisting the Jewish poor in the former Soviet Union and mobilizing Christian support for Israel. Yet in a Jews for Jesus newsletter in 2007, Executive Director David Brickner questioned why so many Christians respond to Eckstein’s appeals for projects that have “nothing to do with reconciling Jewish people to God.”

“I can understand it to a certain extent, inasmuch as Eckstein’s approach to Christians, in my opinion, is ambiguous at best and has misled many in the church who think he is a Jewish Christian,” Brickner wrote. “They do not know that some of the funds Rabbi Eckstein collects go to groups that oppose efforts to tell Jewish people that they need to know Jesus as Messiah and Lord.”

Jews for Jesus

Celebrating its 40th year of existence, Jews for Jesus (jewsforjesus.org) reaches out to both Jews and Gentiles with the gospel through one-on-one evangelism.

“Our mission statement, our purpose, has not changed over all that time,” Perlman says. “We exist to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to Jewish people worldwide. Jews for Jesus is best known as a proclamation ministry—whether it’s in the public area, on street corners, on billboards, one-on-one, on campuses, downtown areas. We are out there meeting the people who have questions about Jesus, and many of them are Jewish people.”

In 2011, according to an auditor’s report, Jews for Jesus received $20 million in donations. Of those funds, 16 percent went for administration, 9 percent for fundraising and 75 percent for evangelism and other ministries.

The ministry uses creative means to find those who are interested in hearing the gospel, including handing out more than 8 million hand-lettered pamphlets—such as I Thought I Was an Olympic Superstar and Jesus Made Me Kosher—each year on the streets. Jews for Jesus also places ads in secular magazines and newspapers and on billboards, and publishes evangelistic books such as Jewish Doctors Meet the Great Physician. The organization has also released books on prophecy, includingFuture HopeA Jewish Christian Look at the End of the World, writtenby Brickner. Perlman says Jews for Jesus has its best, brightest and youngest staff in Israel today, and the ministry is committed to growing its presence there as God provides resources.

“People are desperate to hear a message of hope,” Perlman says. “For those of us who know Jesus, we have that message. Our staff is fearless in getting that message out to others, particularly in places where it can be quite a challenge at times.”

Chosen People Ministries

Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries (chosenpeople.com), has a simple rule about how it spends donations designated for Israel benevolence: “We feed thousands of poor Israelis every month. If somebody gives $100, $90 will go toward our project of feeding poor Israelis. It’s as simple as it sounds.”

Founded in 1894 by Rabbi Leopold Cohn after he heard the gospel on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the ministry began by offering food, education, job and English language training programs to poor Jewish immigrants.

“Chosen People Ministries from the beginning always wedded both benevolence and direct gospel preaching, as well as planting Messianic congregations,” Glaser says.

Today the ministry serves in 13 countries as it evangelizes, disciples and serves Jewish people. In Israel, a nation where 1 in 5 Israelis lives below the poverty line, the ministry has several centers that provide food to elderly and low-income people. It also engages in various evangelistic outreaches, including efforts on social media and an Isaiah 53 campaign that features a website (isaiah53.com), free book (Isaiah 53 Explained) and other resources to educate Jews about the chapter in Isaiah predicting Jesus’ crucifixion hundreds of years before it happened. And then, of course, there’s the massive awareness campaign they launched right in the heart of NYC.

“We had a 20-by-80-foot billboard going into the Lincoln Tunnel,” Glaser says. “We had billboards in Times Square and big signs at bus shelters that said, ‘This chapter will change your life.’ We had almost 5,000 people request the Isaiah 53 Explained book, and we had 10 times that number come to our website. We’ve been following up and have had a wonderful opportunity to minister one-on-one, and some Jewish people have come to the Lord through this.”

With $12 million in revenues in 2012, the ministry spent 71 percent on program services, 11 percent on administration and 18 percent on fundraising, according to ECFA.

Christians United for Israel

Despite describing the ministry as the “largest pro-Israel organization in the United States with over 1 million members,” officials with Christians United for Israel (cufi.org) in San Antonio declined to release any financial information or do an interview for this story.

Charisma was also unable to locate any financial information on CUFI’s website or through GuideStar or Charity Navigator. The organization, whose purpose is to “provide a national association through which every pro-Israel church, parachurch organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to Biblical issues,” is not accredited by the ECFA.

Jerusalem Prayer Team

Led by founder Mike Evans, the Jerusalem Prayer Team (jerusalemprayer​team.org) is one of many Israel-related initiatives under an umbrella organization called the Corrie ten Boom Fellowship. While this fellowship holds weekly church services in the Dallas area, the Jerusalem Prayer Team is essentially comprised of an extensive mailing list that solicits prayers and donations.

Evans is himself half-Jewish, yet he was educated at an Assemblies of God college. Early in his career he was known as a Jewish evangelist and once during the 1970s had the Jewish community in Long Island, N.Y., so up in arms that his mentor, Jamie Buckingham, had to fly up and help quell what nearly turned into a riot. Since then, he’s morphed into a New York Times best-selling author who prides himself on being a journalist.

Yet consistently, those who’ve worked with Evans claim he’s hard to nail down. He appears to lead multiple nonprofit organizations in the U.S., Netherlands and Israel (according to legal documents), and he has a track record of reporting on larger-than-life encounters with world leaders while promising big ventures. His latest is the Jerusalem World Center, a $15-million, five-story building in the heart of Israel’s capital scheduled to open in September 2014.

What funds are needed for this project, however, is a confusing, albeit frequently highlighted matter—much of the Jerusalem Prayer Team’s monthly magazine, Called, is devoted to plans and finances surrounding the Jerusalem World Center. In the July edition, Evans stated the building was completely debt-free; the following month, he was again petitioning partners to give whatever they could—even admonishing those who were cash-strapped to “know that if you have appreciated assets—something such as stocks, coins, precious metals, art or real estate—we encourage you to consider gifting these directly to the Jerusalem Prayer Team. This can provide you a substantial tax liability savings while blessing our ministry and the Jewish people in a great way.”

It’s confusing, often donation-oriented messages like these that make Evans somewhat controversial and keeps other ministries at bay. Many charismatic leaders are quick to say Evans has burned relational bridges with them—often by threatening to sue.

One such instance involved the late Freda Lindsay of Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI). Lindsay was on good terms with Evans until he purchased a key ten Boom property that CFNI had planned to use for outreach just as the school was closing the deal. When Evans heard that Lindsay had publicly criticized him for this, he threatened to sue her. Though he didn’t, the conflict resulted in CFNI’s board voting that they would never work with Evans again.

Neither Evans nor any officials with the Corrie ten Boom Fellowship, which lists addresses in Phoenix, London and Colleyville, Texas, responded to requests to provide financial information or to do an interview with Charisma. However, the ministry, which has a mission to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” did submit financial information with the state of Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State showing an operating budget of almost $10 million in 2012, of which $7 million was revenue. The report indicates that 96 percent of its $8 million expenses went to “program services” and that no one had received contributions that year, though the state would not verify any of this information.

On its 990 tax return in 2011, the Corrie ten Boom Fellowship reported nearly $5 million in donations, of which 88 percent was spent on program services, 3 percent on management and general expenses and 10 percent on fundraising. Though this same tax return listed Evans as unpaid while his wife, Carolyn, is listed as president and reported $2,605 in compensation, the Evans’ upscale home in Colleyville, Texas—where neighbors clearly make multiple six-figure incomes—indicates what’s on paper isn’t the full story.

