A controversial fundamentalist Christian missionary organization called “Jews for Jesus” (JFJ) is in the red, reports Christianity Today.

The annual budget for the group, reported at $15 million, included a 10% deficit of $3 million.

14 workers were given “pink slips” and laid off, which represents a staff reduction of more than 5%.

The group claimed that this was due to a particular costly program that apparently bombed.

However, it may instead reflect a larger trend regarding this type of missionary work generally.

Despite its name, JFJ depends upon the support of the evangelical Christian community for its funding. This largely consists of Baptists, Pentecostals and independent bible churches.

But it seems like that interest is waning and JFJ may be past its prime.

The organization was the brainchild of Martin Rosen, an ordained Baptist minister who once worked for the American Board of Missions to the Jews.

Rosen wanted his own operation, so in the early 70s he came up with a catchy name that is now trademarked, which initially drew substantial attention.

But that was thirty years ago and Rosen has since retired.

Hundreds of workers have come and gone at JFJ and some allege that the organization was abusive and authoritarian.

Rosen’s successor at JFJ admits, “A number …left dissatisfied or hurt…We made plenty of mistakes along the way…we allowed sinful attitudes like pride to infect our lives and our behaviors. He adds, Our founder…has acknowledged that.”

But apologies aside, it may be that the core concepts, which once generated interest in the organization decades ago, are no longer that attractive.

A growing number of evangelicals seem to feel that more thoughtful and less provocative proselytizing is preferable.

It also remains an open question just how effective JFJ ever really was.

Despite the millions spent annually on its crusade, it appears that very few Jews actually converted to fundamentalist Christianity as a direct result of JFJ efforts.

As churches tighten their budgets due to difficult economic conditions and scrutinize how best to allocate resources, JFJ may continue to shrink.

After thirty years of what can be seen as essentially “hit and run evangelism” and an exodus of “hurt” staff, JFJ apparently is running out of gas.

The evangelical Christian missionary organization known as “Jews for Jesus” (JFJ) continues its annual “Passover” road show through churches across the United States.

JFJ has a sordid history of confrontation with the Jewish community. Many Jews consider their programs offensive and some say they are anti-Semitic.

The peripatetic proselytizers present “Christ in the Passover,” which superimposes Christian references upon long-established Jewish historical symbols and observances.

The JFJ programs largely ignore and/or negate the actual significance of Passover, which is based upon the biblical account of Exodus and celebrates freedom.

Ironically, many of the churches that support such events claim to “love the Jewish people” and Israel.

JFJ and organizations like it within the evangelical Christian fold collect more than $100 million in contributions each year.

Recent JFJ Passover stops included Tyler in East Texas and Toledo.

A strange fundamentalist Christian missionary group that calls itself “Jews for Jesus” is conducting a multi-city “Passover” tour.

The group works the Jewish holiday as an opportunity for self-promotion and fund raising amongst fellow fundamentalists.

Some recent pit stops for “JFJ” included Gales Creek, Oregon, New Orleans, Kansas City and even Juneau, Alaska.

Their program “Christ in the Passover” supposedly shows the audience how this Jewish holiday that predates Christianity, is really somehow about Jesus.


This makes about as much sense as members of Rev. Moon’s Unification Church putting on a show to reveal how Easter is really an allusion symbolically foretelling the coming of their “messiah.”

After all, they believe Moon must finish the job Jesus failed to complete, but insist they are “Christians.”

Does this make them “Christians for Messiah Moon”?

The Jewish community has historically objected to having its holidays misrepresented this way.

Never mind.

Missionaries paid by “Jews for Jesus” are not exactly concerned with either political correctness or promoting ecumenical understanding. They just like to put on their show, leave town and let the community deal with the fallout.

However, other evangelical Christians such as Billy Graham, don’t seem to agree with the group’s agenda of targeting Jews for special proselytizing.

Every year an evangelical Christian organization known as “Jews for Jesus” (JFJ) stages “Passover” presentations at Christian churches.

The missionary group recently staged one of their annual “Christ in the Passover” productions at a Presbyterian church in Newton Massachusetts this month, reported the Watertown Tab.

Another such event will take place tonight at a Mennonite church in Albany, reports the Democrat-Herald.

Reportedly “ancient and modern Jewish customs will be discussed and described.”

JFJ claims it has done such presentations at more than 5,000 churches to date.

However, these presentations actually distort and/or negate the meaning and real significance of “ancient and modern Jewish customs.”

Perhaps more importantly JFJ may damage inter-faith understanding between those Christians they influence and the authentic Jewish community.

JFJ, which was founded by a Baptist minister, also specifically targets Jews for special missionary consideration. But Baptist evangelist Billy Graham has denounced such efforts.

Obviously, if Christian churches wish to truly understand the historical meaning of Passover and the actual religious significance of that traditional family dinner observed annually by Jews, they should contact a local synagogue and/or the organized the Jewish community.

Likewise, when Jews wish to better understand Christian observances such as Easter, they should contact Protestant or Catholic clergy and/or churches as a resource.

Meaningful inter-faith understanding is not accomplished by misrepresenting and/or distorting another faith’s beliefs, practices or actual history.

JFJ itself has a deeply troubled history, which includes complaints about excessively confrontational evangelism and allegations of abuse made by former members. Jews have described the organization as essentially “anti-Semitic.”

Though JFJ may benefit through fund-raising opportunities made possible by such Passover events, it seems that the misleading information and subsequent false understanding often left behind might actually damage the churches involved and their members.

