“I hope to see a change of attitude in the society towards Yeshua. I would like to see the name Yeshua, and not Yeshu, used in all the school books and all the subtitles for TV and movies produced in Israel.” (Dan Sered, director of Jews for Jesus in Israel)“My hope is that in 2025 the believers in the country will play a more prominent role in society, even take part in decision making processes of our country. So, we need to encourage our children, the next generation, to engage fully in society at all levels.” (Michael Decker, lawyer and senior legal activist at the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, Jerusalem)
“Sixty years ago there was a very small number of Hebrew speaking congregations in the country. Today there is a congregation in almost every city and town across the country. This is not the case in many Arab villages and towns. I would like to see more congregations led by Muslim background believers being planted in areas where today there are no believers, and I believe the Messianic believers can play an important role in making this happen.” (Raja Gires) These were three of the responses to the question: “What are your hopes and dreams for the Messianic movement in Israel in 2025?” The question was asked of eight young leaders in the Messianic movement who spoke about the challenges and opportunities for believers in Israel today and in the future as part of the Caspari Center Open Day, May 13.
The Caspari Center Open Day marked the opening of the center’s new location. Although the center and library have been open since February, the Open Day gave us an opportunity to invite friends and partners of our ministry to celebrate the move together with us. It was therefore also natural that the focus of the day was on a subject that has been central in Caspari’s vision and work for many years: the next generation of Jewish believers in Yeshua.
The young speakers, all in their twenties and thirties, shared from their experiences in various fields of ministry,from children’s and youth work to evangelism, systematic theology, reconciliation, and legal advocacy. The picture that was drawn for the more than 80 local and international guests was of great variety; it included many opportunities, but also many challenges. Dan Sered pointed out the importance of seizing opportunities for evangelism. There is a growing openness and curiosity concerning the gospel and Yeshua among many Israelis. As an example, poster campaigns with the slogan Yeshu=Yeshua=Yeshuah (Jesus=Yeshua=Salvation) at intersections around the country resulted in hundreds of calls from interested passersby. The greatest challenge for evangelism is recruiting enough “workers for the harvest.” Barukh C., in his contribution on developing a Messianic theology, encouraged the younger generation to study and express an authentic Messianic Jewish theology and way of life. This can only be done as a community with a commitment to community life, be that in small groups, congregations, or in the body as a whole. It is important that more people give expression to their theological thinking and practice and provide enough space for an open discussion of the central issues, despite the differences of opinion that may and do exist. He points out that, in developing a Messianic theology, the focus needs to be on a practical theology which relates to the understanding of God, the people of God, the land of Israel, and the Torah as central elements in a Messianic theology.
Ilya Lizorkin, from the Haifa Theological Institute, pointed out the imbalance between the number of immigrant believers in the body of Messiah in the country, and their representation in leadership forums and the resources invested in them by local and international bodies. For this reason they feel less inclined to use their gifts in strengthening the wider body of believers. This is something we cannot afford as a movement. This challenges the body to invest more in building relationships across cultural and language barriers, to prevent groups from isolating themselves and to encourage unity among the various groups, both among Jewish believers and among Jewish and Arab believers. There is no doubt that many challenges face the body of believers in the years to come. Ilya Lizorkin’s response to the question about the future was: Either we lose the next generation or we don’t! This was said in reference primarily to immigrant believers, but this is a real danger that the whole movement faces. We cannot afford to lose the next generation. Miri Bulet, who spoke on work among children and youth, pointed out the challenge of engaging the children and youth in the Word of God in a situation where the Internet, TV, and mobile phones fill the majority of their time. At the same time, both Miri and Shachar Chalamish, who works with the Lech Lecha discipleship ministry, stressed that there is today a wonderful generation of children and youth who love the Lord and are a great witness among their friends in school and the army. We need to stand with them, engage in their lives, pray for them and with them, and trust that the Lord will provide fruit in abundance.
The Open Day was in itself an encouraging display of the fact that there are many gifted young leaders with a heart and a calling to serve in this land. We can only continue to pray that the Lord will strengthen them and raise up more new leaders to build his body in Israel.