Who Are the Evangelical Christians?

The most fervent supporters of Israel.

Ruth Matar,

Ruth Matar.JPG
Ruth Matar.JPG
Arutz 7
Recently, an event occurred in Israel which upset me greatly. Two Christian Evangelical groups, Bridges for Peace and the International Christian Embassy, were planning a conference in Jerusalem "to promote the status of women based on Biblical values," under the auspices of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus.
We desperately need true and loyal friends like the Evangelical Christians.

I was unpleasantly surprised to hear that the Chief Rabbinate, by a majority vote, declared a ban against Jews participating in this conference. Unfortunately, the rabbis supporting this ban were influenced by misinformation as to the true intentions of the Evangelical Christians. The misinformation was insidious; mainly, the claim that Christian Evangelicals only pretend to befriend the Jews in order to convert them.

Who are the Evangelicals?
Evangelicals today are the most fervent supporters of Israel in the Western world. Political support for Israel is one of their highest priorities. They are genuine Zionists whose faith is based on the Bible, believing that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish People. Most importantly, the Evangelicals completely reject Replacement Theology, which means they regard Judaism as a foundation for Christianity, rather than that Judaism was replaced by it.

No doubt, some Christians are intent on converting Jews. Some others may be downright anti-Semitic. However, the overwhelming majority of Evangelicals - there are today 100 million throughout the world - are decent people who try to promote Christian ethical values, many of which mirror the Judeo-Christian heritage.

When anti-Semitism is growing all over the world, we desperately need true and loyal friends like the Evangelical Christians. Many Evangelicals donate generously to social welfare and other projects designed to strengthen Israel. For instance, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews played a crucial role in launching the Nefesh B'Nefesh program in its early days. They provided, and still provide, millions of dollars to subsidize olim to Israel. After the Second Lebanon War, they donated large sums to assist Israelis in the north who were all but forsaken by their own government.

Most importantly, Evangelicals are the greatest source of political support for Israel in the United States. They lobby their congressional representatives to support Israel and organize their supporters to vote against legislators hostile to Israel.

On a personal note, I feel very comfortable with my Christian Evangelical friends, and truly respect them as genuine friends of the Jews and Israel. On the other hand, I cannot blame people who feel antagonistic toward Christians. Many Jews have, unfortunately, had only negative experiences with non-Jews. After all, every one of us is shaped by our own life experiences, thus creating a unique reaction toward other people.

Growing up in Austria, I became more and more distrustful, and even afraid, of my Christian neighbors. To this day, I have a very vivid memory from my childhood in which I was about six years old, playing in the park near our house with a group of children who I thought to be my friends. We were playing some kind of circle game in which players
Many Jews have, unfortunately, had only negative experiences with non-Jews.
were eliminated with each round. I remember being so happy because it looked as though I would be the winner. The kids who were already out of the game went into a huddle and then pronounced their verdict, which was very hurtful to a little girl: "You can't play with us anymore because you killed Jesus Christ."

I was absolutely sure I hadn't "killed Jesus Christ." I didn't even know who he was.

This is a prime example of how parents in Austria and other anti-Semitic countries instilled anti-Semitism in their children. Even little children were taught to hate Jews by their elders.

Fortunately, this early childhood experience was overshadowed by a different, and very positive, experience. In fact, Christian Zionists had a hand in saving my life.

I was eight years old when Hitler took over Austria, in 1938. In November of that year, the atrocities of Kristalnacht were a clear indication of Hitler's intent. My father was ousted from his business and our family was dragged out of our home. It became clear that escape from Austria was our only hope. However, all doors seamed to be closed, with the exception of some European countries that agreed to take in a very limited number of children, by way of the Kindertransport.

I remember my family waiting on long lines in front of the various embassies - France, England, Holland, Belgium, etc. The answer was always the same when we reached the front of the line: all the places are taken.

Miraculously, finally, the interviewer at the Swedish Embassy promised that she would try to provide foster parents for myself, my sister and my brother. She subsequently told us that all three of us were accepted and that we were to be at the central railway station of Vienna in two day's time. The day before our planned departure, my parents received a call from the Swedish Embassy with the good news that we had not lost our places on the Kindertransport. What upset our parents greatly was that there were no Jewish families who were willing to take us in. Only Christian foster families were available.

This was a very difficult decision for our parents, who were strictly observant Jews. They feared that we would cease being Jewish. However, this was September 1939, and the situation was daily becoming more life-threatening. My parents decided wisely that saving our lives was of paramount importance, and they agreed to turn us over to Gentile foster parents; thus, no doubt, saving our lives.

For the next few years I lived with my Christian foster family. Their daughter was my age and we were always the best of friends. My foster parents, while being very religious Christians, never tried to influence me in any way to change my religion. In fact, they tried, to the best of their ability, to accommodate the beliefs of my Jewish education.
I was absolutely sure I hadn't "killed Jesus Christ."

Thus, there is no wonder that I feel such affinity toward religious Christians, who truly believe in the Tanach (the Bible) we share, and in what is written therein.

Many believing Jews uphold the position of the great Torah scholar, Rabbi Joseph Soloveichik, "who opposed theological dialogue with other denominations, but endorsed joint activities with Christians to promote the Judeo-Christian heritage in the broadest social sense, including support for Israel." (Isi Liebler, Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2007)

An important teaching is: "Those who curse Israel shall be cursed, and those who bless Israel shall be blessed." May the God of Israel bless our Christian supporters and may He give us the good sense to stop biting the hand that feeds us.





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