By George Whitten, BosNewsLife Jerusalem Bureau Chief reporting from Israel
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (BosNewsLife)– Religious Jews from across Israel calling themselves ‘Anti-Missionaries’ were to meet Tuesday, September 14, in Jerusalem to discuss the “growing problem” of Christian missionaries and Messianic churches in the Jewish state.
Ahead of the gathering in the nation’s largest conference center, thousands of leaflets were distributed advertising the “anti-missionary” conference and encouraging people to come.
Many of Israel’s leading anti-messianic organizations along with leading rabbis have taken the opportunity to “educate” people on the “impossibility” of being Jewish and believing in Yeshua (Jesus in Hebrew), organizers said. They were to “inform” the public of the “great danger” Messianic Jews, those who believe in Jesus, are to traditional Judaism.
The gathering was organized by several ultra-Orthodox groups and observers described it as the largest anti-missionary meeting so far.
Revive Israel, a leading Messianic organization in Israel, said in a statement that delegates of the controversial meeting view the term”missionary” as equivalent to the word “Nazi.”
Israeli law forbids missionary activities, including criminal offenses such as “bribing” Jews to change their religion by monetary compensation, and baptizing children under the age of 18 without the consent of their parents. Messianic congregations and evangelical Christians have denied they are forcing Jews to change their religion.
Revive Israel said the meeting in Jerusalem was would aim to raise money for “anti-missionaries”, to “convince Jewish organizations not to receive funds from Christian Zionists” and, “Finally, to stop all evangelism efforts in Israel.”
Eddie Santoro, a Messianic pastor, told BosNewsLife he had urged supporters to “Pray that a spirit of division would be on this gathering of religious Jews.” He said he asked his church members to also “Pray that their house would be divided, and no effective strategies would be achieved in their intensifying battle against those who believe.”
Santoro added that his church was also praying to “know the right strategy in response to this event.” He said he had asked Christians to “Pray that in God’s mercy, even as they speak against Yeshua, some hearts would be touched by His great mercy and love.”