Gavriel Sanders – Missionaries are not cunning Deceivers

Here is former Christian missionary Gavriel Sanders, a convert to Judaism, giving his perspective on Christian missionaries to the Jewish people, and the motivation of those who fund them. In reacting to the CPM Messianic Jewish centre in Flatbush, Brooklyn, Gavriel Sanders rather eloquently, at points, preaches the gospel he used to believe in, reverting to his old missionary self. He cannot say Jesus Christ, only saying JC, but he is more than happy to say Yeshua HaMashiach, which the host, Rabbi Dovid Winiarz shrinks from and adds the less than complimentary name for Jesus: Yoshka.

The advice boiled down, as always, is not to debate with missionaries in the street. However Sanders is keen to correct the tendency to demonize missionaries as he claims they are not cunning deceivers (at 22:25) they are very sincere believers, he should know, he was one. Both Sanders and the host proceed to critique Messianic groups for using techniques in oratory and music, as if rabbis and kiruvnikim never use such techniques. In fact Sanders goes on the reveal the secrets of the dark arts of missionary work to Jews by dropping the great insider shocker such as saying Gut Shabbes, wow greeting someone in an appropriate way on Shabbat is really a missionary trick! Lets make all the frummers paranoid of every goy who knows how to say Gut Shabbes, that’ll be great! The host of the show picks up on this and tells his own story about unfriendliness in the community.

The biggest threat Sanders’ claims, is not the missionaries, they, he says, are the symptom of a problem, which is lack of Torah knowledge. In fact Sanders’ asserts that the Jewish community can learn something meaningful from the missionaries in that what is lacking in their spirituality can be highlighted and therefore fixed so that the missionary message about Yeshua HaMashiach no longer has magnetism.

Sanders’ answer to what he calls “the hole in the soul” that many frummers feel, is, it seems, Breslover Hasidut.

The show ends on a more hysterica traditional anti-missionary note from the more cautious note Sanders sought to sound, as the host says what the missionaries offers smells kosher, but is really treif, they wear yarmulkes, tzittzit and are, wait for it, probably already in your shul… watch the fellow next to you in shul on Shabbes, he may be a missionary. They are everywhere and they are Esau, they want to love us to death! Rabbi Dovid Winiarz did admit that he is afraid of the missionaries, and boy did he show it in how he ended what was generally a pretty good interview with Sanders.

Messianic Jew dodges death, pens rap album

 reports in The Washington Times

Most rappers who go five years without releasing an album can’t use a near-death experience involving a chicken burrito as an excuse.

But then, most rappers also aren’t Messianic Jews, as is Tony Wray, 36, who performs in the rap duo Hazakim with his older brother, Mike.

Their new album, “Son of Man,” drops Tuesday, and addresses the recent increase in Christian persecution around the world with the urgency of a life-altering event.

“I rap with urgency and thankfulness that we have another shot at this,” says Mike Wray, 37.

Dining on a chicken burrito at a fast-food restaurant in Florida in February 2010, Tony gagged on his meal, unable to swallow.

A visit to an emergency room revealed that his esophagus had ballooned due to achalasia, a disorder in which throat muscles close shut. Achalasia is rarely life threatening, but Tony’s case was so severe that he expected to die.

He couldn’t eat for months in 2010, even pea soup was impossible to swallow. The dietary supplement Ensure and intravenous nutrients kept him alive, and he lost 50 pounds.

Unable to perform his job as a mortgage contract worker, Tony had no way to pay for surgery. His record label, Lamp Mode Recordings, asked fans for prayer and donations. Within three weeks, the campaign had raised enough money for him to undergo surgery in October 2010, which cost more than $10,000.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Tony says. “I was trying to find other ways to get surgery. I never thought to ask people for help. Their outpouring of generosity left me humbled and amazed.”

Mike says it was “a miracle that the money was raised The Christian hip-hop community donated a big portion of it.”

Raised in Columbus, Ohio, in a military family with Arab-Jewish roots, the brothers grew up in a Christian home and began attending a Messianic Jewish church in middle school.

Tony started rapping at 9 years old; Mike, who preferred jazz, didn’t start rapping until 1997, when he heard a secular rapper challenge the credibility of Christianity. He then wrote the song “Liar, Lunatic, Lord or Legend” to defend the faith, choosing to use the same art form — hip hop — to communicate his rebuttal.

In 2000, he and Tony formed Hazakim (Hebrew for “strong ones”). Their previous album, “Theophanies,” dropped in 2009.

The concept of their new album — the end of the world, brought by Jesus — is a response to an increase in Christian persecution over the last few years.

The brothers, who now live in Florida, cite as inspiration news reports about Youcef Nadarkhani and Saeed Abedini, two Christian pastors who faced imprisonment in Iran for their beliefs.

“For us, standing up for God’s word is a matter of social issues,” Tony says of the pastors, neither of whom has met the Wray brothers. “For them, it’s a matter of life and death. And these are our [Christian] brothers. Their boldness in the face of death challenged us to be bold as well.”

Mr. Nadarkhani served almost three years in an Iranian prison, from 2010 to 2012, before international pressure prompted his release. Mr. Abedini is still imprisoned, as he has been since 2012.

The music video for “Kingdom Come,” the lead single from “Son of Man,” dramatizes the plight of persecuted Christians in far-off lands.

But the new album also addresses Christian persecution in America, specifically by way of the movement to redefine marriage.

In an interview with The Washington Times, the brothers noted how Dan Cathy, CEO of Chik-fil-A restaurants, defended traditional marriage as the union of one man and one woman during a 2012 radio program. The backlash against his comments included a boycott and an armed man storming the headquarters of the Family Research Council, a recipient of Chik-fil-A donations.

“Gay marriage is an issue that’s literally being forced upon God’s people,” Tony says. “You have Christian companies and corporations being forced into silence, being assassinated in terms of their reputation because they hold to a biblical standard. These are things over the past few years that make us say, ‘Lord, hurry up. We need you.’”

Hazakim views hip hop as an appropriate platform to voice its concerns.

“Hip hop traditionally was a music that confronted controversial social issues head on,” Tony says, citing Tupac Shakur and Public Enemy as examples.


1 Kings 13 and the pitfalls of spiritual exaggeration

Spiritual abuse

Spiritual abuse

Introduction: Sometimes it is tempting to exaggerate spiritually, in order to impress other believers. Often we use God’s name when common sense or basic logic would prevail. So instead of saying “I think we should meet up this week,” it can become “God told me in a vision that we should meet up this week.” Is this a harmless way of talking for believers, or something far more dangerous? There is a Biblical precedence for this matter, in the book of Kings.

Context: In 1 Kings 13, a prophet from Judea visits evil king Rehoboam, and tells him that God will judge his wickedness. When Rehoboam tries to curse the prophet, his hand withers up – only for the prophet to heal his hand. In this scene, God shows Rehoboam his judgement and mercy. Rehoboam would continue to do evil, and did not see God’s message at all – he merely wished to show gratitude to the prophet by rewarding him, but the prophet wanted nothing from Rehoboam. The Judean prophet simply wanted to deliver his message, and return along a different route, as God instructed him.

This is where the story takes an unexpected turn; as does its protagonist. The Judean prophet (let’s call him “Jack”) is on his way back, when an old prophet (let’s call him “Oliver”) who has heard about him, meets him on the road and invites him round for a drink and some hospitality.

Jack explains that God specifically told him to return along a certain path which is distinct from the way he came. Oliver is desperate to welcome Jack into his home, and tries to assuage his anxiety. Oliver tells Jack, “hey I’m a prophet too, and an angel told me to invite you round.” The Bible clearly tells us that Oliver is lying here. Jack follows Oliver home, and after they have supped together, Oliver gets a genuine word from God that Jack has done something foolish, and will pay with his life. Soon after, Jack gets eaten by a lion, and Oliver proclaims that this is a judgement from God against Jack. Oliver mourns Jack’s death, and asked to be buried next to Jack when he dies.

This at first glance is a rather difficult story to accept for those of us with modern sensibilities: Oliver clearly lies to Jack, and yet Jack pays with his life while Oliver seems to judge him rather piously.

