"Our theme this year is related to discipleship, specifically as it relates to the spiritual warfare we find ourselves in almost every day. It's hard to do ministry these days," said Mike Saffle, president of the Messianic fellowship.
"My goal is for us to be strengthened and edified so we can go back and be ready for the battle again. It's a hard job that we do. We know it's impossible without Christ, but it's also more difficult when we don't lift each other up. We want to come alongside each other so that we can edify each other and then go out and do a better job of doing the work," Saffle told Baptist Press. "The more we stick together and the more we build each other up, the more encouraged and more strengthened we'll be."
The fellowship's annual meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, June 10, with praise and worship and a welcome message from vice president Ric Worshill at CrossPoinTempe Church at 1001 East Southern Ave. in Tempe, Ariz., followed by an Oneg Shabbat meal. The church is 12 miles southeast of the Phoenix Convention Center.
On Saturday, praise and worship will begin at 8:30 a.m., and Bruce Stokes, dean of the school of behavioral sciences at California Baptist University in Riverside, will speak.
"We've had Bruce at our conference before. He's actually one of our members and he has a lot of great insight," Saffle said. "I believe it's going to be a great opportunity for people to learn. Bruce is a great teacher. I love listening to him talk. He's down to earth, and he uses good examples that help us to see things from a different perspective."
The group will break at 11 a.m. for lunch, which is not provided, and will convene again from 2 to 5 p.m. for a business meeting. At 6:30, they'll have more praise and worship as well as a closing message from Saffle, congregational leader of Shalom Adonai Messianic Fellowship in Wichita, Kan.
The fellowship has added some new congregations and started new works in areas they hadn't been able to reach before, Saffle said.
"We've been coordinating with some folks in areas like New York City where there is a higher concentration of Jewish people. People saw us on the website and called to ask questions, things like that," he said. "We've done some work trying to coordinate with folks in Colorado near Grand Junction."
Each Messianic work is difficult to launch because Jewish people generally don't trust Christians after having been persecuted in Jesus' name, Saffle said.
"My experience has been the more we try to befriend them and love them and try to reach them through relationship evangelism, the better off we are. They're very suspicious of people, especially those who call themselves Christians, because of their past. So we try hard to focus on building relationships," he said.
"I don't try to shove the Gospel down anybody's throat because that's not real productive. But I do put myself in a place where I can try to serve them. That's the way our group works. We try to work with different folks to help set them up in relationships with those who are on the field already."
During the past year, the Messianic fellowship began developing an online training program led by Sam Nadler, president of Word of Messiah Ministries.
"Hopefully as it develops we'll have the opportunity to not just use it for those that are planting Messianic works but the plan is to be able to use it for other places like in regular evangelism for training," Saffle said.
"Sam's heart is to help plant new congregations and specifically to help Jewish people come to believe the Messiah. He's come alongside us to help us do some training and those kinds of things."
People who plan to attend the event should send an email to email@example.com to assist the organizers in preparations. The group also will have a booth in the exhibit hall during the June 14-15 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information, visit sbmessianic.net.
Erin Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.
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