I vividly recall a conversation that I had with my father when I was nine or ten years old. It was an early winter evening in my rural hometown in Minnesota. We were walking down a frozen alley to Saturday evening mass at the Catholic Church, where my family faithfully attended.
I turned to my dad and asked him about the Jewish people. My hometown was far away from any Jewish community, and I had never interacted with a Jewish person. But I was curious about them after reading the story of Anne Frank. Almost as soon as I could finish my question, my dad answered very pragmatically that “Catholics are the new Jews, Son.”
I was stunned and perplexed by his answer. “How on earth can an entire group of people simply be superseded and assumed by another group of people entirely unlike them?” I thought in bewilderment.
Ten years later, through the ministry of Pastor Don Finto, I came to realize that the Jewish people were not replaced by any group of people – Catholics, African, Chinese or Baptist! I have been on a journey to understand the blessing of Jew and Gentile identity in the Body of Messiah.
A relationship with Towards Jerusalem Council II has personally and professionally enriched me, and I am unable to imagine how my current position leading the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI) would be possible without TJCII’s great theological influence.
As I travel the world engaging with Christians, Messianic and non-Messianic Jews, the Seven Affirmations of TJCII are a resource I reference as a beginning basis of relationship with other leaders and influencers. In fact, I keep a stack of the Seven Affirmations in my carry-on and in the console of my pickup truck. Whether I am in Texas or Zimbabwe, the Seven Affirmations powerfully and succinctly help me guide others into this same great revelation of Jewish and Gentile identity, which I received from Don.
Recently, Dr. Wayne Wilks and I were working in Warsaw, Poland to bring Messianic ministry and education into a local church and seminary. In late 2017, we taught the Seven Affirmations to key Christian leaders in the Polish capital. Six months later, MJBI is launching the first Messianic Studies seminary degree in European history with these brothers and sisters. The Seven Affirmations are the main pillars of this new, accredited degree program. Similarly, one of the largest evangelical churches in Poland has signed and affirmed the Seven Affirmations, and have started a monthly Messianic Shabbat service in their church, led by many Messianic Jews.
From Japan to Poland and beyond, the Seven Affirmations are touching the hearts of major Christian church leaders. This is truly a renewed move of the Holy Spirit to reawaken believers to the beauty of Jew and Gentile identity in the Messiah.
Because of the diligent, trusted work of TJCII, we are seeing Messianic ministry expand into places once thought impossible. I am grateful and humbled to be a part of advancing this movement around the world. There are few movements and ministries making such a natural and eternal impact as TJCII.
I am forever grateful to the L-rd for changing the direction of my life through TJCII and Pastor Don Finto. I pray that your life is similarly impacted by the meaningful ministry of TJCII.
By Nic Lesmeister