Annual Report 2006 for LCJE North America
By Theresa Newell, LCJE Coordinator for North America
This past year I have seen clearly how God is reaching literally across the world among believers with the message that the Gospel is to go “to the Jew first.” I will share in this report the ways in which he has shown me this truth, beginning with my home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, all the way to Africa and India. I am writing this year’s report from Jerusalem having just completed a study tour with our seminary students.
Each month I receive newsletters and magazines from more than 20 different Jewish ministries and messianic congregations in the USA. As I read each one, my heart is filled with thanksgiving to the Lord that the Gospel is going out to the Jewish people in America. I pray always for workers to be raised up worldwide to pray and to take the Gospel to the Jewish people. I rejoice that we are seeing new countries opening up to the biblical mandate to take the Gospel to the Jewish people.
Bruce and I spent January 06 in England and then in India teaching at the new India Graduate School of Missiology near Chennai (Madras). In 2002 we took the director of IGSM to Israel with us on a biblical study program. Andrew had completed his PhD in New Testament at Fuller Seminary in the early 80s but had never visited Israel. His heart was moved while in Israel as he came to understand in a new way the centrality of the Jewish people in God’s plan. Since his return to India, he has impressed his students with the necessity of prayer and work for the salvation of the Jewish people. In January we taught 19 students from India, Myanmar, and Nepal about the history and culture of the Jews and the ways that ministries worldwide are reaching out to the Jews. They were especially intrigued to hear about the Danish Israel Mission’s work of “trekking” with young Israelis to India each year! They gasped when I stated that the government of Israel issues over 200,000 visas to India per year. Perhaps they themselves would one day meet some of these Israelis in their own land and have an opportunity to share the gospel with them! And they would pray.
A week after we returned from India, I was called by my bishop in Pittsburgh who said that he had received emails from a local Jewish leader who objected to LCJE NA having its annual conference in our city in April. Would I meet with some of these Jewish leaders? So on January 31, 2006, the bishop and I met for two hours with five Jewish leaders of Pittsburgh, among them a rabbi, the new area director of the American Jewish Congress, the communications director of the United Jewish Federation and two members of AJC. It was a great afternoon! We covered everything from the right of free speech (when they learned that I had been one of those people giving out tracts on the sidewalks of Pittsburgh in the “Behold Your God” campaign in our city a few months before) to the history of the synagogue and the church to their objections to holding an LCJE NA conference in Pittsburgh (their reason for calling the meeting) and, most importantly, New Testament scriptures which called me to share the gospel with the Jewish people. When I opened a sentence with, “I became a Christian at age 33 . . .” one of the AJC gentlemen stopped me. “Did I hear you say that you BECAME a Christian when you were 33? Can you tell me about that?” As a result I was able to share my testimony. They turned to the bishop and said, “Did you have this experience as well?” The bishop then shared his testimony! I thank God for this opportunity.
The LCJE NA conference was held April 24-26 at the Marriott City Center Hotel and was well attended by local JBs and pastors as well as members from across the country. Reports of the talks appeared in several issues of The Bulletin and are posted to our website. In late May and June, I took 12 people from our diocese to Uganda to explore ways that our diocese could fulfill a five-year partnership with Uganda Christian University to which we had committed ourselves. While there, I met with a theology professor from India who is a member of the leadership of the Lausanne Movement who had many questions about how LCJE was functioning.
Bruce and I had taken several of the leaders of the Anglican Church to study in Israel under the Alexander College program at Christ Church, Jerusalem, directed by the Rev. David Pileggi. One of the first Ugandan bishops in the program was Henry Orombi, now the Archbishop of Uganda. Today, Archbishop Orombi takes at least one group of Ugandan church and business leaders each year to Israel and many of the UCU theology professors have been awarded scholarships to study at Alexander College. The Rev. Dr. Stephen Noll, vice-chancellor of UCU, serves on the Board of Alexander College and was on the first CMJ/USA Board from 1980. There is a growing heart for the Jewish people among church leaders in Uganda.
During the summer, many Jewish evangelism teams went on the streets of the cities of America with the Gospel. None was larger than the finale of the five-year “Behold Your God” campaign in New York City area by Jews for Jesus. (see JFJ website for details).
On August 1-2, a resolution committee appointed by the Coordinator met in San Antonio to discuss the “LCJE-NA 2005 Resolution on Messianic Congregations” submitted by member Tim Sigler. The revised Resolution will be submitted for a vote by LCJE members at the 07 LCJE NA conference in April. Committee members were: Justin Kron, Gary Hedrick, Jim Sibley, Stan Telchin, Tim Sigler, Loren Jacob, Tuvya Zaretsky, Kirk Gliebe, Theresa Newell, and Robert Specter.
As I write this 2006 report, Bruce and I have just take 27 students into Israel to study at Alexander College, Christ Church, Jerusalem. One is a pastor from Kenya and another is the first church leader from Beijing! One was a seminarian who began a forum this year on our seminary campus called “Things Jewish.” We discuss theological, biblical and mission questions which pertain to the Jewish people.
This year has brought new insight into the worldwide scope of doing Jewish mission and ministry. God is spreading the net very wide, asking all of his church to pray and work for the salvation of His Jewish people. We must work while there is light.
Our greetings from North America to all our LCJE brothers and sisters across the world. We invite you all to attend the 24th annual LCJE NA conference in San Antonio, Texas April 16-18, 2007.
Bruce and I look forward to seeing many of you at the International Conference in August.