The Waller Family: “Harvesting” in Israel

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Remember the Waltons – a popular television series focused on a salt-of-the-earth American family living in rural America? Well say “good-night” to John Boy, because the Wallers are in Israel - and this wholesome, hard-working, Jesus-loving family is bigger-than-life and a whole lot better-looking than the Walton clan. But looks can be deceiving...

Tommy Waller and his family of 13, plus a company of many more, are here to help with the grape harvest and do other agricultural work in or near the communities of Har Bracha, Ariel, Itamar and Shiloh.

It’s not that the Wallers aren’t good, moral, upstanding Christians – because they are. It’s just that the old “one new man” and grafted thing keeps getting in the way. As devout evangelicals the Wallers have a hankerin’ for “breaking barriers” and “planting the grapes in Samaria, with the people of Israel and at the same time, chipping away at that wall.” Meanwhile, the Jews are obligated to keep those fences intact and avoid avoda zarah at all costs.

If it helps clear the air, Jewish Israel would like evangelicals (and Jews for that matter) to understand that our avoidance of a theologically-based Jewish-Christian reconciliation is not due to generations of anti-Semitic baggage. Rather, it is an halachic issue of the highest order.

Geula Girl blogged powerfully about the Waller’s no-wall stance and " the duty of every Torah Jew to strengthen the wall that they are so determined to bring down.”

Devash has done extensive research on the Wallers as missionaries . Jewish Israel suggests that you read both posts.

So whereas some bloggers are taken-aback by the activities of the Waller’s, others appear to be taken-in…

Yisrael Medad , recently spoke to a group affiliated with the Waller Family and he blogs, “they didn't try to convert me. We bonded as persons of a spiritual consciousness, recognizing the importance of a Jewish presence in our Land.”

[Jewish Israel wonders if the usage of “our land” was intentional or Freudian, as Sherri Waller expressed similar feelings when she laid claim to the Land of Israel…“For us it’s a spiritual deal – a faith deal,” said Sherri Waller. “The battle is over the land because God gave it to the descendents of Abraham – that includes us.”].

Before continuing, it’s important to note that the Wallers are close with missionary Pastor David Ortiz of the messianic congregation in Ariel and they participate in worship activities at Succat Hallel – a missionary worship center on Mt. Zion promoting activities which clearly target Israeli youth.

Christian bloggers pretty much say it like it is: “The Waller family lives in Israel part-time, helping the settlers in the West Bank tend their gardens and, in the process, sharing the love of Christ with them.”

The Waller Family itself has a Ministry site and mission: “We are dedicated as a family to sharing the Gospel of Yeshua (Jesus) by serving the people of Israel within the agricultural settlements and Kibbutzim. We believe that we are living in, what has been prophesied as, the end times.”

Zac Waller exclaims, “the harvest is so incredible! Just seeing the fruit of your labor is rewarding but to think about the greater harvest, when all of Israel is saved! Such an awesome picture!

Penina Taylor of Shomrei Emet reminds us that when evangelicals speak about “the harvest”, it is intrinsically connected to “harvesting Jewish souls”.

A member of the Waller’s Harvesting Team pens, “This year I'll be going with the Wallers, plus twenty-five+ other people to Israel. We will spend about two-three weeks pruning the vineyards… The Bible mentions we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and that Jesus would not return until knowledge of Him had returned to the Jews. The Wallers are directly working towards this goal.”

That same harvester is fervently praying for Shiloh’s David Rubin, “Please pray for Mr. Rubin, he is not a ‘Completed Jew’, and does not believe in Jesus, but I think that he is open, and honest enough to look into the matter earnestly.”

It seems David Rubin put in an appearance at Michael W. Smith’s New River Fellowship Church in Tennessee, and “Smith has always had a heart for the land of Isreal and for the Jewish people to come to know Jesus. Much of their mission outreach is directed to Israel.” And just look at the results.

(if it helps, Jewish Israel is praying for you too, David. We pray that you stop speaking at missionary and messianic churches).

We’re also praying for Eliezer Braun of Shomron. He was recently a guest at East River Ministries, which is actively supporting “harvesting” in Tel Aviv . Braun supports the Waller’s endeavors through his organization Shuva Israel.

The Itamar News Update: “ Itamar enjoyed the visit of their dear friend Tom Waller together with his group of other American supporters of Israel. The group was so special and included people from different states like Tennessee, Ohio, OK, Kentucky, California, and more. We want to express our great appreciation for their coming to show their support with Itamar.”

