Reverend Dr. Jonathan Hansen of World Ministries International is an end-times "prophet" and an in-your-face missionary. Hansen has been actively proselytizing in Sderot, Israel. He hopes to set up a missionary dental clinic in cooperation with the Sderot municipality.
Hansen's website proudly displays his numerous connections with Israeli political, rabbinic and community leaders and activists. He sells interviews with these personalities in order to support and promote his missionary efforts. Hansen has an affiliation with the Christian messianic organization Hands of Mercy, directed by Ye'shi Reinhardt in Sderot.
Root Canal from Hell
Jewishisrael excerpted 14 minutes of clips from Hanson's video reports of his spring 2012 mission in Sderot. The first two minutes are the action-packed ranting of Hansen, the Doomsday prophet, covering the Christian eschatological matters of judgment day, mega-disasters, the mark of the beast, over 2 billion people dying, Armageddon and the return of jesus christ. This all culminates in the announcement that Israel is preparing for World War III.
If you survive all of that, then you can move on to the next three minutes of spiritual diplomacy with Sderot Municipal officials. Reverend Hansen is joined by Yeshi Reihhardt of Hands of Mercy. A pitch is made to officials to share and supplement the municipal dental facilities with the missionary team. Watch how Assistant Mayor Amsalem is introduced to the concepts of "the character of god, the messiah" and "compassion" as in, "when jesus walked the earth he fed the multitudes and healed the sick." In the office of Rabbi Herzl Shaubi, Sderot’s Vice Mayor, we're treated to more rhetoric about the "return of the messiah" and "the spirit of god – yashua [jesus]".
It's perhaps easier to go through a root canal than watch the last 9 minutes of the video, as Reverend Dr. Jonathan Hanson and his dental missionary side-kick Dr. Michael Hyodo examine potential patients, embrace them, and pray for their salvation, all in the name of jesus.
Hansen’s video’s bottom line message:
"Call your pledge today, so we can come to Sderot on a permanent basis and start to fill the needs they have with their teeth, as well as other needs – food and spiritual food, eternal needs and salvation, through yashua [jesus]."
Many Israelis welcome photo and film opportunities with evangelicals. It's seen as an effective means to galvanize support from gentile friends, state the political and moral case for the Jewish state, and raise funds for essential humanitarian projects. Concerns about missionary activity and its consequences are usually brushed off with a shrug of the shoulders and the casual quip, "Take the money. Don't convert".
But as we can see, Hansen is actively proselytizing the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of Israeli society and his plans are to provide, free of charge, thousands of dollars worth of dental services to underprivileged Israelis - in addition to salvation in jesus. It's an offer that some will be unable to refuse.
"Dr. Hansen's objective is to warn leaders of nations of the second coming of Jesus Christ and the plagues/judgments that are coming upon those people and nations that reject Jesus Christ as Savior according to the Scriptures."
Once these DVD materials are on the market or in the public domain, they become "the gift that keeps on giving", and the damage is done.
It's essential that Jewish leaders not find themselves in the position of having inadvertently facilitated in the conversion of their own brethren to Christianity (G-d forbid).
Doing the Right Thing
David Bedein, director of the Israel Resource News Agency, discovered Hanson's missionary agenda only after he participated in an interview with Hansen. Mr. Bedein contacted JewishIsrael with regards to Hansen's activities. A short time thereafter, Bedein publicly set the record straight and distanced himself from Hansen with this letter. We can also assure our readership that Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith, Mayor of Itamar, who conducted interviews with Hansen and hosted him in his home, is also fully aware of the problem with Hansen.
Beyond Proselytizing: It's Complicated
Although highly disturbing, Rev. Jonathan Hansen's approach of overt proselytizing is only one means of spreading Christianity and this method is becoming more or less passé. Today's missionary is far more sophisticated and is involved in friendship evangelism and building Judeo-Christian bridges which blur theological lines and break down the spiritual boundaries between faiths.