Christian Friends of Israel-Jerusalem

As one of the three largest pro-Israel ministries in the world with headquarters in Jerusalem and representatives around the world, Christian Friends of Israel-Jerusalem (cfijerusalem.org) serves as a ministry of reconciliation with the Jewish people. It has welcomed more than 250,000 Jewish people to their homeland through the organization’s distribution center near the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

The ministry, founded in 1985, was present in Israel “when the ‘dry bones’ began to walk home—especially from the ‘land of the north,’” says Sharon Sanders, who co-founded CFI with her husband, Ray.

“After 2,000 years of Gentile Christian persecution of the Jewish people, often in the name of Jesus, we are the face of Jesus which they have never seen,” she says. “Our compassion, service, love and care reflect Him and the love of God, something they have never very often known in the past. We are undoing damage done by the historical church to the Jewish people in the name of Jesus. We are moving out of the way the stones of stumbling that have been placed there by the historical anti-Semitic church and are preparing the way for Him. We believe that true believers in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua [Jesus], have come into the ‘commonwealth of Israel’ [Eph. 2:12] through Him and that we are to provoke the Jewish people to holy envy [Rom. 11:11-14].”

The ministry declined to report how much in donations it receives each year. However, Sanders says 47 percent of the budget goes toward humanitarian aid; 26 percent to outreach projects; 22 percent to overhead (including 3.7 percent for Ray Sanders’ salary and 2.7 percent for her salary); 6 percent for publishing and media products; and 1.5 percent for development and public relations.

Vision for Israel

Operating a multifaceted ministry dedicated to the physical and spiritual restoration of Zion, Vision for Israel (visionforisrael.com) and the Joseph Storehouse distribute humanitarian aid to poor people and those devastated by rocket attacks while offering biblical education, praise and worship music, and news through the Jerusalem News Network.

“Since 1998, we’ve helped over 600,000 Israelis, both Jews and Arabs,” says Barry Segal, president of Vision for Israel and the Joseph Storehouse, which is based out of Jerusalem and has an office in Charlotte, N.C. “A lot of people in previous years have perceived Israel as a modern, wealthy nation that doesn’t have social problems and poor people. A lot of Christians we have met, especially in America, who fall in love with Israel … it’s almost like Israel can do no wrong and doesn’t have any problems. That’s not the truth. In Israel, 1 out of 3 children is living under the poverty line, and about 1 in 4 adults are living under the poverty line.”

To fund its ministries, Vision for Israel receives about $3 million in annual donations. Of this money, Segal says, depending on the ministry’s branch, 2 to 11 percent is spent on administration, 4 to 6 percent on fundraising and the rest goes to humanitarian aid and other ministries. Segal says 100 percent of designated income goes to designated projects.

“I think it’s important for people to partner with Messianic Jewish ministries in Israel because it holds up our arms to do the work, whether it’s humanitarian aid, teaching the Scriptures, being a blessing to our neighbors or being an example in business or military service or any other segment of society,” he says. “This strengthens the testimony of who we are—that we’re not just doing physical acts of good deeds, but we are also expressing our faith as the opportunities arise.”

Jewish Voice Ministries International

A multifaceted Messianic ministry, Jewish Voice Ministries International (jewishvoice.org) formed through the merging of two distinct ministries from two distinct Messianic ministers: the late healing evangelist Louis Kaplan, who launched a radio and TV ministry in 1967, and Rabbi Jonathan Bernis, who held mass evangelistic crusades throughout Eastern Europe and Russia. Since Kaplan’s death in 1998 and the merger in 2001, Bernis has expanded Jewish Voice Ministries International (JVMI) to include a weekly TV show airing around the world; various media outlets (magazine, newsletter, books, CDs and DVDs, and social media); medical, dental and eye clinics in Ethiopia and India; Jewish music and dance festivals; church plants; and a network of ministry speakers.

“Our first objective is to proclaim the gospel to the Jew first and also to the nations, according to Romans 1:16,” Bernis says. “Our second objective is to equip you, the church, by providing education about the Hebraic roots of your faith, your responsibility to Israel and the Jewish people, and how you can share Israel’s Messiah with the Jewish people.”

JVMI brought in more than $21 million in 2012 from donations, products and other sources, and an auditor’s report lists almost $32 million in total assets (which includes property and investments). The same report shows the ministry’s program services account for almost $11 million of last year’s $16 million expenditures—approximately 69 percent. Administrative expenses account for almost $2 million (12.5 percent of total expenses), while the Bernis-led organization spent $3 million in fundraising (19 percent).

For the past two years, the ECFA-accredited ministry has been among the highest-ranked organizations by Charity Navigator, and it earned an overall score of 61 out 70 in 2011, the most recently ranked year.

International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (us.icej.org) is a global ministry representing churches, denominations and Christians worldwide who share a love and concern for Israel and who seek to repair the historic breach between the church and the Jewish people. From its Jerusalem headquarters, the work of the ICEJ reaches into more than 140 countries, including established branch offices in more than 70 nations worldwide.

For more than 30 years, this work has impacted villages and cities across the Holy Land with a “benevolence ministry that has helped the poor, ministered to the sick, housed the lonely, encouraged the children and cared for the elderly,” according to Daryl Hedding, the ministry’s U.S. deputy director. “Our Feast of Tabernacles celebration, Israel’s largest annual tourist event, has impacted more than 100,000 Christians with the biblical perspective of recognizing the hand of God in Israel’s modern-day restoration, as well as the need to work with what God is doing and bless it. We’ve also assisted more than 120,000 Jews in making aliyah and immigrating to Israel.”

The Christian Embassy is known for its exceptional educational work. Through a team of international speakers, its publications and website, as well as an array of seminars and small-group study curricula, it has provided the global movement of Christian support for Israel a firm biblical foundation and understanding of the complex issues regarding Israel, anti-Semitism, Jewish-Christian relations and Middle East events. In fact, through a special partnership with Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial and Remembrance Center, the ICEJ is educating Christians to recognize anti-Semitism and how to stand against it.

The ICEJ’s infrastructure includes independent branch offices, and so assessing overall financial numbers for the ICEJ is difficult. The U.S. branch, with offices in Murfreesboro, Tenn., raised $1.5 million in donations in 2011, according to the ministry’s 990 tax return, and spent 68 percent on programs, while 24 percent went to administration and 9 percent to fundraising.

Charity Navigator awarded the ICEJ U.S. branch 50 out of 70 points for financial health and 37 out of 70 for financial accountability and transparency. Overall, the ministry earned a score of 43 out of 70 points.

Susan Michael, director of the ICEJ’s U.S. Branch, said, “It’s a shame that by limiting a ministry to a point system, people aren’t getting the full story not only of what each branch office does, but also the entire scope of the ICEJ, which is powerfully impacting thousands of lives in Israel and providing a critical voice in the nations on behalf of the Jewish people.”

Maoz Israel Ministries

Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, since 1976, Maoz Israel Ministries (maozisrael.org) is one of the pioneering ministries of Messianic Judaism in Israel. The ministry, led by Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram, is committed to reaching every Israeli with the Good News of their Messiah.  Their tools: publishing books in Hebrew, CDs by contemporary Messianic worship artists, evangelism outreach, video productions, social media, humanitarian aid through local Messianic congregations and leadership training.