Anita Tucker a Jewish Israel board member, and former farmer in Gush Katif, understands drip irrigation and missionaries well. She gave us a drop of her common sense:

“Missionizing is not dumping me in the water to baptize me. It is the slow drip of fogging my definitions and their definitions until they seem as one. While they [the Christians] are still as clear as day on what their goal is; we [the Jews] are left confused.”

Jewish Israel isn’t confused, but it seems certain Jewish leaders are, and rather than strengthen the Jewish people, and reinforce those fences around the Torah, during a time of spiritual confusion; they just keep crossing and blurring the lines.

It’s Erev Succot and “harvest” time in Israel.


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Comment by Sharbano on October 8, 2009 at 8:43pm
One difficulty in confronting tactics is the diverse segments of Xtianity. The different sects might require a different approach.

Not long ago I had a little pamphlet attached to my door by a Xtian neighbor. From what I read at a different site it seems this is a common practice to introduce the theology. With Xtianity it doesn't take much to give the entire message. I've wondered if something like this could be accomplished, although Judaism is much more involed and can't be taught in "soundbites". To me Devarim 4 should say it all and answer all points. As the saying goes, to fight fire with fire, could be an approach to take, using a "missionary approach" to educate people. It wouldn't be too difficult to write a pamphlet detailing all the contradictions of the Xtian text . I had once seen a video by Rabbi Shalit (if I'm not mistaken) and his organization would hand out cassettes to young people. Maybe something similar, with CD's and a pamphlet could be an avenue to pursue.

One thing for certain is that the approach must Not be done by Rabbis and the role of any Rabbis should be minimized. It's unfortunate, but the Xtian community as a whole will Not listen to the Rabbis. The prejudices instilled by the account of the Pharisees is well ingrained in the psyche of the Xtian. The longer a person has been a Xtian the worse this prejudice is. I never imagined how ingrained this was until my "disputations" with Xtians offline and online.

The way I see it, the only possibility to begin with is to create a small semblance of doubt in the person. If a doubt can be placed in the person it is possible they could be open to ask questions in order to "regain" their faith. The more doubt the more questions and the greater possibility for the person to learn and subsequently will have a seed planted.

(This laptop is losing power and need to check it out. So won't be able to post further for now)
Comment by Jewish Israel on October 6, 2009 at 9:20am
To Arik and Shoshana,
Jewish Israel is not only trying to raise public awareness in both Israel and the Diaspora about the problem, but we are actively meeting with rabbinic, community and government leaders to reinstate the concept of and the prohibitions against "avodah zarah", and all that this entails under our current circumstances.

Remarkably, we have found that Israelis across the religious and political spectrum remain unified and totally committed in their belief that jesus has no place in normative Judaism and a belief in him as lord and savior erodes the very foundations of Judaism. There can be a consensus here.

So our job is to ensure that this essential concept not be eroded by those missionaries (and their supporters) who are using the "freedom of religion" and "democracy" arguments as a front in order to promote their agenda.

We also need to find very creative and Jewish grassroots solutions to this problem which threatens the very soul of the Jewish people. The approach and some of the protest tactics being used by some counter-missionary activists have not gone down too well and tend to alienate rather than be effective .

So JI members should put their heads together as to the best and most Jewish approach - an approach which is hard-hitting, effective and acceptable in a civil society governed by Jewish values. We need to find our voice on this. And Jewish Israel believes this can be done.

Right now we working hard at creating a Hebrew version of this site.

Keep those comments and suggestions coming!
Comment by ShoshanaTunk on October 5, 2009 at 10:24pm
The comment made by Arik Gindes was totally correct. We need action. Hashem would never have approved of anything that has given rise to such idolatry as Christianity. Chritianity had idolatrous pagan origins and has led to idolatrous practices throughout the ages. Hashem wanted his Chosen people the Jews to keep far away from idolatry. The Xtians must be made to understand this. We were commanded to destroy all signs of idolatry and not to have any benefit from it and certainly not from their'silver and gold' The time has come for us to make the Xtians fully understand exactly what they are doing to us and that it is totally against the will of Hashem and the Torah. We need to act immediately against this unacceptable situation in the land of Israel.
Comment by Jewish Israel on October 4, 2009 at 2:44pm
Thanks, Gavriela.
East River Ministries deserves a JI report of its own. They are actively evangelizing here and are involved with efforts to bring "Messianic Bnai Anusim": to Israel via Jim Hutchen's Cyrus Foundation
Comment by Jewish Israel on October 4, 2009 at 2:33pm
Hi Stuart,
Thanks for explanation of "Bridge Strategy Evangelization". Knew the were doing that, but didn't know that it actually has a name.

