A: The vision for the new Gateway Center for Israel began in Nic’s heart in late 2017. After seeing the surprise, miraculous launch of the Poland MJBI school, Nic realized there was major potential to collaborate together for a greater worldwide impact on sound Messianic theology and ministry. Nic shared the idea of combining MJBI and Gateway Church efforts and forming a new “Center” with Wayne, who was energized by the concept.
Wayne shared this with his overseer at Gateway, Pastor Kevin Grove, who oversees Gateway’s Global Ministries, and is the Chairman of the Board for The King’s University, as well as a Gateway Church elder. Kevin was also very intrigued by the vision for a center.
After consulting Pastor Olen Griffing, the spiritual father of MJBI, as well as MJBI Chairman Jonathan Bernis, Wayne and Nic were encouraged to proceed with a more detailed conversation with Pastor Kevin, which took place in late August 2018.
Nic wrote a two-page executive summary of the vision for the Gateway Center for Israel, and Wayne and Kevin approved it. The next step was for the Gateway Church elders to approve this plan.
In late November 2018, Wayne, Nic, and Kevin presented the executive summary to Pastor Robert Morris and the Gateway elders. After an emotional affirmation from Pastor Robert, the elders unanimously approved the plan to create the Gateway Center for Israel.
At the annual MJBI Board of Directors meeting in January 2019, the Board discussed the proposal to adopt MJBI into Gateway to form the new Center for Israel. It was unanimously and enthusiastically approved.
A: MJBI’s ministry mission has not changed in 2019. The Board decided not to re-start the SMT training program in Zimbabwe for 2019, but this is the only change to ministry funded by the MJBI donors in 2019 so far. Gateway Church has not “taken over” MJBI, nor has Gateway’s financial support of MJBI changed. All funds raised in 2019 have been used to support the mission of MJBI to train and equip leaders to reach the Jewish people.
As 2019 comes to a close, MJBI will start the process of transitioning our schools and supported ministries, which you can read about specifically below.
Some MJBI staff positions were terminated in spring 2019, as they were positions the Board felt would no longer be necessary for the coming transition.
A: The Board of Directors of the MJBI will continue to be the legal overseeing entity of MJBI until December 31, 2019, on which date the board will legally conclude. The board formed an executive committee consisting of board members Wayne Wilks, Nic Lesmeister, and Olen Griffing. This executive committee has been authorized by the board to make high-level operational decisions as MJBI is adopted into Gateway during 2019. Our wonderful, generous Board of Advisors will also conclude at the end of 2019.
WHAT ABOUT THE MJBI OPERATIONS AND MINISTRIES?
A: Nic Lesmeister and Sam Arnaud will transition to Gateway Church as full-time Gateway Church employees on January 1, 2020. Nic’s title will be Pastor of Church & Jewish Relations and Director of Gateway Center for Israel. Sam will be Associate Pastor of Church & Jewish Relations. All other MJBI staff positions will discontinue, and those employees will receive a severance package for their excellent contributions to the MJBI team.
A: The offices of MJBI will permanently close on December 31, 2019. Meanwhile, our office hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 am to 4 pm. Please feel free to contact us during those hours at (817) 552-3777, or email us at email@example.com.
A: MJBI.org will continue to exist into 2020 until it is eventually combined with the Gateway Center for Israel’s new website. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts will also migrate and change names and branding to match the Gateway Center for Israel. Announcements will be made on our website, social media accounts, and emails to let you know of any upcoming changes.
A: Monthly updates, by mail and email, will be distributed through December 2019. At this time, it is not yet determined how the Gateway Center for Israel will send out resources and publications. More info on this will be available later this year.
A: Our School of Messianic Theology with its unique classes and challenging content, created and endorsed by so many scholars like Dr. Gannon, Dr. Jeffrey Seif, and Dr. Greg Stone, will continue to exist. We encourage you to enroll now if you haven’t yet! If you are a current student with a Litmos account, rest assured your account will remain active into the foreseeable future. We will contact each active student directly about any future changes. We are still determining how the SMT Certificate Program will work in the future. Details will be announced as they are available.
WHAT ABOUT THE MJBI SCHOOLS, MINISTRIES, AND STUDENTS AROUND THE WORLD?
