Christians need to wisely choose their media sources on Israel in order to get fair and balanced reporting and all believers considering visiting the Holy Land should do so now as Israel drops most entry restrictions.
Those were some of the main messages at the world’s largest annual gathering of Christian communicators, the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention – which took place in Nashville this month for the first time in two years since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The convention included an entire session to honor Israel.
ALL ISRAEL NEWS spoke with several attendees at the Breakfast to Honor Israel, including NRB Network President and CEO Troy Miller. Miller described NRB TV as “PBS with a Christian world view” and explained that the organization has been a longtime supporter of Israel with the understanding that our “Christian roots are in Jewish roots.”
“We have a number of programs on NRB that talk about, not only the history of Israel, but also about what's going on in Israel today,” he said. “We love the freedom that Israel has and the freedom that the country really represents,” he added.
He said many people don’t realize that Israel has a “vibrant economy, a vibrant culture, a thriving tech industry” and that NRB TV likes to bring those things to the forefront.
NRB TV is a non-partisan, international Evangelical Christian cable channel established in 2005.
Pastor Mark Jenkins, the U.S. representative of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem (Israel's World Holocaust Remembrance Center), told ALL ISRAEL NEWS that more balanced news coverage of Israel is needed in news media.
"Israel is near and dear to the people in NRB and it has been for decades," Jenkins said, adding that he believes both American and international media do not present a balanced view of Israel.
“They really don't ... I think for those of us who love Israel and for those of us who've invested the time to understand Israel and understand the issues, it's a challenge," he said. "That's why I think a lot of the people that are represented here in the NRB are going to be speaking more clearly into Israel, helping their constituents understand Israel, trying to get the truth out about Israel.”
He believes most Christians are consuming American news and urged pro-Israel advocates to be diligent when choosing their news sources. He said that American broadcaster Fox News typically presents a more balanced view and positive awareness about Israel, but added that presenting an accurate view of Israel is crucial.
“The main media outlets in the United States are biased, they have an agenda. So, the only way that you could work around it is you have to find other sources… And it's important to get that news and get that information because a lot of people are in the pro-Israel movement, especially people at the NRB who become apologists for Israel, right? They're trying to defend Israel. They're trying to help people understand.”
Besides Israel’s i24 News and Times of Israel, Jenkins gave a shout out to ALL ISRAEL NEWS as one of the few sources that provide “the real news” about Israel.
“ALL ISRAEL NEWS is fantastic, actually. I've been enjoying it very much since you guys rolled it out. Terrific articles. Great perspectives,” he said.
Brian Sanders, CEO and executive producer at Why Stand with Israel, attended the breakfast to promote the documentary, “A Film to Change Hearts,” part one of the upcoming film series he is producing.
The project is intended “to inspire the global church to live out its biblical responsibility to stand with Israel,” according to Sanders. He said one way to do that is to pray that the church “will eradicate all replacement theology teaching that has been embedded in the church for centuries, and also to repent and reconcile with their Jewish brothers and sisters for the church's long history of anti-Semitism and persecution toward the Jewish people.”
“For Christians that say they love God and they love God's word, there's really no reason that you should be riding the fence on where you stand with Israel,” said Sanders.
“There's a curse when you don't bless Israel,” Sanders explained, referring to Romans 15:27. Christians can bless Israel “with our tithes or offerings, our rhetoric, our knowledge of the world, the truth of God's word; of why God chose them as His first chosen people; why we've been grafted in with them, and why salvation comes to the Jews first,” he added.
Sanders also spoke about the initiative, The Shemitah Blessing Project, based on a dream the Lord gave him to “help the Israeli Jewish farmers during the shemitah year, in accordance with the biblical command to allow the land to lay fallow in the sabbatical seventh year.”
The film – expected to be released next year during the Passover and Easter – will also “refute and defunct lies, myths and misconceptions that Israel is an apartheid state.”
“It just doesn't line up,” he added emphatically. “Israel can't be an occupier. The nations gave them the land. God gave them the land.”
The series, Why Stand with Israel, will be available on major Christian networks, streaming platforms, video on demand and mid-chain theaters. For more information, visit their website for livestream updates or Facebook.
Yinon Ben Hod of Sar-El Tours added to the buzz that Israel is once again open for tourism – to both vaccinated and unvaccinated – and encouraged attendees to visit Israel now that the government has eased restrictions.
“Everybody understands the importance of coming to Israel as Evangelical Christians and traditional Christians alike. So, we are here to help people, to let them know that it's possible, it's doable and it's just a flight away.”
“Israel is a country that is full of history,” Ben Hod continued, with “hundreds of archeological sites that are being dug as we speak.”
Sar-El Tours offers a large variety of tour options from biblical, historical, prophetic or another theme that may interest a group. In addition, he said there are travel agents that regularly bring groups to Israel, as well as international organizations like the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem – one of the sponsors of the NRB Breakfast to Honor Israel.
The company’s recent initiative, Sar-El Academy was launched during the COVID pandemic to address the demand for virtual tours because of lockdowns and closed borders. The academy is a premium biblical education program available online in 14 different languages. It aims to help those who might be leading a group to Israel, including pastors, to prepare ahead of time.
Viewers are able to watch episodes about some of the top destinations across the country, to see the sites and learn the historical and geographical background of each location, along with their biblical references.
One organization that has been bringing tens of thousands of visitors to Israel since the early 1990s is Eagle’s Wings. Its founder and executive director, Bishop Robert Stearns, leads the global community that focuses on advancing peace in Jerusalem and across the Middle East.
“It's so important that the Christian world comes together and stands in complete unity with the State of Israel and with the Jewish people. And I'm thrilled that NRB, which is the largest gathering of Christian communicators in the world, prioritizes Israel every single year,” said Stearns.
“This is the day that God is restoring Zion in front of our very eyes and the Bible tells us all nations will stream up to the mountain of the Lord,” he noted as he mentioned his organization already has five groups booked to visit Israel in the coming year.
Stearns encouraged ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS readers to participate in the annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem which takes place the first Sunday of every October.
“People all around the world gather together and prioritize Psalm 122:6. Jerusalem is not an idea. Jerusalem is not a metaphor. Jerusalem is not something that will happen in the future. It is a living place today, and we need to pray and work for the peace of Jerusalem,” he said.
The NRB is an international association of Evangelical communicators. While theologically diverse within the Evangelical community, NRB members are linked through a Declaration of Unity that proclaims their joint commitment and devotion to Christianity.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.