Read an Excerpt
(Excerpted from Introduction)
When I was a young boy, I saw a cartoon (Disney, I think) about fishing. One scene greatly impressed me. Each time the fisherman (Goofy, I think) tossed in his line, he landed a big one. Soon he had a pile of fish on the shore as tall as himself. "Wow, that looks like fun," I thought. Since there was a small lake in my little Maryland town, I decided to try my hand at fishing. It looked so easy!
Grabbing a broom handle and tying a string to the end of it, I marched down to the lake with determination and dropped in my line. After what seemed like days-probably an hour or two-I headed home, discouraged, dejected, and definitely finished with fishing . . . forever! I hadn't even gotten one nibble.
That evening my dad came home from work and found me sitting on the porch, head in hands.
"What's wrong?" he asked, reading my sad expression. I told him about my totally unproductive fishing expedition. Trying not to look too amused, my father questioned me about my fishing technique.
"What did you use for bait?" he asked.
"Bait?" I repeated. "What's bait?"
"It's what you put on the end of the hook to attract the fish."
"Oh," I said. "What's a hook?"
Apparently I had missed some of the finer fundamentals of fishing. I had seen that cartoon character catching fish, but must have missed what he had done to prepare to catch those fish. (Cartoons do take certain liberties with reality!)
Dad then explained about hooks and bait. Was I relieved to know that I didn't have to give up fishing forever!
When I speak in churches, invariably I'll hear stories about people's attempts to witness to Jewish people. These stories often remind me of that first fishing trip. In their zeal to "catch a fish," many people overlook the fundamentals. They give it a try but come home discouraged, dejected, definitely finished with "fishing."
I don't want that to happen to you. I want you to be effective in your witnessing so that you don't become discouraged. After all, how are my fellow Jews going to hear the Gospel if Gentile believers are too discouraged to share it with them? There aren't enough of us "professionals" to have a personal witness with all Jewish people. You have a very important role.
Yeshua promised to make his disciples "fishers of men." Although the fishing techniques of the first century-large nets-are vastly different from the techniques of Goofy and of today, each method requires a basic understanding of the fundamentals of its type of fishing in order to be effective.
Likewise, there are certain fundamentals you need to learn in order to effectively share the Gospel with Jewish people. That's the purpose of this book-to help you learn how to share with your neighbor, your fellow worker, or even a Jewish person who has married into your family.
To help you organize all the material you will be learning, I've included what I call a witnessing model. I used models when I taught college communications courses and have found them useful in the Jewish evangelism training programs I've taught.
This book is divided into four sections: I. You: The Gentile Christian II. Your Message: The "Jewish Gospel" III. The Audience: Your Jewish Neighbor IV. The Feedback: Barriers to Belief
Section I is about you, the Gentile Christian. This section will help you understand your role in Jewish evangelism. God has a very special challenge for you that, sad to say, the Church hasn't taken up very well over the centuries.
I share in Section II about the "Jewish Gospel." While it's true that there is only one Gospel of salvation for Jews and Gentiles, there are many ways of presenting it. Those involved with children's evangelism communicate the Gospel to little ones in a unique way. Those working with college students have outreach approaches that are effective on campuses. This same principle holds true for Jewish people. Section II will teach you how to share the Good News in a "Jewish" way.
Section III will help you better understand your Jewish neighbor. It would be foolish to imply that after reading a few pages in this book, you will really know your Jewish neighbor. That would not only be impossible, it would be presumptuous. Getting to know someone takes time. Nevertheless, a look into Jewish history, religion, and culture should offer you a greater understanding of the people to which your Jewish neighbor belongs.
The last section, Section IV, discusses the unique responses your Jewish neighbor might offer as you present the Gospel. Not only will we deal with the more common Jewish objections to the Gospel, but we will also look at questions that may not really be questions at all. We'll examine how to apply principles of discernment in your witness.
Let me encourage you. You couldn't have picked a better time to get involved in Jewish evangelism. Not since the first century have so many Jewish people come to believe in Yeshua. No one but God can give exact numbers, but I have seen estimates that there are more than 250,000 Jewish believers in the United States and twice as many worldwide.
In the former Soviet Union, many thousands have responded to the outreach efforts of Jewish ministries. In Israel, too, there are thousands of Jewish believers.
One visible evidence of the existence of these large numbers of Jewish believers is the rise in what has become known as the Messianic congregational movement. Whereas thirty years ago you might have found small pockets of Jewish believers meeting for weekly Bible study, today you can visit any of the hundreds of congregations where Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua worship God in a distinctively Jewish way.
There are Messianic congregations and fellowships all over the world. Messianic conferences attract many thousands interested in the Jewish expression of faith in Yeshua. And this "Messianic movement" is growing!
The impact of God's Spirit moving among Jewish people is underlined by the recent appearance of several groups who counter the witness of those they call "tricky missionaries." Misunderstanding the loving purpose of those who spread the Gospel, these groups suspect the motives of missionaries and warn the Jewish people away from their message. They accuse Jewish believers who maintain a Jewish identity of being deceptive, of using Jewish practices to mislead unsuspecting Jews. In fact, lately these groups have been saying that Jews who trust Yeshua are no longer Jews! We know that something is happening because the opposition is busy as well.
Now that you understand the structure of this book and see the very real possibilities for success, let me help you become a successful fisherman for the Messiah. Let's begin by taking a look at you, the Gentile Christian. You may be surprised by much of what I'm about to share with you. My prayer is that you'll also be challenged to act.