Keyword:

Good and Faithful Servant

An appreciation of Paul Morris

I could hardly believe it when I received an email from Paul Morris saying he was going to retire in August. First of all, I’d forgotten Paul was approaching retirement age and, secondly, I couldn’t imagine CWI without him.

The Lord called Paul to Jewish mission in the 1970s when he was living in Brighton. On the basis of Romans 1:16, he began reaching out to the large Jewish community there. He and Judy joined CWI at the beginning of 1979, around the same time as John and Katie Graham, and it’s remarkable that both went on to become field leaders of CWI’s work in Australia. Soon after joining CWI, Paul suffered a serious prolonged illness and after recovering moved from Brighton to Redbridge in East London. At that time Redbridge was the fastest growing Jewish community in Europe and Paul and Judy exercised a fruitful ministry there for almost twenty years before he was asked to take over the work in Australia.

When he and Judy, along with their children David and Clare, moved to Redbridge, Paul quickly became a key player in the London team, preaching, teaching and writing in addition to his evangelistic ministry among the Jewish community of the north east of the capital. He played a major role in the 1983 Messiah Has Come campaign when a Jews for Jesus team from America and the Jewish missions in London teamed up for a major outreach in the capital. From that outreach the inter-mission JET (Jewish Evangelism Team) sprung up, of which Paul was a prime mover. He was also responsible for starting the CWI Summer School, the first of which took place a quarter of a century ago, and he single-handedly organised it every year until he moved to Australia.

A quality of Paul I have admired has been his concern to extend the work into new areas and his eagerness to adopt new ways of doing mission. In Brighton, he began writing and designing his own tracts, notably a series called Four Ways of Looking at Israel, in which he looked at ‘Israel the Man’, ‘Israel the People’, ‘Israel the Land’ and ‘Israel the Messiah’. In London, he started a fellowship to encourage Jewish believers and began using a sketch board for open-air preaching. When the Iron Curtain was drawn back at the end of the 1980s, Paul began establishing contacts in the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria. If not for Paul, Stanislav Alexiev would not be working with us today. In the early 1990s, Paul, Richard Gibson, Colin McDowell and Richard Ganz undertook an evangelistic trip to Minsk in the Ukraine.

Paul is one of the most tenacious people I know, pursuing projects until they are accomplished no matter how long they take. In order to make his arguments from Scripture more compelling, Paul learned Hebrew and in addition to articles, leaflets, booklets and tracts, Paul has written two books Telling Jews about Jesus and, most recently, Jewish Themes in the New Testament. He and Judy went to Australia in 2001 with a four year brief to seek out and recruit a field leader for the work there. It is a credit to both Paul and Judy that, although dogged by ill health, they stayed in Australia for ten years trying to find the right person to fill the role. But their time in Australia was well spent. Paul engaged in evangelism, preached throughout the country and established the Israelight centre in Bondi, which became the focus for much of Paul’s evangelistic activity. Since returning to the UK from Australia, Paul has once again sought a new challenge; that of initiating a work among the Jewish community in Oxford through the churches there.

We are all familiar with the adage about who stands behind great men, and it would be remiss not to mention Judy who, despite chronic ill health, has supported and encouraged Paul through the years. I’ve always appreciated her gentle, charming and gracious personality. In London, while Paul ploughed his furrow, Judy developed her own network of contacts among Jewish women, including those she knew from David and Clare’s schools.

It has been an immense privilege to work with Paul and Judy for almost thirty years. I can’t at this moment say I’ll miss them because, I’m pleased to say, Paul will continue to work with CWI as an associate worker. Nevertheless, the retirement of a man who has spent over half his life working for the salvation of the Jewish people is a significant milestone, and we wish Paul and Judy a long, more relaxed and less hectic life from now on.                   

This article first appeared in the Autumn Herald 2013

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