At Bridges for Peace, we are motivated by this Scripture. We love God and so we love His earthly family, the Jewish people. We are grieved that so many Christians throughout the ages didn’t show them His love, causing them great pain. So, all of our projects are designed to show love to the Jewish people. Every time we give food, fix a home, or help a new immigrant, it is our prayer that they will feel our love for them. We are thrilled when we see ancient animosity and suspicion melt in the face of unconditional love. We have seen changes in attitudes over the past few years, as Israelis are beginning to recognize that Bible-believing Christians are some of their best friends in the world today—maybe their only friends. Great strides have been made in Jewish–Christian relationships in the past few years.
Understanding Their Fears
At the same time, we are often reminded that there is still much work to be done. At our recent Representative Training Institute, a rabbi spoke to us about the various streams within Judaism. When asked how the various streams viewed Christianity, his face became very serious, and he had to admit that there was a great depth of suspicion. Later the same day, I spoke with an Orthodox Jewish friend who told me about accusations being made against Bridges for Peace in the community. One woman, in particular, who enjoys a high place in Jerusalem society, had called her and spoken emotively about Christians who want to destroy the Jewish people, saying we were sneaking around trying to steal Jewish souls through missionary activity. These kinds of events remind us once again of the pain of the Jewish people and the fears they have when encountering a Christian.
In my years of living and working in Israel, I have come to believe that the Jewish people have one great big fear. It is the fear of annihilation as a people. There are at least three main ways they imagine this happening. First, they fear those who would kill the Jewish people in genocide, like the Holocaust. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, threatens them with this on almost a daily basis. Surrounded by enemies, their very survival as a people seems tenuous. Second, they fear the disappearance of the Jewish people through assimilation. As their children marry non-Jews and their grandchildren are not Jewish, they fear the nation will gradually disappear. Third, they fear conversion to Christianity. Many rabbis have said that if a Jewish person chooses to convert to Christianity, they are choosing to no longer be Jewish. This is a widely held belief. This then becomes another way their people could disappear from the earth.
It is in the midst of this environment of fear that God has called Bridges for Peace to minister a gentle touch of unconditional love. We love because God loves us and asks us to love Him and to love our neighbor. We love, understanding that love is the antidote to fear. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
What does the gentle touch of love look like?
These are only a few ways we are reaching out in love. For centuries, the Jewish people did not experience love from Christians. Sadly, we repeatedly hear people say, “This is the first time a Christian did something good for me.” Now is the time to change that reality, and we can do that as we exhibit in our lives and actions the love we have for God and for our neighbor.
Please pray that God will help us to always respond in love, regardless of the situation. Pray that we will be worthy representatives of Him in Israel. Will you join with us? Your gifts, supporting the various projects, allow us to reach out and touch more people. Your love reaches from afar and is communicated by our Christian volunteers here in Israel. Join with us to minister His love in Israel.
In His Service,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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