Showing solidarity and sharing the gospel

Last November Jean Paul Rempp spoke in Kishinev, Moldova at a conference to commemorate the founding of the first Jewish Messianic congregation by Joseph Rabinowitz in 1884. His subject was, ‘Standing with the Jewish people at a time of increased anti-Semitism in Europe.’ In light of the rise of anti-Semitic attacks throughout Europe we publish part of Jean-Paul’s speech here.

Anti-Semitism is on the increase in Europe. My deep conviction is that, if we are true evangelical Christians, the only possible position we can take is to stand firmly alongside the Jewish people.

France’s Jewish population ranks third in the world, after Israel and the United States. There are between 600,000 and 700,000 Jewish people in France and we have the largest Muslim
population Europe.

Anti-Semitic acts in France have increased over the last two years in the wake of the case of Mohammed Merah, a young jihadist who killed seven Jewish people at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March 2012. A video shows him dragging a little girl by the hair before shooting her in the head.

Anti-Semitic acts and attitudes peaked during the recent war between Israel and Hamas. In Paris, angry crowds chanted: ‘Jews get the hell out of here! France is not yours!’ ‘Gas chambers are a lie!’ and ‘Death to the Jews!’ A synagogue had to be protected from attacks by demonstrators and a few days later Jewish stores were destroyed in Sarcelles, a suburb of Paris known as ‘Little Jerusalem.’

In the last year anti-Semitic incidents have doubled and Mohammed Merah has become a hero to some people! One leader in the Jewish community says that in the last two years French attitudes to Jews have deteriorated. On both the left and right of the political spectrum and at all points between, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sentiment has increased, and the growth of fundamentalist Islam has been accompanied by aggression, insults and attacks on Jews. ‘The situation,’ he says, ‘is indeed appalling… Today I consider that we are exiled from the inside, exiled in regard to these great French values that used to accompany us, and now are so hard to find.’

The increase of anti-Semitism is not limited to France. We could give similar examples in Belgium, Hungary, Germany and many other countries, and for many years I have been making efforts to be more involved with associations such as the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA). Participating with such groups gives me opportunities to extend my sympathy to the Jewish people, showing solidarity with them as an expression of Christian love for my neighbour.  

At the LICRA conference last year my wife and I saw a relative of one of France’s best known rabbis whom we had met at a similar gathering two years previously. She had been deeply touched by the ‘religious discussion’ we had when we first met, and she thanked us warmly for the copy of Gert Koppel’s book The Hidden Child and the DVD of Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. We pray that these contacts will allow us to present the truth that there is no forgiveness for sins apart from the atoning work of Jesus the Messiah.

Standing firmly alongside the Jewish people in a period of increasing anti-Semitism implies two requirements from evangelical Christians. First, we need to show practical solidarity with the Jewish people. Second, more than ever we need to preach Jesus the Messiah to them. Indeed, as ‘The Willowbank Declaration’ of 1989 clearly affirms: ‘Failure to preach the gospel to the Jewish people would be a form of anti-Semitism, depriving this particular community of its right to hear the gospel.’ This affirmation is even more relevant during the crisis we currently face.

Let us never forget that the gospel is ‘to the Jew first.’ The booklet Jewish Evangelism: A Call to the Church, which came out of the Lausanne Consultation on World Evangelism’s ‘Forum 2004’ in Pattaya, Thailand, states succinctly: ‘If Jesus is not the Messiah for the Jewish people then neither is He the Christ for the nations. Either Jesus is the Messiah for all, or He is not the Messiah at all!’

This article was first published in the Spring Herald 2015

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