Last week I shared with you the amazing time we are having this year at Camp Poyntelle, a camp in PA for Jewish youngsters and teens. We have been made to feel so welcome. Since we are renters and the camp rents to other non Jewish groups, it would be premature to say we are welcomed as fellow Jews. However, as we have just experienced our second Kabbalat Shabbat here, the integration of our musicians as leaders with their service leaders clearly is an event that would not be made available in this same way to their other non Jewish renters.
The Jewish people have historically been known as a socially conscious, activist minded group. Perhaps having been an oppressed minority, themselves, through time, generally Jewish people are strong for social justice and causes of equality for minority groups (blacks/whites, men/women). That is, except for their historically negative feelings toward Messianic Jews. It is in this one atypical reaction, prompted by an emotional intergenerational reaction to Christian persecution and assimilation through the ages, that Messianic Jews have not normally been seen as Jewish once they accept Yeshua as Messiah. This has been our cross to bear, as it were, and one which our movement has been trying to rectify in this phase of our journey.
So here we are at Camp Poyntelle, a solid, long standing Jewish camp, just like the others we have sojourned at over the years. We have noticed what a laid-back year it is vis-à-vis rules generally – where to park, dogs allowed, swimming rules, and the like. But the new laid back attitude here stretches to their not being the least bit worried about who we are, what we say, and what we believe. This nonchalance goes so far that this afternoon we actually have a scheduled immersion for a couple of our campers (mikvah/baptism) at the lake on their grounds.
Why is that?
I don’t believe anyone disputes the fact that were it not for certain groups in the Christian community, our modern Messianic Jewish community would have difficulty being here as it is today. Our early Jewish believers in Yeshua were welcomed in churches before there were Messianic Jewish synagogues. By educating those early Jewish believers in their new belief in Yeshua and sustaining them, time allowed these Jewish followers of Yeshua from the ‘60s and ‘70s to mature in that part of their Jewish faith, the Yeshua centered part. Today many of those early Messianic Jews are now the leaders of today’s Messianic Jewish movement, mature not only in the Jewish faith they were born into, but also, knowledgeable in Yeshua’s teachings they have learned over the last 30 plus years from their Christian brothers and sisters. What a debt we owe to the Christian community who so nurtured and sustained us and continues to do so to this day.
At Camp Poyntelle, a Jewish camp, the couple who are the camp directors are not Jewish. I don’t know if they are Christians but my guess is, yes. The assistant director is Jewish. Some of the staff are Christians, some Jewish. When Shayna described the immersion to the random life guard who was planning to be available, she asked, “Oh, you mean like a baptism but Jewish?”
Could HaShem have found us a place where we can grow? A place where conversations with our fellow Jews, and Christians vis-à-vis replacement theology, will be natural? Just as our Christian brothers and sisters in the early years of our movement nurtured us, will the fact that there is non Jewish leadership of this Jewish camp, which is highly unusual, allow Camp Or L’Dor to mature as we enter perhaps a next phase of service to Him through our camp?
Today I don’t have answers to those questions. I don’t know if we can arrange to come back here next year. A complaining parent could change a lot. But my sense is we are onto something bigger here and I pray we can stay and do His work from this blessed place for years to come. And even if for some reason not, dayenu, that we were so blessed for even this one year.
In our daily lives it’s hard to see the big picture. So many years of our camp’s being wandering Jews have been a time of learning from each experience just as in life we take away and grow from all that has come before. But what are perhaps the even bigger blessings that lie ahead?
I encourage you to stay inspired as you do His work, for the blessed surprises He has in store for you are worth waiting for.