When Mickey Mantle was a shortstop in the minor leagues, he probably never dreamed he would one day replace Joe DiMaggio as the NY Yankees’ center fielder.I’m sure Mantle was excited when the offer was presented; I bet he was scared too, realizing that he would be playing out his career in the shadow of a giant. When Jay Leno was offered the job of The Tonight Show host, replacing the legendary Johnny Carson in the process, would you be surprised if you heard he had to take a few moments to get a handle on the dramatic shift in his life’s direction? At one level, I imagine it must have been terrifying.
As a young Jewish boy and son of a Holocaust survivor, the last thing I ever dreamed of was receiving a “calling” toward Jesus and then another subsequent one into vocational ministry. For that matter, once “in” the faith, I never thought that I’d eventually be serving as a teacher on behalf of a global Messianic Jewish ministry, and doing so in the shadow of such a giant, Zola Levitt! When Mark Levitt called and asked if I’d like to pick up where Zola left off, I was serving as a Bible college professor and pastor—vocations that I had become somewhat comfortable with. Now, on the other side of that initial phone call, I am experiencing a variety of thoughts and emotions that come with the major transition. To my way of thinking, Mantle and Leno had easier challenges. I’m comforted, however, realizing that I’m continuing pretty much the same work, though in a different context.
Years ago I woke up to the fact that Jesus and His disciples were all Jews, much as the New Testament itself was a Jewish book. With the Old Testament, I concluded that the sacred texts were written to Jews, about Jews and, to a large extent, for Jews. I was troubled, as well, by how Jews had become so alienated from the story, a situation that I attributed, in part, to uninformed churchmen who had lost sight of the Gospel’s Jewish roots. With these and other thoughts resonating within me, I was pleased that the Lord afforded me an opportunity to get training and to take a job as a professor. As a college professor, I trained new generations of ministers, folks who would be better informed about the Jewish people, the Jewish roots of Scripture and God’s plan for Israel.
At my new post, I am minded to do much the same as above. Instead of speaking to aspiring pastors and missionaries, however, I now speak in front of a soulless camera on a television set—which, for me, is something of an adjustment. I am used to classes of 400-plus students each semester, emotionally, intellectually and professionally. However, I am not used to the new context, nor the power of a media that goes to many, many millions of people. I’d appreciate your prayers that the Lord help me to make the needed adjustments. I want to do this job well and, in the process, serve you and the Lord in a manner that will please you both.
Zola considered a tour to Israel to be worth at least ten years of Sunday school. Our Fall Tour already has one busload and will fill up rather soon. We still have the same guides, drivers and land agents to ensure that our traditional, high-caliber itinerary carries on with Jewish Believers. Our Fall Tour schedule is as follows: The Deluxe Tour (Israel Only) will be October 29–November 8; Grand Petra (Israel & Petra) October 29–November 12; Grand Athens (Greek Isles Cruise & Israel) October 24–November 8; and our all-inclusive Ultra Grand Tour (Greek Isles Cruise, Israel & Petra) is October 24–November 12.
Please also consider joining Sandra Levitt and Will King, our Man in Jerusalem, as they lead a weekend tour of The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida. They will begin teaching on Friday, December 22 and conclude on Sunday, December 24. To request a brochure for any of these tours, please call Tony at 214-696-9760 during regular business hours or 1-800-WONDERS (800-966-3377) anytime, or visit www.levitt.com, where you can download a brochure from the website, or request a brochure be sent by mail.
At one level, my vision is quite simple: as Zola did before me, I want to help Jewish people learn more about Jesus and help Jesus’ people learn more about the Jews. To that end, as was Zola’s habit, I taped some TV footage in Israel in June for an eight-part television series on the Gospel in Isaiah. Isaiah was arguably the most oft-quoted Old Testament prophet in the New Testament. Various New Testament writers harked to his words 411 times. Given our ministry’s interest in shedding light on the New Testament from a Jewish perspective, I believe that you will really appreciate this series and see it as a real witnessing tool. In fact, let me encourage you here to tell your Jewish friends to tune in. We shot on location in and around Jerusalem, and we’re anticipating a great response.
In closing, let me say that I hope you’ll be anxious to get to know me. Write. Let me know how I might serve you best. Tell me what you want Zola Levitt Ministries to teach you, and please help us. Zola loved this ministry to the end. By doing the best we can to continue to strengthen this work in the wake of Zola’s promotion, we honor the memory of the man who put down the foundation for it. Let’s labor together with a mind to continue to broadcast the message and bless God in the process.
Please join me in praying for the peace of Jerusalem.
P.S. You may recall that Zola typically requested your financial support as this ministry embarked on the production of a new television series, and the circumstances of modest reserves continue. Producing on-location teaching like this is costly but also very cost-effective when you consider the size of our viewing audience. Please share the burden of this worthwhile new TV series. And thanks for your continuing prayers.