4 Myths and Facts About ‘Christian Missionaries’ in Israel

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A view of the Old City in Jerusalem

Recently there was a story in the Israeli media about a couple who lived as Jews in an ultra-Orthodox section of Jerusalem, but they were not born Jewish and secretly believed in Yeshua (Jesus). They were “outed” when one of their children mentioned Jesus in school.  The Orthodox community immediately labeled the couple as “Christian Missionaries.”

The story of the couple and how a close friend felt betrayed was told in a Times of Israel blog about the real damage caused by Christian missionaries. The blogger writes: “Make no mistake, missionary Christians want to destroy the Jews as a nation.

What a terrible and untrue thing to say. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The purpose of this article is not to defend the couple, but rather to dispel the myth that any Jewish person who believes that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah is automatically labelled as a “missionary.”

We are going to list some myths and facts about missionaries, but before we do, let’s define what a missionary is. According to Merriam-Webster a missionary is “a person who is sent to a foreign country to do religious work (such as to convince people to join a religion or to help people who are sick, poor, etc.)

Myth #1: All Messianic Jews in Israel were sent to Israel from a foreign country to do religious work.

Fact #1: Most Messianic Jews who make aliyah to Israel are not sent, but come on their own accord because Israel is the Jewish homeland. Messianic Jews in Israel are an active part of the workforce, pay taxes, serve in the IDF, and live as normal Israelis. They don’t depend on support from the Israeli government. They are contributors, not takers.

Myth #2: All Messianic Jews want to “missionize” to Jews and preach the Gospel of Jesus to everyone they meet.

Fact #2: Messianic Jews in Israel may or may not share their faith with certain friends and associates depending on the situation. The bottom line is that all Messianic Jews are not the same, they do not walk out their faith the same way, they are not all deceptive, and they should not all be categorized as “missionaries.”

Myth #3: All believers in Jesus that live in the Orthodox Jewish community are “missionaries.”

Fact #3: Most believers in Yeshua Jesus that live among the Orthodox Jewish community do so as their personal expression of faith and mostly do not verbally share their faith. If a believer is on their deathbed, as the wife was, and never mentioned Jesus to her Orthodox friend, then she was not a missionary. Yes, she lived as an Orthodox Jew, maybe believed in Jesus, but if she never witnessed to any of them, then she was not a missionary.

Myth #4: When a person, born to Jewish parents, accepts Yeshua as the Messiah, he automatically becomes a Christian and a “missionary.”

Fact #4: We like to say: “There is more to being Jewish than not believing in Jesus.” If a person who is born Jewish comes to faith in Yeshua, how does that change ethnicity? It doesn’t. Are Jews a people group or a religious group or both? Aliyah was always based on ethnicity and not Jews as a religious group. If it was based on Judaism then aliyah should be restricted to Orthodox only. Obviously that wouldn’t work, so the law was set up to accept Jews by birth, not by practice. So, if you were born Jewish, then you are Jewish without regard to your belief or practices. We need to get this word “missionary” out of the vocabulary. If their faith in Judaism is so strong then they should have nothing to fear from believers.

Depending on the response, we may continue these Myths and Facts as a continuing feature on Kehila News Israel. Feel free to comment but please be respectful.