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Lausanne conference tackles antisemitism, affirms Gospel work and sanctity of life

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DENVER, Colo. (BP) – Messianic Jews expressed outrage over rising antisemitism in the U.S. at a recent conference for Jewish evangelism, energizing their Gospel mission and affirming the value of all human life amid the Israel-Hamas War.

About 125 leaders and members of about 40 groups and congregations including the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship (SBMF) attended the 2024 Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) May 6-8 in Denver, releasing an official statement May 11 to Baptist Press.

“We recognize that our conference overlapped with both Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and the seven-month mark since the brutal Hamas massacre of October 7, 2023, with the barbaric murders of 1,200 people and the capture of more than 250 innocent hostages into Gaza,” leaders said in the statement. “We mourn that more Jewish lives were lost on that day than on any other day since the Holocaust. Our hearts also break at the increased attacks against Israel and against Jewish people globally.”

Leaders described “virulent” hatred of Jews as “alive and accepted in North America today,” noting protests on college campuses and a “significant shift in public support for Israel.”

Most leaders believe the antisemitic statements on college campuses stem from a lack of knowledge, SBMF Executive Director Ric Worshill told Baptist Press.

“The consensus is that most of the protestors against Israel have no idea what really happened there,” Worshill said. “If they knew the atrocities that were inflicted against innocent Jewish residents, they would not be so involved in the protests, or the antisemitism.”

With more than 34,000 fatalities reported in Gaza and more than 1,200 in Israel, LCJE affirmed the sanctity of human life and collaborated on sharing the Gospel with Jews and others.

“We affirm the sanctity of life for all peoples – Jews and Arabs in both Israel and Gaza. We affirm our love and concern for all of those suffering as a result of this terrible war,” the statement reads in part, reiterating the words of keynote speaker LCJE International President Tuvya Zaretsky.

“In these dark times, we have the hope that our Jewish people so desperately need. We can and should mourn alongside our people,” the statement quotes Zaretsky. “At the same time, we must never lose the hope we have found in Messiah Jesus. And we must always be willing to share about the amazing gift of salvation which we have been given in Him.”

Jews for Jesus, Chosen People Ministries, Ariel Ministries, the Christian Jew Foundation, the Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People, Life in Messiah Ministries and others were among groups represented at the conference.

Worshill considers the conference a powerful tool in mobilizing Jewish evangelism, with emotional support as well as collaboration in ministry.

“We cried together, we laughed together. We also got down to business too,” Worshill said. “Now, our biggest battle is to show them how the church, the evangelical church in general, is really, really trying to support them, because Jewish people today are terrified, almost terrified to go outside their houses.”

More than 30 presenters from mission agencies, Messianic congregations, denominations and academic institutions shared resources and best practices in their shared evangelistic mission.

“We affirm our commitment to collaborative partnerships for effective gospel witness and recognize the benefits of synergy that come from working together,” the statement reads. “As one presenter shared about a recent collaborative outreach: ‘If I would have worked alone, this would have stayed an idea, but with others we can make things a reality.’”

The LCJE, affiliated with the global Lausanne Movement, describes itself as an international network of agencies, congregations, educational institutions and individuals engaged in mission to the Jewish people. It was launched in 1980 and today includes eight regional chapters.