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Shannon Nuszen

{Repostedfrom the Elder of Ziyon blog}

Shannon Nuszen is coming up against Jewish opposition to her work at Beyneynu, which is all about exposing the true nature of Christian missionaries inside Israel. These evangelical Christians are careful not to use overt language in describing their mission to the Jewish Israelis they meet and work with. But Nuszen captures the truth by way of videos created by the Christians for their supporters abroad, in which their mission is stated in explicit terms. And the truth is that these Christians are in Israel for the express purpose of converting Jewish Israelis to Christianity.

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Why would any Jew not want this truth exposed? It’s not a mystery: money talks, nobody walks. Evangelical Christians give a lot of money to Israel, and they’re very nice people. No one wants to believe they have any underlying, hidden purpose in being here. The Jews don’t want to believe these Christians are anything other than what they purport to be: nice people who support the Jews and the Jewish State.

Jews are tired of being hated. When someone shows them a bit of love, they drink it up. They are like Sally Fields at the Oscars gushing, “You like me! You really like me!”

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They need to believe these Christians don’t have an ulterior motive. They need it for their self-esteem. And of course, there’s the money. Lots and lots of it. And a lot of these Christians are working the vineyards of Samaria, for free. Which is as good as financial support, right?

So we have a situation where Shannon Nuszen, through her organization, Beyneynu, is distributing videos to Jewish journalists in which Christians expose their true purpose on camera. And Jews are going around behind the scenes and sometimes, shamelessly, right in front of Nuszen, casting aspersions on her work.

These Jews tell the journalists and anyone else who will listen that Shannon is disturbed, that because of her past, she has a vendetta—that these Christians are REALLY NICE PEOPLE who have told them, the Jews, that converting the Jews is the furthest thing from their sweet little innocent minds. These Christians LOVE the Jews, say the Jews, and only want to help and support them.

Would that all that were true. But it’s not. And Shannon is only curating words said by these very same Christians—words which clearly have no other context—that is, if one is being honest about this stuff. The Christians are in Israel for one sole purpose. They want to bring the Jews to Jesus.

They’ll swear up and down it isn’t so. But the videos say otherwise, if you can get past all the Jews out to destroy the messenger, Shannon. To them I say, “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

The Jews know on which side their bread is buttered. And it’s actually a really shameful thing to witness how they grovel to those trying to convert them while speaking out against their own: Shannon. But you know what? Let’s give Shannon a chance to explain it all in her own words. And then you can decide whom to believe: Shannon, or the Jewish naysayers who benefit from these Christians and work behind the scenes to deride their fellow Jew:

Varda Epstein: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Shannon Nuszen: I was born and raised in Evangelical Christianity. My father was a minister, and for many years I was a missionary myself with a tremendous love for Israel and a focus on the Jewish people.

In 2005 I visited Israel for the first time and returned home more determined than ever to prove to myself and every Jew I knew that Jesus was indeed the messiah prophesied in the bible.

However, homing in on that one issue and fully immersing myself in learning about the fulfillment (or lack thereof) of these prophecies did not result in any reaffirming of my faith, or in me perfecting my arguments for bringing Jews to Jesus. The opposite happened, and through learning the Jewish perspective, it became clear that everything I knew and believed in was false.

Long story short, I ended up converting to Judaism and have been living as an Orthodox Jew ever since. I now live in Israel.

Varda Epstein: Why did you decide to focus on exposing and fighting missionaries in Israel? Is this really a significant presence or threat to the Jews of Israel?

Shannon Nuszen: I was on the other side. I was one of those missionaries. I understand better than most how aggressive and unyielding these missionaries are. Most Jewish people, though they may have encountered these missionaries, really do not understand the full scope and danger they present to our people. We are not just dealing with Christians trying to convert Jews. It’s worse than that and more insidious because they are playing word games.

The missionaries misappropriate Jewish symbols, icons, and traditions in order to evangelize the Jews. They are portraying Christianity in a Jewish way to get Jews to believe in Jesus. I know this because I was one of those people. As a result, I feel a heavy responsibility, almost a burden, to alert the Jewish community to the problem that confronts them.

It is shocking. It is a stage four cancer, and there is no stage five. These missionaries have managed to infiltrate and become a part of the highest echelons of the Israeli government and its leadership. Because of their financial and political support for Israel these evangelicals have managed to blind Israelis to the inherent dangers of their mission. Evangelical support comes at an extremely high price, and I understand why Israeli leaders and many ordinary Israelis and Israeli businessmen turn the other way. We have many enemies, and therefore we are willing to work with anyone, even when it comes at a very dangerous price.

Varda Epstein: Would you tell us about some of the people and organizations you’ve worked with on the issue of missionaries in Israel?

Shannon Nuszen: In my quest to research and supply information about specific missionary groups that are active in Israel, I have worked with and continue to work with every organization I know of in this field. In an official capacity I began this work 13 years ago in Houston, countering local missionaries in a grassroots effort with Rabbi Stuart Federow. During this time, I also worked for Outreach Judaism for a span of a few years. Most of my work in this field, however, has been with Jewish Israel, as their North American liaison.

Varda Epstein: Tell us about Beyneynu. Why did you decide to found this organization and what is its purpose?

Shannon Nuszen: Beyneynu is a nonprofit organization that monitors missionary activity in Israel and works with government and community leaders to create proper boundaries in their partnerships with faith-based organizations.