“This is the best time in our lifetime to reach Israelis!” says Ari Sorko-Ram. “We now are able to partner with leaders all over the nation to help them reach our next-generation leaders, impact Messianic music, sponsor leadership conferences and provide practical assistance to those communities under daily duress of attack. We now are making inroads to touch Israelis in the marketplace—Knesset members, firefighters, IDF soldiers and poor immigrants—as well as through our benevolence outreach,istandwithisrael.com.”

“We also help support Arab and Ethiopian congregations, as well as our own Spirit-filled, Hebrew-speaking congregation in downtown Tel Aviv,” he says, adding that after 18 years of pastoring Tiferet Yeshua, the couple has passed the baton to Asher Intrater and is now developing an online Hebrew outreach site (viewthis.com) to reach Israel’s tech-driven younger generations.

Leaders across the globe depend each month on the Maoz Israel Report, still written by Ari and Shira, to get in-depth understanding of current events in the Middle East from a biblical, political and cultural perspective.

The ministry, which also has offices in the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Brazil and Mexico, received nearly $3.7 million in donations in 2012. Of those funds, 5 percent went to administration, 5 percent to development and 90 percent to program services.

Eagles’ Wings Ministries

More than just an Israel-related ministry, Eagles’ Wings is a global missional community that serves to “touch Israel and the nations with the hope and love of God, to train the next generation of Christian leaders, and to unite and empower believers to make a difference in the world.”

Based outside Buffalo, N.Y., the ministry has hubs in the New York City area, Karlsruhe, Germany, and Jerusalem, and includes nearly 40 full-time team members and an international family of partners, volunteers and friends. Though Eagles’ Wings is involved in “a variety of strategic projects around the world, with a unique emphasis on interfaith dialogue and humanitarian care,” its Holy Land ties include a “Watchmen on the Wall” program that equips Christians to be articulate spokespeople for Israel and furthers their education through prayer pilgrimages to “The Land.” Founder and Executive Director Robert Stearns also launched The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem in 2003, which is now observed every year on the first Sunday in October by millions of believers in more than 175 nations.

Eagles’ Wings’ latest 990 tax returns from the previous two years were not available through GuideStar; however, its 2010 form stated the ministry brought in $2.4 million in donations that year, of which 67 percent went to program services and 24 percent went to overhead.

Messianic Jewish Israel Fund

As a unique ministry that supports Jewish believers in Yeshua within the Messianic body in Israel, the Messianic Jewish Israel Fund (mjif.org) functions as a vehicle for Messianic believers in the Diaspora (those living outside Israel) and Christians to join with Jewish believers in Israel to provide the assistance they need. Donations to the fund go toward temporary living expenses for poor families, job training, medical and emergency funding, a women’s shelter, soup kitchen, school supplies, Holocaust survivors, support for struggling congregations, spiritual and financial support for the poor, and so much more.

“What makes the MJIF so unique is that nearly all of the funds it raises go directly to believers in Israel,” says Executive Director Dotti Solomon. “Many organizations raise funds that go to the general population, which is also important. However, the believing community in Israel is in great need of support, as it is very difficult for them. The MJIF is there for these brothers and sisters to lend a helping hand. Support has gone to not just one Israeli ministry, individual or congregation, but hundreds over the years. All is done with the accountability of believing leaders in Israel.”

The Roswell, Ga.-based MJIF is actually a semi-autonomous subsidiary of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) in Philadelphia, which is accredited by the ECFA. According to 2012 records, this parent organization brought in more than $9 million in revenue, of which 83 percent went to program services, 10 percent for administrative costs and 7 percent for fundraising. Since its inception, the MJIF has seen more than $3 million raised to bless believers in Israel.

Bridges for Peace

As a Jerusalem-based, Bible-believing Christian organization supporting Israel and building relationships between Christians and Jews worldwide, Bridges for Peace (bridgesforpeace.com) offers 14 different ministries. These range from several tangible projects, including food banks in Israel that provide food to 30,000 people every month, to a program that helps new immigrants during their first year in Israel.

“Bridges for Peace has two areas of work that our board has determined are important,” says Jim Solberg, the U.S. national director of the organization. “One is showing unconditional love to people in the nation of Israel and Jewish people around the world. And the other is an educational ministry, reaching and teaching the church around the world to highlight the importance of understanding the Hebraic roots of Jesus and the New Testament.”

In 2011, the ministry collected $4.3 million in donations, according to its 990 tax return. Of those funds, 7 percent was spent on administration, 11 percent on fundraising and 83 percent on ministry programs. Charity Navigator gave the ministry 48 out of 70 points for financial health and a near-perfect 67 out of 70 for financial accountability and transparency. Overall, the ministry earned a score of 54 out of 70 points (three out of four stars).

“Our overall target is to spend about 10 percent of the dollars on what we consider overhead,” Solberg says. “The other thing important to reference is that we totally honor donor designations. If a donor says, ‘These dollars are given for food,’ then those ministry dollars go for food.”

One for Israel

One for Israel (oneforisrael.org), a ministry uniquely designed to support media evangelism among Hebrew-speaking Jews and Arabs in Israel, shares the gospel in Israel via the Internet and multimedia projects.

“We believe that it is very important to feed our poor and stand with Israel politically,” says Eitan Bar, co-founder of One for Israel and media director at Israel College of the Bible. “However, the single best and most important way to support Israel is by sharing Yeshua with Israeli Jews and Arabs—and that is what we at oneforisrael.org are all about: Israeli Jews who share the gospel with our own brothers and sisters in a relevant way via media.”

In an email interview, Bar said the ministry spent $229,445 over the last three years on online Web ads, evangelistic advertising, conferences and training, travel, equipment, and other expenses.

“None of our donations go into salaries or anyone’s pocket, for that matter (I think we are pretty unique in that matter),” Bar said. “All our staff is in charge of raising their own support.

Dugit Messianic Ministries

Dugit Messianic Outreach Center (dugit.org) operates in the heart of downtown Tel Aviv and reaches out to the “lost sheep of Israel” by sharing the gospel.

According to the organization’s website, its business is to “minister to the mass population of Israelis who bring a wide spectrum of views and beliefs of their own, thus making them open to receiving the gospel.”

Launched in 1993 by Avi Mizrachi, Dugit supplies free Bibles and evangelistic materials to unbelievers in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian. Its Agape Distribution Center provides food and clothing to more than 80 Israeli families in need each month, and the ministry runs in conjunction with Adonai Roi Congregation, which Mizrachi pastors.

Although the ministry did not follow through on requests for an interview and financial information, its 990 tax return shows that in 2011, Dugit received $564,550 in contributions. Of its total budget, 8 percent was spent on administration and 92 percent on program services.

American Friends of Leket Israel

Dedicated to supporting Leket Israel (leket.org), Israel’s largest food bank and food rescue network, American Friends of Leket Israel has a mission to alleviate the problem of nutritional insecurity through the rescue and redistribution of excess food to benefit Israel’s needy. It is not affiliated with Jewish or non-Jewish believers but is simply a relief agency with major influence in the Holy Land.

Like other ministries featured in this story, officials with the Teaneck, N.J.-based organization declined to be interviewed for this story or provide other requested information.

