Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Jewish evangelism and Jews for Jesus

Some people have said that the cause of Jewish evangelism will be damaged if the Christian community learns about the abuse that took place in Jews for Jesus. But I say, Never should we allow individuals to be abused for the sake of any kind of so-called "ministry"! Itwas and continues to be a red herring to say that we can't "air the dirty laundry" because it ruins the good name of Jewish evangelism (or Messianic Judaism, or whatever the phrase du jour is). In fact, I believe that this argument may have been used by Jews for Jesus in the past to protect itself from exposure. The fact is, sometimes you must "air the dirty laundry" if you are to figure out what needs to be cleaned in hot water, what needs to be cleaned in cold water, and what needs to be discarded. In the end, truth must win out over lies, deceit, and denial.

The stories that I have heard make me sick to my stomach. I can't support an organization that condones horrific behavior such as all of us have either heard about or experienced. I can't support an organization that would cover up this behavior or try to buy the silence of those whose job it is to uproot it. I can't support an organization that would chew up and spit out individuals (especially brand new believers, who are in many ways the most vulnerable) for the sake of individual power and public image. What I can support is the efforts of those who would document these abuses and expose evil to protect future generations of unwary missionaries.

It is true that if the corruption of Jews for Jesus is exposed, some current missionaries might lose their jobs due to lost revenues due to negative publicity. I don't wish unemployment on anyone, but I would suggest that maybe it is better to lose a job than to continue in one where you mustconstantly compromise your integrity, where you are abused by your supervisors, and where you ultimately become abusive yourself. It is true that if the evils of JFJ are exposed, some missionaries might get "the JFJ story"thrown in their faces when they try to witness of their faith to others. I would rather this happen than to see any more people get damaged (emotionally,spiritually, psychologically) by the Jews for Jesus industrial complex.


Anonymous said...

"In fact, I believe that this argument may have been used by Jews for Jesus in the past to protect itself from exposure. The fact is, sometimes you must "air the dirty laundry" if you are to figure out what needs to be cleaned in hot water, what needs to be cleaned in cold water, and what needs to be discarded. In the end, truth must win out over lies, deceit, and denial."

That is so true. I bought the lie that you had to maintain the silence to keep the name of Jesus from being tarnished.

Yet it was the abusers I worked for at JFJ that should have been concerned with being a witness.

Now, all I can do is let others know that if they want to serve the Lord in this way, they must go in with all the information.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

A fellow by the name of Jeffrey Wasserman wrote his doctoral dissertation in 1997 on the topic of messianic Jewish congregations in the U.S. and Israel. He recently turned it into a book entitled "Messianic Jewish Congregations: Who Sold this Business to the Gentiles?" (a somewhat obnoxious title) published in 2000 by University Press of America. (UPA is not a particularly prestigious publisher, btw. They don't do much editing, if any. Lots of people submit their dissertations to them and get them published).

Wasserman is a Jewish guy with negligible Jewish religious training who became a Christian during the hippie era. He has never (at least until
very recently) been a part of any messianic congregation, just churches. Still, he is proud of his Jewish heritage and interested in maintaining his Jewish identity.

About half of this book is a standard rehashing of the history of the "Jewish church" and of messianic congregations. For this "history" he
relies on secondary and tertiary sources. The other half of the book contains Wasserman's analysis of his research, which consists of written surveys and taped interviews with leaders and members of messianic congregations. Although Wasserman seems to draw on a wide spectrum of
people for his research, he (strangely enough) relies heavily on Jews for Jesus personnel, such as (among others) Brickner, Katz, Perlman, and Rosen. He also quotes Stuart Dauermann several times, sometimes approvingly and sometimes disapprovingly. He doesn't like David Stern very much.

Wasserman's asserts the following: (1) Israeli messianic congregations are legitimate because they are authentically indigenous and do not attempt to utilize Jewish rituals (although he acknowledges that at least some of these congregations have a large number of gentile attendees). (2) Most messianic synagogues in the U.S. are not legitimate because the leaders by
and large, according to Wasserman, have little if any formal Jewish training. (That last point sounds a lot like something that Moishe Rosen would say).

My own take on the book: Wasserman should have had a good editor look at his manuscript. His sentence construction is often awkward. Also, as I
noted earlier, he relies too much on JFJ missionaries and management who are by and large only marginally connected to messianic congregations. He makes some factual errors (such as calling Charles Snow a former Reform rabbi, which he attributes in the footnotes to a conversation with Susan Perlman). He too often uses sarcasm to make his points. His research is
interesting, but his analysis is questionable.