“Jack”: What did Jack do wrong? Jack gave a clear warning to Rehoboam about the consequences of disobedience, yet failed to heed God’s clear warnings against his own personal disobedience. Rather than listening to God, he trusted Oliver who claimed to have received a message from God. If you hear a clear message from God, and someone tells you something contrary to that message without much further explanation, then you need to stick to what you know God told you personally.

You could argue that Jack had a good reason to trust Oliver: Oliver genuinely was a prophet. That is true, but knowing someone is able to speak from God’s word, doesn’t mean they always are speaking God’s truths. We need to weigh up what others say against Scripture, rather than against their own reputation or charisma. Don’t get carried along “spiritually” because you feel that someone else is godly, therefore you will trust them even when what they say seems unbiblical to you. Even someone like Oliver who has been entrusted with God’s word, does not have a licence to say what he wants without it being weighed against God’s word. Godly people too can have moments of sinfulness, lying, exaggeration and deception.

“Oliver”: Why then, would Oliver lie if he is a prophet of God? What Oliver said was clearly false – and it caused Jack to pay for it with his life. Yet Oliver did not have particularly bad intentions – he simply wanted to show hospitality to someone who had challenged Rehoboam. In a sense this is understandable – a zealous prophet would be thoroughly disgusted by Rehoboam’s wickedness, and would admire a spiritual challenge like Jack gave him. But Oliver did not turn towards God to praise him for the challenge and subsequent miracle, but instead towards Jack, whom God used in this miracle. Just as Jack valued Oliver’s words over God’s words, now Oliver values Jack’s role almost above God’s role in this, seeking to entertain Jack rather than give glory to God and seek his will.

Had Oliver prayed and waited on God, he would not have been so obsessed with meeting his favourite celebrity Jack, the man of the moment, and he probably would not have lied either. Ultimately, Oliver probably lied not out of malice, but simply because he was used to speaking in a certain way, about God and angels and visions. This is a challenge for us in the Messianic world, where we like to talk about God – are we honest about when we genuinely do hear God’s voice, and when we’re not sure? I have even heard of people who claim to others that God has caused them to repent of sins, when they are not even genuinely convinced they have done anything wrong!

Indeed, many Jewish people leave the Messianic world, not because they have stopped believing in Yeshua, but because they feel spiritually manipulated by leaders who are quick to claim what they are saying is God’s will, when it is just the force of their own will. When these Jews realise that their congregation leader has essentially been lying about God’s will, it causes them to doubt other claims their leaders make – even about Yeshua himself.

Do we use God’s name and miracles as a way to convince others that our way is right, as Oliver did to Jack with fatal consequences? This is certainly a challenge. At the end, Oliver speaks God’s judgement against Jack; but not without realising his own role in the way events unfolded.

 Conclusion: Both Oliver and Jack fell into the same trap, of being temporarily dazzled by each other’s apparent godliness. Oliver “played the God card”, which sounded spiritual and godly, but was actually considered by God as a lie, and cost Jack his life. With this in mind, we should make sure that we do not repeat Oliver’s mistake by knowingly and dishonestly turning our own opinion into a divine revelation.

Anti-Missionaries’ Magazine Converts Missionary!

Yad L'Achim magazine

Yad L’Achim magazine

Israel National News reports a story that a “top missionary”, what ever one of those is, has been converted after he “saw the Jewish light” by reading the first issue the Yad L’Achim “Searching” magazine. Could Yad L’Achim rip-off Christian missionary tactics in any more a blatant way! However, that being said we welcome the shift away from standard Yad L’Achim practice of stalking people, to this magazine.

There is no elaboration online or corroborative facts with this story. Was this man a Messianic Jews, or a Jehovah Witness or another religious group active in Israel. Maybe we just have to search in the pages of “Mechapsim” to find out whether this is made-up or the standard exaggeration by Yad L’Achim enthusiasts in order to raise support.

Maybe someone who has read the story can shed some light on the details of this missionary conversion, after all in Israel a missionary can be anything from Yad L’Achim, to Jehovah’s Witnesses, to Messianic Jews, to Christians of any type!

Here are some Israeli Messianic Jews responding to the first issue of the Yad L’Achim magazine: