by Sam Nadler
In the planting of churches, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) realized there are a lot of Jewish people in the community. They asked my dear friend, Dr. Michael Herts with Chosen People Ministry what they should do. Graciously he recommended “Sam Nadler, as the expert in the field of Jewish evangelism.” When the head of SBC planting shared this with me, I was shocked. “Me, an expert? Oy, now they’ll expect me to have “expert advice,” whatever that is. Oy!” So, I prayed, “Lord, help!”
A short ministry trip filled with many unexpected blessings!
I flew to NYC to teach and encourage these heroic Southern Baptist church planters how to share Messiah with Jewish people. (I always consider planters as heroic, since they are stepping out of the boat of comfort and into the deep waters of spiritual commitment.) On the flight up, I opened a discussion as I normally do on flights. “Are you on your way to work or on your way home?” I asked the gentleman next to me. He was on his way home to Long Island. I shared with him the work I do, “We plant Messianic congregations worldwide, to help my (Jewish) people understand, accept, and grow in the Good News of Messiah. As a Catholic, he was intrigued. I explained the difference between personal faith and traditional faith. But he decided that he had work he had to do. I prayed that the seed planted would be blessed by God.
On the way to the meeting I had the opportunity to share Messiah with my Bangladeshi taxi driver and with his wife. They were amazed to hear this message of Messiah from a Jewish man who loves Muslims. We parted with prayer regarding his wife’s poor health. Walking into the SBC building on West 72nd Street, I praised the Lord for that divine appointment to plant a seed of the Good News.
After being introduced by Mike Herts, I shared with these planters from two directions. Considering what can be incorporated into the congregational program for a community profiled testimony (festival services, etc) and what can be provided for the individual believer’s personal witness. I shared an abbreviated Jewish Evangelism Seminar. I’ve been privileged to share with many other Jewish and non-Jewish followers of Messiah in many different places.
Throughout this instruction, I challenged them as leaders with some unusual considerations. “What cultural expressions of the faith, both symbols and jargon, are you willing to forego to more effectively communicate the Messiah to the Jewish people around you?” They had never thought of their faith expression as “cultural.” They had thought all their faith expressions were truly biblical. Because Q&A helps to minster to others more effectively, a lively discussion ensued. They came to understand the actual preaching of the death of Messiah is less of a stumbling block to the Jewish people than the symbol of the cross. It was used by religious anti-Semites in Jewish persecution through the ages. “As Messianic believers, we bear it, but we don’t wear it!”
In this same regard, I also shared with my fellow servants of the Lord, “Most born again people are not discipled; they’re merely acculturated. Not being grounded and rooted in the Word, they only understand their faith by their cultural expressions. If you change the cultural expression they think you’re changing the faith. “But,” I said, “we are planters, we must utilize culture to communicate effectively to the people we trying to reach, not as a default expression of our biblical faith.” By the end, the leadership of the group were very appreciative for what I taught. Some of the planters asked me to mentor them. In my heart, I was shouting, “Thank you, Lord, that they’re encouraged to love the Jewish people and to help the greater Jewish community to understand Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel!”
To get back to the airport, I took Uber. The Uber driver’s name as noted on the phone app was Yacov. Upon entering his car, he said he enjoys speaking with passengers while they drive. I opened the discussion speaking to him as a fellow Jew. He wanted to know how I knew he was Jewish. I smiled and said, “Your name is Yacov, dude!” It turns out he was born in Russia and didn’t realize that his name was Hebrew. I shared with him the Good News of our Messiah. B*H* (Baruch Hashem)! There was traffic! I could share even more with him about God’s love and our great need for Messiah!
At the airport I learned my flight back to Charlotte was delayed. Since my flight was delayed, I tried to catch an earlier one out of LaGuardia. It too was cancelled. I asked my FaceBook friends to pray that I find some people at the airport to share Messiah with. Nearby was a young woman, who looks like all of my family. Her flight was delayed as well. I said to her, “As a Jewish man, we are a hopeful people, because God always cares for us.” She replied that she’s also Jewish. “Thank you, Lord!” I prayed. I told her about our Messiah. At the darkest time in our people’s history, when Messiah died, everyone thought that our hope was gone. But in three days He was raised from the dead! “And so, we have great reason to hope!” She smiled with her eyes wide, saying thank you as we parted company. As I often teach and strongly believe, wherever we go, we’re all seed planters, trusting the Lord to give the increase.
I asked on FB friends to pray for the person next to me on the plane to be open to Messiah. (Since I normally expect whoever is next to me on flights to hear the Good News, even if I have to wake them up!). Next to me on the plane was Giovanni. He’s already a believer beginning to minister in Connecticut. I had served Messiah in planting a Messianic congregation back in the 80s in the same area. As I talked with him, I realized that he wasn’t very well grounded in the faith. I encouraged him with scripture to fully depend on Messiah for the grace and strength that he’ll need to have a long-term effective work for the Lord. “It was good fellowship for us both, and I gave him my card if he’d ever want someone to pray with him.
I want to not only thank my FB friends for praying, but also all those that regularly pray for Word of Messiah Ministries. For the Lord to open doors that no man can close; and the Good News to go out by His grace, even to the Jew first, but not to the Jew only!
A Note from Michael Herts regarding Sam’s visit and teaching at the Baptist Convention of New York
It was such a blessing for you to come to New York City and provide excellent training to church planters with The Baptist Convention of New York. They learned a great deal and were very motivated to make new congregations more open to reaching our Jewish people with the gospel. After you left they commented about how pleased they were with the teaching and that this is the first time they can remember a teaching on this topic. Thank you!