When people become Christians, they take on a new spiritual identity. But when Lloyd Carsen met Jesus in 1970, he procured a new name as well as heavenly citizenship. Becoming a Christian birthed in Carsen a newfound appreciation for his Jewish heritage. While his parents had given him a Hebrew name at birth, they used more culturally appropriate family names for life in North America and to protect themselves from persecution as Jews. Soon after his conversion, Carsen decided to reclaim his original birth name, full of the flavor of his Jewish identity. And so, Tuvya Zaretsky was reborn.
Zaretsky has spent nearly all the years since then as a missionary with Jews for Jesus. He currently serves as the director of the Southern California district of the organization, but he continues to further the understanding of Christians in the West about their spiritual family in the Middle East.
HOW MANY JEWISH CHRISTIANS ARE IN ISRAEL AT THIS TIME?
I think the safe figure is at least 2,000. But I'm comfortable saying that it is quite a bit more than that. Both the conversion growth within the country and the increase of Jewish believers coming from outside of the country have helped swell the numbers.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MISSIONARY'S ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST?
For some, the word missionary is a bad word in the Jewish community. There are missionaries that Israelis find difficult to relate to because they come in with an American agenda; others come in with a European agenda. But this approach only works for people who are from those countries and who want to remain within those cultural contexts.
In contrast, my first contact with any Christians in the Middle East occurred when I met a Christian and Missionary Alliance couple who had been ...1
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