David N. Brickner, Executive Director
(abridged from the original 1996 document)
The Lord did not provide me with foreknowledge that I would be the next Executive Director of Jews for Jesus. Nevertheless, I have dreamed of what could be. And I do believe that God led the Council in our prayerful deliberations. The process was a profoundly moving and humbling experience. Through it, many of us, myself included, came to love and appreciate our fellow workers more deeply. The gracious way in which the senior staff united to show their support went beyond our usual camaraderie. It demonstrated once again that the people on our staff are a rich treasure and the main asset of Jews for Jesus. That meeting impressed upon me a sense of duty to fellow staff, to you, our donors, and to the community who needs the message of the Messiah. Most of all I am conscious of my duty to the Lord as He leads us Jews for Jesus into a new era.
The words of Haggai the prophet have taken on special meaning to me in recent days.
"'But now take courage,' declares the Lord,... 'and work; for I am with you,' says the Lord of Hosts."Haggai 2:4
Haggai was speaking to a group of people who had shared some amazing history together. After a generation of exile, the Lord had stretched out his hand to deliver our people out of captivity and back into His land of promise. That generation had much for which to be thankful. They saw God perform mighty acts of deliverance and restoration. Yet they became complacent. They failed to see that God wanted to accomplish much, much more. God wanted them to build His Temple.
Haggai's job was to stir them from their complacency, to challenge them to get to work and to remind them that the Lord would be with them as they moved ahead. Some elders who remembered the previous Temple were skeptical.
The glory days of the past were a precious memory, but for some who cherished those memories, the promise of the future paled in comparison to that glorious past. It was for these skeptics that the word of the Lord came:
"'Once more in a little while I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land..... the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says the Lord of Hosts, 'and in this place I shall give peace,' declares the Lord of Hosts. " Haggai 2:6-9
Jews for Jesus has made some truly remarkable history over the last twenty-three years, and you who have been supporting us have had a crucial part in that.
Under the leadership of Moishe Rosen, we have seen the growth and expansion of this ministry around the world. We have changed the shape of Jewish missions forever. Never again will Jewish evangelism be viewed as a futile enterprise.
We have changed the climate of opinion in the Jewish community over the past two decades. No longer can Jewish leaders make an incontrovertible statement, "Jews don't believe in Jesus." We have led the charge against that lie by declaring, "We are Jews for Jesus, now reckon with us." Has there ever been such a professional approach and such high ethical standards applied to a missionary endeavor in our field?
I know of no other Jewish mission where such levels of creativity in music, drama, the arts, literature and use of secular media have been fostered and applied so effectively. We have set the highest standards for effective evangelism, creative communication, integrity of approach, ethics in fundraising and responsibility in reporting. This is the enormous legacy we have received from the Lord through Moishe Rosen, and I for one am deeply, deeply grateful.
It would be all too easy for some of us to be like those in the days of Haggai. We could either become complacent with the present or skeptical regarding God's prospects for the future.
But I am confident that the best is yet ahead. I believe that the latter glory will be greater than the former. It will be greater because, "we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory." (2 Cor. 3:18) The transforming work of the Spirit of God in our own lives and in this ministry is essential to our future. It will be greater because God has a commitment to our success. He promised to equip us for every good work and Jews for Jesus is a good work. Indeed, the future must be greater because we are facing many challenges.
I am confident that with God's enabling, with the wisdom of our Board of Directors and the strength of the Jews for Jesus staff, these challenges will be springboards to growth. They will be opportunities to amplify the message of the gospel around the world to His greater glory. Let me outline some of the challenges I see which will become opportunities for growth.
We've established principles, policies and procedures that have stood us in good stead. I am charged with the responsibility to preserve and protect the integrity and reputation of Jews for Jesus. I must insist we maintain those principles that are the very heart and soul of what has made Jews for Jesus who we are today. That means keeping our priorities straight.
I want to underscore that our priority was, is, and will remain direct evangelism. I intend to continue and strengthen the legacy of Jews for Jesus by maintaining that focus. We must evaluate each opportunity and even each challenge by answering the question, "How can we use this to accomplish our goal of bringing the gospel to our Jewish people?"
What you know and love about Jews for Jesus will remain the same: count on us to speak to as many unsaved Jewish people about Jesus as we possibly can. That is my commitment in leading this ministry into the future.
We must not compromise our quality of commitment, or lower our standards for ministry and accountability. We must not allow ourselves to be shaped by the weaknesses of the flesh or the standards of the world. We must be clay in the hands of the master potter who will glaze us in the kiln of fiery adversity so that we resist being shaped by the forces of society.
One serious challenge for the future is recruiting the right people. I was director of recruitment before I moved to New York City. That position made me painfully aware of the significance of Jesus' words, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." (Mt. 9:37-38) We need to be proactive in praying and aggressively recruiting more staff. We need to raise up more leaders from our existing staff so that we can take advantage of opportunities and face challenges as they present themselves.
Jews for Jesus is a place where people can grow and accomplish things for God. We are a tough, highly structured and well-organized group. However, we also have a great deal of room for individuality, for people with fresh ideas. I believe that Jews for Jesus has always been the best possible place for those with initiative and creativity. We can offer such people a place on a team that especially values their gifts.
We have plenty of room at the top for women and men who aspire to leadership, who desire opportunities to grow and who are willing to exert the effort to meet those opportunities. We do have structure and we must work hard. Some Christians want to invest themselves in a ministry like ours - one that is not always convenient and comfortable - when they see that they can achieve more through sacrificing convenience and comfort.
We are seeking people with godly ambitions. We are seeking those with special gifts and abilities - especially to help us explore some of the areas that we want to be moving into in the next few years. Jews for Jesus is a place where people can belong, where they can take personal ownership of the vision that is our lifeblood.
When two disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked where he was staying, he responded, "Come and see." We need to invite people to come and see where we live and work.
As part of this, I envision an internship program for new believers. We may call it a school of discipleship. We will bring promising young believers alongside our regular missionary staff in mentoring relationships. They will have ministry responsibilities and will raise support, but they will also learn and grow in their faith and in knowledge of Scripture and Christian doctrine.
In order to recruit the brightest and best, we must continue to provide the best that we can for those who serve with us. We must commit ourselves to providing our workers and their families with ongoing opportunities for educational and spiritual enrichment. I am eager to continue our master's program, whereby many of our career missionaries have utilized their summers to gain an excellent education and degree in Missiology.
We recognize that cultivating godly living is the responsibility of each individual on our staff, but I will also look for ways to encourage our staff as they pursue godly living. The ministry-wide day of prayer was so helpful that I want to incorporate it as a quarterly exercise in our ministry. Therefore, four times a year, at the discretion of leadership, each station and Headquarters will set aside a day of prayer for the work of the ministry.
Over the years we have said, and I believe it to be true, that Jews for Jesus is on the "cutting edge of evangelism." Our pioneering use of the secular media, the development of Jewish Gospel music, our extensive broadside ministry as well as our other publications have demonstrated this. However, we have some "catching up" to do - especially in the area of multimedia - if we are to be pace setters. We need to develop new ways to communicate the Gospel via secular radio and television. We need to develop evangelistic commercials, "infomercials," animation shorts, instructional videos and the like.
We have hesitated to move aggressively into these areas because we lack expertise and there is so much at stake in terms of the cost. We need to address the questions of access and funding. Do I know how we should move ahead in this area? I do not. I do know that the opportunities are enormous, and therefore I am committed to developing a multi-media communications department.
We have begun to work in this area through the Internet. Rich Robinson has done an excellent job of getting us started. Already his work in this field has gotten us listed in the top 10 religious websites in Mark Kellner's new book, God on the Internet. 1,100 or more people visit our web site each week. We are merely scratching the surface of what will certainly be one of the most important tools for communicating the gospel in the next century.
We will need to raise funds, assemble a staff and learn how to gain access to the major media markets in order to communicate the gospel more effectively. We've utilized media campaigns as one of our most effective tools for outreach, but we have no comprehensive media strategy at this time. We are exploring the possibility of utilizing billboards and bus stop ads as well as advertisements on subway cars to proclaim our message this summer.
We also need to publish a definitive discipleship guide for new Jewish believers. We have the "Growth Book," which is a very simple manual, but we need to expand it. I envision a guide that will utilize some of the best structure for teaching, such as the Navigators employ in their "Growing in Christ" booklet, but it will be geared specifically for Jews. I also would like to see us develop evangelistic booklets in a similar workbook format, with text based on the Gospel of John, messianic prophecy and apologetics. We can and should produce these tools. If we publish the high quality resources that I want us to use in our own mission, we will also be making a widespread contribution to the church.
