Christian missionaries trying to convert Baltimore Jews
6:48 PM, Aug 20, 2013
7:07 PM, Aug 20, 2013
The white vans have returned to the parking lot at the Granite Baptist Church in Glen Burnie, but the message they spread in Jewish communities throughout the area sounds like fighting words to the Baltimore Jewish Council.
"What they're saying is that you can accept Jesus and also be Jewish and there is not a rabbi from the established Jewish community who would accept that," said Art Abramson, the council's executive director.
The young women from California are missionaries of sort spreading the word through a polished DVD that contains the testimonial of Tom Cantor, the founder of Israel Restoration Ministries.
"I was born into a Jewish family. Both my parents were Jewish," he tells the camera during the hour-long video.
As a Jew, Cantor spends about an hour explaining how he came to accept Jesus Christ.
"I just told you about my road of how I came to the Lord Jesus Christ. How about you? How about you, my friend? You can come too," he says near the conclusion of his appeal.
As part of Cantor's summer blitz targeting Jewish communities in big cities across the country, Granite Baptist took in the missionaries and provided them transportation to spread the word.
But some Jewish leaders say they attempted to pass themselves off as something they were not.
"They claim they are Jewish and they look it. They dress very modestly... nice appearance, young ladies coming in... long dresses, etc... as if they're members specifically of the Orthodox community," said Abramson.
The senior pastor of Granite Baptist, Lou Rossi, Jr., says the women simply prefer modest dress and there's been no attempt to deceive anyone.
"I expressed to Art that Tom and myself have a great love and respect for all Jewish people. We believe that Christ is the Jewish Messiah that they wait for to come and so we're trying to convey that message to them whether they believe it or not."
And while both sides have met to discuss the missionaries' tactics, they readily admit their philosophical differences are not unlike those which date back centuries.