Its 2011 tax return shows it collected almost $3.5 million in donations. Of those funds, 5 percent went to administration, 9 percent to fundraising and 86 percent to programs.

Holy Land Community

The late Arni Adams founded the Holy Land Community (holyland​
community.org
), a social network of pro-Israel Christians who, together with Israelis, “are creating a worldwide alliance, with the purpose of saving Israel and helping the children of God to live in the Promised Land.”

Officials with Holy Land Community in San Bernardino, Calif., could not be reached for comment. The GuideStar database lists the ministry as a registered nonprofit but includes no 990 tax returns. The website mentions the ministry’s funding comes from donations and land it sells on the shores of the Sea of Galilee as gifts for silver weddings, births and other occasions.

An award-winning reporter and editorial writer at the Los Angeles Daily NewsThe Press-Enterprise and other newspapers for two decades, Troy Anderson writes for Reuters, Newsmax, Charisma and many other media outlets. He lives in Irvine, Calif.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Spiritual Restoration: Israel’s New Covenant Move.


(MorgueFile; lightstock/Pearl)

The Sunday before their departure, Parsons preached at Park Street Church in Boston, and his sermon proved prophetic. In part, he said, “Destroy, then, the Ottoman Empire, and nothing but a miracle would prevent [the Jewish people’s] immediate return from the four winds of heaven.”

Today, when a visitor stands at Jaffa Gate—crammed with taxis, souvenir vendors and a strange mixture of Orthodox Jews and Palestinians—the Old City is alive in ways Parsons and Fisk could scarcely imagine. That very destruction of the Ottoman Empire Parsons described is now behind us in history and, among other things, has opened the way wide for a glorious reality: the spiritual restoration of national Israel.

Scripture is filled with prophecies concerning this reality (see, for instance, Ezekiel 37), and it so happens we are seeing its fulfillment today, almost 200 years after Fisk and Parsons braved the Atlantic, fierce bandits and disease to see salvation brought to the Jews—and the present-day acceleration of this move of God has glory written all over it.

In his description of the missionary movement in the Mideast region during the 19th century, Michael Oren, in his book Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, states that during one 40-year period, missionaries counted 30 total converts out of 20 million souls in the Ottoman Empire. Longtime supporters of the so-called “Messianic Movement” calculate there are perhaps 300,000 Jews worldwide who now believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Much fruit is being harvested among indigenous Arab populations too.

A Language to Call Their Own

The rise in Jewish converts has many Christian leaders excited today, and this wave of momentum is buoyed by a startling development: the world’s first Messianic Jewish translation of the New Testament, called Tree of Life: The New Covenant(TLV), published by the Messianic Jewish Family Bible Project and led by Daniah Greenberg, Jeffrey Seif and Daniel Kurzweil.

What’s more, Greenberg and her team are nearing the end of a multiyear project to craft a translation of the full Bible specifically for Messianic Jewish believers.

These Bible translations are a key turning point in prophetic history, and Greenberg and her team know it.

“This is really about the children and generations of Jewish kids who grew up and needed a Bible,” she says. “We put it on YouVersion and have seen 1.3 million chapter downloads just for the New Covenant since November.”

Seif, distinguished professor of Bible and Jewish studies at The King’s University and project manager for the translation, says of this Bible project that is openly called a miracle by those close to it, “Scores of Jewish people have come to faith in Jesus in the last 30 years. Emerging now, as a result of a number of those faith-filled Jews responding to the call to go to seminary, is a cadre of Messianic Jewish scholars minded to help others see Him more clearly—as a Jew. One of the fruits of this development is a brand-new, joint-venture translation of Scripture produced entirely by dozens of Messianic Jewish scholars and friends. … Much as the New Testament itself is a collective of Jewish voices on Jesus, so too, after 2,000 years, Messianic Jews have now collectively offered sage insights on how to better read and understand the entire Bible.”

Greenberg and her team, in the end, will have spent five years and raised $750,000 to bring the entire Jewish Bible—known as the Tanakh—to completion.

A Tipping Point?

But it’s not just that more and more Jews are coming to believe in Jesus as the Messiah or that a new Bible translation is giving them access to the Scriptures in a language native to their Jewish sensibilities and understanding. It’s that many leaders in the Messianic movement now say the convergence of these things marks a significant moment in history.

Jack Hayford, the legendary evangelical leader whose heart is closely connected to the Messianic community and whom Greenberg says has called the release of the TLV “a sovereign moment,” well remembers the embryonic evangelistic efforts among Jews now decades past.

“I know for a fact 40 years ago, when I went to Israel the first time, conversions were rare,” he says. “Dr. Robert Lindsey told me back in 1970 that if they had one convert in a year [among Israeli Jews], it was considered a good year. Today it’s not unreasonable at all—as we keep Acts 2 in focus—that the Lord is adding daily to believers among the Jews.”

The conversion rate in Israel—and worldwide—is just one reason Hayford enthusiastically supports the work of the Bible translation team, saying it carries the dual importance of speaking to Jews in their own language but also carrying real value for Gentile families. Hayford has long recognized that rank-and-file evangelicals know little about the Jewish roots of their faith, and the TLV can help overcome that.

“The TLV is an explosive, prophetically fulfilling tool for speaking at this hour as an available resource for the Jewish community globally,” he says. “It was meticulously crafted to help a Jewish audience, but any Bible reader would benefit from it.”

Hayford, given his years working with the Messianic community, intuitively understands the significance of the Bible project and where we are in world history.

“There’s no question that there is an increase [in conversions] in many ways,” he says. “One reason is the global move of the Holy Spirit, and in that it’s impossible to assess it and not see it as very strong and likely evidence that we are seeing a reasonably rapid move toward the climax of all things. Just take Israel, alone, back in the land.”

Hayford also notices a hunger for the Word of God, which fuels belief: “I think the term I will discuss is not seeing them as conversions but as people who hold to the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah. Use of terminology has a lot to do with how Messianic Jews see themselves and limits their witness because other Jews who don’t know the Savior would see it as converting to Christianity and not understanding who the Messiah is. Jesus didn’t come to bring Christianity but to bring people to the Father.”

It is that reality that fuels the work of the Greenbergs, their staff, Hayford and others who have followed in the footsteps of those original pioneers in the land. One of those is Wayne Hilsden, pastor of King of Kings Community in Jerusalem, who has a front-row seat to watch—and participate—as this historic moment in history unfolds. King of Kings is the largest Messianic fellowship in Israel, and Hilsden, while not Messianic himself, has led it for 30 years.

“Frankly, up until we received our call in 1981 to serve in Israel, I had little or no interest in Hebrew roots,” he says. “That was 32 years ago, 18 months before we moved to Israel from Canada. Ever since that call, I’ve had a passion for digging into the Scriptures and the Hebraic milieu in which they were written.”

Hilsden, who completed a master of divinity degree at the University of Toronto, says New Testament Greek was a required course in his studies, but Old Testament Hebrew was only an elective. Having passed on Hebrew studies altogether, he says he’s had to play catch-up the last three decades now that the Hebraic background of the Scriptures and the modern Hebrew language comprise a majority of his work and day-to-day interactions.

In all this, Hilsden has come to realize the importance of the Jewish mindset on our collective understanding of the Old and New Testaments.

