What a change! For 1800 years the Christian church relentlessly persecuted Jews, considering them demonic, unredeemable, sub-human. Suddenly, rabbis and pastors share in each others’ pulpits. Christians desperately desire to learn of their Jewish roots, and the greatest friend of the nation of Israel is Evangelical Christians. Possibly, this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he declared, “salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (Romans 11:11)
Jewish/Christian dialogue and relationships clearly enhanced the rise of modern Messianic Judaism, i.e., Jews who believe in Jesus while maintaining Jewish identity. In Israel alone there exist 150 Messianic congregations, attended by approximately 12,000 Messianic Jews. In fact, for the first time the Israeli government is cooperating with Messianic Jews, particularly in the forms of humanitarian relief. This past year, representing 90 Messianic Jewish congregations, I have worked with members of Israel’s parliament (Knesset) on various projects.
But all is not well. Messianic Jews still find obstacles to immigration and at times are persecuted and discriminated against for their faith. What you may not know is most, if not all, the money donated by Christians to causes in Israel, particularly through television pleas, never reaches the hands of Messianic Jews. In fact, some of the money goes to organizations that persecute these believers. Contrast this with what the Apostle Paul says, “As we have opportunity let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10)
To combat this discrimination we have formed an organization, The Hope for Israel, that channels monies into the hands of Messianic Jewish congregations and organizations in the land of Israel who are doing humanitarian work. These groups provide relief to any needy Israeli - secular Jews, religious Jews, Messianic Jews and Arabs. When your donations go through the Messianic groups, it raises the awareness and acceptance of Messianic Judaism in Israel. When money circumvents the Israeli Messianic groups, it actually undermines their place in Israeli society.
Here are some of the groups The Hope for Israel supports:
1. Medical, social and dental assistance to Ethiopian Jews, the poorest members of Israeli society through the Tents of Mercy, a group of Messianic Jewish congregations in Israel.
2. Food distributions to thousands of impoverished holocaust survivors through a Messianic group that actually exposed their plight to the Israeli public.
3. Support for Joseph’s Storehouse, a large warehouse operation and distribution of food, school supplies, backpacks, etc., for the poor in the land, run by Messianic Jews.
4. The Jerusalem Institute for Justice, an organization that represents Messianic Jews and others when they are discriminated against in immigration, jobs and residential matters.
5. A soup kitchen in Jerusalem, funded by Netiviyah, a Messianic Jewish congregation.
6. Love for Israel Relief Fund, an organization that works with Knesset (Parliament) members in partnering to provide relief to needy hospitals and schools.
The reality is that most Messianic congregations in Israel want to assist their countrymen, but a lack of funding prevents it. Instead millions of dollars go through Jewish and Christian organizations to worthy causes but circumvent the Messianic congregations and unwittingly displace the Jewish followers of Jesus within the land of Israel.
I have met with a number of the Messianic leaders in the land, who are enthusiastic about this project. We have no intention of duplicating efforts of the existing, indigenous Messianic Jewish groups in the land of Israel. Rather our goal is to empower them to more effectively minister to their countrymen.
For more information, please go to our website at www.hfirelieffund.org.
Jamie Cowen, 2007