Program Ministries w/ Cameron Joyner
Looking for a way to share God’s love with the Jewish people? Find out how you can bless and serve His Chosen People on this week’s program! Cameron Joyner, a Friends of Israel Field Representative and Assistant Program Ministries Director, shares stories from two FOI ministries he helps lead: Encounter and Bridges. His trip through Jewish communities in the Northeast U.S. with Encounter and the free education provided through Bridges might just spur your heart to pursue opportunities in your local Jewish community!
The time Cameron’s team spent in the heavily Jewish population of Brooklyn, New York was an authentic taste of Jewish life, and it has led them to a greater understanding of Jewish culture. Students in the Bridges program can gain that knowledge, too—all from the comfort of home! This free, 8-week program is a fantastic way to get to know the Jewish people and discover how to love and support them. Cameron’s leadership in Encounter and Bridges offers helpful insight into practical ways to follow God’s command to bless His Chosen People. May his stories lead you to do just that!
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. We're glad you're with us. Everything related to today's program, every previous episode, can be found at foiradio.org. It's there you'll find trustworthy and accurate news on Israel. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, today is an exciting program because we are doing our Friends of Israel In Action, which is designed to talk about the various ministries that span the globe with the Friends of Israel. Today, we're going to be speaking with Cameron Joyner. He's the assistant director of Program Ministries. And he's going to talk about two exciting programs that our listeners can actually be a part of. Two FOI programs that are introducing Christians to the Jewish people, our Encounter Program, and our Bridges Program. So it's going to be a great way for our listeners today, Steve, to get an understanding on ways that they can get involved with Friends of Israel.
Steve Conover: We're glad Cameron's here, but first in the news, Israeli President Isaac Herzog recently flew to Basel, Switzerland to honor the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress, an historical moment in the creation of the state of Israel. The event, organized by the World Zionist Organization, celebrated the address of Theodor Herzl in 1897 when he spoke to over 200 delegates and founded the Jewish state.
Chris Katulka: Well, here's my take. If you value Israel and the Jewish people, then you need to get to know Theodor Herzl. In the late 1800s, he saw a need for a Jewish state as antisemitism was on the rise in Europe. Herzl wrote in his journal quote, "At Basel, I founded the Jewish state. If I said this out loud today, I would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years, perhaps, and certainly in 50 years, everyone will perceive it." Herzl died in 1904, but 50 years later, just as he said, Israel declared their independence in 1948.
Chris Katulka: The Jewish people are certainly not a monolithic community. They come from various backgrounds, cultures, countries, and even vary on the religious spectrum as to how far they will follow and obey the Torah, the law. But nonetheless, they all make up the Jewish community. The Bible is very clear about our love and support of Israel and the Jewish people, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Both of them show that God cares and loves his chosen people. And therefore, as Christians, we should love what God loves.
Chris Katulka: And that's why at Friends of Israel, we started this fantastic program to introduce you to the Jewish community. It's called Encounter. It's a five day experience where you'll encounter the Jewish community of the Northeast in the United States. And one of the leaders is with us today. His name is Cameron Joyner. He's the assistant director of Program Ministries here at The Friends of Israel. Cameron, great to have you, my friend.
Cameron Joyner: Good to be here, Chris.
Chris Katulka: Cameron, you just got back from a great trip in the Northeast. You're from Atlanta. But you brought a group of pastors up here for our Christian leader's version of Encounter. And Encounter, like I said, it's a program where Christians get to encounter the Jewish community of the Northeast, face to face, shaking hands with Jewish people right here in the United States. So Cameron, can you better explain what Encounter is for our audience?
Cameron Joyner: Absolutely. Encounter, myself, my dear friend and colleague, Bruce Scott, have had the privilege of heading this up. And it's a short term ministry opportunity for followers of the Messiah to experience this community that God has chosen and loved, the Jewish community. And let's face it, there are many, many evangelicals out there who've never even met a Jewish person besides our Savior, of course. So all that's really known is that between their community and our community, there's disagreement over the identity of the Jewish Messiah.
Cameron Joyner: But historically, our communities have not had opportunities to understand one another. All we know is that there's a difference. So we're giving evangelical Christians an opportunity to be immersed into the Jewish community and culture, to listen to these dear people, to learn about and understand their perspective. Most Christians aren't familiar with the reasons why Jewish people are often apprehensive around Christian people. It's because historically, people have done things in the name of Jesus that Jesus would never advocate. So our program deeply underscores the importance of demonstrating throughout our entire lives that real Christians love the Jewish people.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. And Encounter is a great way for, like you said, Christians who maybe don't understand the Jewish community. They know they love the Jewish people because the Bible talks about the importance of God's love for his chosen people, but maybe they've never gone to a synagogue service or they've never had a chance to embrace that culture. And really Encounter is the way to encounter the Jewish people. And so Cameron, you've been a few times on the Encounter program, leading it. I've been with you a few times. You visit the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York. You do so many other things.
But I'm sure people don't realize this, but Brooklyn is nearly on par with Jerusalem, for significance to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. We always run into Israelis there, who come to visit Brooklyn, because of the importance of that location to their community. But what other places beside Brooklyn do you visit on Encounter?
Cameron Joyner: So yeah, we do immerse them into the ultra-Orthodox community. And I believe that it's a very healthy culture shock for our brothers and sisters in Messiah. However, we also provide a taste of the, let's call it the American Jewish diaspora experience in broader terms. We travel through Manhattan, New Jersey, Philadelphia. We show them how the Jewish people persevered and endured the difficulties of early immigrant life when they came to America. They experience Jewish cuisine as it compares to more Middle Eastern Israeli cuisine. They get to observe, as you mentioned, the synagogue. They get to observe an Orthodox Shabbat service at one of the oldest synagogues in America.
And being able to meet and talk with Jewish people from a wide variety of traditions and backgrounds gives Christians a means for understanding this dear community rather than buying into stereotypes. Conversely, it gives Jewish people that same opportunity. They are meeting with evangelicals often for the first time, and seeing that they care about them and stand with them. So Holocaust education is a big part of this program. If we are really friends of Israel, we need to know, and mourn, and grieve with our Jewish neighbors over this tragic history.
And additionally, confronting people's hatred of the Jewish community is a must in our program. So a good friend of ours, whom I believe you've had on the show, Paula Joffe from Stand With Us, she comes and provides training on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Equipping our groups with the tools needed to stand up against this evil. It's really a great experience.
Chris Katulka: Hey Cameron, when you talk about cuisine, what you're talking about is during your visit in Encounter, up to New York, you stop by the very famous Jewish deli, Katz's Deli, which is a great experience in and of itself as you're traveling around Brooklyn and Manhattan. I don't think people realize this, but outside of Israel, the United States is the largest Jewish population in the world, outside of Israel. And really there are a large portion of the Jewish people live right up in the Northeast corridor.
So you're actually, when you come with us on Encounter, you're actually coming to one of the largest Jewish populations in the world. And so you're going to get that broad range of understanding from the ultra-Orthodox all the way to the secular Jewish people. Their thoughts and understandings of what it means to be Jewish, how they worship in synagogue. All of that. Cameron, Encounter is more than just a learning experience. It's actually a way to get your hands dirty too, to serve and show the love of the Messiah to the Jewish community, through acts of volunteerism. Can you share about that with our audience as well?
Sure. Yeah. It's really both the spirit of Judaism and the New Testament that talk is cheap. What are you going to do with your faith? We want to join hands with the Jewish community in solidarity with them. We say we love them, but are we showing them? So taking the time to volunteer in the community is one of many ways we can show our love. This involved simple acts of kindness, like putting together Rosh Hashanah bags for the Holocaust survivors in the community.
About a month ago, we had the privilege of cleaning up a garden and play area for a children's day school in the Jewish community. We were even honored that they published an article about it in one of their newspapers. So on our last Encounter, another Jewish school needed some last minute help putting together a lot of furniture for the school. So our team went by and tackled that project. It's really just rewarding to help those we love. So we're happy and grateful for these opportunities.
Chris Katulka: Cameron, we've got about two minutes left. What's the big takeaway for a Christian who comes on Encounter? How will Encounter deepen a Christian's faith and really give them a better understanding of what God's doing in the Jewish community?
Cameron Joyner: Okay. Yeah. So as I said earlier, the spirit of Judaism is what are you going to do? The world is broken, so we need to fix it. They call that Tikkun Olam. And so these sentiments are really found in the New Testament as well. Imagine that. It's a Jewish book after all. Jesus' half brother James, his real name was Jacob and he's Jewish through and through. And so he's the one who writes in James 1:22 that we shouldn't just listen to God's Word, we need to do what it says. Otherwise, we're only fooling ourselves.
So those who are truly redeemed by the Messiah, they bear good fruit. And so we issue a challenge at the end of Encounter that now that you know, you're responsible for it. What are you going to do with what we've given you? And that's what we ask. As evangelicals, we want the whole world to know the love of the Jewish Messiah. They are equipped with an understanding of the Jewish community that helps them to go and join hands with and serve the Jewish people in their own areas, showing them the love of Jesus through personal ministry and friendship.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. We're going to have Cameron back after the break to talk about another program that you could be a part of. But before we do that, I want to make sure you know how you can sign up to be a part of Encounter. If you're listening to this, and you're thinking I would love to meet the ultra-Orthodox community. I would love to help my Jewish friends. I'd love to go to a Shabbat service. If that really interests you, I want to encourage you to go to foiradio.org right now. Foiradio.org. And there you'll find a link that will take you to the website that has the Encounter information on it, where you can sign up for next year's Encounter trips that we'll be offering in 2023. So again, be sure to go to foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Hey, and you know what is another way that you can engage in understanding the Jewish people? It's by coming to one of our National Prophecy Conferences. So understanding the Jewish roots of our Bible, it's actually incredibly important to the Christian life, which is why I'm super excited that our in-person National Conferences are back. And we are studying, you ready? The Seven Feasts of Israel. Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, even Firstfruits. We want you to be there. Join us September 11th through the 13th. If you're in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area, join us at Eden Resorts and Suites in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and discover the rhythms of God's redemption through the feasts of Israel. To learn more go foi.org/conferences. Again, that's foi.org/conferences. We hope to see you there in person.
Chris Katulka: Now, listen, we're talking with Cameron Joyner. He's the assistant director to Program Ministries, here at the Friends of Israel, which means he gets the fun job. Okay. I'm a little jealous of him, because he gets the fun job of taking people on trips to Israel to do volunteer trips with our young adults and origins. He gets to lead trips like Encounter, the one we just talked about earlier, as he's bringing Christians from all over the United States and Canada into New York City and Philadelphia. He gets to interact with the Jewish people.
Chris Katulka: We have another great program that we want to share with you about, another way that you can get involved with Friends of Israel. And it's through our Bridges Internship Program, that's all online. So Cameron, not only did you just wrap up an Encounter experience last week, you also wrapped up our Bridges Program. And Bridges is our eight week online training program that teaches Christians how they can biblically love and support Israel and the Jewish people. And here's the best part about Bridges, it's that you don't even have to leave your home. All the classes are done right online. And did I forget to mention it's free? Bridges is free. So Cameron share with our listeners about the impact Bridges is having on the Christian community.
Cameron Joyner: Sure. Well, I have to be honest. Bridges would not be what it is without our director of programs, Bruce Scott. I've been in this ministry for almost five years and as the assistant director of programs, I learn something new from Bruce every time we run Bridges. But here's the thing, Bridges is a training program of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, that equips Christians to build relationships between the Christian and Jewish communities by serving the Jewish people, supporting the state of Israel, sharing the love of the Messiah.
Christians are often nervous about befriending Jewish people because, although they love them, there's so many differences between them it creates this apprehension. So by going through our Bridges program, the Christian community is being given the confidence that they need to go out and be real friends to our beloved Jewish communities. I sincerely believe it takes the fear out of building these relationships. It makes getting out of our comfort zones less painful.
Chris Katulka: Cameron, there is a tagline for people who want to train for a marathon or a 5k run, they call it the "Couch to the 5k." That's the training program. I like to call Bridges the "Couch to the Synagogue," because really what we're doing, like you said, we want to give Christians, believers in the Lord Jesus, the confidence to be able to go to a synagogue, the confidence to be able to go to a local Jewish event, to show their love and support of Israel and the Jewish people without feeling like they're out of place.
Really the Jewish community is such an inviting community. I don't think Christians realize this. They're very inviting to Christians to come in and to observe and to learn. They're not like, "Oh, you're not Jewish? You gotta get out of here." No, they are actually very welcoming. Cameron, what are some of the things that our Christian communities are learning online if they sign up for Bridges?
Cameron Joyner: Sure. So you're getting valuable knowledge in the study of Israel, biblically first and foremost, that's the foundation. We call that Israel-ology. We look closely at Jewish culture and customs. You can't study the Jewish people without studying the Holocaust. It's such a tragic, but integral part of their identity today. And so we look at the Holocaust in depth. We look at antisemitism, and the new antisemitism I call it, which is anti-Zionism. And we study that. And so we study modern Israel, and the history of modern Israel, the history of the Middle East conflict. We help them as ministers who want to share Messiah's love and even explore practical ways of how they can serve with us at the Friends of Israel.
Chris Katulka: One of the things I love about Bridges is, number one, of course it's free. So when you sign up, you don't pay anything. All the resources we want to give to you if you become a Bridges intern with Friends of Israel. But you know what I love too, is that it's not just teaching. It actually is calling you to action. And it puts to action everything that each student learns. And I love, actually one of our students, we were talking, one of the Bridges alumni, we're talking about his experience. And he said that after Bridges, he decided, "I'm going to take what I learned. I'm going to go to a Jewish deli."
And so he invited his friend that he knew from work to go to the deli with him. And as he's sitting there eating probably a Reuben sandwich or something, he starts talking about Bridges with his friend. And it's right there at the deli that he finds out that his friend is Jewish. And it gave them an opportunity to talk about deeper spiritual things, about the Messiah, about who Jesus is. All of these things that became a moment for their relationship to grow even deeper. And that Bridges alumni was able to take everything that he learned over the course of eight weeks and put it to practice. Do you want to share about that for a moment? Maybe you've heard a story from one of our Bridges alumni as well, Cameron.
Cameron Joyner: Sure. Yeah. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite stories comes from a really sweet lady that we got to know. She's in her late 60s. Her name is Julia DeHart. Her late husband was Jewish and it caused her, even though he's not with us anymore, that background caused her to want to learn more about how to love on the Jewish people, and even got her out of her comfort zone to go on Encounter with us. And at her age, she would tell you that it was a grueling experience. There's a lot of walking on Encounter, but her background and her story and her experience in Bridges got her out of her comfort zone.
And for the first time she went to New York City. Had never seen it before. And got to experience everything on the program we were talking about before. So her story to me is just an example of how no matter your age or your background, et cetera, et cetera, it's never a bad time to dive in and explore the rich culture of the Jewish community.
Chris Katulka: Cameron, I always say that when you understand the Bible from a Jewish perspective, it deepens your relationship with the Lord because it opens up the whole world that Jesus didn't go to church. Jesus didn't celebrate Easter or Christmas. Jesus actually grew up in a Jewish world. And when we dive into the Jewishness of the Bible and even to the culture, the Jewish culture today, I think it helps deepen our faith as Christians.
Cameron Joyner: Yes, it really brings the Bible to life. You'll never read the New Testament again the same way, if you do a deeper dive into Jewish culture, because it came right out of Jewish culture. It's sort of like going to Israel, you begin to read the Bible in color once you visit the land of Israel. But to me, the best part about Bridges is that it's an entrepreneurial program we call it. We're not grading you or failing anyone. What you get out of the program will be based on how much you can put into it.
And really there's a challenge there because essentially it shows you how important getting to know God's chosen people really is to you. Now, additionally, we understand that life happens. Things get busy. Things get in the way. So we do offer ways to go back and see recordings if you missed a week, or if one week was busier at home or at work than others. So it takes the tension of life out of the program as well in the way that we run it. So I'm really, I'm pleased with the way that it's structured.
Chris Katulka: Cameron, when is the next Bridges going to run for 2022?
Cameron Joyner: It begins on October 4th and it runs for nine weeks. Eight weeks of training and then a wrap up.
Chris Katulka: Fantastic. Okay everybody. So here's the thing. If you would like to be a part of Bridges or Encounter, I want to encourage you to go to foiradio.org. There, we have a link that will take you to a page that will introduce you to all the various ways that you can get involved with Friends of Israel. One of them being, first, what we mentioned before our Encounter Program, but also our Bridges Program. And if you sign up, we'll be sure to send you information on ways that you can find out details on Bridges and Encounter, and ways that you can get involved.
It doesn't matter which way you come in either, maybe you start with Encounter and then you go and you study in Bridges. Or maybe you do the eight week training course with Bridges and then God calls you to go on Encounter. There are so many ways to get involved with Friends of Israel and we want to encourage you to be a part of what we're doing here with our ministry. So Cameron, I want to thank you very much for being a part of our program today, and for really leading Christians into building bridges and bringing hope into our Jewish communities.
Cameron Joyner: It's a privilege and an honor. Thank you for having me, Chris,
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us for today's program. We hope this radio program is helping you grow in your understanding of God's Word. If so, we'd love to know. Reach out and contact us on our contact form at foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Hey, a special thanks to Cameron for joining us today. Hey, just a reminder. If you're interested in being a part of our Bridges program or joining us on an Encounter trip, you can go to foiradio.org to find out ways that you can get involved with The Friends of Israel.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. And I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Again that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. And I'll give you one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Learn more about our Encounter and Bridges Programs today!
LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA (SEPTEMBER 11-13, 2022)
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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