Tuesday 7 February 2012

The Talented Mr Hathaway

The Rosh Pina Project features a lengthy, detailed and devastating critique of ‘evangelist' David Hathaway. The post consists of a lengthy Open Letter to one of the senior pastors of a pro-Israel Pentecostal church in Derbyshire, England which has invited Hathaway to address a conference it has organised for this coming Saturday.

On his website, Hathaway claims that, as a direct result of his preaching, thousands of Holocaust survivors in Israel have become believers in Jesus.

Thousands of Holocaust survivors attended David Hathaway's November meetings in Israel … After listening to David preach and pray, they found a new hope and faith. We have developed a long term relationship with these survivors – we were able to provide humanitarian aid, food and other essential items – also, our representatives will keep co-operating with them to help them grow in their faith.

Hathaway (caught in an unfortunate pose preaching to Holocaust survivors, above) has claimed that a thousand Jews became believers through his April 2011 meetings and that last November 6,000 unbelievers attended his meetings, of which ‘over 90%’ were ‘unbelieving Jews’ and the response rate from these was ‘at least 80%’. That implies a minimum of 4,320 new Jewish believers in Jesus!

If the claimed results of Hathaway’s six meetings were true, it would be totally unprecedented in Jewish evangelism. Zachor has investigated the reports using a number of different methods, and his conclusions make for disturbing reading.

He reveals, among other things that a ‘Messianic Jew’ who was at the meetings ‘did not see the reported events.’

Noam Hendren, who is the chairman of the National Evangelism Committee in Israel, has asked if anyone can confirm Hathaway’s claims. The messianic community within Israel is relatively small, and Stern and Hendren, by virtue of their roles, will be widely connected and will know what is happening. If these people have to ask if Hathaway’s claims are true, that immediately suggests they may not be.

Those interviewed on a video of one of Hathaway’s meetings testify not to new-found faith in Jesus, but to supposed physical healing, using typical Christian language.

A senior member of staff at a Jewish mission says that the Messianic community has not even heard of David Hathaway, which is inconceivable if he had actually held such a major event with such amazing results.

An Israel-based Messianic Bible teacher with an international ministry says Hathaway’s claims are entirely unsubstantiated, and have little relationship to discernible truth.

A pastor who spent several years in Israel with a Jewish mission has concluded that Hathaway’s claims are false and were written to raise money. He is disgusted by Hathaway’s behaviour.

Zachor points out that Jewish people are extremely resistant to the message that Jesus is the Messiah. This results from centuries of Christian persecution and the huge differences between Christianity and Judaism. The Holocaust is frequently viewed as an event in which those claiming to be Christians played a major, if not central, role. Many Jews, especially older people, are not afraid to say that they hate Christians.

Hence it is extremely unlikely that large numbers of Jewish people, especially Holocaust survivors, would attend a meeting hosted by a Christian evangelist, let alone respond to his message. Hathaway’s reports contradict the experience of numerous other people involved in Jewish outreach.

If Hathaway’s claims are true, then thousands of new Jewish believers would be found in Israeli churches or messianic congregations, and the resulting increase in numbers would become public knowledge very quickly. This has not happened.

If Hathaway’s claims are true, his activities would have immediately attracted the attention of aggressive Jewish anti-missionary organisations such as Yad L’Achim.

Furthermore, if the April trip did result in around 1,000 Jewish people becoming believers in Jesus, as claimed, news of this would have reached the anti-missionaries and the response to his November visit would have been extreme. They would have tried to block his entry into the country and sent large numbers of activists to violently picket and disrupt his meetings. All this would have been reported in the media. There have been no such reports.

The report is sobering and depressing. But Hathaway is not alone in making grand unsubstantiated claims. The lesson is, if claims of large numbers of Jewish people coming to faith sounds too good to be true, they probably are.

1 comment:

  1. Response to the Open Letter to Brenda Taylor:

    To the Writer of the Open Letter to Brenda Taylor:

    From David Davis, Senior Pastor, Kehilat HaCarmel Messianic Congregation, Haifa, Israel

    For some months there has been discussion among the Messianic congregational leaders in Israel concerning the David Hathaway meetings that were held in Ashdod, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. Some have been quite skeptical, while others are convinced that what took place was genuine and powerful. Clearly the Messianic leaders referred to in the "Open Letter to Brenda Taylor" were of the former opinion. However, there are many, including myself, who believe that the Lord was present in these meetings. Along with one of the evangelists in our congregation, I attended David Hathaway's last meeting at the Haifa Convention Center on November 26, 2011. The hall was packed with perhaps 3,000 people, almost all of whom were Russian-speaking immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Over 60 busloads of these immigrants had travelled to Haifa that day from Ashdod, organized by another local Israeli pastor Israel Pochtor who leads the Ashdod Messianic Congregation. After several Messianic songs in Hebrew led by a local worship team, Brother Hathaway spoke movingly of God's great love for the Jewish people and shared with them his own experience in a Soviet prison. He then gave a simple, clear presentation of the gospel and an invitation to come forward for those who wanted to receive Jesus. Several hundred people answered the invitation and prayed with him. After they returned to their seats, he then prayed for healing for the sick. About a dozen people came up on the stage and said they were healed. Hathaway spoke in English with translation into Russian. Having seen first-hand one of David Hathaway's meetings in Israel, I concluded that it was a work of the Lord. I heard from others who had attended his meeting at The Pavilion in Jerusalem that almost everyone in the packed hall, over 600 people, also stood up to answer the call for salvation and repentance.

    It is important to understand that there is a greater openness to the gospel among Russian-speaking Israelis, including those who are Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union. Those of us who have been laboring and praying for many years in Israel to see our people come to Yeshua, need to recognize that the Lord may be answering our prayers at times in ways we did not expect, even sometimes using "outsiders" to reach them.

    Other Israeli Messianic pastors such as Israel Pochtor of Ashdod and Victor Dorozhkin of Haifa worked closely with David Hathaway and should have been consulted by the writer of this open letter to Brenda Taylor, as they could have offered a clear and detailed report as well. It is unfortunate that the writer did not first contact Brenda Taylor to discuss his concerns before issuing this very negative and unbalanced viewpoint about the ministry of David Hathaway.


    David Davis
    Senior Pastor
    Kehilat HaCarmel
    Haifa, Israel