“In my seminary studies, there was an underlying assumption that New Testament writers such as Paul and John were more influenced by Greek culture and philosophy than their own Jewish heritage,” he says. “I’ve now come to see that Hebraic thinking was far more dominant in their expression of biblical faith than their exposure to a Hellenistic mindset.”

As such, one cannot help but consider the TLV translation an important contribution, again, to the Jewish and Gentile understanding of the Scriptures.

Truly, in Jerusalem, observers can see the fulfillment of what Hayford knows is the fulfillment of prophecy, culminating in the spiritual restoration of the chosen people. Hilsden is excited to see that up close.

“We see the early Jerusalem congregation as our primary model [at King of Kings], but we are far more multiethnic than they were,” he says. “The first congregation in Jerusalem was almost exclusively Jewish. It took the Jerusalem congregation many years to break out of its Jewish cocoon. Persecution and scattering were the catalysts to get these early Jewish believers to spread the gospel beyond Jerusalem and Judea.

“The church in Antioch is also a model we look to, in the way that it was multinational and apostolic—sending, missional—in nature.”

King of Kings has carved out a special place—and a safe place—for believers in Israel to congregate.

“We … strive to follow the ideal of a ‘one new man’ congregation as envisioned by Paul in Ephesians 2:11-22. In King of Kings Community, we have Jewish, Arab and internationals in fellowship together. The Arab sector has been the smallest segment, but in recent years, more Arab believers are joining our ranks and feeling at home.”

The Fullness of Time Is Here

Before his young, sacrificial life was cut short, Levi Parsons wrote to his mission board, “As it respects gaining and imparting information, this is indeed the center of the world. The station must not be relinquished. The door is already open. Difficulties must be expected; but the good resulting from a mission established here will be an infinite reward.”

The station has not been relinquished. Rather, it has expanded. That reality excites believers and missionaries working in various fields, and the expectations are palpable. The growing numbers of believers among Jews and Arabs—along with the glorious “unveiling” of the TLV—signal we are living in momentous times.

It is a time Levi Parsons and Pliny Fisk longed to see.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

JIM FLETCHER


Jim Fletcher is director of Prophecy Matters (prophecymatters.com) and can be reached atjim@prophecymatters.com. He writes for online sites, including RaptureReady, the Jerusalem Post and Beliefnet.


Watch Ray Gannon and Jonathan Bernis from Jewish Voice discuss why the Tree of Life Bible is so important amessianicbible.charismamag.com

Daniah Greenberg: A Gentile With a Heart for Israel.


 

Daniah Greenberg

Daniah Greenberg

Just as early American missionaries were Gentiles with a heart for God’s chosen people, so too is Daniah Greenberg, president of the Messianic Jewish Family Bible Project that published the first Messianic translation of the New Testament, committed to the people of Israel—first because, in 1989, she married a “nice Jewish boy”; and second because, as the mother of three children, she now considers herself “a mother of Israel.”

Greenberg, who grew up loving Jesus, says her faith went through bumps and challenges as she got older. After a conversion experience in college, which happened in a single visit to a Baptist church, she says she finally understood the gospel.

Then, when she married Mark Greenberg, she discovered the Lord had more plans for their life.

“I got involved in the Messianic community the first year we were married, when my daughter was born,” Daniah Greenberg recalls. “We had met a Messianic rabbi, and I wasn’t attached to a congregation.”

That rabbi was none other than Jonathan Bernis of Jewish Voice Ministries International, whom Greenberg says invited them into a journey of studying the Scriptures and Messianic prophecies. When Bernis asked a simple but profound question—Why do we believe the Bible?—Greenberg says she was off and running toward the calling that has since been placed upon her life to make the Scriptures more widely available to a Jewish audience.

“I started studying why we believe the Bible is real,” she says, reflecting on her response to that burning question. “We know that 300 versions of Socrates’ works exist, but thousands of pieces of physical evidence exist that the Bible is true.”

And—so goes the implication—no one doubts that Socrates existed.

It was a moment for Greenberg that cemented the Bible in reality, and it led to the monumental work she makes of her life today. What began as a translation effort for a children’s Bible turned into the work of a family Bible, as well as a translation of the Bible that utilizes Hebrew sentence structure, Messiah Yeshua in place of Jesus Christfaith as a verb instead of a noun, and shalom in place of peace.

Today, the Tree of Life translation is used in synagogues around the world. —Jim Fletcher.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Should Gentiles Keep Torah: Part 2.


 

Torah

Torah

Last week’s blog received more attention than any blog I have written since the one on the fact that Israeli teachers don’t carry firearms in schools. There were more than 200 comments on Facebook, plus lots of likes and sharesCharisma posted it on both its news and magazine sites as well. I had no idea that the topic would attract such interest.

But not all of the response was favorable. One self-proclaimed authority, with an alarming number of followers, wrote me and said:

“REPENT and start teaching the TRUTH: TORAH to the NATIONS. You are a FALSE teacher. Just as is Michael Brown and every other Messianic Jewish rabbi who teaches like you.”

Just in case I was not taking him seriously enough, he sent me another message, stating his credentials:

“I am a Levite Cohein. I read Torah and ALL of Scripture in Hebrew, not English. I teach from Hebrew. You would do well to learn from my teachings … Read my WRITTEN teachings. They will blow you away and astound you …”

Confident? Yes. Humble? Hmmm ….

Well, first of all, it is an honor to be included in the ranks of the foremost Messianic Jewish apologist in the world, Dr. Michael Brown. Secondly, anyone who uses ALL CAPS that much, should NOT be taken seriously.

He was not the only one that responded in disagreement. The arguments went like this: Yeshua told us to make disciples, to teach His commands, Yeshua kept the Torah and said He did not come to take it away, so “clearly” we must teach Gentiles to keep all of the Torah, as there is one law for all people. Other passages were quoted regarding the alien living amongst Israel—that they were also expected to keep the Torah in ancient times.

Let’s Deal With the Alien Passage

This is shoddy scholarship at best, that picks and chooses passages that seem to support their theology, while excluding others. The One Law Movement seems to have key Scriptures that appear to prove their point, regardless of context or full exegesis, no different from Jesus Only Baptism movements or even Mormons, who memorize specific verses for purposes of outreach—without really being familiar with the Scriptures.

For instance, one verse pointed out to me over and over by probably more than a dozen people was:

“One Torah shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” (Ex. 12:49)

Seems clear until you look at it in context.

1. It is referring to those in Egypt who left with the Israelites. These were non-Hebrews who became convinced, probably during the Ten Plagues, that it was time to hightail it out of Egypt. (Ex. 12:38) They recognized that Yahweh was God and united with the Hebrews. The Hebrew word (גר) translated stranger or alien, can also mean convert in Modern Hebrew.

In other words, they were non-Hebrews seeking to be one with the Israelites. God was merely saying, okay, if you want to be part of my people, you have to go all the way.

2. The One Law folks (or at least the ones who responded to my blog) seem to entirely miss v. 48, which sheds great understanding on v. 49.

“And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it” (Ex. 12:48).

We see here that in context it is referring to non-Jews who were living amongst Israel wanting to keep the Passover. So the inference is that non-Jews living amongst them could choose not to keep the Passover, and not be circumcised nor required to adhere to all ceremonial customs in Torah.

