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American Missionaries In Sheep Clothing – OpEd

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Among the more than 220 people who have been arrested in connection with the January 6 attack on the National Capital there have been state lawmakers, military veterans and a [Christian] ‘rabbi’ from Tampa Bay. This should be noted by Muslims because it publicizes the sly tactics that some Christian Missionaries use to win converts.

The United States Department of Justice filed several charges against Michael Stepakoff, who is the Christian rabbi at Temple New Jerusalem, a messianic Protestant church [called synagogue] located in Palm Harbor.

Documents from the DOJ say Stepakoff could be seen on surveillance video taking photos with his cell phone after entering the U.S. Capitol. He later posted photos on social media. Someone who knew Stepakoff over 20 years ago later identified him to authorities. Stepakoff appeared in court and was released on $25,000 bond and ordered to surrender all his firearms.

Michael Stepakoff was raised in a Jewish family but later was baptized after he accepted God’s son Jesus who he calls the Messiah known as Yeshua; through a Church named Beth Israel, a Messianic Jewish congregation whose ‘synagogue’ is the headquarters of the International Federation of Messianic Jews.

About 2/3 of the Beth Israel congregation are ethnically Jewish and 1/3 are Evangelical Protestants who love Israel. Messianic Jews say they do not refer to their messiah as “Jesus Christ,” although they admit that Yeshua is the same person as Jesus Christ.

But such sentiments matter little to the large majority of Jews, who believe strongly that the Messiah, and the Messianic Age have not yet arrived. The general opinion is that Messianic Jews may have been Jews once, but they are not now Jews at all, but camouflaged Christians who want to convert other Jews and baptize them.

That suspicion has been bolstered by the Southern Baptist Convention’s financial pledge to expand Messianic congregations. Baptist leaders called it a quest to bring salvation to America’s 5.9-million Jews.

A century before the Jews for Jesus movement started, there was an organized Anglo-American Hebrew Christian Missionary movement; because most Jews have a strong ethnic identity that makes it easier for family members to accept a Jew who becomes an agnostic, or even an atheist, than to accept a Jew who converts to Christianity.

But American Muslims now also are the target of Christian Missionaries. More than ten years ago the DETROIT FREE PRESS reported that standing amid a crowd of Muslims at June’s 2009 Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Mich., the Rev. George Saieg declared: “I’ve been commanded as a Christian to reach out to these people.”

Indeed, Christian groups are flocking to Dearborn in an effort to convert its Muslim population. Here’s a look at some of the more active groups:

Arabic Christian Perspective: Based in Anaheim, Calif., and started in 2001, the group does outreach at mosques and Arab festivals. Also known as Ministry to Muslims, it is headed by George Saieg, a pastor. It filed a free speech lawsuit against the city of Dearborn in June, alleging the city trampled on its right to hand out literature on sidewalks at the Arab International Festival that month.

Acts 17 Apologetics: Features ministry work of David Wood, an evangelical from New York, and Nabeel Qureshi, a convert from Islam who lives in Virginia. They visited metro Detroit at the request of Saieg and produced a controversial video on a dispute at the Arab festival in Dearborn.

Confident Christianity: Based in Houston and headed by Mary Jo Sharp, who helped film the controversial video of the Arab festival. Works with Saieg and Arabic Christian Perspective on debating Muslims.

Josh McDowell Ministries: A native of Michigan, McDowell is a popular Christian evangelist who warned of the “tidal wave of Islam” during a June visit to Michigan when he attended the Arab festival.

Everyone should be free to invite people who are seekers to study and join their religion; but they should not use deceptive techniques or insulting language in doing so. Everyone should listen to the Qur’an admonition:

“Argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and with good manners), except with such of them as do wrong; and say (then): “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our Ilah (God) and your Ilah (God) is One (God), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims).” (Quran 29:46)

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Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

3 thoughts on “American Missionaries In Sheep Clothing – OpEd

  • February 10, 2021 at 5:19 pm
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    Very interesting article. However, it does come across like an anti-missionary article in sheep’s clothing.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2021 at 2:04 am
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    Article not too up to date. Nabeel Qureshi does not live in Virginia. He lives in heaven. He died a couple years ago.

    Reply
  • May 15, 2021 at 3:08 pm
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    Yes, Nabeel died about five years. While I respect the Rabbi’s right to express his views, no doubt, he has many ‘facts’ wrong on his conspiracy theory.

    Reply

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