A Movement for Yeshua
At the time I came to faith in the early 1970s, we were actually part of a growing movement of young Jewish people coming to faith in what was then called “The Jesus Movement.”
We just were not aware of each other’s existence! Eventually we began meeting one another: Jewish believers in their late teens and early twenties from the United States, Europe, Israel and many other very Jewish cities and communities across the globe. This was really the start of the modern Messianic congregational movement, and it strengthened Jewish missions like Chosen People Ministries. This “modern Messianic movement,” which some people date from 1967, the year the Jewish people recaptured Jerusalem, has blossomed and is now becoming a second- generation movement that includes my own children.
When I and other Jewish people who became followers of Jesus tried to witness for our faith, we experienced considerable opposition and persecution. You see, in the eyes of the mainstream Jewish community, a Jewish follower of Jesus was no longer considered Jewish. Jewish followers of Jesus were deemed converts or “apostates” who had given up their Jewishness and embraced a foreign religion. There was simply no common understanding within the Jewish community that a Jewish person could believe in Jesus and remain a Jew.
I know this because I was raised with this mindset. In fact, when I was on the brink of receiving Jesus, and had taken to heart His command to forsake all for Him, I thought to myself that if faith in Him required me to stop being Jewish, then I must be willing to make that sacrifice to become His follower. Of course, this was not true. When I accepted the Lord, I discovered that I had actually joined the “remnant within Israel” (Romans 11:1,5) and had become, in effect, part of the “Jewish wing” of the Church.
After telling my parents and friends that I had become a follower of Jesus, I was viewed as having committed ethnic suicide! This had incredible consequences for me. Like so many of my fellow Messianic Jews at the time, I felt deeply rejected by those whom I most cared for and most wanted to reach.
Happily, times have changed – and today we have a new generation of Jewish believers who assert their identity as Jewish followers of Jesus in ways our “older generation” would never have thought possible. It is exciting!