MJBI’s international ministry has always prioritized relationships and serving local Messianic congregations. This will continue to be a core value of the Center. After serving in these nations for so many years through deeply established relationships, we are looking forward to continuing to love and serve one another in different capacities, as the Lord leads.
The missional birthplace of the MJBI – The work of MJBI is embodied in Ukraine’s finest couple — Rabbi Valentin and Tatyana Sviontek. The Svionteks lead a vibrant, healthy Messianic congregation, Or HaMashiach, which they will continue to oversee. Alongside this, they lead the MJBI school to train leaders in their congregation for ministry in Ukraine, Europe, Israel, and beyond. The Gateway Center for Israel is committed to supporting this MJBI ministry in Odessa. The Svionteks are key apostolic leaders for the Messianic movement in Europe, and the Center will work closely with them in new initiatives. Wayne and Nic will continue to give personal and spiritual oversight to Val and Tatyana. With the help of Modern Day Missions, MJBI will work to transition any donor who is led to support MJBI Odessa on a monthly or one-time basis. We strongly encourage our current MJBI donors to continue supporting the new ministry of MJBI at the Gateway Center for Israel or to continue supporting the Sviontek’s Messianic ministry in Odessa through the Modern Day giving platform.
As previously mentioned, the basic, one-year training program in Zimbabwe amongst the Lemba Jewish Tribe has been suspended. Jewish Voice will be given the MJBI educational materials to steward that program as they wish in the future. The MJBI Kadima program continues in 2019 and 2020. The Gateway Center for Israel will support the Kadima program by sending professors to teach our 29 Lemba students. These students will graduate at the fulfillment of the 3-year program in September 2020. The graduation ceremony will be attended by Dr. Wayne Wilks, Nic Lesmeister, and Dr. Ray Gannon. Dr. Gannon will oversee the completion of the Kadima program as a contractor for the Gateway Center for Israel, with Nic and Sam’s help.
It was at the seminary in Poland that Nic first gained a vision for the new Center for Israel back in late 2017. This model is one we aim to replicate at seminaries around the world through the Gateway Center for Israel. With the close help of The King’s University, we feel that there is great opportunity to expand the Polish program, as well as new ones in other countries. The Poland school will continue to receive support and guidance from the Gateway Center for Israel staff.
This Messianic work will continue through the ministry of Andrea Simonyi, an MJBI graduate of the Budapest school. The Gateway Center for Israel will evaluate the best ways to support Andrea’s amazing work in Hungary for the Messianic cause.
Sadly, the ministry in Russia has recently ceased. With the help of Gateway’s influence internationally, there is great hope to re-engage in Jewish ministry with prominent Russian evangelical leaders through the Center.
With great sadness and much board discussion, the ministry in Ethiopia was paused in late 2017 due to indigenous leadership issues with MJBI staff in Ethiopia. At this time, there are no plans to resume ministry in Ethiopia, though MJBI’s academic materials will be given to Jewish Voice to be used at their discretion amongst the thriving Messianic congregations around the country.
Our program delivered at Congregation Bet-El through the faithful leadership of Jorge and Marcela Goldstein has become fully indigenous. They have run with the vision, and now have their own school, using MJBI’s material and the development of their own. In early 2019, they branded their school ETAM (Escuela de Teologia, Arte y Musica). Bet-El is a Gateway Church partner and will continue to have a strong relationship with the Gateway Center for Israel.
Though MJBI has not had a school in Israel for many years, deep relationships exist with other fruitful Messianic ministries in the Land. After a fantastic pastor’s tour to Israel in June 2019, it is unquestionable that the Gateway Center for Israel will continue to immerse pastors and church leaders through organized trips to Israel, where their lives are always changed. The Gateway Center for Israel will absorb Gateway’s substantial support of numerous ministries in Israel and aims to deepen that support.
After a miraculous visit to Japan with Wayne in February 2019, the Gateway Center for Israel will continue to focus energy on our relationships in Japan, specifically with Pastor Steven Kaylor and Hope Church. Japan is another eye-opening work of the Lord that gave Wayne and Nic insight to see how God was leading MJBI and Gateway to greater influence with Church leaders. We sincerely hope to produce resources in Japanese in the near future, as Japan is a key country for our work worldwide.
