By Arlene Bridges Samuels
The recently released book, Every Generation’s Story: 75 Years of American Christian Engagement with Israel, is a banquet of first-person insights and inspiration gleaned from 18 multigenerational Christians. Eighteen stories in 18 different voices reflect the symbolism of the number 18 in Jewish practice: It represents life or luck with regard to donations or gift giving.
Every Generation’s Story is indeed a gift of life (chai). It recognizes modern Israel’s 75th anniversary through the eyes of those who have invested their hearts and activism in their spiritual homeland. God’s words, engraved into their lives through the Old and New Testaments, also serve to assure the Jewish communities in Israel and elsewhere that they are not alone.
Without divulging too much of each uplifting account, I can say that the generational view covering 75 years is intriguing. Many of the 18 stories mention historic moments about and in the land that built their commitments into permanence.
From what is called the “Silent Generation” (born 1925–1945), JoAnn Magnuson recalls her grandmother’s repeated certainty that the Jews would return to their homeland. She vividly remembers the day she came home from school and saw the May 14, 1948, newspaper headline: “State of Israel Declared.” In JoAnn’s pro-Israel career she has led 69 tours to Israel and served on the staffs of five organizations, including Christian Friends of Yad Vashem, and has helped to expand each organization’s influence.
Evangelical biblical scholar Dr. Marvin R. Wilson, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College, experienced a shocking arrival in Israel on his first trip in 1972. Landing in Tel Aviv’s Lod Airport—now Ben Gurion International Airport—he learned that three Japanese terrorists working for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had murdered 26 passengers and wounded 80 others just hours before he landed. Walking into the terminal, smelling the disinfectant used to clean up the blood, and seeing the bullet holes in the walls implanted a lifelong motivation in Dr. Wilson. “My entry into the Holy Land remains a powerful reminder of the ubiquitous nature of anti-Semitism and the fact that Jews are not safe in their own country.”
From the Baby Boomer generation, Tim King, now vice president of the University of the Holy Land, was part of the small founding group of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) in 1980. They prayerfully presented a proposal to establish a Christian embassy in Jerusalem and approached Mayor Teddy Kollek, Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and Rabbi Maurice Jaffe at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue. Forty-three years later, ICEJ oversees a substantial outreach with branches in 90 nations representing many millions of Christians. Through its supporters, ICEJ has paid for and helped 170,000 Jews make Aliyah (immigrate) to their ancestral homeland and has placed portable bomb shelters in vulnerable Israeli towns.
Born as a member of Generation X, Pastor Dumisani Washington is founder and CEO of Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI). He traveled to Israel in 2012 on a trip for pastors. Leaning against the Western Wall for the first time, he felt compelled during his prayers to create IBSI to help his community understand the importance of Zionism and set the record straight that Israel is not an apartheid nation. He makes his case in his latest book, Zionism and the Black Church.
The 10 stories from Millennials and Generation Z highlight the imperative need for their generations’ advocacy for Israel. Already, their contributions to the pro-Israel movement grow ever more important. Allison Ngo Griffin describes herself as “a thirty-year-old Chinese Vietnamese millennial girl.” Growing up in a Buddhist family, then graduating from college, Allison became a legislative director in the Texas House of Representatives. Beset with a deepening depression, one day in the State Capitol (and alone) she experienced a radical conversion to the Lord. As a new Christian, Allison initially encountered the erroneous teaching of Replacement Theology—that the church has replaced Israel and the Jews. However, on her first trip to Israel in 2019, the Lord “replaced” those wrong concepts with the truth that God’s promises to the Jews and Israel are unbreakable. Allison is now on the staff of the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast and ICEJ USA.
Hannah Delamarter is a Generation Z nursing student at Northwest Nazarene University. Her initial understanding of modern Israel developed in college through Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), an Israeli humanitarian organization. Then in 2021 she joined a trip to Israel sponsored by Christians United For Israel (CUFI). At 20, she was markedly impacted by Israel’s religious freedom and “feeling safe and welcome as a woman.” She is now the president of CUFI’s college student group. She expresses her outlook “not as a temporary love but I will always support and invest in Israel.” She hopes to join the staff of SACH.
The impact and influence of Christian Zionists for the last 75 years is immeasurable, both individually and organizationally. Christian innovations have grown alongside the innovation nation, blessing Israel in magnificent ways. I recommend Every Generation’s Story as a prompt for any believer, from any place and any background, to read this remarkable set of stories. Edited by Dr. Susan Michael, director of ICEJ USA, it is a product of Embassy Publishers, yet another among numerous ICEJ startups. It may be purchased though Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Embassy Publishers.
Every Generation’s Story: 75 Years of American Christian Engagement with Israel is the perfect theme for two upcoming gala dinner events in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 7 followed by a gala in Washington, D.C., on May 17. International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s U.S. branch (ICEJ USA) initiated a celebration in 2018 with a gala dinner hosted at the Museum of the Bible to recognized Israel’s 70th. Four hundred leaders joyfully celebrated the U.S. Embassy’s move back to Israel’s capital in Jerusalem with more than 40 organizations cosponsoring the beautiful event. Fifty organizations are sponsoring the May 2023 galas—among them, CBN Israel. For tickets, click here: https://icejusa.org/israel75.
May we give thanks today as Romans 11:17 reminds us that Christians are “grafted in … and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root” (NIV).
Please join with CBN Israel this week in prayer for the Jewish nation and people:
- Pray giving thanks for this important book and the leaders highlighted.
- Pray for many to read the book and inspire them to become advocates for Israel in both large and small ways.
- Pray that the Jewish community worldwide will accept our sincere friendship.
- Pray for the numerous fine Christian organizations, their leaders, and staff in their efforts to combat rising Jew hatred worldwide.
Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her part-time as Outreach Director for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel, guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a board member for Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook.