Bishop Paul Lanier
Hope community Church/International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
Winston-Salem, North Carolina USA
What is the main focus of your activities today?
Seeking to lead our people through the quagmire of this virus.
How long have you been doing that?
What are some of the successful related programs or projects that you have done this year and in past years?
As noted in the testimony… I’m most grateful for building the churches in northern Nigeria, and the honor of giving and serving the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
How did you get to where you are today?
Family and faith.
What is your “testimony”?
Faith is foundational to my family as family is foundational to my faith. During the Great Depression my great grandmother helped to found a local Christian congregation. Both of my grandfathers, my father, my uncles and cousins, my own brother and sisters… My wife and both children are engaged full-time in ministry. Growing up in the church the nation of Israel was always part of our learning and sense of spiritual self. We could not experience Jesus or the apostles Paul or Peter without engaging Abraham and Sarah, Moses and David, the Prophets. When it came time for me to step into my own ministry, I felt deeply impressed to engage nations and peoples. Our family has ministered extensively throughout the nations of the world. My wife and I first went to Israel in 95. My daughter served a semester in Israel during the war with Gaza. My son was in Israel a couple of years ago and I returned in November 2019. My wife and daughter were in Israel and returned just before the borders closed because of the virus. We’ve served extensively throughout Latin America. Most recently we’ve built 26 church buildings for the threatened Christians of northern Nigeria, West Africa. One of the greatest joys of my life is to travel there often and to speak in those buildings among those extraordinary people. Over a decade ago I became deeply impressed by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, (of blessed memory). After watching one of the infomercials I realized that being part of that ministry would be a significant piece of my own conversation with Heaven. Our family began to give, and then our congregation. As of today we’ve been blessed to give $1.25 million to Israel. Initially our contributions went exclusively towards Holocaust survivors and orphans. But now our focus exclusively is Aliyah. Maybe three years ago, Rabbi asked if I would serve on the Board of Directors. While I was deeply honored I could not help but laugh at the irony. I am so not an administrator. I detest board meetings. But I cherished the opportunity to become more engaged in the conversation of the Fellowship. In late July or early August President/CEO Yael Eckstein asked me to serve as chairman of the board which took the irony to a whole other level. I’ve now served for nearly a year and I’m deeply honored to be part of what God is doing in the earth through the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
What do you think God is doing with regard to Jewish-Christian relations?
I believe that, increasingly, Jews and Christians are realizing that we worship the same God and we certainly have the same enemies. So it is to our advantage to find those creative ways of engaging one another.