Should the Jewish community work with Evangelicals?

by | Nov 21, 2012 | Uncategorized

Susan Michael, U.S.A. director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Susan Michael, U.S.A. director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Susan Michael, U.S.A. director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem addressed a crowd of nearly 100 people at Temple Emanuel on Sunday, Nov. 4.

Speaking about the importance of working together to support Israel, Jews and Christians came to hear Michael. Her comments addressed the concerns and skepticism often expressed by the Jewish community, offered a better understanding of the Christian perspective and made practical suggestions on how to further a conversation that can promote understanding between the faiths.

This was the third event in a series of interfaith initiatives co-sponsored by the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater with area synagogues.

Michael estimates that out of the 90-120 million born again Christians in the United States, who are routinely mis-labeled as Evangelicals, about 50 million are pro-Israel. Christian support is often motivated by three different things. The greatest, is their excitement and appreciation after having visited Israel. The second is that many realize that politically it is in the United States’ best interest to have an ally in the Middle East and it is known that Israel is America’s only true option. Third is the theological reason based on Genesis 12:1-3 where the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

One of the biggest obstacles to the Jewish-Christian relationship is the media and their negative treatment of Evangelicals in general and of Christian support for Israel s p e c i f i c a l l y. Other issues include concerns over proselytism and apocalyptic motives suggesting that returning Jews to Israel will bring back Jesus. Michael says, “no one believes anything we do will bring about the future. God has already made plans that actions cannot change.”

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was started in 1980 as an expression of Christian support of Israel and their claim to Jerusalem as the capital. Michael found that while studying in Israel, the Bible took on a third dimension, as a history book, it all just came alive. She now looks at issues from a different perspective, “how will this affect Israel? How will this affect the Jewish community?” She says that “so many Christians don’t even know a Jewish person and we should all approach relationships with real expectations, and in an educational way. We don’t learn about interfaith relations by reading a book, we learn by doing it and we learn the most from our mistakes.” Her parting words, “we cannot change 2,000 years of history overnight!”

The Temple Emanuel Men’s Club provided a beautiful breakfast that was enjoyed by all, starting the event off in a way that made each person feel comfortable to make new friends, obvious by the tables full of Christians and Jews together. “I have been driving by this synagogue for more than 20 years and finally had an opportunity to come in,” said a Christian member of the audience, “I have been made to feel so welcome that I look forward to more opportunities to come back.”

To learn more about the CRC’s interfaith initiative, contact Robin Mancoll, director, at or visit

by Robin Mancoll