You're right. This entire matter is not limited to the realm of halacha. Appreciate your mention of another dimension.
Comment by Gavriela on October 2, 2009 at 7:47pm
Here is the url from which I quoted:
Comment by Stuart Federow on October 2, 2009 at 6:47pm
What they, and their kind, are doing is called, Bridge Strategy Evangelization. The 'bridges' are the perceived needs and interests of the targeted community. So, for example, the perceived needs of we Jews is to lose our fears for another Holocaust, as well as the ongoing existence of a strong State of Israel. So, as a part of this Bridge Strategy Evangelization, these Evangelical groups do their own Holocaust Memorials, promising Jews 'it will never happen again,' and they do all they can to support and strengthen the State of Israel -- like help in Israel's harvest season, and rub elbows with their targets as they do so. Bridge Strategy Evangelization is a technique to gain the trust and friendship of the targeted community by meeting the perceived needs of the targeted community so that way down the line, after the idealogies have been blended and the walls between them have been blurred, the targets can be missionized to Christianity.

Jewish Israel wrote above, "our avoidance of a theologically-based Jewish-Christian reconciliation is not due to generations of anti-Semitic baggage. Rather, it is an halachic issue of the highest order," and that is true. However, it is more deeply an issue of contrasting theology, than an issue of the simple Halachic command to maintain the wall that separates us. Hosea 11:9,
" כי אל אנכי ולא־אישׁ...for I am Gd and not a man," and Deuteronomy 24:16,
"אישׁ בחטאו יומתו...Every man shall be put to death for his own sins." These verses every Jewish child should be taught, and have memorized! Since 'Gd is not a man,' Jesus wasnt Gd, and since 'Every man shall be put to death for his own sin,' then Jesus cannot die for our sins, it is that simple, and their theology contradicts the TaNaCH. It is the area of contrasting theology and the fact that the basic theology of Christianity is UnBiblical that needs to be learned by every Jew who might ever become the target of Christians -- which means every Jew!
Comment by Jewish Israel on October 2, 2009 at 4:46pm
Yisrael, Thanks for the clarification on "our land".

I think you are mis-reading the reaction of some Jews as "near-panic attacks". The vast majority of Jews do not panic when approached by a Gentile. But there is certainly cause for caution and borders when approached by and evangelizing Christian or one who identifies themselves as evangelical.

What is far more concerning and "amazing" is that there are Jews who are so terribly comfortable and unquestionably all- embracing and accepting of evangelizing Christians.

Jewish Israel believes in calling a spade a spade. Any Jewish-Christian endeavor should be approached with honesty from both sides. Essentially, when a Jew says, “the evangelicals are Israel’s best friends” they should be equally comfortable saying, “the missionaries are our best friends”. If they can’t say this with comfort, then there is something wrong with the relationship (and there is something wrong).

We need to put the word “missionary” back into our lexicon as a normal term (their own term) to describe any Christian who –according to standard dictionary definitions - “is sent on a mission, especially one sent to do religious or charitable work in a territory or foreign country.” In and of itself, being a missionary is not an evil thing. However, it becomes problematic when missionary activities are directed at the Jewish people – especially in the land of Israel. And there is the additional problem that all missionaries/evangelicals are obligated to somehow get “the word” out – anyway, anyhow (including deception).

We need to get past all of the “unconditional love, comfort and sharing” stuff, and make this an halachic and ethical issue of the highest order.
Comment by Jewish Israel on October 2, 2009 at 4:26pm
Gavriela are referring to the site of the Wallers or the Slaters?
Comment by Yisrael Medad on October 2, 2009 at 3:45pm
I would consider that doubt of "Jewish Israel wonders if the usage of “our land” [by me] was intentional or Freudian". I have indeed made some Freudian slips in my life but in this case the "our" was explicitly Jewish. It is interesting that their Bible edition reads in Acts 8:1 "Yehudah" and "Shomron". All in all, although I don't like walls, I am always amazed at the near-panic attacks some Jews find the,selves facing when approached by a Christian. I guess it's a sign of some sort of inferiority complex. But that's too complex to explain in a comment.

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