When thousands of Jews from around the world gathered recently in Warsaw and at Auschwitz to remember the Holocaust and pray for our dead, dozens of unwanted "guests" were praying alongside them offering their condolences, feeling their pain, and, while they're at it, suggesting that the only way for Jews to get over the Holocaust is to accept Jesus as their personal savior.
In a remarkable fund-raising letter obtained by Jews for Judaism, Reverend Elwood McQuaid, head of a New Jersey-based missionary group, writes that Holocaust memorial ceremonies are ideal "strategic fields" for converting Jews.
"The Month of Remembrance is a critical time for ministry to Jewish people...a fruitful time for witness as Jewish hearts are open to the Lord," reads the letter from Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. "Thousands of mourners, including many Jewish and Israeli young people, will return to the Polish towns where their ancestors lived, and visit the ghettos and death camps where they perished...On these solemn occasions, the Friends of Israel will come alongside these grieving people, comforting them in the Spirit of Christ...By God's grace, we will bring them God's message of true comfort and hope: the wonderful news of a living Messiah!"
McQuaid, a Baptist minister whose Jewish conversion mission is second in size only to "Jews for Jesus," has a message for the survivors themselves: "The saddest thing about the Holocaust survivors is that their bodies are alive but their spirits are annihilated. Liberal Judaism doesn't have answers for them. The Orthodox have more answers, maybe, but Jesus Christ is the best option."
According to a spokesperson for Jews for Judaism, "to believe that at a moment when Jewish emotions, Jewish identity, and Jewish spirituality are the strongest, that Jews would be susceptible to a message that means nothing less than their spiritual destruction is heinous and ludicrous. We cannot sit back and allow a spiritual Holocaust to annihilate our people."
Unlike the missionaries of old, who many times offered Jews a less-than-edifying choice between Jesus and death, McQuaid's troops, along with missionaries from dozens of evangelical groups nationwide, soften their conversion message by stressing "love and support" for Israel.
Jews for Judaism alerted the Jewish community to McQuaid's planned participation in a pro-Israel conference held in May, along with two other Christian groups which Jews for Judaism lists as involved in deceptive proselytizing. Most Jewish organizations and the Israeli Embassy withdrew from the conference.
Adapted from an article by Jeff Goldberg of New York Magazine