Beth Sar Shalom, Argentina's first messianic synagogue, is being built in Buenos Aires, home to half of Latin America's Jews. The city's Jewish population has been the target this decade of two deadly terrorist bombings, one of which leveled the Israeli embassy.
In spite of growing anti-Semitism, Roberto Passo, Latin America director of Chosen People Ministry, continues to minister to Buenos Aires Jews, as he has done for the past 16 years. "We've baptized over 100 Jews and maintain contact with another 1,000," he says.
The ministry has encountered resistance from the Jewish community, which views Messianic Jews as converts to Christianity.
Yet the ministry's message of reconciliation is making inroads among more secular Jews. In 1996, for example, Valeria Eichman, now living in Los Polvorines, Argentina, and married to a Baptist pastor, traveled to Beth Sar Shalom to ask forgiveness publicly for the atrocities committed by her Nazi grandfather Adolph Eichman against the Jews. "Since we have Holocaust survivors in the congregation, I preached on forgiveness for a month prior to her visit," Passo says.
Holocaust survivor Savina Medina hugged Valeria Eichman after she delivered the message, symbolically offering forgiveness on behalf of Jews.
Passo says the celebration of "mixed marriages" is one of the most effective evangelistic strategies. "Many rabbis refuse to marry, say, a Jew and a Catholic. We perform the ceremony, and it has proved a great forum to share the Messiah." The ministry also offers Christians a two-year course on Jewish evangelism that eliminates Christian jargon, which can evoke anti-Semitism in the minds of Jews. "The church needs to know that in Jewish evangelism, some words are walls and others are bridges," Passo says.
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