Evangelical group denies its new cable show is out to convert Jews

GOD-TV head says the group doesn’t break Israeli law by influencing viewers to believe in Jesus since they continue to be Jews.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The head of a new Evangelical channel that broadcasts on Israeli cable in Hebrew hit back at critics Friday, denying that its purpose was to convert Jews to Christianity, which is illegal in the Jewish state.

CEO of GOD-TV Ward Simpson put out a video statement to his supporters that explained that the  Shelanu (“Ours”) station is “broadcasting Christian content,” but that their lawyers have assured him that “we are following the rules and regulations” regarding what they can and can’t say. “There’s no way they can pull us off the air,” he said.

The Evangelical leader acknowledged that Israeli law forbids proselytizing Jews, describing the show as one in which “we just preach and teach and share Christian content and let the Lord do the rest.”

He then indicated that the channel only wants to widen the community of Messianic Jews in Israel. “They don’t convert, they continue to live life as Jews, continue to practice Judaism for the most part, they just believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the messiah and they follow him,” he explained.

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Shelanu TV started airing two weeks ago on the HOT cable network. The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council that granted its license had been told that its shows would be aimed at the pro-Israel Christian community, according to a report Monday in Haaretz.

The Council began an investigation after Simpson boasted on his website that “GOD-TV has been given government permission to broadcast the gospel of Jesus Christ, Yeshua the messiah, in Israel, on cable television, in the Hebrew language.” Saying that it was the first time in history, he continued, “God has supernaturally opened the door for us to take the gospel of Jesus into the homes and lives and hearts of His Jewish people.”

In Simpson’s Friday statement, he said he had used inappropriate wording in announcing the channel’s license and apologized for it.

Speaking quietly, Simpson insisted, “The last thing we want to do is to create havoc in Israel… become a problem over there,” acknowledging that “preaching about Jesus” is a “touchy subject.”

However, he stressed a core belief of the Evangelical community. “We’re Christians, and we’re called to go into all the world and preach the gospel. That’s what we’re trained to do, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said. It is “what we do, and that’s who we are.”

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Simpson said he had faith in Israel’s judicial system to uphold their right to broadcast, but even if the TV license is revoked, his community should continue to support Israel.

“It’s our mandate to love and bless Israel, regardless of what happens with the Shelanu channel… to be her champion and watchman on her walls,” he said.