A small Israeli minority of Messianic Jews—Jewish persons who have accepted Christ—continues to grow despite harassment and persecution in their native homeland.

A third of the 30 Messianic congregations are in the Tel Aviv area, where two-fifths of Israel’s 4.4 million people live. Several other congregations meet in Jerusalem. Most are small—only a few encompass 100 or more believers—and most are led by a small team of elders selected from the church’s membership. They usually meet in apartments or homes each Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. (In Israel, Sunday is one of six work days.)

Interest In Yeshua

Messianics are striving to avoid sectarianism. Elders from about a dozen congregations have been meeting regularly for several years, and their evangelistic committee held its first-ever campaign in August 1986 in Tel Aviv. Volunteers used a questionnaire to spark conversations about Jesus, or Yeshua (ye-shu’-uh), in the streets. About 250 people gave their addresses for follow-up literature.

However, this “first” only highlights the growing number of attempts to reach Israelis for Christ. Ilan Zamir, an elder in a Tel Aviv congregation, is part of a team working on a Hebrew-language New Testament with explanatory notes. Joseph Shulam, leader of a congregation in Jerusalem, has organized a team to write a multi-volume New Testament commentary in Hebrew. Also, a theological education by extension program is in place, while Messianic musicians have produced four songbooks of Jewish melodies and words of praise.

Facing Israel’s Wrath

Such an increase in Messianic Jewish activity is not without cost, however. At least a dozen organizations are devoted to assailing Messianics. ...

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