How Christians SHOULD Respond to Israeli Anti-Missionaries

If we believe the words of Jesus, we must stop getting worked up when others, especially religious Jews, voice opposition to our witness.

Yes, there are Jewish groups that strongly oppose "missionary" activity. No, the government of Israel does not suppress the Gospel of Jesus. Here a missionary couple is seen freely walking down the streets of Jerusalem declaring "Jesus is Lord." Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90
Yes, there are Jewish groups that strongly oppose "missionary" activity. No, the government of Israel does not suppress the Gospel of Jesus. Here a missionary couple is seen freely walking down the streets of Jerusalem declaring "Jesus is Lord." Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90

Sharing the Gospel of Jesus remains a touchy topic in the modern Jewish state. But what really exacerbates the matter, and stirs up ill feelings toward Israel, is the way it’s often reported by Christian and Messianic Jewish voices.

The most negative remarks and hostile positions regarding faith in Jesus are latched on to, painting a picture of near-institutionalized persecution of believers.

But the reality is that the “anti-missionary” organizations in Israel are fighting an uphill battle in getting the authorities to pay any attention whatsoever Christian/Messianic proselytization.

For example, an Orthodox Jewish news portal recently reported that only after it and other outlets made a stink online did the Israel Police agree to reopen an investigation into a Messianic dance instructor who allegedly influenced a 14-year-old student to come to faith in Jesus.

It is not illegal to share the Gospel in Israel, contrary to how some ministries portray the situation. It is, however, illegal to convert minors, or to offer any person financial incentive to change his or her religion. And that goes for any religion, not just Christianity.

So the question becomes did this Messianic dance teacher directly attempt to convert her student, or was she merely open about her faith and who she is in Messiah? It’s a tricky line to draw, which is why the authorities typically avoid such cases.

See related: Can Israel Stop the Christian Gospel?

The reopened investigation is also expected to be buried and quietly closed after being passed to the prosecutor’s office.

And that despite the impassioned public pleas of anti-missionary groups like Or L’Achim (Light to the Brothers) and Btsalmo (In His Image).

“We will not give up on this case until an indictment is filed against the missionary,” insisted Or L’Achim in a statement.

The CEO of Btsalmo told The Jewish Voice that “the fight against the [Christian] mission must be a priority for the Israel Police and must be treated as terrorism. This is silent and covert terrorism, but tens of millions of shekels are invested in it.”


Finding a more mature, effective response

It’s easy for believers to get offended at remarks such as those issued by the head of Btsalmo. But they must be seen in historical context.

For millennia, Christianity preached that God had abandoned the Jews, and the Church, both on its own and through Christian monarchies, attempted to do away with the Jewish people by either coercing or forcibly converting them all to Christianity.

Many religious Jews see modern missionary initiatives, financed with millions of dollars by Western churches, as a continuation of this age-old effort to spiritually eliminate the Jewish people.

Getting angry at them won’t alter their perspective.

Doing so only serves to stir up anti-Jewish sentiment among Christians, and in turn make Israel more suspicious of Jesus.


Setting records straight

The reality in Israel today is that believers–be they Messianic Jews like many of my colleagues, or Gentile Christians like myself–do not face persecution.

Occasional prejudice? Sure. But who doesn’t face that in some form or another?

To suggest that Israel practices institutionalized discrimination toward, or even oppresses believers in Jesus is simply false.

Sadly, many believers do make such suggestions, thus implicitly, and perhaps unintentionally, equating Israel with the likes of Iran and China.

Recently, an Orthodox Jewish member of the current government tabled a proposal that would expand existing anti-missionary laws by outlawing Hebrew-language online videos about Jesus, since they could be inadvertently accessed by minors.

Christian and Messianic communities were in an uproar. And they stirred up churches around the world.

See: The Israel Disconnect – A Chronic Christian Disorder

Lost in the commotion was the fact that the same bill had been proposed numerous times over the course of decades, with no one, not even its author, ever expecting it to become law.