Wasserman devotes 3 pages and several extensive footnotes to Jews for Jesus in his chapter on "An Emerging Identity." He devotes very little space to the other Jewish mission groups. He mentions that in 1970, Moishe Rosen was a missionary with ABMJ, also known as "Jewish Missions of America."
I've never heard ABMJ referred to as JMA, but maybe it was known by that name at some time in the past.

Wasserman makes a few statements that are dubious (to say the least). He writes (on page 52):

"Although there is no way accurately to assess the impact of the Jews for Jesus organization, it claims as many as one thousand Jews have become
believers annually as a direct result of its ministry. But the larger effect has to be the notoriety and attention it has brought to the
Messianic Jewish cause. Of the over 50,000 Messianic Jews that the organization estimates live in North America, many would certainly owe a
debt of gratitute to Jews for Jesus."

"... Jews for Jesus has had more success in winning Jews to Messiah than any other missionary organization in recent history. Many of the members of Messianic congregations were reached and convinced of the truth of the gospel through the agency of Jews for Jesus directly or through their literature."

"The evangelistic success of Jews for Jesus has generated a certain amount of what may be considered competitive envy on the part of Messianic congregational leaders."

In a footnote he writes: "I had the opportunity to peruse some 5000 survey forms filled out by Messianic Jews kept at the San Francisco office of Jews for Jesus. Many of the respondents affirmed the Jews for Jesus organization played a significant role in their decision to follow Jesus."

Overall I would give this book 1 star out of 4 stars.

Stuart Dauermann said...

Just for the record, I never met Wassserman nor communicated with him in any manner. If he quotes me, it must be either from published documents with my name on them, or hearsay. Either way, doctoral research based on second hand information when he could have picked up the phone and talked with me discredits his "scholarship." And speaking of hearsay, it is pathetic what some people still believe about the Messianic Jewish Movement, which is anything but a monolith. There are some Messianic congregations where I would not attend unless intoxicated or otherwise unhinged, but others I am proud to point to as hopeful examples of new substance, not just new style. Moishe's attitudes on these matters have probably not changed in thirty -ive years. Others are similarly out of step.

Anonymous said...

The "dirty laundry" argument is similar to what often goes on in alcoholic families. Everyone in the family knows that there is a big problem (the alcoholic), but everyone is too ashamed to do anything about it because it will reflect badly on the family. Dirty laundry. It's the same with JFJ. Oh, let's not talk about this problem publicly because the name of Jesus will be shamed. Meanwhile the dysfunctional situation continues and gets worse.

Essentially this argument is a guilt trip. And we should not be manipulated by that kind of guilt.

Anonymous said...

Most reasonable people understand why the "dirty laundry" argument has no validity. Abuse stops when victims speak out. Abuse continues when
victims are silent.

Anonymous said...

The Jews for Jesus Mission Statement

Anyone ever done a Biblical study on the Jews for Jesus Mission Statement?

I did. I was a "student missionary" with Jews for Jesus in Chicago who left in after 2000. Besides the lies we were told about how much time Jews for Jesus would require of us students to "work" (we weren't allowed to take Spring Break, were discouraged from going home for Christmas), our "part-time" missionary status was most often closer to full-time, and we were considered slackers if we complained or asked for time to do things like...ah...study for our classes!

Oh yeah...The Mission Statement.

It isn't in the Bible.

That's why I left!

"We exist to make the Messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people world-wide"

Where is that in the BIBLE??

That mission statement leaves the door wide-open for the organization to fulfull their "mission" in any offensive and unethical way they like! Because, they are committed to making Jesus and "unavoidable issue."

Where in the BIBLE are we commanded to 'make Jesus an unavoidable issue"?

We are NOT !!!

How about this one "the world will know you are my disciples by the LOVE you have for one another"? THAT is IN THE BIBLE!

But, making Jesus an ISSUE?

I think the Bible says, "Go into all the world making disciple of all nations, BAPTISING THEM..."

Jews for Jesus sure doesn't do that.

As a matter of fact the Greek word used to "making disciples" in that passage from the last chapter of Matthew (the Great Commission) is a word that means, "LIFE-LONG LEARNERS" that word is the word EVANGELISM in GREEEK!!!

That isn't in the Jews for Jesus UN-Scriptural Mission Statement!