Are we against Christian support for Israel? No! We simply draw the line at missionary efforts, and do not believe Jewish organizations should be forming alliances or partnerships with those who have as their agenda the desire to bring Jews to faith in Jesus.

I do not consider myself a “counter missionary,” and Beyneynu is not another counter missionary organization. Our focus is on alerting the Jewish community to missionary efforts, and to help the Israeli leadership to identify those who threaten the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

Varda Epstein: You’ve released some shocking videos of missionaries in Israel and abroad. How are these videos created?

Shannon Nuszen: These videos are created the same way news publications produce videos. They scour hours of videos and take the most germane elements they find and broadcast them to the public. This is critical to this effort.

Most videos put out by the missionaries are over an hour long. The Jewish community needs to know about the elements in these videos that specifically speak about their intentions in regard to the Jewish people of Israel.

It’s important to understand that if these missionary groups—based as they are inside of Israel—were self-sustaining, they wouldn’t take the risk of discussing these topics in videos, but all their financial support comes from abroad, from outside of Israel. The videos are created precisely for this audience: evangelical Christians who live beyond the borders of Israel. Virtually nothing comes from native Israeli missionaries, therefore they must convey to evangelical Christians abroad the work that they are doing, and that is “winning Jewish souls for Yeshua.”

These people all, without exception, use language that serves as dog whistles for their followers. None of them would ever come straight out and use the term “convert Jews to Christianity” to describe their mission. That type of language is no longer used among the Jews because Jewish people translate “convert to Christianity” as losing their Jewish identity (and they’re right).

This was clear in another video Beyneynu released not long ago where the CEO of God TV, Ward Simpson, clearly stated “We don’t want Jews to convert to Christianity, we simply want them to accept Jesus as their messiah.”

Varda Epstein: There have been some accusations that you are selectively editing these videos to show something that isn’t really there. They say you have a vendetta, because you were one of them, and have now converted to Judaism. What would you say to your accusers?

Shannon Nuszen: The accusers are not bystanders. They are the same activists who repeatedly carry water for these evangelical Christian groups by repeating their talking points, because they work with them and depend on them for their financial support. They have a vested interest in protecting these missionaries.

The real question for these accusers (or perhaps “handlers” is a better word) is: Do these Christians believe it is their obligation to carry out “The Great Commission?” Matthew 28:19 “. . . to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

In our latest video, these Christians are clearly speaking of this obligation to their followers, if not in so many words. If the naysayers cannot answer to the charge or prove that it’s not the case, then the only tactic left for them is to attack the messenger: me.

As far as having a vendetta, I would say the opposite is true. Just as much as I feel it is an obligation to warn fellow Jews of this danger, I would love to be able to demonstrate to Christians the pain their actions inflict on the Jewish people in order to foster some understanding.

Varda Epstein: Why are so many Jews against your work, and speaking out against this work and even you, personally? What do they stand to gain by allying with Christians, and working against you, a fellow Jew?

Shannon Nuszen: I do not think even our most fierce opposition opposes the goal of our work. This is the one issue that Jews across the spectrum agree on. The entire Jewish world is against efforts to convert Jews. They just refuse to believe that the Christians who give them financial support, and who support their programs, could possibly have any missionary agenda. It becomes for them a very personal issue.

The information we present, however, is not our opinion. We are not quoting out of context or interpreting what these Christians are saying. Our only aim is to inform.

Varda Epstein: Is there anything else you would like to say to your accusers?

Shannon Nuszen:  I try not to focus on the negative attention or answer those who are aligning themselves with missionaries. They have their reasons for what they do, and they will have to answer for that. My focus is on the effect of these missionaries on Jewish communities worldwide.

Varda Epstein: Can you give us some examples of things these missionaries have said for which the context is undeniable, and cannot possibly be explained away by selective editing?

Shannon Nuszen: The undeniable issue that cannot be disputed is “The Great Commission,” which you’ll find being preached in each of the videos we have curated, and is common to all missionaries. “The Great Commission” is the commandment given by Jesus himself “. . . to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Those who teach this concept are fully committed to living by this commandment and everything they say and do is by way of fulfilling this obligation.

The methods and language used to explain this in ways that won’t offend Jews are many, but the bottom line is that they do not believe they are exempt from this commandment or that they should refuse to participate in its fulfillment. They see this commandment, “The Great Commission,” as their primary goal, and crucial factor in the “restoration” (you’ll hear them say that word a lot) process that in their belief, serves as preparation for the second coming of Jesus.

Varda Epstein: Where are you and Beyneynu going with this work? What can we expect to see coming up next?

Shannon Nuszen: Beyneynu’s efforts are primarily behind the scenes working with government and Jewish leadership to understand the dangers of partnering with missionaries. With the tremendous outpouring of love and support coming from the Christian world, it is important that we understand who we can and cannot trust.

Sometimes our efforts include informing the public of problematic events or relationships that require their help to demand action. This was the case with God TV. Even though they had already secured a contract with the cable provider, and had been licensed by the Israeli government to broadcast this programming, it was public outcry that brought about the complete reversal of this state of affairs and caught the attention of the world.

That is the message that every organization looking to partner with us should understand. We appreciate the support for Israel, but we must draw the line when it comes to missionary activity.

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Blogger and mother of 12, Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program Kars4Kids, a Guidestar Gold medal charity. The author's political opinions are her own and not endorsed by her employer.
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