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Missions in Israel Today-Part 1

March 15, 2024 |  By Eric Vess

Andrei Senderov is a leader in the Messianic Jewish congregation Beit Hallel (House of Praise) in Ashdod, Israel. Andrei was recently traveling in the US and visited our offices. I sat down to ask him about life and missions in Israel during these difficult times. This is the first of a two-part interview.

Eric: Let’s begin with a definition — what is a Messianic Jew?

Andrei: Messianic Jews are Jews who believe that Jesus is their Messiah. They believe in the Old Testament, as well as the New Covenant, the New Testament. We hold to the same basic doctrines as Christians: the resurrection of Christ and that He will return to the land of Israel. We believe that God is one God in three Persons: God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. And we believe in a physical and spiritual restoration of the Jewish people in Israel. Even more, we see [the prophecies] happening before our very eyes. The people are coming back to the land of Israel. Slowly, these bones are coming together as it is written in the book of the prophet Ezekiel. And we see that God is opening the eyes and hearts of our people to accept Jesus as their Messiah.

Eric: Why aren’t Messianic Jews in Israel called Christians?

Andrei: Regarding the word Christian in Hebrew, we have two words. Let me explain.
When Jewish people use the word Notzri (Nazarene/Christian), they mean someone who is Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox [i.e. non-Jewish Christian]. We [Messianic Jews] do not use this word to describe ourselves. And we use the Hebrew word maaminim (believers) in order to connect ourselves to our Jewish identity. This word is used in the Hebrew translation of the Greek New Testament. We are not aliens in Israel; we belong to this nation; we are living in Israel; we are Israeli citizens; we are Jewish people. It is very important to understand that when we speak to our own people, they should understand that we are not Catholic or Lutheran or Episcopalian. Also, we explain that we are part of the first-century move of God when Jesus came. He established the faith. He is the only way to God. The first disciples called themselves believers (maaminim), Jewish believers in Jesus.

Eric: At ANM, we refer to “native missionaries,” who are Christians sharing the story of Jesus among their own people. Are Messianic Jews in Israel native missionaries?

Andrei: I think so. We live in Israel – we are native!

Eric: ANM also works with Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem in the West Bank. What kind of relationship do you have with Arab Christians in Israel?

Andrei: It’s very important to understand that we preach the Good News not just to the Jews but also to the Arabs. We have 2.4 million Israeli Arabs who have citizenship. Among them, you will find Christian Arabs. They believe that Jesus is the Messiah. They believe that Jesus is their Savior and Lord. We have a very good connection with our Arab brothers in Christ.

Eric: That is something we almost never hear about from any form of media. Arab Christians and Messianic Jews have a relationship in Christ, and they do ministry together.

Andrei: I’ll give you an example. Just recently, when the war started, we organized a conference with speakers from Jewish Messianic congregations as well as Christian Arab churches, and we invited international guests from 20 nations in our region. We were all together as one body, the Body of Messiah in Israel, to pray and intercede for Israel and for the whole Middle East region. We believe that is what we should do. And, we should pray for our people, and we should spread the Good News all around the Middle East.

In part two, Andrei will discuss the persecution of Messianic Jews in Israel and the rising global tide of anti-Semitism.


Here are ways to pray for missionaries on the field.