From Bill Sutter’s Desk Sep/Oct 2006
They came from across the United States and Canada, South America, Europe, and Asia. The occasion was The Friends of Israel’s 2006 field-staff conference, a gathering held every three years. For some of our workers, it was their first such conference. For others, the three-day event was an opportunity to get to know our 14 newly appointed workers, share the excitement of their ministries, and rejoice in the marvelous blessings of the Lord.
We gathered under the banner of The Friends of Israel’s mission statement: “A worldwide Christian ministry communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.”
FOI board member Dr. Daniel L. Anderson, president of Appalachian Bible College in Bradley, West Virginia, spoke to our hearts with a series of insightful messages titled “Defining Truth, Declaring Truth, and Defending Truth” in a world where truth is silenced, slandered, and slain by those who oppose it. The call to action was clear: Minister the truth of God’s unchanging Word to a largely antagonistic world where His truth is in short supply.
All of the sessions were designed to better equip our staff to serve Jesus Christ. Regional reports from around the world helped everyone understand the range of ministries and opportunities the Lord has opened to our workers. These include preaching in churches, conducting home Bible studies, visitation, campus outreaches, music ministries, marketplace evangelism, pastors’ conferences, sports outreaches, radio broadcasting, counseling, conference ministries, literature distribution, and even a medical ministry in Argentina.
Reports on the rise of anti-Semitism where FOI serves were disturbing. News from our workers in England and France was especially troubling. Our staff’s observations matched those in a June 16 article titled “Jews Are Under Siege: A Call to Action” by Charles Jacobs and Seth Klarman in The New York Jewish Week: “No one wants to think that sixty years after the Holocaust, a new storm threatens Jews everywhere. But reality cannot be avoided or minimized.”
Breakout sessions addressed a number of key issues affecting the future of The Friends of Israel, such as the task of taking the Lord’s truth to the next generation, expanding our outreach and the role of Israel My Glory magazine, and defining issues of confidentiality to assure the safety of our staff members and the integrity of their work. A session focused on the importance of recruiting additional workers for our Lord’s vineyard.
Several challenges and opportunities also came into clear focus. First is the challenge to expose the serious error of Replacement Theology wherever it is found. This teaching, which denies God’s promises to Israel and the Jewish people, can only be sustained by an allegorical, rather than a literal, interpretation of God’s prophetic Word.
Replacement Theology is the traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. Historically, it has been used to marginalize the Jewish people and even to subject them to violence. Unfortunately, there is also a segment of evangelical Christianity that clings to Replacement Theology. We know that the Lord has raised up The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry to proclaim God’s truth about Israel and the Jewish people.
The second challenge for The Friends of Israel is to focus on ministries to the next generation. Reaching out to young people and younger adults must be a priority. Additionally, recruiting new workers who will hold forth the word of truth to future generations is absolutely essential.
The third challenge is also a great opportunity: to respond to momentous, positive changes among the Jewish people. The time is now for Christians to build vital relationships with their Jewish friends, neighbors, and community groups. We will be informing more and more Christians of events related to Israel that are taking place in their areas, seeking to connect them with other activities in the Jewish community. Working together, we must change the Jewish perception of Christians as instruments of persecution, violence, and Holocaust to instruments of Christian love, friendship, support, and solidarity.
There has never been a more opportune time. As Jewish author David Brog asserted in his recently released book, Standing With Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State,
The anti-Semitic Christians of past generations have been eclipsed in America by Christians who enthusiastically embrace the Jewish people and the Jewish State. As the Jews confront the latest threats to their existence, they will find standing alongside them Christian soldiers who passionately share their concerns not despite their Christian faith, but because of it.1
- David Brog, Standing With Israel (Lake Mary, FL: Front Line, 2006), 256.