Iran – Iran – Iran
There's a very interesting phenomenon taking place throughout the world.
A couple of years ago a small group of Christians from Texas toured with me in Hebron. After they left I tucked them back in my distant memory. Actually I didn't intentionally do so; my memory's like a slice of Swiss cheese, full of holes.
But, I guess I didn't entirely forget them. About a half a year later I found myself in Texas with a couple of days to spare, looking for something worthwhile to do. Somehow I remembered that some people from the Lone Star State had visited with me, managed to find them, and spent a few days with them. One of that group, a fellow named Mike, has become a very close personal friend.
Mike introduced me, up close, to this breathtaking trend; that, being a startling move by Christians, some of whom might be labeled 'evangelic' towards religious Judaism.
No, they're not necessarily thinking about converting, at least not all of them. And they haven't necessarily forsaken Jesus, again, at least not all of them. But, they are searching for their roots, and that pursuit leads them directly to the Bible, the 'Old Testament' otherwise known as the five books of Moses, or the Torah. Many have reached the (logical) conclusion that Judaism never 'needed' Christianity, but without Judaism there never would have been Christianity.
'Torah study groups' have blossomed, not necessarily among Jews, but rather, among these gentiles. I've seen an Iphone application which can teach Jewish blessings in Hebrew; Mike has one on his phone and uses it. I spoke at such a 'Torah center' in Texas. The charismatic man running the place told me, "I don't really know what I am, but I know that my grandmother used to light candles on Friday nights and bless me." More than likely his family were among those called "Marranos," Spanish Jews forcibly converted over 500 years ago. His Jewish roots are calling from somewhere deep down inside him, and he's beginning to answer.
I know people who do say that they no longer believe in Jesus and don't celebrate the Christian holidays, at least not the way they used to. Others, haven't made it that far, but I've visited Pastors who have, in their offices, Jewish prayer shawls (Tallit), a ram's horn (Shofar) and other Jewish, traditional prayer items. Some people have even taken up use of Tefillin, known as phylacteries. Once, when Mike was with me here in Hebron, he wanted to call someone back in Texas on Saturday night, but looking at his watch exclaimed, "he won't answer the phone now. There, it's still Shabbat." And the guy he wanted to call isn't Jewish.
I know a couple who have an amazing television program, viewed by millions around the world, who don't produce a show on Saturday, because it's Shabbat. And they aren't Jewish.
This phenomenon seems to be growing, and with it, Jewish suspicions. Not only are masses beginning to move towards Judaism. Various organizations are utilizing such practices to encourage their agenda, which is overtly missionary; converting Jews to Christianity. "Hidden missionaries" – those people who seem outwardly to be Jewish, even observant Jews, are actually attempting to 'get a foot in the door' to propagate literature and their own ideas and ideals in order to 'save' the Jews from eternal hell.
In the past other types of methods were used, like burning people at the stake. Today's world would view that as barbaric so more cultural approaches are utilized.
This being the case, with such missionary types running rampant in the US and even here in Israel, many Jews are extremely extremely suspicious of any non-Jew who tries to cozy up and get too friendly. And most especially, where money is involved. Nothing works better to convince another of genuine friendship than a few bucks, or a few tens or hundreds of thousands of them.
That being the case, huge disagreements have erupted over acceptance of money from non-Jews, and most particularly, those labeled as evangelical.
I've had many discussions with Mike concerning this issue; we are very open with each other. He decided to show me the 'real thing,' and last summer took me to the annual CUFI (Christians United for Israel) conference in Washington DC. There, for three days, over 4,000 people gathered in the Washington Convention Center, and participated in numerous lectures, study groups and gatherings. The entire event was initiated by one man: Pastor John Hagee.
I'd heard about Pastor Hagee, but really didn't know a whole lot about him. Quick checks with a few people I trust, 'in the know' led me to believe that he is straight; in other words his agenda is not to convert Jews. Knowing that, I took in a deep breath, let it out slowly, and could not believe what I was hearing or seeing.
Again, with my memory not helping too much, I'm limited as to the examples I can give, but perhaps two are enough. The last day of the conference, the thousands attending, from every state in the Union, invaded Capital Hill, lobbying their representatives and Senators. Prior to leaving for Congress, the participants were briefed as to the issues to be raised.
Religious Christians have many issues dear to their hearts: abortion, school prayer, and more. Pastor Hagee gave them a list of several topics to be discusses and requested/demanded that these, and only these, be brought up. The first issue, he said, is Iran. We have to prevent the Iranians from obtaining nuclear weapons to keep Israel safe. Two, he said, is Iran. We have to stop all investments in Iran, in an attempt to force them to stop their nuclear program, which is endangering Israel. And third, he said, is Iran. Congress must ensure that companies with previously agreements with Iran will not be penalized when they break them.
And that's all!
Iran – Iran – Iran.
The conference was amazing; it left a real mark on me.
Last night I attended a similar event: A Night to Honor Israel. But this wasn't held in Washington. It took place here, in Jerusalem.
Again, amazing. A short video showed how the Hagee ministries have distributed over fifty eight million dollars to projects in Israel, including soup kitchens, children's special needs centers, Yeshivas, - the list is endless. Organizations and communities throughout Israel, Judea, Samaria, Gush Katif (and Gush Katif refugees) and all over the country.
Again, the Pastor spoke of one basic issue: the need for Israel to be able to defend itself, to 'take care' of the Iranians, and castigating, in no uncertain terms, the Goldstone report and those who authored it.
Again, I left the event thinking to myself how history has turned upside down, how these people don't 'seem to be' but are, true genuine friends of Israel and the Jewish people. I have no doubt of Pastor John Hagee's authenticity. The kinds of words and acts he espouses and accomplishes are not the work of a phony. He is the real McCoy. "Nights to Honor Israel" are happening throughout the United States, raising money for worthy Israel projects. All initiated by Pastor Hagee and his wife, Diane.
Ah, I almost forgot the other 'proof' for the summer's conference. I don't remember everything he said during his main speech, but what I think I'll never forget was one phrase that I've repeated countless times to many people: Pastor John Hagee, a Christian preacher from San Antonio Texas declared: 'There are only two ways: there's the Torah way and there's the wrong way. The Torah way, and the wrong way."
I'm waiting to hear some more Jews say that: The Torah Way and the Wrong Way.
Thank you very very much, Pastor John Hagee!