As a member of a Southern Baptist church and a missionary to the Jewish people (further information about me is available in the bio section below) for the last eighteen years, I have several concerns about what was stated in the Baptist Press article, “Much Prayer, Much Power after Synagogue Massacre” as representing the Jewish evangelism movement. I believe it needs to be rectified as it does not represent myself and many others who call themselves Southern Baptists and evangelists to the Jewish people.
There are two areas of primary concern in this article that I will focus on in this post. The first is the nature of what is and what is not the nature of the Jewish evangelism movement within the Southern Baptist Convention. The second is what steps need to be taken after the tragedy in Pittsburgh.
The Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship, who I do call a friend but who I also disagree with in this article, stated the following:
“Most SBMF members actively worship and partner with synagogues… You have to understand, we’re evangelical Christians. It’s not always welcome, but we have some people who are actually attending orthodox synagogues, and worshipping with them… Basically we worship the same way. The difference is we’re able to show the Christ… When we say those prayers when we’re in a Jewish synagogue, we’re able to show the connection to Christ. They haven’t seen it yet.”
There are several statements in this article that I take issue in these statements. I am not aware of anyone in the SBMF who worships/partners/attends synagogues in the manner that the executive director describes. If he knows of individuals that do, I would suggest that discussions with individuals take place as this reflects to me a type of “camel methodology” that needs to be addressed. Additionally, we do not worship basically in the same way as there are prayers in the synagogue that I could never say, especially the Amidah.
It should be noted that I am a member of the Dallas Holocaust Museum. I regularly attend Jewish Community Center events and any/all events in the Jewish community that I can. However, I go as a Christian and seek to find ways to present my Christian testimony in a loving and overt way. This overtness has opened the door to “seed-planting” opportunities that never would have happened in any other way. Jewish people appreciate and expect Christians to be honest about their faith in Messiah Jesus. We should do it whenever and however we get the chance and this is the primary vehicle that the ministry that I lead do for Christians and churches – teach you how.
My second concern is what the leader of the Messianic congregation in Pittsburgh stated in the Baptist Press article. He stated, “We can’t do anything more than just do the best we can to tell Jewish people, ‘We love you, we care about you, we’re going to overcome this with you… Love is greater than hate. We’re stronger than hate. … And just try to let Yeshua shine through us. We can’t be overtly evangelistic, especially at a time like this. But we have to be, very much, wise as serpents and gentle as doves.”
I disagree with this argument. In fact, I told the supporters of Tzedakah Ministries that it was more urgent now more than ever that we bring the truth of Jesus the Messiah to a lost Jewish world because they are hurting and searching for answers. You may disagree with me on this issue; however, would we allow any other people group to not hear the message of Jesus just because a tragedy occurred in their world? We cannot for the physical descendants of Jesus either.
Jewish evangelism is the passion of my life. It might not be your passion but we must have a passion for the lost in this day and age. The world is lost. The world is hurting. The world needs Jesus.
Dr. Amy Downey is a graduate of East Texas Baptist University, two-time graduate of SWBTS and a PhD from Liberty. She is a member of Needham Road Baptist in Conroe, Texas, and the president/director of Tzedakah Ministries.