Still, the widespread Christian discontent, which was gleefully picked up by the anti-Israel mainstream international media, compelled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue a public statement reassuring the Christian world that neither his nor any other Israeli government would ever pass anti-Christian laws.

Just as in centuries past, Christians themselves are often the primary obstacle keeping Jews from seeing their Messiah.

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7 responses to “How Christians SHOULD Respond to Israeli Anti-Missionaries”

  1. hdfuerst says:

    Es gibt eine ganz einfache Regel dafür, wie Juden und Christen miteinander klar kommen:
    Juden sollten nur das annehmen, was im Christentum mit Gottes Wort im TANACH übereinstimmt. Die Christen müssen sich von den falschen Lehren des “Neuen Testaments” verabschieden, die solche Figuren wie Paulus und die “Kirchenväter” aufgebracht haben. Was dann übrig bleibt, ist die Wahrheit.

  2. Lois Heal Bright says:

    The book of Genesis gives insight into many of the issues we face today. After His creation of the world, God said in Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” And Genesis 3, introduces us to the serpent, the evil one, who tempted Adam and Eve–tempted them with unbelief in the God who loved them.
    The Bible continues with the story of God’s love and His plan to redeem mankind from the clutches of Satan. God called Abraham, through whom God would have a people called by His name, through whom God would send the promised Messiah. Space is short here, but it is before us as both Jews and Christians to look up and see the One who was pierced for our eternal redemption (Isaiah 53); He died in our place, taking our sins upon Himself, that we might be forgiven of sin and restored in fellowship with God. God’s hand of love is held out to us, and I pray we may all be written in His Book of Life.

  3. Masami Cobley says:

    I totally agree with you Ryan. Many Gentile Christians are still holding wrong attitude towards and misconceptions about Israel and Jewish people.

    As the Lord Jesus warned the church in Ephesus (Rev 2:5), He has already removed a countless number of lampstands from Gentile churches around the world – which persistently believed in false theologies, committed all sorts of idolatry, fornicating with the world and striving to please it …. It is time for Gentile Christians / churches to repent!

    The Lord Jesus is in the process of fulfilling Isaiah 49:6 and other related prophecies. The Jewish people in Israel are under His authority, and He is slowly but steadily working on their hearts and spirits.

    No doubt, these missionaries pray a lot, but perhaps, it is time for them to sit down quietly before the Lord and listen to what His Spirit may be saying to them.

  4. Disciple 1978 says:

    The Tanach is great, if only the Tanach was followed Judaism would have no problem. The New Testament is great, if it was followed Christianity would have no problem. The Tanach and New Testament compliment one another.
    The spanner in the works is mankind, he has to reconcile God’s Word with the world, by which he is often compromised. Thus Judaism produced a Talmud that effectively made God’s Word subject to men’s rulings. Christianity produced theologies that again subjected God’s Word to men’s rulings. Other religions have books of their man-made compromises.

  5. Disciple 1978 says:

    Because the spirit of man died in Eden he has to rely on other spirits for spiritual direction. God has given us his Holy Spirit, which can be received by all who receive God’s Son, the Messiah. However, man’s fallen spirit is too proud to humble itself to receive God’s Son, so it remains vulnerable to world spirits for direction. “Except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
    “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5)
    Natural birth is being born of water. A spiritual re-birth is necessary to be born of the Spirit. The soul needs saved, it needs to be redeemed, it needs the salvation Messiah Yeshua wrought at Calvary to experience spiritual rebirth.

  6. Susan says:

    Praise God! I couldn’t agree more ….Christians are often the stumbling block. I pray that Christians, as a whole, do not imitate Martin Luther, who wanted Jews to dance to his tune or be annihilated. “I say then, God has not rejected His people, Has he? May it never be!” Roman’s 11:1.

  7. Charles Gardner says:

    Thank you for this timely reminder, Ryan. Christians must share the gospel with sensitivity, grace and gratitude to the Jewish people for blessing us so richly.

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