Have you ever wondered why Jewish Voice Ministries uses the term outreaches rather than mission trips for our humanitarian aid trips? If you look at our website or read our correspondence, you’ll see that we don’t use standard missionary terms such as missions, mission trips, medical missions, and medical mission trips. Why is that? Our outreaches are very similar to what others call mission trips, so why do we use different language?
We’re not trying to hide our intentions. On the contrary, we’re trying to ensure we don’t miscommunicate them.
You see, our primary calling is to reach out to Jewish people with the Good News that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah – the Jewish Messiah who came to the House of Israel first. Throughout the ages, people claiming to be Christians set out on “missions” to eradicate Judaism by forcing Jewish people to abandon their Jewishness and convert to Christianity as an entirely separate religion.
This is not the faith in Yeshua that is defined in the New Testament. But it has come to be what most Jewish people believe about Christianity. We use different terminology to set ourselves apart from a vast and terrible history of persecution against Jewish people.
The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and various other organized efforts against Jewish people throughout the millennia have included forced conversions on penalty of violence, expulsion, and even murder – all in the name of Christianity and Christ.
Here are just a few of the things done to Jewish people “in the name of Jesus” along with the years the events occurred. (To discover dozens more historical persecution events against the Jewish people, download our free infographic here.)
325 A.D. The Council of Nicea separated Easter from Passover on the calendar, declaring it objectionable to celebrate that holy day in common with the Jewish people whom they openly blamed for the murder of Yeshua.
589 A.D. The Third Council of Toledo (in Spain) mandated the forced conversion of all Jewish people and ordered that children born of intermarried Jews and Christians be forcibly baptized. Thousands of Jews converted while thousands more fled.
1096 A.D. The First Crusade to free Jerusalem from Muslim rule resulted in persecution of Jews along the way. Through Europe, Crusaders cried, “Christ-killers, embrace the Cross or die!” In Germany, along the Rhine River alone, 12,000 Jews were killed. Eight more Crusades brought more of the same until 1272.
1453 A.D. Franciscan monk Capistrano persuaded Poland’s king to revoke citizenship rights of Jewish people.
1478 A.D. The Spanish Inquisition was established to determine insincere conversions of Jewish people resulting from the previous century’s persecution and forced conversions.
1492 A.D. Spain expelled Jewish people. They were given the choice of conversion or banishment. 300,000 left destitute. Many countries denied entrance to the exiled Jews.
1543 A.D. Martin Luther, though attributed with igniting the Reformation, harbored a hatred for the Jews and saw them as a people rejected by God. His recommendations included: the burning of Jewish synagogues and homes; the collecting of Jews into one place; the confiscation of their Talmuds and prayer books; forbidding rabbis to teach; revoking Jewish passports and travel privileges; the confiscation of all their cash and valuables; and the forced labor of all the young and strong Jewish people. How clear and disturbing it is to see the ghastly influence Martin Luther had on Adolf Hitler centuries later.
With a history of persecution like that, it’s easy to see how Jewish people view the Gospel as something they have to defend themselves against. To them, the Gospel is another religion entirely. Presenting Jesus as the Messiah to a Jewish person is most often seen as asking him to forsake Judaism, his Jewishness, and the God of their fathers God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
How what we proclaim is different
But Christianity has its very roots in Judaism, and professing faith in Yeshua (Jesus) – the Jewish Messiah – does not require denying one’s Jewishness. God’s covenant with His chosen people is everlasting (Genesis 17:7). Yeshua came to the House of Israel (Matthew 15), and the Gospel is for the Jewish people first (Romans 1:16). Yeshua did not come to bring a new and different religion to the Jewish people. He is the Messiah promised to the Jewish people in their Jewish Scriptures. (See Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1-2, and Isaiah 53 for a few of the hundreds of Messianic prophecies in the Bible. See also the Reasons to Believe-Prophecies page of our website.)
Yeshua told us that faith in Him is the only way to the Father – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In John 14:6 He told us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This means that Jewish people do not have a separate, different way of salvation. The Jesus that Christians throughout the ages have made a stumbling block to Jewish people is the only means by which Jewish people have to reach God the Father. That reality is what drives us to share the Messiah with Jewish people. It’s what drives us to alter our language so as not to cause offense or impede their hearing.
Mission trip language
For Jewish people, the word mission often harkens back to thousands of years of persecution, forced conversions, and violence toward Jewish people. When a Jewish person hears the words mission, missionary, mission trips, etc., this terrible history can get in the way of them hearing that Yeshua the Messiah is their Jewish Messiah, the promised fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It is the very heart of Jewish Voice’s call to share this Good News with them, and we have no intention of “converting” them away from their Jewish faith, heritage, and culture.
Replacing the phrase mission trips with outreaches may seem a small detail, but we don’t want to evoke in any Jewish person the history of persecution and the notion that to accept Yeshua is to deny their Jewishness. That’s not the Gospel we proclaim; that’s not the Good News of the New Testament. We choose not to use phrases like medical missions and other such “missions” terminology because we want to avoid conveying a message we do not intend.
We believe that belief in the Jewish Messiah is the most Jewish thing any Jewish person can do.
Download our free infographic outlining a sampling of persecutions of Jewish people from 70 A.D. to the present. It is both enlightening and heartbreaking, and you will be inspired to pray for Jewish hearts to open to the eternal life Yeshua offers through faith in Him.