It seemed like a fluke then. I wouldn't say it's typical now. But there may be a trend developing…
Years ago, one of our more generous donors sent a letter informing Moishe Rosen (our founder and executive director at the time) that he was discontinuing his support. He didn't have a complaint, exactly. He had discovered that large numbers of people were coming to Christ in Africa. He pointed out that Jewish souls were no more valuable to God than African ones, and since he would see many more Africans won per dollar than Jews, his contributions would accomplish more this way. What could Moishe say? What would you say?
We know that God loves all people and wants non-Jews to be saved as much as He wants Jews. That donor might not have been called to evangelize Jewish people, and that's okay. The point is not that a friend switched support to a different kind of ministry…but that he did so on the basis of a mathematical equation.
Now it should come as no surprise that anti-missionaries came up with this formula years ago. They took our annual income and the number of Jewish people reported to have made professions of faith and, using simple long division, they equated each convert" with a dollar amount. It was a way to discourage Christians from supporting us. Our opposition wanted you to see that you can get more for your money by shopping elsewhere, because Jewish souls are no bargain!
We expect such tactics from anti-missionaries who are not awake to spiritual realities. If they knew that there was a real heaven and hell involved, and that Jewish people need Jesus to get to heaven, they would not put a price on salvation. But, as Christians, we see things differently—at least I think most of us do. Yet I fear that too many church mission boards are using business equations to do God's work and that this has begun to affect the church.
Are such equations a matter of stewardship? The Great Commission is to go into all the world. Romans 1:16 stresses to the Jew first. How is this good stewardship? Stewardship involves a certain amount of control, but we cannot control people's responses to the gospel. The only thing that we can control, to some extent, is when, where and how we proclaim the gospel. When it comes to results, those are always up to God. It is good stewardship for us to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to the Jew first, if our goal is to obey, rather than to guarantee results.
I guess that going to more receptive people to the exclusion of less receptive people might be a bargain for missions dollars if we think that we can purchase people for money. But we can't purchase people to be saved. We can only proclaim the gospel and hope that some will be saved. If it were possible to win people with money, then we would spend all of our time raising money to pay the ransom—but this is a ransom that Jesus already paid!
Some will say that since we are fishers of men, it makes sense to only fish where the fish are biting. That's a great metaphor, since Jesus chose fishing to describe evangelism. But remember, Jesus didn't use a hook, line and bait. He used a net. And the amazing thing about netting fish is that you can cast a net in one place and come up with few fish and then cast it into the same place or nearby and come up with none, or a ton. It isn't a question of using the right kind of bait. No bait is required. It is a matter of faithfully casting out the net and drawing in whatever fish are to be found.
Jesus used another metaphor to address this subject. He taught that gospel proclamation is like seed sowing. In the parable of the sower, seed is sown in different places and on different kinds of soil, yet only one kind of soil yields a harvest. Some missions boards today might frown upon the sower for "wasting his seed" in soil that yields no fruit. They may feel the sower should save his seed only for the good soil. Others might complain that the amount of seed sown is too much for the size of the harvest produced. But God doesn't ask us to take a soil sample before we scatter the seed. While some sow and some water, it is always God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). He expects us to spread the gospel widely. So we faithfully sow seed and trust God for the results.
We keep figures of how many people profess faith in Christ, and if it really matters to you, let me know, and I'll send you a breakdown, city by city. But before you ask, let me tell you that I'm more interested in how much we preach the gospel. How many people respond is up to the Lord. This does not mean that the people don't matter, or that we just throw seed at them and go on to others. We become involved with those we want to reach. It's just that we can't reach them with money. If Jews for Jesus had twice the 14 million dollars we need each year, I doubt we would win twice as many people to the Lord. And if we only had half, it wouldn't mean we could only win half. We will do what God enables us to do with the resources He provides.
Frankly, we won't know how many God has touched through our ministry until we are with them in glory. Some who profess faith will fall away, while others who seem to reject the seed will later come to faith.
Our commitment in Operation Behold Your God is to reach into every city with a Jewish population of 25,000 or more. Of those 65 cities around the world, some require far more resources than others. Some of our outreaches may yield a harvest of souls while others yield very little. And our branches? It is much more costly to conduct ministry in New York City, London and Paris than it would be in Biloxi, Mississippi or Green Bay, Wisconsin. But we are reaching out to Jewish people, where they live.
So what kind of results should we be looking for from Jews for Jesus regular branch ministry, and from Operation Behold Your God? We will see a varied response. Some of the nets are coming back with very few fish. You can almost see the seed falling by the side of the road. Yet we can't help but notice a little spark here and there, a tender green shoot in one place or another. Perhaps our seed sowing will serve as the first step for others who will sow more and water more. We continue to pray for the increase.
Other nets come back heavy with fish. The harvest is more plentiful. We see fruit that remains as people are now planted in local congregations, actively serving the Lord.
What is the difference? That is a mystery best left to God. I can tell you that we will continue to do our best to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide. You can count on our staff and volunteers to give their best to get out the message, to continue to stretch as far as possible to tell others of the Savior. Some Jewish people will come to Christ and many more non-Jews will as well.
We don't win cities for Christ. We win people for Christ, and that happens one by one. The key is remaining faithful to what God has called us to do. By God's grace, and with your prayers and encouragement, we can commit ourselves to that much. That much you can expect from Jews for Jesus!