CMJ (Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People) started in 1809, supported by the evangelical establishment including William Wilberforce, Charles Simeon and Lord Shaftesbury. From small beginnings offering practical and spiritual help to poor Jewish immigrants in the East End of London, by the mid-19th Century it was the largest mission organisation in the world, with over 250 missionaries worldwide. Although smaller today, CMJ continues its three-fold ministry of Education, Evangelism and Encouragement internationally.
I have been a Trustee for three years and have a role as ‘CMJ Voluntary Representative with Specific Deputation Responsibilities’. Before Covid-19, I spoke in fifty churches and Christian groups around the UK annually, sharing exciting stories of how God is moving in new ways among the Jewish community in Israel and here particularly. I also support Christians in understanding the whole sweep of scripture, the Hebraic roots of our faith and the Jewishness of Jesus. I especially enjoy demonstrating the Passover and other biblical festivals.
On the Education front, CMJ offers a mobile ‘Bible Comes to Life’ exhibition, with some fascinating artefacts ranging from a full-size facsimile of the Ark of the Covenant to a model of the Temple area in Jesus’ day. It is interactive at all levels, and Bible stories presented in costume are very popular with local school parties. We also run Bible based tours of Israel, one of which I led in 2013, and our guides, whether Jewish or Arab Israelis, are all believers in Jesus.
Evangelism is based on Romans 1:16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Although Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, he always approached the Jewish community first, and CMJ follows this biblical pattern.
Encouragement has two aspects: giving Christians the confidence to engage with Jewish people, and giving practical, emotional and spiritual support to Jewish believers, many of whom face rejection by their family and community. I have learnt more about this by attending and recently representing CMJ at biennial LCJE (Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism) conferences in various countries.
While in lockdown I have spoken via Zoom to a few of the churches I should have visited, but my next deputation tour remains in the balance.