As part of MJBI’s most recent projects, our ministry in these two countries will continue under the Gateway Center for Israel. We will have a greater ability to impact and educate pastors and Church leaders about Israel through the new Center. We are excitedly planning more resources in French soon, in order to equip more pastors to better engage with the large Jewish populations in these countries.
SUPPORT AND DONATIONS
MJBI has been deeply blessed with countless faithful donors who have contributed to the success of the mission in our 23-year history. Before going any further, we must sincerely declare our thanks to you for every penny given to support our ministry to the Jewish people!
A: No. Gateway Church has been a supporter of MJBI since their very first day as a church almost 20 years ago. However, Gateway has not materially increased or decreased their financial support of MJBI in 2019 as we plan the launch of the Gateway Center for Israel.
A: As you’ve likely already learned, our annual event, i.e. the “Love Israel” event this September 10 will no longer be principally for MJBI / Gateway Center for Israel fundraising. We feel the best use of our events for the future is to energize as many people as possible with a vision to love and serve the Jewish people. At this time, we do not have firm plans to continue having a fall event in DFW after 2019. We do, however, have the vision to do other events in the future, and hope to better understand how to accomplish this after more time of prayer and thought.
A: Yes, please! For the rest of 2019, our ministry is fully-funded by amazing donors like you. We continue to support our international Jewish ministries until the end of 2019 (as you have read above in our Ministry FAQ).
After 2019 ends, we truly desire for you to continue supporting the mission and vision of the Gateway Center for Israel as well. Because of Gateway’s generosity to pay for the overhead and administrative costs of the Gateway Center for Israel, more of your donations than ever before will be used to go straight into Jewish ministry around the world!
Above all, we are convinced that supporting ministry to the Jewish people will bring a blessing to you and your entire family. Genesis 12:3 is very clear that God will uniquely bless ALL those who bless Israel. We most certainly hope you will still “bless Israel” by supporting the Gateway Center for Israel.
If you no longer wish to support our new Center, we completely understand. We strongly encourage you to pray about continuing your support of MJBI by investing in the MJBI ministry in Odessa, Ukraine (read above).
A: All donations continue to support the worldwide Messianic ministry of MJBI until the end of 2019. At that point, any “leftover” or continued donations will continue to support the Poland MJBI program, as well as the Zimbabwe Kadima program through 2020.
A: You can continue to mail them to MJBI’s current PO Box until the end of 2019:
P.O. BOX 610105
Dallas, TX 75261
More details will follow for checks sent in 2020.
A: Our monthly Ascend Partners have been the backbone of MJBI’s ministry, allowing us to grow, expand, and reach so many for Yeshua.
We would love for you to continue giving monthly to MJBI for the rest of 2019. If you would then like to continue your monthly giving to the Gateway Center for Israel, you will be able to do that on our new Center website, launching soon. More details to follow.
A: You can continue to give online or write checks to MJBI through the end of 2019.
After January 1, 2020, you can write checks to the Gateway Center for Israel.
A: As mentioned above in the Ukraine FAQ, we would love for you to continue supporting the great work of MJBI in Odessa, Ukraine directly through the Modern Day Missions platform.
If you have a desire to specifically support any other MJBI international ministry, please contact us directly.
A: You will receive your 2019 tax statement from MJBI in January 2020, as usual, for any gifts given to MJBI in 2019 that are tax-exempt.
A: MJBI and the Gateway Center for Israel take the safety of your personal information very seriously. MJBI currently keeps no records of credit card information.
Your name, mailing and email addresses, and all other personal information (online, digital and hard copy) will be kept confidential, as it always has been, and will be securely stored in a copy of the MJBI database for legal and tax purposes after MJBI legally concludes at the end of 2019.
As Gateway Church is assuming ownership of all the MJBI assets at the end of 2019, your email address and personal info will transfer to Gateway Church. Gateway Church will NOT use your personal info apart from the new Gateway Center for Israel. You will NOT be solicited for any Gateway Church offers, emails, calls, etc. We hope to continue to be in contact with you via email or possibly phone about any Center-related ministry updates and to continue providing you educational resources about Israel and the Jewish people.
If you have any questions about this, please contact us Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 am to 4 pm at (817) 552-3777 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.