To the Jew first: Jacob Damkani’s passion for evangelism  

Jacob Damkani evangelizing on the streets of Tel Aviv with a team from Trumpets of Salvation

Well known in Israel for his courage and passion to share the gospel, Israeli evangelist Jacob Damkani insists that Christians visitors to Israel can and should also boldly share their faith with the Jewish people.

“My heart’s cry is to encourage the saints of the nations to rise up in their biblical calling to provoke the Jews to jealousy with the gospel of truth,” Damkani declared in an interview with KNI. “Many Christians who love Israel, and who want to bless the Jewish people, have been told lies.”

Damkani, who runs Hotel Gilgal in Tel Aviv, is troubled that many Christians visiting Israel are silenced because of “lies” they have heard. They are taught that past atrocities committed in the name of Christ preclude them from sharing their faith and that God established the Old Covenant with Israel and the New Covenant with the gentiles, he said.

“These things are not true,” Damkani insisted.

“It is heartbreaking to see that most true Christians will do almost anything for Israel but refuse to share the gospel of grace with Israel, who gave it to them in the first place,” Damkani said.

Damkani’s own journey of faith has been remarkable. Most recently he has recovered from life-threatening health issues and, by God’s grace, his energy and strength continue to increase.

Born in 1952 to a religious Jewish family in the Galilee, Damkani came to faith at age 25 while he was living in the United States. He had been caught in a life of rebellion and crime, and had left Israel in 1974 to escape the police. While in New York he met an American Christian who explained to him that the Old Testament Scriptures that spoke of Messiah were fulfilled in Yeshua.

After a long quest Damkani received Yeshua as his Lord and Savior in 1977. He returned to Israel in 1981 with a passion for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and  a yearning to share the Good News with his people to their salvation. (Damkani’s full story can be read in his book Why Me?, available here.)

In 1984, Damkani founded Trumpet of Salvation to Israel, a ministry that is “dedicated to bringing the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people in his Jewish context in order for God’s covenant people to recognize their own promised Messiah.”

The purpose of Trumpet of Salvation is to equip Christians to share the gospel with Israelis and then take them out to army bases, market places, beaches and the streets to more effectively share the Good News.

“God has commissioned Trumpet of Salvation to mobilize the saints of the nations to fulfill their commission in bringing the gospel back to the Jewish people,” Damkani shared.

Damkani pleads with Christians to understand that not only is the past forgiven, but that “Israel is open to the gospel — more open than ever before.”

He also explained the Jewish understanding of God.

“In much of Christianity, all the emphasis is on Jesus. God the Father is not spoken of or praised much. This is a problem for Jews because, while we believers understand that God and Jesus are one, the Jews don’t have that understanding,” Damkani explained. “If you don’t talk to Jews about God the Father who promised them the Messiah, they think you want them to leave their God for yours.”

Based on his own experience, Damkani understands the message that Jews need to hear.

“The argument that Israel does not need the Gospel because Paul says ‘all Israel will be saved’ is a terrible misinterpretation,” he said. “The gospel is all about the God of our forefathers. Yeshua is the one God promised and not someone the Gentiles invented. In sharing the gospel with the Jews we must always point to God the Father, who promises them salvation and reconciliation with himself.”

A common misconception is that evangelizing in Israel is illegal. One reason for this is that the Ministry of Interior has refused people entry to Israel on the grounds of suspected “missionary activity.” While it is indeed illegal to offer material gain in exchange for conversion and to teach the gospel to minors without parental consent, evangelizing is actually legal.

“Israel has freedom of religion and speech. Those that oppose us are fewer than 2 percent of Israel’s population,” he said. “Yet these who are against us have managed to intimidate believers, pounding into them fear of sharing the Gospel. This is very painful.”

“Christians need a bit of boldness and obedience when God calls them to share the Gospel,” Damkani reflects. “Preaching the gospel in a decaying world is the greatest thing that gives life — it pumps life into our own hearts.

A new movie portraying a fictionalized account of Damkani’s life is set to be released later this year. The film, New Spirit, is an Israeli production directed by film maker Doron Eran. A teaser for the movie can be seen here and the trailer may be viewed here.

“The movie, New Spirit, shows the wondrous things Yeshua can do with the life of any person,” Damkani said.

New Spirit is a continuation of the biographical documentary of Damkani’s life called The Messenger, which was well received in Israel. Readers can watch a trailer of The Messenger here or purchase the DVD with subtitles here.