The evangelical church, by and large, is no longer trying to bring Jews to formal Christianity. Yet they are trying to bring Jesus to the Jews and to graft themselves upon the Jewish covenant. They aspire to erasing the blank page between the "old” and the "new" testaments and to creating a continuum – a mix of Jewish tradition with belief in jesus. This is modern-day replacement theology intended to bring about a first century Christian revival in the Land of Israel.
Despite the current philo-Semitic, pro-Israel trend, Christianity remains a faith with principal tenets that are alien to and proscribed in Judaism. The problematic blurring of lines, assimilation, confrontation, and progressive replacement theology, which threatens Jewish spiritual sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael, has yet to be considered by our political, rabbinic and community activists and leaders.
There is no question that the Holocaust followed by the birth of the State of Israel had a tremendous impact on devout Christians. While it is appropriate for Jewish leadership to support and encourage those church leaders who are grappling with Christianity's past, and attempting to make theological adjustments (including disavowing overt proselytizing), we should not be fueling a prophetic end days Christian revival. Christianity, whether politically left or right, remains christ-centered, exclusive and triumphalist.
Now Here's Where it Gets Complicated…
It was a non-proselytizing Christian friend of Israel, Tani Zarelli, who brought the proselytizing Jonathan Hansen to Israel back in May 2009. Hansen writes that he was anxious to "forge relationships" with Israeli leaders and Ms. Zarelli's tour provided such an opportunity. Indeed, Hansen reported:
"I met with many leaders including a Knesset Member who will allow me to interview him and others in Israel. Please help me to go back immediately with television personnel. I need your financial support to help me tell the real story of the land and people living in Israel and the Occupied Territories."
The results are fundraising programs which weave interviews with Israeli leaders together with doomsday prophecy and the proselytizing of Jews.
Again, it was Tani Zarelli who brought Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries to Israel in 2009. Jewish Israel has reported extensively on Mark Biltz, who is absolutely committed to demonstrating a belief in jesus' centrality to Judaism and his inclusion in the Torah. We have also have a number of videos of Pastor Biltz posted in our video library. Zarelli continues to regularly host tours for El Shaddai ministries.
This is not a case of guilt by association. Although we understand that Ms. Zarelli can't be responsible for the agendas of every Christian leader, group, and individual which participates in her tours and programs, she nevertheless empathizes with the messianic cause in Israel and appears to oppose counter-missionary legislation.
We heard from one very reliable source that a number of Jewish activists in the Northwest United States "rely almost totally on Tani Zarelli to vet their Christian allies". Indeed, according to Maariv, "Tani Zarelli has become known as Israel’s most Influential Ambassador in Washington State."
Under the circumstances, it seems that Jewish rabbinic, political and community leaders should uphold the Talmudic position of "respect and suspect" when it comes to dealing with Christian friends of Israel. And they should, perhaps, find someone else (a concerned Jew) to vet their Christian allies.
JewishIsrael remains committed to our goal of getting rabbis and Jewish policy makers to establish guidelines that will prevent any blurring of halachic lines between faiths, to ensure the perpetuation of the spiritual integrity of the Jewish people.* Part of our efforts towards this goal involves getting Jews in both Israel the Diaspora to broaden their definition of evangelical, missionary, and missionary work.
The following quote is from "Understanding Christian Missions" by J. Herbert Kane, a textbook used for missions classes in Evangelical Bible colleges:
"The worldwide mission of the Christian church is rooted in the Incarnation and is part of God's redemptive purpose for the world. God is a missionary God. The Bible is a missionary book. The gospel is a missionary message. The church is a missionary institution. And when the church ceases to be missionary minded, it has denied its faith and betrayed its trust."
*[Note: since this posting, guidelines have been drawn up by a rabbinic committee which enjoys an impressive list of endorsements. See post: Rabbinic Committee Formulates Policy Regarding the Acceptance of As...