I have a friend, Tom, who just returned from his 15th or 20th trip to Israel. He is a believer in Yeshua who looks very much like an Orthodox brother of Judah. For the last five or six years he has journeyed to Jerusalem for all of the pilgrim feasts, this time taking his 17 year old son for Pesach.
Each trip he prays for and is blessed with Divine appointments wherein he can share why he walks Torah and why he believes Yeshua is the Moshiach. The stories are interesting and varied. He does not have to initiate conversations and never pushes for some preconceived response. Rather, he simply tells his story.
On this trip, a mutual friend invited he and his son to join her for Erev Shabbat with an Orthodox couple. Upon arriving at the home, they found out the man of the house had not yet arrived, so the lady of the house and the lady who brought them began having a conversation. Tom and his son were shown to the patio and, to Tom’s curiosity, the patio door slowly slid shut as this conversation continued inside. Finally, the door opened and the lady of the house expressed her concern that tom was there to try to “convert her and her husband to Jesus.”
Tom smiled and assured her he had no intentions of converting them to anything and she, visibly relieved, said, “Good! Then, we can be friends.”
Tom related that not only did he have a wonderful dinner and visit that lasted some six hours but as they became comfortable the couple began to ask a few questions about why Tom and his family observed Torah at which time, Tom simply shared his story.
If I remember the story correctly, (he had MUCH to relate concerning his recent trip) two very interesting things came out of sharing this meal, one of which I can relate. He and his son were invited to a small Orthodox synagogue for Shabbat. They sat in the back quietly and at some point during the proceedings he was asked to ‘tell his story.’ Again, Tom simply shared how he came to Torah and what he is seeing and experiencing in the nations. Unabashedly, he connected it to his faith in Messiah.
The point is that he didn’t have to go looking for conversations and he didn’t, in the common vernacular, ‘evangelize’ anyone. Tom was simply open to sharing when asked. And, he was asked. He is always asked.
On a personal level, his experience over the last few years is consistent with mine, albeit electronic, over the last few months. I have had and continue to have quality meaningful conversations with brother Judah through multiple avenues precisely because the traditional Christian ‘evangelizing’ agenda is off the table. Once that is out of the way we can relax and talk as brothers, building a bridge of trust that can bear the weight of differences.
Recently, one of the Elders of Bney Yosef North America published the second of two very good articles concerning heresy, evangelism and the eighth Article. Both are filled with insight and wisdom as we learn to shift our paradigm from understandings and beliefs we held dear in the Church to something that more closely resembles the truth of Scripture and how we are to love and treat our brother, whether they are Jewish or not.
Please take the time to read and digest these two pieces. You may find parts that you wrestle with. If you do, consider at least trying to understand the author’s intent instead of choosing offense.