Ultra-Orthodox Jewish anti-missionary groups were up in arms last week after a number of fellow Israeli Jews visited Christ Church, the oldest Protestant Church in the Middle East, during the annual Jerusalem Light Festival.
The Light Festival, which draws a large number of Israeli families, begins at the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. Christ Church is situated just inside the gate, and opposite the Tower of David.
Given its prominent location along the Light Festival route, Christ Church was the backdrop for some of the first major light displays that visitors saw.
Naturally, Christ Church opened its gates and its popular coffee shop for any and all that wished to learn more about this steadfast Christian ministry.
In speaking to Artuz 7, the head of the anti-missionary group Lehava, Bentzi Gopshtain, expressed outrage.
Gopshtain claimed that Christ Church had deceptively lured unsuspecting Israeli Jews onto its premises and then presented them with material about “that guy”, meaning Yeshua.
The charge was nonsensical given that the gate of Christ Church, its coffee shop and the adjoining Christian Information Center are very clearly marked as Christian facilities. Those Jews who did enter most likely did so out of genuine curiosity.
Gopshtain and his crew were having none of it, and stood outside Christ Church for long hours holding signs reading “Warning: Missionaries” in order to dissuade fellow Jews from entering.
He seemed most perturbed by the fact that Christ Church houses a small museum featuring famous models of Jerusalem and the Temple. In fact, the sanctuary at Christ Church is littered with Hebrew inscriptions and biblical Jewish symbols.
To Gophshtain and those like him, this is a nefarious attempt to present “that guy in a Jewish disguise.” Such is the unfortunate history of Christianity that many Jews fail to recognize that Yeshua is every bit as Jewish as they.