Tending to the Lost Sheep of Israel

Outreach to the Lost Sheep of Israel

David is a Jewish businessman who seemingly had it all — friends, family and a successful career. Yet beneath the surface, something was missing. David was floundering spiritually and searching for answers. Who knew accepting an invitation to break bread with a few friends would turn his journey for truth directly into the loving arms of the promised Messiah Yeshua?

Among those at dinner that night was Mottel Baleston, Director of Messengers of the New Covenant of New Jersey, an outreach ministry of Missions Door. The gathering was intimate, casual even. Simply a few friends, sharing nourishment and spiritual food for thought that is at the very core of Messengers’ purpose: to announce the good news of the arrival of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua (the Hebrew name of Jesus).

David left that night thinking about what he had heard. “Two weeks went by before he met with another Jewish believer. David walked in the door and immediately prayed for salvation, and six months later he was baptized. To this day he is walking strong in the faith of our Lord,” Mottel said. “He recently attended classes I teach at Ariel Ministries Discipleship Bible School in northern New York State.”

Evidence of the Messiah

The goal of Messengers, Mottel said, is not to get Jewish people to change membership from a synagogue to a church, but rather to bring them face to face with evidence that the Messiah Yeshua has arrived.

“The Jewish Bible promises to send the Messiah. The Jewish Bible identifies how we can come to know that Messiah, where he was born, the unique circumstances of his birth, and all the other evidence. We can explain the Gospel fully from the Old Testament, which was the only Bible the apostles had,” Mottel explained. “We are trying to help people – especially Jewish people— understand the context of the arrival of Jesus.”

Consider that 90% of Jesus’ ministry was to Jewish people and within Jewish areas, Mottel explained, noting that Jesus himself said: “I have come only for the lost sheep of Israel.”

Messengers’ efforts to reach those “lost sheep” often requires a delicate approach.

“Very often, the most effective ministry we do is behind the scenes, one-on-one or in small groups with people who don’t want their families or friends to know they have an interest in the Gospel because that could be seen as a betrayal of sorts by Jewish non-believers,” Mottel said.

Combating Anti-Semitism

Resistance from Jewish non-believers is not the only opposition to his ministry. Anti-Semitism, unfortunately, is making an ugly resurgence, spread effectively through online videos produced by people proclaiming to be Christians. For instance, the terrorist who shot up a synagogue in San Diego in April 2019 was a man who was espousing evangelical beliefs online.

“He had all this extremist rhetoric — which he believed was Christian — that incorrectly blamed Jewish people. He had dipped into centuries-old conspiracy theories about Jews that have been disproven time and time again,” Mottel said. “People are dredging up the most toxic, filthy, horrendous lies about the Jewish people. The same sort of lies that helped fuel the Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were killed. We are trying to speak truth to that great error.”

A native of Brooklyn whose four grandparents were Orthodox Jews, Mottel has been the target of anti-Semitic comments posted on his teaching videos.

“I have been accused of being of the ‘Synagogue of Satan.’ I have been asked, ‘If you really believe in Jesus, why do you still call yourself Jewish?’ … Jewish is both a nationality and a faith. I don’t subscribe to the religion of the rabbis, but I am fully 100% Jewish.”

Embracing Yeshua is Not Betrayal

That belief, that one can remain true to their Jewish heritage while embracing the Messiah Yeshua, is the very core of Messengers’ work since the beginning.

When Mottel took over directing Messengers in 1983, he started Messianic Fellowship meetings on Friday nights. In 1997, he merged that program with Beth Messiah, a small congregation sound in doctrine, whose elders asked him to serve as interim Messianic Rabbi. By 2001, the membership had more than doubled and Beth Messiah hired a full-time Rabbi. Mottel continued to serve Beth Messiah in a variety of roles until 2014, when the focus of Messengers shifted to a more regional outreach.

Today his work continues through teaching to congregations, churches and conferences, primarily in northern New Jersey and the suburbs of Philadelphia — and throughout the world. He has spent eight days lecturing in Japan. In October 2018, he spent nearly a month in Europe, bringing his message to areas with growing Jewish populations in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany. It’s a trip he will make again this year in October.

Sometimes the gatherings are intimate — like that dinner with David, or small group Fellowship meetings. Sometimes his speaking engagements attract crowds of 140 or much more — often people stop by a park where he is speaking, intrigued by the Jewish music and willing to listen to the message of hope.

“We are brothers and sisters with those who are true heartfelt believers in Jesus.” Mottel said. “We are looking to be the arm of outreach to Jewish people.”

If you know someone who has shown an genuine interest and a willingness to consider the claims of Yeshua, contact Mottel at https://www.missionsdoor.org/missionary/baleston-mottel-and-deborah/