Last month, GOD TV launched a Hebrew speaking cable television channel on Israeli cable TV called Shelanu. (Shelanu is Hebrew for “ours”. Jesus/Yeshua is our Messiah.) We were approached by the HOT cable network, inquiring about GOD TV resuming its Israel broadcast. We responded by asking if we could broadcast content in Hebrew to the general public. On completion of the application process, HOT answered in the affirmative.
On news of this amazing and historic opportunity, we met with 120 Messianic leaders in Israel and presented this opportunity to them. We asked for their support, blessing and partnership to ensure that the channel avoided any appearance of any questionable content especially as it related to the past evils done to the Jewish people in the name of Christianity.
An oversight board of local Jewish messianic and Arab Israeli believers was appointed to decide on appropriate content. The result is that approximately 70% of the channel is produced in Israel by local ministries. Shelanu TV provides an outlet of expression for thousands of Israeli Messianic Jews and Christian Arabs to express their faith in Yeshua on cable TV, just as it is afforded to many other groups including the Ethiopian, Russian and Arab communities in Israel.
Once the channel was launched, it created a firestorm of controversy. Accusations of illegal proselytizing, anti-Semitic behavior, replacement theology and the like were directed towards the management of GOD TV. The anti-missionary Orthodox community flexed its muscles to have Shelanu TV cancelled, and, to our complete shock, this call was also mirrored by some Christian ministries. The channel is now under review and the authorities are expected to make a decision any day now.
What is absurd to us is that anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist content is broadcast freely every day on cable television in Israel, without any restrictions, but the authorities want to shut down a channel they legally approved, a channel that Messianic Jews and Christian Arabs have their democratic right to.
In spite of this great opposition, and as long as this door remains open, GOD TV will preach the good news of Yeshua the Messiah in Hebrew on Israeli TV. That’s what followers of Jesus do. They share their faith. With everyone! We take the words of Jesus seriously, namely, that the gospel message begins in Jerusalem (see Luke 24:44-47; Acts 1:8). And we agree with the apostle Paul, who taught that the gospel was to the Jew first and also to the Gentile (see Romans 1:16).
We believe Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah, and that we received the message and gift of salvation from the Jewish people. Much like the Hebrew Bible, even our New Testament was written by Jewish leaders who arose in Israel. The command to share our faith with the entire world is a major tenet of Christianity.
Even so, we fully understand that we must also consider the uniqueness of Israel as the Jewish nation. First, we owe Israel a generous measure of humility and respect in light of the unavoidable, undeniable history of Christian antisemitism. To exercise the right of free speech here without any regard for that history or the Jewish sensitives against missionizing would be a callous misuse of that right.
The goal is not converting Jews to Christianity. It is helping them recognize Jesus as their Messiah without renouncing their Jewish identity or calling. As for the charges, put forth by some counter-missionary rabbis, that GOD TV is engaging in illegal proselytization, meaning proselytizing minors or offering some kind of compensation for conversion, those charges are patently false. We have no intention of doing anything illegal or unethical, God forbid, and we abhor using any form of coercion.
Regarding the critically important issue of Jewish/Christian relationships, we would never intentionally do anything to damage the excellent relationship between the hundreds of millions of evangelical Christians around the world and the Jewish people. Our viewers love, support and have deep admiration for the Jewish people. GOD TV is a Christian/messianic Jewish media company. We are pro-Israel, and we love her and defend her.
GOD TV’s love is Christian, which means that love is also unconditional. That’s why, long before there was even a thought of having a Hebrew-language outreach channel in Israel, GOD TV was raising money from its viewers to bless and help the people of Israel. No questions asked. No strings attached. No secret motives.
GOD TV will continue to do this, regardless of the backlash it is facing in the Israeli media and the Jewish press. GOD TV will continue to oppose BDS and GOD TV will continue to stand against the unfair treatment of Israel in the UN and other international bodies.
Regarding our TV license in Israel, Ron Cantor, GOD TV’s Israel regional director, stated, “We are requesting that the law be applied to us exactly as it is applied to anyone who wants to share their faith view, from Orthodox Jews to Muslims. It will be a sad day if the only democracy in the Middle East prevents the freedom of speech of Messianic Jews in Israel. We pay taxes, our sons and daughters are recruited to serve in the Israeli military, but when it comes to the freedom of speech, some want to silence us. As Messianic Jews, we trace our roots back to the first century when this movement was considered by all, to be Jewish.”
Please be in prayer with us that the Lord’s will be done. We know that God does not need Shelanu TV to accomplish his purposes but He has called all of us to take this message of the Jewish Messiah to the entire world. Do we intend to proclaim the good news of Yeshua Messiah to Israel? Absolutely! Do we intend to engage in illegal missionary activity? Absolutely not!
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16, “But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”
We, like Paul, have this great door of opportunity opened for us and like Paul there are many who oppose us. In the mean-time, we pray that this Pentecost/Shavuot see a great outpouring of Holy Spirit across the land. May His fire burn and His river flow!
President, GOD TV
Ward Simpson was appointed President and CEO of GOD TV in 2016 and hosts the magazine series, Today With Ward, as well as regular LIVE broadcasts across the globe. He is a businessman, Bible teacher and media executive. Previously Ward worked in the automobile sales and distribution industry. He attended Bible School in 1997 and in 2001 Ward was appointed Executive Director for the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry, which was birthed out of the Pensacola Revival. Ward and his wife, Lydia, serve and attend Church of His Presence led by John and Brenda Kilpatrick.