Recently, I was invited to speak to the Christians for Israel organization
during an international leadership forum it convened in Jerusalem.
quite sure what to expect, I entered the auditorium and politely took my seat,
listening attentively. What I saw and heard was as encouraging as it was
At the beginning of the event, the group’s tireless
executive director, Andrew Tucker, went around the hall, recognizing the heads
of various branches of the organization who had come to show their support for
the Jewish state. There were Americans and Africans, Brits and Belgians, Dutch
and Canadians, Italians and Ukrainians.
None of them may have been
Jewish, but all clearly felt a strong bond with the people of
Indeed, it was almost like being at a session of the UN, but with
one crucial difference: These people had come together to bless Israel, not to
Founded in 1979 in Holland by Karel van Oordt and Pee
Koelewijn, Christians for Israel has blossomed into an organization whose reach
extends to more than 20 countries.
Its newspaper, Israel and Christians
, is published in English, German and Dutch, and has more than 200,000
subscribers. Edited by Henk Kamsteeg and Pim van der Hoff, it provides news,
analysis and commentary to an international audience hungry to learn more about
the Jewish state.
The group has produced a wealth of materials, such as
books, DVDs, study guides and even a website – www.whyisrael.org – with the aim
of bringing “biblical understanding to the church and among the nations
concerning God’s purposes for Israel.”
The organization’s international
chairman, Rev. John Tweedie, produced an award-winning six-part
documentary, Israel – A Journey Through Time, which traces the history of the
Jewish people from Abraham to the present using a biblical and historical
A tall and charismatic Canadian originally from Northern
Ireland, Tweedie says God placed two calls on his life: one to serve as a
minister and another “to speak out passionately in support of the Jewish nation
and for the rights of the Jewish people.”
And that is most certainly what
he does, as he travels the globe preaching to Christians about the need to stand
I KNOW what some of you might be thinking: It is very nice
that these Christians proclaim their love for Israel, but surely they have some
ulterior motive. They must be putting on a lot of smiles so we Jews will lower
our defenses, and then they will try to convert us.
Put your skepticism
and cynicism aside: These guys are the “real deal.” Their motivation is sincere,
inspired by conviction and guided by faith. They have no agenda other than to
As a result, the group intentionally does not maintain an
office here, but chooses instead to sponsor projects through Jewish
organizations such as Hineni and Hazon Yeshaya.
As Tucker explains it:
“As Christians for Israel, our primary goal is to try to shake the church from
its slumber, to wake up our fellow Christians to what God is doing.”
other words, members of Christians for Israel are missionaries to the church,
attempting to convince their fellow Christians that they have a biblical
responsibility to stand with Israel and the Jewish people.
they are on the front lines in a theological battle raging among Christians over
what is referred to as Replacement Theology, or supersessionism, which basically
asserts that the church has replaced Israel in the unfolding of the divine
Supporters of Replacement Theology make the spurious claim that the
church is the “new Israel,” and that the Jewish people have been basically
tossed aside by God.
As a Jew, it is hard for me to comprehend how anyone
who reads the Bible could believe such a thing. After all, in the book of
Malachi (3:6), God says, “For I am the Lord, I have not changed.”
Isaiah (46:11), He declares, “What I have said, I will bring about; what I have
planned, I will do.”
And there is no more compelling proof of this than
the modern-day return of the Jewish people to their land.
Armed with this
message, Christians for Israel is educating Christians to understand and
appreciate the special role of the Jewish people in the unfolding of
As Tweedie notes, “Israel is the only nation with whom He made
covenants, to whom He made promises, and He is keeping those promises even in
ONE OF the highlights of the Jerusalem forum came at
the end, when the organization’s president, Rev. Willem Glashouwer, offered a
heartfelt prayer beseeching the Creator to bless the Jewish state.
stood there transfixed as this non-Jewish religious figure passionately called
on God to have mercy on His people Israel.
There was something so real,
genuine and sincere about Glashouwer’s supplication that I could almost feel it
resonating in the heavens above.
Something truly significant is
happening. Bear in mind that just over 65 years ago, Europeans were busy
slaughtering Jews. Now many of them are taking the lead in supporting the Jewish
state. This is a remarkable historical development.
Even if they face an
uphill battle, Christians for Israel is not shying away from its special mandate
– spreading a pro-Israel message from the heart of Europe to villages in
“Israel,” says Glashouwer, “is the greatest sign of
hope that the world has ever seen.”
And to that we can all say amen.