3. But even looking at v. 49 alone, “One Torah shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you” it is clear that is not referring to the entire Gentile world, but those “who dwell among” Israel; who live in an Israeli community. I doubt that even one person who challenged me lives here in Israel! Or, is even part of a Messianic Jewish community!

A Fundamental Change

Nevertheless, as stated in the previous blog, there was a fundamental change after Acts 15, that permitted fellowship among believing Jews and Gentiles without the Gentiles being expected to follow all of the Torah. This was a revelation from God to the Apostles. Paul refers to the fact that the Nations are heirs together with Israel as a mystery in Ephesians 3.

With the coming of the New Covenant, there is a change of relationship between the circumcised and the uncircumcised. Since the New Testament teaches specifically on the relationship of Jew and Gentile in the new reality of the body of believers, we cannot simply transfer the practices of pre-Yeshua times into the New Covenant period. (Dr. Daniel C. Juster)

While I have fought long and hard against Replacement Theology (the Church is the New Israel), there were some changes between the Old and New Covenants. Under the Old Covenant non-Jews who wanted to be part of the people of Israel had to convert to Judaism. By the leading of the Holy Spirit, this was changed in Acts 10 and 15, and restated in Acts 21:

“But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality” (Acts 21:25, emphasis mine).

Let me state again, Gentiles believers are free to be circumcised, keep the feasts, keep kosher and embrace all 613 laws identified in traditional Judaism. (To be clear, many of the laws are impossible to keep today—such as laws for owning slaves or making sacrifices, laws for the Levites and priests, laws for making war, and ones that only apply to a Theocratic state, etc.) But once we start compelling non-Jewish believers to do such things as God’s perfect plan, we head off into error.

What’s the Big Deal

“What do you care Ron, if Gentiles feel compelled to keep Torah?”

This is an important question. Messianic Jews are often accused of going back under the Law. We are often misunderstood in our desire to both serve Yeshua (enjoying the FREE gift of God, not obtained by keeping the Law) and live as Jews according to Torah.

It is very unhelpful to our cause, and the cause of the Lord, for non-Jews and even some misguided Messianic Jews, to pressure Gentile believers to do what so clearly the apostles told them was not required.

I can’t tell you how many times I have encountered people with only a peripheral knowledge of Messianic Judaism, who assume that we want them to live as Jews. I get emails regularly, hearing stories of families split because one member decides not merely to keep the Sabbath, but goes on to condemn the rest of the family for not. That is why this is a big deal.

Next week, I will post 13 points displaying the error of the One Law Movement. To be clear, I am not saying that these folks are not in the fold. Other than a few crack pots, most of them love Yeshua and want to please Him. While in my opinion, this error needs to be addressed, I am by no means saying that those who embrace the One Law theology are not believers.

Let us continue to strive for truth.

Part 1 is here.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

RON CANTOR/MESSIAH’S MANDATE

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

Martin Chernoff: The Father of 20th Century Messianic Judaism.


Martin and Yohanna Chernoff
Martin and Yohanna Chernoff

Any student of Israel knows that Theodore Herzl is the father of modern Zionism. His book, The Jewish State, called for the creation of a Jewish homeland as the only safe haven for the Jewish people.

Eliezer Ben Yehuda is considered the father of Modern Hebrew, a dead, unspoken language in 1880, now spoken by over 10 million people.

But equally impressive as the rebirth of the Jewish nation and the language of Hebrew is the rebirth of the Messianic Jew—the Jew who professes faith in Yeshua, and, like the first believers, continues to live as a Jew. There are many men and woman who were influential in the Messianic revival.

Moishe Rosen birthed Jews for Jesus and raised up an army of Jewish emissaries. Joseph Rabinowitz started the First Assembly of the Israelites of the New Covenant in 1885. Our own Ari and Shira pioneered spirit-filled Messianic Judaism in Israel with their first house congregation in 1977 and then by birthing the first Hebrew only spirit-filled congregation in 1995. As far back as 1959, Victor Smadja started Keren Ahava Mishihit in Jerusalem. My spiritual father, Dan Juster has also played a major role in shaping Messianic Jewish expression through the Tikkun Network and the UMJC.

Martin Chernoff

However, if there is one figure who stands out as the father of Modern Messianic Judaism it would have to be Martin Chernoff. His father, Solomon, fled the Russian army in the early 1900s in order to give his family a better life in America. But, after arriving in Amsterdam, he was broke. For three years he worked and saved in order to buy tickets to cross the Atlantic. However, thinking he had arrived in New York, he was shocked to find himself in Argentina!

After another three years, he and his family took a train through South America to New York City. However, when he got off at the last stop he was in Toronto, Canada, missing New York for the third time! This time, Solomon settled his family in Toronto, as there were already 4,000 Russian Jewish immigrants living there, and continued his trade as a tailor.

A Secret to the Grave-Almost

One day Solomon heard a Jewish believer preaching. He sat down to listen and secretly professed faith in Yeshua. He knew this would send shockwaves through his orthodox Jewish family so he decided he would never tell a soul.

Many years later, their son Martin would make a similar decision, embracing Yeshua as His Messiah, but instead of keeping it to himself would seek to bring as many Jewish people as he could to faith in Yeshua. On his deathbed, his father confessed his secret faith to his son.

Assimilation vs. Jewish Identity

Martin and his wife, Yohanna, worked for many years for an organization seeking to bring Jewish people to faith. He was constantly at odds with them, as he began to realize the need for Jewish believers to have their own meetings in a Jewish context. The organization emphasized winning Jewish people to the faith and then funneling them into local churches to be discipled (where they would often lose their Jewish identity).

Martin was told he was not qualified to disciple “Hebrew Christians,” as they were called then, and once, when he immersed several new Jewish believers in water at a conference, the leader of his organization saw red, as he rebuked Martin, telling him again that it was beyond his scope of authority.

“The Jesus Revolution and the Jews’ is the biography that Martin’s wife, Yohanna, wrote.

In the midst of a prayer meeting in 1963, just after the assassination of President Kennedy, Martin had the second of three visions. He saw, in addition to scores of Jewish people coming to faith (as in his first vision) a group of unkept and shabby young people—dressed in rags. He had no idea that the coming years would usher in the hippy phenomenon and that God would use his wife, Yohanna and him to bring many of these young Jewish people to Yeshua.

In addition to ushering in the sexual revolution, psychedelic rock and popularizing LSD usage, the hippie movement revealed a deep spiritual hunger inside that generation. In April 1966, Time Magazine ran the headline: Is God Dead? However, only five years later, after this massive revival, their headline in June 1971 was, The Jesus Revolution.

Scores of young Jewish people came to faith in Cincinnati forming the nucleus of the Chernoff’s home congregation. Thousands more Jews embraced Yeshua all across the U.S. as God raised up a leadership for a new thing he was about to do.

From Hebrew Christianity to Messianic Judaism

In 1970 Martin had his third open vision. “Two electrifying simple words stretched across the sky in the form of a banner.” He saw the words: Messianic Judaism.

This vision would define the rest of Martin’s life and his legacy. The small group of Jewish believers in Cincinnati confessed:

“We are Jewish believers in Yeshua as our Messiah. We have our own destiny in the Lord. We will no longer be assimilated into the church and pretend to be non-Jews. If Yeshua Himself, His followers and the early Jewish believers tenaciously maintained their Jewish lifestyles, why was it right for them, but wrong now? Gentile converts are not expected to forsake their families, culture, holidays and traditions; nor shall we do so.”

