“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…”
Two hundred years ago, this Scripture profoundly affected the founder of CMJ, Joseph Frey, a Jewish believer in Jesus. This Word came to pass at the Last Supper, a Passover meal, in which Jesus took a cup of wine and declared to his Jewish disciples: “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28).
In the year 2009, the Church’s Ministry among Jewish People (CMJ) celebrates its 200th anniversary. Although not the first evangelical Christian organization founded to serve the Jewish people, CMJ is the longest standing. (The first was the Institutum Judaicum which was established in Germany which lasted from 1727 to 1792). During these 200 years, CMJ witnessed every major historical event in Europe and the Middle East – and experienced every crisis that the Jewish people encountered. It is nothing short of a miracle that CMJ is around to tell its story!
This history is told beautifully in Restoring Israel: 200 Years of the CMJ Story by Kelvin Crombie. Text and archival photos fill this book’s 192 pages.
The founders of CMJ were influenced by the Protestant Reformers and especially the 16th and 17th century Puritans, who saw clearly that despite national Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah, God had not revoked his covenant love for the Jewish people. Scripture promised that a time was coming when “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11: 26).Until CMJ’s founding, there had been no world-wide attempt to reach out to the Jewish people with the message of Jesus. From the beginning CMJ was aware that God had promised to bring Israel back to her God, Messiah and land. Seeing the oppression and persecution of the Jewish people, CMJ began a ministry of relieving the suffering of the Jewish people through charity at local levels, political activism in the highest echelons of the British government and proclaiming the Gospel of God's Kingdom. The Good News of His love for mankind and the ultimate consummation of His reign on the earth included the promised restoration of His covenant people to their calling.
CMJ set up mission stations throughout the world. Schools, churches, clinics, hospitals, printing presses and bookshops were established primarily in Europe and the Middle East to help alleviate the suffering of the Jewish people. CMJ staff was instrumental in combating anti-Semitism, and Christians in the British government (many involved with CMJ such as William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury) played a key role in the Jewish return to the Land of Israel. CMJ not only built the first Protestant church in the Middle East, Christ Church Jerusalem, but also the first schools, the first houses of industry for job training, and the first hospital with state-of-the-art equipment and medicine, all of which helped bring modern standards of health, welfare, and education to the area.
CMJ continues its ministry of being a witness to both Jews and Gentiles of God's love and faithfulness as found in Jesus the Messiah. Today we express this in many practical ways: supporting Jewish believers, sharing the gospel with Jewish people, praying for the peace of Jerusalem, combating anti-Semitism, teaching Christians about their Jewish Roots, and proclaiming the return of the King.