Ms. Shirley Burdick
What is the main focus of your activities today?
Our focus is to help Christian communities see the Jewish people face to face and also see them in the words of both the Old Testament and New Testament. We want to help them to understand that because of God’s faithfulness and grace, the Jewish people have always been at the center of God’s plan and purposes. We also help Christians to come alongside the Jewish people to contribute in God’s restoration of Israel.
How long have you been doing that?
This is our third year.
What are some of the successful related programs or projects that you have done this year and in past years?
As Christians, we’ve been able to introduce our fellow Christians to a unique perspective on God’s relationship with the Jewish people through Judaism. This perspective upholds both Tanakh and the New Testament, recognizes the dignity of the relationship between God and the Jewish People, while supporting the identity of Gentile Christians, inspiring them to participate alongside the Jewish people in what God is doing in Israel.
Since 2018, we have hosted many Christian groups, teaching them what the Jewish people believe from the siddur and machzorim, taking them to observe Kabalat Shabbat services, to Jewish homes for Shabbat meals, to Shabbat shiurim, etc., and showing them the consistency between Tanakh and the Christian scriptures. We have seen a tremendous attitude change towards the Jewish people among these Christians. This year, during the outbreak of the Coronavirus, we saw these same Christians donating money and over 40,000 masks to help out. To teach Christians to truly love the Jewish people, we feel that we must first combat anti-Judaism sentiments.
How did you get to where you are today?
Because Hashem showed us the best Jews in Israel and opened our eyes to who the Jewish people are and His own everlasting relationship with them. We feel that it is our calling to bear witness for the Jewish people among Christians and to help Christians to understand this relationship for the sake of their own relationship with God.
What is your “testimony”?
My husband Bill and I never really thought about Israel until a Christian friend said we should visit Israel in 1999. I replied to her, “why visit such a troubled place? Why not wait till after Jesus comes?” But by God’s tremendous grace, we ended up on El Al to Israel with a tour group around Shavuot, 2000. The minute we stepped onto the tarmac and breathed in the air, we felt a weakness in our knees. I couldn’t believe Israel was a real place, and we both felt God’s presence. “What is going on?” I kept asking myself. As the tour went on, our excellent Israeli tour guide showed us not only where Jesus walked but also the modern history of Israel – how Biblical prophecies are being fulfilled right now, and we were amazed. I started to ask how God can use the Jewish people for His purposes when they don’t even believe in Jesus, what is going on between God and the Jews, who are the Jews, why don’t pastors teach us in church that God is fulfilling His prophecies….
After that trip in 2000, we knew that our really good (we both worked in IT) and spiritual (we were very active in our church) life in America was not real anymore. The new reality we discovered had taken root in us.
We went back to Israel on our own in 2004 and again in 2006. By then, we had discovered Bridges for Peace (BFP) and discovered that there were Christian volunteers serving Israel long-term. We felt a sense of urgency to deepen our relationship with Israel. In 2007, I quit my job, and in March of 2008, I started my one-year commitment as a volunteer at BFP. Bill kept his job and telecommuted between Jerusalem and Kansas City to support me.
Between 2008 to 2018, I ended up volunteering at BFP for a total of seven years. In 2008, we met some amazing Jewish people from the Mizmor LeDavid community in Arnona who befriended us and took care of us for Shabbat and holidays. We got to see Judaism and Jewish faith in action – God was answering the questions I had back in 2000. We felt that our own Christian doctrine could not explain this new reality, so we went back to the Bible, both Tanakh and the Christian scriptures, to find answers.
When my term ended with BFP, I knew we had to dedicate ourselves to help Christians to eliminate their blind spot about the Jewish people in God’s plan and purposes. Zechariah 8:23 is the future of the Jewish-Christian relationship (in the Messianic era), and Christians in general are very far away from that. We want to re-produce what happened to us in other Christians, b’ezrat Hashem. With Zechariah’s words as our inspiration, we called our nonprofit Ten Gentiles (yes, we want Gentile Christians to maintain their Gentile identity) and registered the organization in 2018 in Israel.
What do you think God is doing with regard to Jewish-Christian relations?
B”H for Jewish people’s grace towards Christians, that they are open to have a genuine relationship with Christians and B”H that God is waking up more and more Christians to repent for Replacement Theology, to repent for Christian anti-antisemitism, and to want to fulfill their Biblical responsibility to love and serve the Jewish people.