A few years ago, a group of several dozen elderly Russian-speaking immigrants in Jerusalem organized by Dr. Lila Glazer was looking for a place to meet. Lacking resources, Dr. Glazer turned to the municipality, who by chance, had just been approached by American evangelist Mike Evans, who happened to be looking for an opportunity to initiate a project in the holy city.
Evans and his Jerusalem Prayer Team went to work, and after a $400,000 investment, Glazer’s group is now the proud beneficiary of the most deluxe shelter in the city. Kitted out with spacious meeting rooms, the underground shelter has a renovated bathroom, air conditioning and heat, a well-equipped kitchen, large-screen TV, wi-fi and a chair-lift.
Earlier this week, at a hastily-erected sukka in front of the entrance to the shelter on Azza Street in Rehavia, Evans was feted by the grateful immigrants in front of a smattering of Russian Israeli and English-speaking journalists.
No one cared to bring up Evans’ agenda or his lengthy history of missionary activity. Who could blame the elderly immigrants, many of whom are Holocaust survivors, and who now have a beautiful place for their much-needed social and religious activities. Dr. Glazer told me she wished more Christians would be made aware of their stories.
In Jerusalem in 2013, Evans is careful not to mention anything other than his desire to represent Christian Zionists “who love the Jewish people.”
“We love you very much,” Evans tells the group outside the shelter. “When you need something, you tell Lila, she’ll tell me and then God will provide.”
His self described personal history as a Jew who accepted Jesus at age 11 doesn’t seem to deter prominent Israelis and elected officials from accepting his money.
Back in 1977, however, Evans raised the ire of Christian and Jewish leaders in Long Island, NY after he moved his Bnai Yeshua missionary operation from Texas to Stony Brook. A main goal of Bnei Yeshua was “to see every Jewish person in the world come to a greater relationship with the God of Israel through the acceptance of Jesus as the messiah.” The Board of Governors of the Long Island Council of Churches, with the support of the Long Island Board of Rabbis issued a statement condemning the conversionary practices of Hebrew-Christian groups. The religious leaders wrote that they were “particularly concerned about the alleged dishonest conversion tactics employed by such groups as Jews for Jesus, Bnai Yeshua and the Unification Church.”
The New York Jewish Community Relations Council set up an emergency task force in 1977 to counter the missionary groups working in New York, with a major focus on Evans’ B’nai Yeshua.
Almost a decade later, Ira Gissen, director of the ADL’s Discrimination Department, suggested that Evans presented the Jewish community with a problem – a problem that continues to plague the Jewish community today. He had no answers:
Mike Evans is a pro-Israel evangelist who seeks to convert Jews to Christianity. Evangelists who are enthusiastically pro-Israel, but who also seek to convert Jews to Christianity pose a dilemma, or at least so it appears.” – Charlotte Jewish News, February 1984
The return of our Lord and Savior is directly related to Jerusalem.
1. Most all prophecy points to Jerusalem and the end times; the new Temple being built, the Antichrist, the Battle of Armageddon and the 144,000 Evangelists.
2. When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem we are praying for the Lord to return. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28
Missionary tactics haven’t changed that much over the years. Back in the mid-19th century Jerusalem’s health care system was run predominantly by foreign missionary organizations. They too loved the Jews. Most prominent amongst these groups was the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews. Their English Mission Hospital was located on Haneviim Street, a short walk from the Old City.
Community and religious leaders at the time fervently urged Jews not to frequent the hospital, and eventually Jewish-run medical facilities including Misgav Ladach, Shaare Tzedek and the Meir Rothschild Hospital were established to treat all Jerusalem residents without discrimination or proselytizing.
Today, the almost universal and undiscriminating embrace of Christians with a missionary agenda by many Israeli political and religious leaders is deeply troubling.
The shelter, with the dedication etched in stone to evangelist Evans and his Jerusalem Prayer Team, is directly across the street from the Prime Minister’s apartment on Azza Street and is but the latest example of Jewish shortsightedness.
All photos © Judy Lash Balint. All rights reserved