I also envision a language department as part of our publications. We need people to oversee the translating of evangelistic materials into Russian, Spanish, Hebrew and French. I would like eventually to translate our newsletters and other materials for Christians into German, Korean, Chinese and other languages. Many of these brothers and sisters are eager to share our burden for Jewish evangelism, and we've got to be able to communicate with them.
We need to produce more music to evangelize the lost and to edify the church. We need to encourage members of our staff who are musically gifted to exercise their gifts. I have asked Stephen Katz, our new music director, to submit a proposal for a new children's album.
I believe that the best songs have yet to be recorded, the best books have yet to be written, the best literature has yet to be developed, and the best methods of outreach have yet to be employed in proclaiming the Gospel. We will initiate programs that begin to move us into these directions. But they will all need funding. We will continue the "pay as you go" approach that has kept us debt free over the past 23 years. Do I know how to get funding for these programs? Not yet, but I believe that it is possible and we will find a way.
We have constantly been amazed at how God's people have gotten behind different ideas for outreach that we have presented to them. The first time we presented the opportunity for secular media campaigns we were overwhelmed by the response. I believe that we will see God's people get behind these new programs as well.
Our ministry has been undergoing a process of internationalization since our first overseas branch opened in 1989. This has been tremendously exciting. It also has created unique challenges that we are still struggling to overcome. As we continue this internationalization process, we must recognize the need for changes in our outlook.
We have become a global ministry. Our roots, our heritage and our history will always be in North America, but the face of Jews for Jesus is changing. Opportunities for growth in Europe require us to strengthen our European Board and provide more interfacing between European, Canadian, South African and United States Boards. In the next century, it may very well be that a large share of our staffing will come from Europe. We must be prepared to fund, train and direct the Jews for Jesus missionaries indigenously.
Another area I wish to explore is the future of our ministry in Israel. There used to be more Jews in the New York City area than anywhere else in the world. Today 4.4 million Jews live in Israel and the population is growing. We must move aggressively and strategically into this new frontier of ministry. We must be prepared to cultivate and train Israelis to reach their own. We have moved slowly and deliberately, but now is the time for new energy to be applied to our work in Israel.
It may just be that Russians will contribute more to ministry in Israel and other areas of Jewish evangelism than English speaking missionaries. We need to get up to speed in our ability to train and deploy this new generation of Russian Jews for Jesus.
Having said all of this, I want to reiterate my commitment to New York City as our flagship branch. Historically this has been a fundamental commitment of Jews for Jesus. Moishe moved to San Francisco in order to reach New York City. I believe it must remain our major focus here in North America. It is still the crossroads of the world, the capital from which our best efforts must go forth. Never before have I been so keenly aware of the need to reinvigorate that work. But this will require tremendous effort on our part and a certain amount of investment and allocation of resources. It will require more from the staff and more from the organization in general.
Back in 1973 none of us could have imagined the variety of places God had in mind for Jews for Jesus. It will help us to remember that wherever He might move us, each place is only a temporary dwelling, a way station on the road to our final destination. We should all be excited about where the Lord is taking us on this earth at this time.
I hope you agree with me that this is an expansive and exciting vision. I will need the strength of the staff, the wisdom of the Board, the prayers and support of all our friends and the grace of our great God to move ahead. I covet your prayers.
When Haggai spoke to the people of his day and promised that the glory of the latter would be greater than the former, it was hard for many of his contemporaries to believe. The challenges were so big. The resources were so limited. How could they compete with "the good old days"? Those people needed the eyes of faith and the strength of the Spirit. The glory of the latter would indeed be greater than the former. Haggai's words were fulfilled and the Lord Jesus, Himself walked in that second temple they were starting to build. The people of Haggai's day did not live to see the fulfillment of that promise, but it was true nonetheless.
I believe that God has a great and glorious future for Jews for Jesus, but the glory of our future will only be greater in as much as Y'shua walks in our midst to make it great. More than anything in the world, I long for the presence and power of the living God to fill our lives, to direct our thoughts and to bring His plans and purpose to fruition in our midst. May our commitment and obedience to Him grow ever greater, so that all the greater glory goes only to Him.