Tuvya Zaretsky and his wife Ellen are Messianic Jews. They have three young adult children. He serves the Lord with Jews for Jesus >> as director of staff training and development and as chair of their Israel Ministry. He is president of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism.
What is the main focus of your ministry and why are you passionate about it?
My primary focus in ministry is direct evangelistic outreach to Jewish people in the United States and in Israel. My specialization in ministry is working with Jewish-Gentile couples. My passion for this ministry originates from my own appreciation of eternal life in Messiah Y’shua (Jesus). I came from a non-Christian background, so my desire is to present the gospel message in a manner that allows other Jewish people to hear and perceive the grace of God in our Savior. Ministry to Jewish-Gentile couples developed as I became aware that the majority of Jewish marriages today in America involved a Gentile spouse and are producing a longing for spiritual harmony. That presents a strategic missiological opportunity.
What does evangelism mean to you?
The emphasis of my ministry is on the direct presentation of the gospel to Jewish people through creative and culturally-appropriate communications. Nevertheless, we take a holistic approach to discipleship, recognizing that cultural sensitivity must respect the sociological setting of the hearer. Ultimately, however, my focus is on clearly communicating the message of Jesus to a community that resists it.
Tell a story of how you shared your faith in Christ and saw God woo an individual one step closer to himself.
This is now 2012 and I am working with a former anti-missionary named Howard B. He is committed to the practice of Orthodox Judaism, but is no longer an ardent opponent of the gospel. In the early 1990s Howard committed himself to thwart my missionary work among Jewish people in Los Angeles. His zeal resulted in him running afoul of the law, which gave him cause to rethink what he was doing.
Eventually, Howard apologized for his efforts to stop the gospel proclamation and admitted that it was motivated by fear that Jesus might be the true Messiah. We have been in regular and friendly conversation for the past two years. In our most recent interaction, Howard asked, “Who or what convinced you to believe in Jesus?” I explained to him that no one individual had been able to penetrate my defenses. It was in fact John 14:6 that spoke most forcefully to my heart, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
However, I explained to Howard that in the end it was the work of the Holy Spirit that opened my heart and gave me faith to believe. That, according to Howard, has moved him closer to believing.
What is your favourite quote/scripture?
“And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the New Covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)
How can people learn more about you and your ministry?
They can email me at Tuvya.Zaretsky@jewsforjesus.org or visit the Jews for Jesus website >>
ABOUT THE WORLD
What is the biggest issue that the Church in your part of the world faces today and why?
Jewish evangelism is a litmus test for the missiological fervor of the Church. Our founding executive director of Jews for Jesus, Moishe Rosen, lamented often that “Jewish evangelism has become the Great Omission of the Church today.”
Communicating the gospel to the Jewish community is a difficult project. In most cases, Christians assume that they have done something wrong when Jewish people react in a powerful way against the proclamation of the gospel. However, that’s really where the conversation should begin and not end. Therefore, we believe that a commitment to evangelism is consistent with the true character of the Church. And Jewish evangelism, as one of the harder tasks, is clearly an indication of a Church that is on a healthy track.
What is the biggest issue the Global Church is facing today and why?
In my view, the Global Church needs to see itself as a multi-ethnic remnant from every nation that is organically linked to one another through a common spiritual faith in one redemptive hope. The Western Church in particular has been coming alive to its place as a minority voice at home while connected with the Lord's body globally.
What is your hope for the Global Church in the next ten years?
By 2022, I hope we can work toward a more global identity for the multi-ethnic, culturally-diverse remnant of believers who make up the body of Messiah today. I think the cause of God in the Savior Jesus could be furthered as we seek strategic partners by which we can share recourses, strategize together, share reports of what the Lord is doing, and stimulate creative thinking and mission globally.
We have available to us now technological resources that can make that happen. The Global Church needs people with vision to implement on such a connection.