No longer would they call themselves Hebrew Christians, but Messianic Jews.

Despite the fact they were seeing dozens of young Jewish people receive Yeshua, the leader of the organization who paid their salary gave them an ultimatum. They either must disband their congregation and hand over the names to the organization (so these Jews could be placed in churches), or leave.

Marty had a major decision to make: Stay with the organization, get paid, disband their congregation and funnel new believers to churches or resign his position, officially birth congregation Beth Messiah, and trust God to provide for their needs. Other than a few isolated cases, there was no example of a self-sustained, independent Messianic Congregation. It was virgin territory.

After a lengthy discussion between the leaders and the congregants, it was decided that disbanding was not an option. Martin would become their rabbi and they would support Yohanna and him. Congregation Beth Messiah was birthed.

National Influence

Soon Martin was elected to be president of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America. More and more Jewish believers were calling themselves Messianic Jews instead of Hebrew Christians. The moniker Hebrew Christian emphasized that the believer was of Jewish background, whileMessianic Jew, emphasized that the believers continued to live as Jews, after believing in Yeshua.

However, changing the name of the HCAA would not be easy. Many old-timers strongly objected to the new Messianic theme and Jewish identity. They didn’t like the dancing or the singing of Klezmer (Yiddish sounding) songs with Messianic lyrics. The first vote was defeated, but not without controversy. Rather than fighting, Martin wisely put the issue to rest, realizing that it was only a matter of time.

Two years later, the young hippie believers far outnumbered the old guard and the name was changed to the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA).

Beth Yeshua in Philadelphia

Eventually the Chernoffs would move to Philadelphia and take over the “Fink Zoo”—a group of young Jewish believers who met in the home of Joe and Debbie Finklestein. They called their new congregation Beth Yeshua.

When I first heard of Messianic Jews in 1984, the orthodox community had declared war on Beth Yeshua and they were fighting for their survival. By 1985, they were calling for a nationwide protest—with the goal of destroying the Messianic Jewish movement. Jews from all over were bussed in to protest and Beth Yeshua was their target. If Beth Yeshua could be toppled, then maybe they could crush the whole movement.

I drove right by Philadelphia during Hurricane Gloria just before this mass demonstration, as my Long Island-based Bible School released us for our own safety.

The folks at Beth Yeshua were hoping that Gloria would ruin the planned protest. However, Pat Robertson rebuked the storm just before it hit his Virginia Beach-based CBN and Gloria headed out to sea. Pat was happy; the Messianics in Philadelphia were dismayed.

However, when Beth Yeshua took their worship team outside in the midst of the anti-Messianic demonstration, the entire protest was diffused. Some protesters ended up actually dancing with the Beth Yeshua congregants. After a short time, leaders called off the protests and fled.

Legacy

So many leaders that lead congregations today were discipled by Martin Chernoff. His legacy lives on in these many men and women, not to mention his own children Joel, David and Hope, all leaders in the Messianic Movement today.

(All quotes are taken from Born a Jew, Die a Jew, the biography of Martin Chernoff, written by his wife, Yohanna.)

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

RON CANTOR/MESSIAH’S MANDATE

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

For the original article, visit messiahsmandate.org.

Martin Chernoff: The Father of 20th Century Messianic Judaism.


Martin and Yohanna Chernoff
Martin and Yohanna Chernoff

Any student of Israel knows that Theodore Herzl is the father of modern Zionism. His book, The Jewish State, called for the creation of a Jewish homeland as the only safe haven for the Jewish people.

Eliezer Ben Yehuda is considered the father of Modern Hebrew, a dead, unspoken language in 1880, now spoken by over 10 million people.

But equally impressive as the rebirth of the Jewish nation and the language of Hebrew is the rebirth of the Messianic Jew—the Jew who professes faith in Yeshua, and, like the first believers, continues to live as a Jew. There are many men and woman who were influential in the Messianic revival.

Moishe Rosen birthed Jews for Jesus and raised up an army of Jewish emissaries. Joseph Rabinowitz started the First Assembly of the Israelites of the New Covenant in 1885. Our own Ari and Shira pioneered spirit-filled Messianic Judaism in Israel with their first house congregation in 1977 and then by birthing the first Hebrew only spirit-filled congregation in 1995. As far back as 1959, Victor Smadja started Keren Ahava Mishihit in Jerusalem. My spiritual father, Dan Juster has also played a major role in shaping Messianic Jewish expression through the Tikkun Network and the UMJC.

Martin Chernoff

However, if there is one figure who stands out as the father of Modern Messianic Judaism it would have to be Martin Chernoff. His father, Solomon, fled the Russian army in the early 1900s in order to give his family a better life in America. But, after arriving in Amsterdam, he was broke. For three years he worked and saved in order to buy tickets to cross the Atlantic. However, thinking he had arrived in New York, he was shocked to find himself in Argentina!

After another three years, he and his family took a train through South America to New York City. However, when he got off at the last stop he was in Toronto, Canada, missing New York for the third time! This time, Solomon settled his family in Toronto, as there were already 4,000 Russian Jewish immigrants living there, and continued his trade as a tailor.

A Secret to the Grave-Almost

One day Solomon heard a Jewish believer preaching. He sat down to listen and secretly professed faith in Yeshua. He knew this would send shockwaves through his orthodox Jewish family so he decided he would never tell a soul.

Many years later, their son Martin would make a similar decision, embracing Yeshua as His Messiah, but instead of keeping it to himself would seek to bring as many Jewish people as he could to faith in Yeshua. On his deathbed, his father confessed his secret faith to his son.

Assimilation vs. Jewish Identity

Martin and his wife, Yohanna, worked for many years for an organization seeking to bring Jewish people to faith. He was constantly at odds with them, as he began to realize the need for Jewish believers to have their own meetings in a Jewish context. The organization emphasized winning Jewish people to the faith and then funneling them into local churches to be discipled (where they would often lose their Jewish identity).

Martin was told he was not qualified to disciple “Hebrew Christians,” as they were called then, and once, when he immersed several new Jewish believers in water at a conference, the leader of his organization saw red, as he rebuked Martin, telling him again that it was beyond his scope of authority.

“The Jesus Revolution and the Jews’ is the biography that Martin’s wife, Yohanna, wrote.

In the midst of a prayer meeting in 1963, just after the assassination of President Kennedy, Martin had the second of three visions. He saw, in addition to scores of Jewish people coming to faith (as in his first vision) a group of unkept and shabby young people—dressed in rags. He had no idea that the coming years would usher in the hippy phenomenon and that God would use his wife, Yohanna and him to bring many of these young Jewish people to Yeshua.

In addition to ushering in the sexual revolution, psychedelic rock and popularizing LSD usage, the hippie movement revealed a deep spiritual hunger inside that generation. In April 1966, Time Magazine ran the headline: Is God Dead? However, only five years later, after this massive revival, their headline in June 1971 was, The Jesus Revolution.

Scores of young Jewish people came to faith in Cincinnati forming the nucleus of the Chernoff’s home congregation. Thousands more Jews embraced Yeshua all across the U.S. as God raised up a leadership for a new thing he was about to do.

