Jews for Jesus must be doing something right! If not, the devil wouldn’t bother to attack us so often. The latest onslaught is an insidious campaign against our ministry that can only be described as diabolical. It came through the most innocent of channels— a magazine for senior citizens.
Modern Maturity is the official organ of the American Association for Retired Persons. AARP claims to be a nonpartisan organization. Yet a recent article in this publication was used as a vehicle to defame Jews for Jesus (and possibly put all Bible believers in a bad light as it refers to “Bible-believing cults”).
The June cover of Modern Maturity carried in large letters the word cults. In it were entrapped a number of grotesque, helpless–looking elderly people. The feature article inside was titled, “Let us Prey.” The subtitle warned, “Cults have scored with youth, now they’re after you.” Again there appeared the grotesque drawing of elderly people with a sinister figure looming over them in a menacing stance.
The article began with the statement, “Respect your elders; cults certainly do. They respect elders’ retirement incomes, investment portfolios and paid-for homes. No longer satisfied with recruiting wide-eyed and penniless youths, the cults have shifted their focus to older people—even those who have little more to offer than their social security checks or small pensions.”
The article discussed David Koresh, the Church Universal Triumphant, some other questionable groups and—would you believe it—Jews for Jesus! The writers sought to cover themselves legally by describing Jews for Jesus as a “fundamentalist Christian missionary organization.” Yet adjacent to an inflammatory pullout about cults in very large, eyecatching type they accused us of “recruiting practices indicative of tactics cults or cult-like organizations use.”
The authors based their defamatory remarks on a book by Ellen Kamentsky, a former Jews for Jesus staffer who was “deprogrammed” and is being used by antimissionary groups as a polemicist against us. In her book, Kamentsky misrepresented our ministry. She described an alleged practice we use in visiting nursing homes. Telling of her own unauthorized visits to such places, she wrote of wandering in and out of nursing homes, addressing patients by the names she read on the doors of their rooms and asking if they would like some company, which they usually did.
If Kamentsky did things like that, she went against all of our Jews for Jesus rules and training. We never visit old age homes or nursing homes unless someone there wants to see us. Visits usually are arranged by prior phone call. Our missionary-evangelists identify themselves, give a Bible lesson and close in prayer. If Ellen Kamentsky deceived patients into thinking that she was not a missionary, she went against all of our principles.
Actually, we are not so concerned with what Ellen Kamentsky said. Most astute Christians who read her book will discern that she had some hidden problems even before she left our employ. What does concern us is that this lurid article lumps us together with all kinds of unscrupulous cults. In a sense, the writers, for whatever reason, have tried to establish “guilt by association.”
Such an article cuts us two ways: Jewish people who read it will not want to have anything to do with us because they will be sure that we are trying to swindle them out of their money or, worse yet, lead them into weird practices that could even result in violence.
It also raises suspicions about our character and purpose among those we need to be our ministry friends. We exist and carry on our ministry because God provides through His people. Because this insidious article implies that we are a cult, people will remember that rather than the truth and will reject our ministry.
In the past, however, every such knock has been a boost. Everything formed as a weapon against us has failed. Opposition can and does strengthen the Jews for Jesus organization from within. When our motives are constantly questioned, we know we must be transparent. We strive to be above reproach in all our endeavors. Ordinary integrity is not enough for us. Because we are constantly under attack, we strive to be even more honest and more honorable than other missions.
Such an onslaught as this article also tends to make us huddle closer to the Lord. We realize that we cannot rely on ourselves or outsiders. The world without Christ is easily manipulated by the evil one. Yet God is our helper and defender. As our cause is just, He will fight for us.
There is no way I can believe that all 32,000,000 members of the American Association of Retired Persons have set or will set their hearts against us. Many of them are evangelical Christians just like us, and some are our supporters.
Even so, we are bound to get adverse reactions. You cannot imagine the discouragement we would feel were we to start getting bundles of letters from previous friends and supporters asking that their names be removed from our mailing list because they thought we engaged in “cult-like practices.”
It really would not do any good to try to answer such letters. Most people who take wrongful impressions don’t even bother to write us, so we cannot defend ourselves to them. All we can do is cling to the Lord and ask Him to vindicate His honor and our name.
We can only pray for those who have intentionally or unintentionally wronged us. We can pray for the writers, for Executive Editor T. A. Dworetzky and others on the Modern Maturity staff who may have had part in this article’s publication. May they discover the joy we have discovered in knowing Jesus and gain discernment as to who really is a friend or enemy of God and of the elderly, the sick and the helpless.
Jews for Jesus has been in this kind of circumstance before. I have encountered situations where I felt that, humanly speaking, it was hopeless to go on. Yet I went to God, and He not only moved us ahead, but gave us greater victories than ever before. He has used such attacks not only to help us draw closer to Him, but to find new appreciation for our friends and supporters like you who trust Him and uphold us in times of trouble.
I think of what one of our supporters told me when I was in Oregon recently. He had gone to a synagogue service because the rabbi was speaking on the topic of Jews for Jesus. There he heard a lengthy diatribe of preposterous statements, such as, “Moishe Rosen really isn’t Jewish,” and “Most of the Jews for Jesus staff are pretending to be Jews.” That brother, a longtime supporter who had never met me, said he wept for that rabbi and for that congregation
He underwent a moment of confusion when they said we were a multimillion dollar organization. (It is true that we are the largest mission to the Jews, and as such, we do spend $8,000,000 a year on evangelism.) Then he sought the Lord and felt better than ever about supporting Jews for Jesus. Having been at that meeting, he could appreciate the kind of opposition we face.
Sometimes the “false hell” our adversaries try to put us through is nothing more than refining fire. When someone is determined to “crucify” us, we remember that Jesus, though literally crucified, arose triumphantly. Even so, we, His followers, shall arise from every troubled situation to a new life.
We at Jews for Jesus are at a point where once again we are discovering the truth of Y’shua’s words: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We also take comfort in the words of 1 John 4:4: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” The devil is out there, trying to defeat the cause of Christ, but God will triumph. There are yet many who need to hear the message of salvation, and with God’s help, we will continue to preach it.
I would like to offer a final thought to all who honor Christ, believe that the Bible is God’s Word and affiliate themselves with others of like faith and conviction. Today it’s Jews for Jesus. Tomorrow it could be you and your church! That same Modern Maturity article that tried to put Jews for Jesus in a bad light also hinted at a connection between all Bible believers and cults. One point (on page 24) mentioned “Bible-oriented mind-control groups.” We see this, too, as a veiled attempt to show guilt by association.
Ungodly forces at work in this world have already legalized the murder of unborn children. They have taken away the rights to read Scripture or pray in school and replaced them with lessons about sexual perversion and “safe” promiscuity. Will they next legalize euthanasia? Will they publish warnings not to give financial support to churches? Will they deny eligibility for tax deductions to evangelistic organizations? Will they label the Bible and all evangelistic literature as “subversive propaganda for the weak and helpless”?
The caption at the bottom of Modern Maturity’s June cover warned: “Forget kids. Now they’re after you.” For all God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians, let me offer my version: “Forget cults. Soon they could be after you!”
The times are evil, but God will yet triumph. Won’t you join hands and prayers with us? Let’s pray that we might rise above the present situations and be living demonstrations that Christians are overcomers.