Organizations like JFJ come and go through communities, moving on to their next program somewhere else.

But churches, synagogues and their members remain behind and must live together.

Shouldn’t living together be based upon mutual respect and understanding achieved through meaningful dialog and education?

Southern California residents can look forward to more than Santa this December. The so-called “Jews for Jesus” will be rolling out yet another round of their brand of proselytizing aimed at Jews called “Operation Behold your God,” reports the Christian Times.

This will be a “multi-pronged effort.” The California blitz is “part of a four-year campaign…launched in October 2000” to target Jews “in every city worldwide with a Jewish population of 25,000 or more.” “Jews for Jesus” have put 66 such cities on a list, with 33 in the U.S. This effort may include unsolicited and targeted mailings, phone calls and “street evangelism.”

“Jews for Jesus” is the brainchild of former Jew Martin Rosen, an ordained Baptist pastor who once worked for the American Board of Missions to the Jews. Rosen apparently wanted to run his own shop, so in the 70s he started up a new ministry and came up with a name that got him attention.

Pastor Martin is now retired and presumably living on a pension provided by “Jews for Jesus.” But the ministry he founded now has multi-million dollar annual budgets. “Jews for Jesus” is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a Christian organization that includes many para-church groups.

However, though Rosen proved to be a highly innovative and successful fund-raiser “Jews for Jesus” never really has been that successful at persuading Jews to accept its blended brand of fundamentalist Christianity.

When Jews leave Judaism they are more likely to embrace Buddhism, or in a mixed marriage with a non-Jewish spouse enter the Unitarian Church or some more liberal “mainline” church.

Ironically, the conversion rate to Judaism by Christians seems to exceed anything “Jews for Jesus” have ever specifically accomplished. And that has been achieved without spending millions of dollars annually on glitzy campaigns.

What Rosen did accomplish was to effectively create a kind of organizational kingdom. And he identified an inventive way to subsidize the salaries within that enterprise by raising millions of dollars annually from evangelical Christians.

The problem posed by organizations like Rosen’s isn’t really their missionary work. “Jews for Jesus” certainly have the right to preach to their heart’s content. The United States is a free country that constitutionally and culturally insures such free speech and religious pluralism.

Neither is the issue that “Jews for Jesus” is somehow a “cult,” though some former members have said they can be authoritarian and abusive.

The troubling issue about “Jews for Jesus” is their insistence that they are “Jews” without qualification and that they can somehow be both Jews and fundamentalist Christians simultaneously.

However, this is really rather self-referentially incoherent. Can a Baptist accept Buddhism and then become a “Baptist for Buddha,” or can a Mormon embrace Islam and be a “Mormon for Mohammed”?

No one would take such claims seriously.

But many people seem to assume that Jews are a race or a nationality and not simply a religious group bound by a common faith. And “Jews for Jesus” does nothing to dissuade such misconceptions. In fact, they openly encourage what can be seen as a kind of cryptic anti-Semitism that relies upon such stereotyping and misinformation.

Historically, they have nothing to base such claims upon and rely on a kind of selective biblical exegesis and historical view instead.

Obviously, those who chose to follow Jesus amongst First Century Jewry went their own way and founded a new world religion now known as Christianity. Each faith has its own distinct beliefs, creeds and doctrines and perhaps more importantly the right to determine the parameters of its identity.

Jews that leave Judaism by accepting another religious belief system have always been historically referred to as “apostate Jews.” Apostasy is likewise recognized as a term to describe Christians who convert to another faith.

Jews, like Christians, come from many races and national origins. What ultimately makes a Jew is faith, not background. And whatever ambiguity there may be about Jewish heredity is a question that can only be resolved within the organized Jewish community itself.

There is no ambiguity about what Jews are not. Jews are not apostates who have rejected Judaism. All branches of Judaism not only recognize this, but also by the State of Israel through its courts regarding the “right of return” has established this through law. Apostate Jews cannot return to the Jewish homeland exercising their right to return as “Jews.”

It seems “Jews for Jesus” wish to disregard these facts and history itself. They appear to believe that they have the right to redefine Jewish identity.

Perhaps “Jews for Jesus” wish to form a kind of ghetto niche for themselves within Christianity. But this does not appear to be a popular idea amongst most evangelicals. Billy Graham has specifically rejected the concept of missionaries targeting a specific religious group.

Jewish-Christian relations have improved substantially in recent years. Roman Catholics in particular have recognized the ethnocentric beliefs and theology of triumphalism that led to tragedies like the Crusades and Inquisitions.

Catholics have made amends and improved interreligious dialog with Jews. Likewise, many Protestant churches within the National and World Council of Churches have largely rejected organized efforts to convert Jews.

Perhaps it is theologically impossible for fundamentalist and evangelical Christians to mirror their more moderate and ecumenical brethren. But Billy Graham’s opposition to missionary targeting seems like a meaningful first step at better relations between “born-again” Christians and Jews.

More importantly, recognizing implicit and exclusive right of the organized Jewish community to determine the parameters of its own identity would seem to be the next step in improving relations between the two religious camps.

Christmas is a holiday often associated with good will and kindness.

Hanukkah, which also falls in December, is about something important too. The willingness of Jews to die for the integrity and preservation of Judaism.

Why can’t both faiths “behold…God” by internalizing the precepts that have made them both great during the coming holiday season?