JERUSALEM—Sixteen years ago this summer, my wife, Lynn, and I founded a ministry called The Joshua Fund.
Set up in Virginia as a 501c3 non-profit organization, the mission of The Joshua Fund was to educate and mobilize Evangelicals in the U.S., Canada and around the world to “bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.”
That passage, of course, is the Abrahamic Covenant, in which God tells the patriarch, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.”
It was an exciting time to work with dear friends and colleagues to develop the new organization from scratch, especially one that we wanted to be a “spiritual venture capital firm.”
That is, we envisioned it as a ministry that we would personally invest in, but also one that would raise money from fellow Evangelicals and then “invest” the funds the Lord provided into strengthening the Church in Israel and the Arab world and caring for the poor and vulnerable, including Holocaust survivors, widows, and orphans.
Never did we imagine that over the next decade and a half the Lord would pour more than $80 million into this initiative.
But the Lord has done this and much more.
I don’t talk often about The Joshua Fund.
I’m very passionate about the work – and I absolutely love the remarkable board and staff that the Lord has provided – but I feel constrained by what Jesus said in Matthew 6:1-4:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do…so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Those are important principles – humility, modesty, and discretion in ministry.
Still, my friends – and team – remind me that Jesus also said to His disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Those, too, are important principles – shining a light on the Word of God, and on what the Lord is doing to advance His kingdom in this world.
If you tell people stories to glorify yourself, God will not be pleased.
If you teach the Word and tell stories that glorify God, He will be pleased.
Therefore, in my book “Enemies and Allies,” I shared some of the story of The Joshua Fund.
As the summer ends and the fall begins, I felt it might be the right time to share that with you, as well.
Let me start by laying out six biblical principles that motivate The Joshua Fund team, and we believe should govern our approach as Christians toward the people of the Middle East.
Then, I’ll share a few specifics about what TJF does.
PRINCIPLE #1: We are called to love Israel and her neighbors—not just one or the other.
“At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.” This is what the Lord says . . . [to Israel]: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you out with kindness.” Jeremiah 31:1-3
“I say then, God has not rejected His [the Jewish] people, has He? Far from it! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.” Romans 11:1-2
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31
Jesus commanded his disciples to love their neighbors and love their enemies. (See Matthew 5:43-48; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 6:27-36; 10:25-37)
His call to love left no one out.
PRINCIPLE #2: We are called to be peacemakers.
In Psalm 122:6, we are told to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.”
In Psalm 34:14, we are admonished to “seek peace and pursue it.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9 NIV).
The apostle Paul added, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NIV).
PRINCIPLE #3: We are called to oppose injustice and care for those who are suffering.
Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you . . . what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. . . . Defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Jesus inaugurated his public ministry by citing the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19) Then Jesus practiced what he preached—feeding the hungry, healing the sick, honoring women, denouncing religious extremism and hypocrisy, and preaching a message of forgiveness and hope, not only to those in the land of Israel but in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, as well.
PRINCIPLE #4: We are called to strengthen our Gentile Christian and Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters, including providing financial support when the Lord directs.
“Be constantly alert, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die.” Revelation 3:2
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 2:44-45 (NIV)
“I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.” Romans 15:25-28 (NIV)
PRINCIPLE #5: We are called to give everyone, everywhere, the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, understand it, and make a definitive decision either to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord or reject him.
“Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
“The Lord said to Ananias, 'Go! This man [the apostle Paul] is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.'” Acts 9:15 (NIV)
“If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, 'Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.' For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” Romans 10:9-15 (NIV)
PRINCIPLE #6: We are called to never stop praying.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 (NIV)
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
MAKING IT PRACTICAL: WHAT DOES THE JOSHUA FUND DO?
Aside from caring for my own family and friends and being a writer, investing in the people of the Middle East – and strengthening the church in this region – is one of the great passions of my life.
And to me, the Abrahamic Covenant is key:
“Now the Lord said to Abram,
'Go from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you into a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.'”
Thus, The Joshua Fund has:
hosted conferences and seminars all over the world to help Evangelicals better understand what the Bible teaches about God’s love for both Israel and her Arab and Muslim neighbors, and to encourage Christians to “learn, pray, give, and go” to the work of the Lord in the Middle East.
invested in organizations that care for Holocaust survivors, and care for Syrian and Iraqi refugees, widows, orphans and other vulnerable people in the region
invested in strengthening the Church in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt
equipped and encouraged pastors
distributed Bibles, especially in the Arab world
even helped to build the first Christian radio station in the history of Iraq, among many other projects.
Given the enormous pressures against Christians – and the current and coming wars and traumas in the region – is it enough?
But with an amazing board and staff and regional allies, we do what we can in the power of the Holy Spirit and ask God “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.