News Articles

FIRST-PERSON (Tuvya Zaretsky): ‘[T]his Baptist is a Jew who loves Jesus’

LOS ANGELES (BP)–In the Jewish community, Moishe Rosen was regarded as a controversial figure. He earned that reputation for his unwavering commitment to Jewish evangelism.

Moishe never accepted Jewish opposition to the Gospel as what he called “enemyship.” He often said, “Choose your friends, and pick your enemies even more carefully.” His Jewish opposition was far less gracious. Some sought to deny him Jewish “status.” They scornfully said, “Did you know that their founder is just a Baptist minister?”

That was allegedly meant to imply that Baptist affiliation and Jewishness are mutually exclusive. However, no one can deny the genuine Jewish pedigrees of stalwart Baptists like Hyman Appleman, Jacob Gartenhaus and Moishe Rosen.

I heard about Moishe in 1971, as the Jews for Jesus movement was first capturing notice in the U.S. Jewish press. He was convinced that the American Christian community in general and Jewish missions in particular had become complacent about the need for a forthright testimony to Jewish people. He insisted that Jewish people needed to know about Jesus, even if they protested, because there is “no other name” by which anyone can be saved.

Moishe was so compelled by the courageous conviction of his own faith that he charged into the forefront of the Jewish opposition in the early 1970s. A few in the Jewish mission establishment rallied with him. That happened just as the Lord raised up a new generation of young Jewish believers. They insisted on being identified as Jews who love Jesus in spite of establishment Jewish voices that tried to deny validation of their Jewishness.

He encouraged a new generation of Jewish missionaries to be bold and steadfast. He quoted Paul’s words, “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5 NASB).

He pressed the battle to bring the Gospel to his own people and stood his ground for the cause of Christ. When the opposition called him “just a Baptist,” he simply responded, “Yes, and this Baptist is a Jew who loves Jesus.” Moishe insisted that any focus should be on the Messiah Jesus and not on his Jewishness.

Moishe was married to Ceil for over 50 years. He came to faith as a young man. He received ordination through the Conservative Baptist Association and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. Over time, he was widely recognized as a sage elder statesman in the field of Jewish evangelism.

In 1974, Moishe Rosen received an invitation to participate at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism, an international gathering of missiologists, theologians and churchmen. It was an honor that Moishe deserved, but couldn’t afford. The demands of leading the newly chartered Jews for Jesus organization prevented him from taking time away. However, he fully understood the historic and strategic significance of the Lausanne movement.

As a result, six years later, in June 1980, he attended the Consultation on World Evangelization in Pattaya, Thailand. There, he served as a member of the “mini-consultation on reaching Jewish people.” Two significant outcomes for the field of Jewish evangelism came from that gathering.

One was Lausanne Occasional Paper #7: Christian Witness to the Jewish People, edited by C. David Harley. The other was the establishment of a unique mission network, the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE).

Today, the LCJE is regarded as the most successful special interest committee in the whole international Lausanne network. Moishe Rosen’s commitment to that network and the cause of Jewish evangelism has received well-deserved acknowledgement and appreciation.

Moishe often said that the best measure of our efforts at Jewish evangelism comes from our opposition. An Israeli historian said it clearly, “Rosen’s achievement was not in creating a new missionary agenda, but rather in using new strategies and means that made the mission more effective in achieving its goals” (Ariel, Ya’akov. Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America 1880-2000, [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press] 2000, Page 219).

Thanks be to God for a Jewish “Baptist minister” like Moishe Rosen. His love for Messiah Y’shua (Jesus) gave him the courage to be a stalwart missionary and a wise elder statesman in the field of Jewish evangelism.
Tuvya Zaretsky is director of staff development internationally for Jews for Jesus and chairman of the board of the Jews for Jesus branch in Tel Aviv, Israel. He was Jews for Jesus’ first field missionary, beginning his ministry with the organization in February 1974. Used by permission.

    About the Author

  • Tuvya Zaretsky