From Hebrew Christianity to Messianic Judaism

In 1970 Martin had his third open vision. “Two electrifying simple words stretched across the sky in the form of a banner.” He saw the words: Messianic Judaism.

This vision would define the rest of Martin’s life and his legacy. The small group of Jewish believers in Cincinnati confessed:

“We are Jewish believers in Yeshua as our Messiah. We have our own destiny in the Lord. We will no longer be assimilated into the church and pretend to be non-Jews. If Yeshua Himself, His followers and the early Jewish believers tenaciously maintained their Jewish lifestyles, why was it right for them, but wrong now? Gentile converts are not expected to forsake their families, culture, holidays and traditions; nor shall we do so.”

No longer would they call themselves Hebrew Christians, but Messianic Jews.

Despite the fact they were seeing dozens of young Jewish people receive Yeshua, the leader of the organization who paid their salary gave them an ultimatum. They either must disband their congregation and hand over the names to the organization (so these Jews could be placed in churches), or leave.

Marty had a major decision to make: Stay with the organization, get paid, disband their congregation and funnel new believers to churches or resign his position, officially birth congregation Beth Messiah, and trust God to provide for their needs. Other than a few isolated cases, there was no example of a self-sustained, independent Messianic Congregation. It was virgin territory.

After a lengthy discussion between the leaders and the congregants, it was decided that disbanding was not an option. Martin would become their rabbi and they would support Yohanna and him. Congregation Beth Messiah was birthed.

National Influence

Soon Martin was elected to be president of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America. More and more Jewish believers were calling themselves Messianic Jews instead of Hebrew Christians. The moniker Hebrew Christian emphasized that the believer was of Jewish background, whileMessianic Jew, emphasized that the believers continued to live as Jews, after believing in Yeshua.

However, changing the name of the HCAA would not be easy. Many old-timers strongly objected to the new Messianic theme and Jewish identity. They didn’t like the dancing or the singing of Klezmer (Yiddish sounding) songs with Messianic lyrics. The first vote was defeated, but not without controversy. Rather than fighting, Martin wisely put the issue to rest, realizing that it was only a matter of time.

Two years later, the young hippie believers far outnumbered the old guard and the name was changed to the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA).

Beth Yeshua in Philadelphia

Eventually the Chernoffs would move to Philadelphia and take over the “Fink Zoo”—a group of young Jewish believers who met in the home of Joe and Debbie Finklestein. They called their new congregation Beth Yeshua.

When I first heard of Messianic Jews in 1984, the orthodox community had declared war on Beth Yeshua and they were fighting for their survival. By 1985, they were calling for a nationwide protest—with the goal of destroying the Messianic Jewish movement. Jews from all over were bussed in to protest and Beth Yeshua was their target. If Beth Yeshua could be toppled, then maybe they could crush the whole movement.

I drove right by Philadelphia during Hurricane Gloria just before this mass demonstration, as my Long Island-based Bible School released us for our own safety.

The folks at Beth Yeshua were hoping that Gloria would ruin the planned protest. However, Pat Robertson rebuked the storm just before it hit his Virginia Beach-based CBN and Gloria headed out to sea. Pat was happy; the Messianics in Philadelphia were dismayed.

However, when Beth Yeshua took their worship team outside in the midst of the anti-Messianic demonstration, the entire protest was diffused. Some protesters ended up actually dancing with the Beth Yeshua congregants. After a short time, leaders called off the protests and fled.

Legacy

So many leaders that lead congregations today were discipled by Martin Chernoff. His legacy lives on in these many men and women, not to mention his own children Joel, David and Hope, all leaders in the Messianic Movement today.

(All quotes are taken from Born a Jew, Die a Jew, the biography of Martin Chernoff, written by his wife, Yohanna.)

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

RON CANTOR

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

For the original article, visit messiahsmandate.org.

Bringing a Blessing From the Land of Israel.


Ron Cantor
Ron Cantor (Messiah’s Mandate)

In 2009, in a hotel room in Lagos, Nigeria, I had a revelation. I was on my way home to Tel Aviv from a mass outreach campaign. I had the rare privilege of being able to attend as an observer Reinhard Bonnke’s team ministering in Mubi, Nigeria.

I wasn’t even sure why I had gone, but I knew the Lord had led me on this journey. On the last day, one of the local leaders invited me to return and hold a mass outreach campaign.  I was initially excited, but sitting in my hotel room I had no peace.

Confused, I asked the Lord: “I have been praying about Africa for a year and now a great door has opened. Why don’t I have peace?”

Immediately, He put in my spirit, “Ron, if you come back here by yourself, you will be a blessing to Nigeria, but it won’t touch Israel. However, if you come back with a team of Israelis and let them minister, it will not only bless Nigeria, but Israel as well.”

From that word, we birthed the Isaiah 2 Initiative. Isaiah speaks of the word going forth from Zion to the nations. Maoz was involved from the very beginning. We gathered a team of on-fire Israelis and made two trips to Nigeria, reaching tens of thousands with the gospel, and one trip to Ukraine, where several hundred Jews professed faith in Yeshua.

America Too?

However, when Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram asked me to lead a team of Israelis to America, I didn’t initially see it as part of the Isaiah 2 Initiative. I guess because I am a native of the U.S. and in light of the prosperity in America, I was blinded to the fact that God speaks of the gospel going forth from Israel “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8)—including America!

There is a special anointing on Israeli evangelists and worship teams when they go forth from Zion equipped with the message of Yeshua. The Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) has been holding the Messiah Conference for 40 years. Last summer, we partnered with them to bring 40 Israelis to the conference. The goals were clear:

  • Allow Israeli believers to meet Jewish believers from other nations
  • Allow Messianic Jews and Christians from the U.S. to experience Israeli Messianic life through these young people
  • Use this time to mentor young Israelis into leadership (we can already see fruit from this!)

So blessed was the MJAA leadership by our participation and the opportunity for American Messianic Jews and Christians to meet Israeli believers that they invited us to return again this summer.

While we knew it would be a challenge to raise the funds, we felt this was part of our calling—not only to reach Israel, but the nations from Israel! And, praise God, this year’s impact was even more powerful.

Israel Night

The third day of the conference was Israel Night, a night focused on what God is doing in the Holy Land. Our worship team led in worship, and then I shared a message called “The First Messianics.”

The anointing was palpable, and I noticed the incredible spiritual energy in the auditorium. As I blew the shofar at the end, I asked them to shout to the Lord, as in the days of Joshua. As they did, the Holy Spirit fell and many were healed and set free. Then at least two-thirds of the 1,300 people gathered came forward for prayer.

Many shared with our team members how the Lord touched them that evening. You can watch the entire evening’s ministry, including the Band from the Land, here.

To be clear, this great move of God had little to do with me or our team, but more with God’s desire to highlight His work in Israel. We were just so honored to be His vehicles!

Our worship team, the Band from the Land, was so well received that they were asked to minister again on Friday night—something that rarely happens.

As a bonus, we did our weekly podcast live from the cultural center. We started with about five people and ended up, after 45 minutes, with a full house. We took questions from the audience on life in Israel. It was lots of fun!

Pray with us as we continue to take teams of young Israeli worship leaders and evangelists to carry God’s word from Zion to the nations—even America!

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

RON CANTOR/MESSIAH’S MANDATE

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

For the original article, visit messiahsmandate.org.

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