Argentine Jews Profess Faith in Christ

Hundreds of Jews, including a survivor of the Holocaust, professed faith in Christ at an evangelistic service in Argentina last month.

...More than 22,000 Jews attended the festival in Buenos Aires Aug. 18-20, organized by Hear O Israel Ministries, an Arizona-based group. About 100 Jewish believers in Jesus from the United States, Brazil, Ukraine, England, and Canada worked with local Messianic Jewish congregations and churches to hold the outreach, Jonathan Bernis of Hear O Israel told Religion Today. Buenos Aires hosts one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.

...About 7,000 people asked for more information about Jesus Christ during the outreach, at which the Holocaust survivor publicly proclaimed his new faith, Bernis said.

...Local Jewish leaders tried to block the festival. A federal judge refused requests from Orthodox rabbis to shut it down, but ordered Jewish symbols, including menorahs and a Star of David, to be removed from the stage, the ministry said. Messianic Jews are not allowed to use the symbols, the judge ruled, because they no longer belong to the Jewish community.

...The ministry will challenge the ruling in court, said Bernis, who helped assemble a legal team. "This is clearly a precedent-setting case because it will ultimately determine whether Messianic Jews have the legal right to use the symbols of our heritage."

...Jews who believe in Jesus are becoming more effective in their ministry to Jews, gentiles, and the church, Bernis said. Jewish ministries are more visible than ever. "People are becoming more aware of us as we reach out to our own people and as we seek to educate the church about its Jewish roots," he said.

...Hear O Israel Ministries, based in Phoenix, holds several evangelistic outreaches to Jewish communities throughout the world every year. The festival-like celebrations of Jewish culture feature music, dance, and a short testimony by Bernis and other Jewish followers of Christ, he said.

..."Our message is simple: You can be Jewish and still believe Jesus is the Messiah," Bernis said. The ministry educates Jews about the Jewishness of Jesus, he said. "Jesus was a Jew, His disciples were Jews, and He fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish prophets regarding the Jewish Messiah."

...More than 500,000 people have attended the festivals since 1993, Bernis said. The ministry has focused on the large Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, holding festivals in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldovia, Latvia, and Hungary. Outreaches have resulted in about 15 new Messianic Jewish congregations starting, he said.

...Hear O Israel also reaches out to gentiles. "There is a calling on Jewish believers to take the message to gentile nations, just as the 12 Disciples did," Bernis said. The ministry held an outreach last year in Vijiwada, India, at the invitation of local pastors and more than 70,000 people attended. It will hold an outreach in Ethiopia next year and is planning to go back to India, he said.

Religion Today - September 18, 2000

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