Moishe Rosen, the "Jews for Jesus" founder and proclaimed "godfather of Jewish evangelism," has died after a long battle with prostate cancer.
Rosen passed away May 19 in San Francisco, Calif. He was 78.
Rosen, the son of Jewish immigrants, was raised in Colorado and attended synagogue while growing up. At age 21, he and his wife, Cecil, embraced Jesus as their Messiah, sparking a life-long committment to spreading the gospel to the Jewish community.
"Moishe Rosen's innovative thinking and commitment to Jewish evangelism built the largest Jewish mission organization in the world," Jim Sibley, director of the Pasche Institute of Jewish Studies at Criswell College in Dallas, said in response to Rosen's death. "But more importantly, they have been used to reach countless Jews and gentiles for the Lord."
Rosen, an ordained minister, founded Jews for Jesus in 1973 to organize and train young believers for Jewish missions. They began by passing out gospel pamphlets known as broadsides wherever they could.
Now, the ministry has more than 200 missionaries in 11 nations and has distributed more than 50 million gospel tracts.
"I have been called the founder/leader of Jews for Jesus, but it found me because I was the one who owned the printer that we needed to crank out our broadsides," Rosen once said.
The Jewish leader is remembered as a creative witness unmoved by opposition and deeply driven by his belief in Jesus.
"Moishe Rosen championed the refreshing realization that one can be a Jew for Jesus while retaining one's cultural heritage," said Mark Bailey, president of Dallas Theological Seminary. "He has inspired and instructed many of us in the rich history of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewish foundations of our faith."
Even after his passing, Rosen made clear the purpose of his ministry. In a farewell letter posted after his death on the JFJ Web site, he urged Jews to come to know Christ.
"I hope I can count on you to show love and respect for the Jewish people, but Jewishness never saved anybody. Judaism never saved anybody, no matter how sincere." Rosen wrote. "Romans 10:9 make it clear that we must believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus in order to be saved. There are no shortcuts. There is no easy way. Within Judaism today, there is no salvation because Christ has no place within Judaism."
Rosen ended the letter saying, "Anything done for Christ will last."
"Anything you do to help and encourage Jews for Jesus at this time will have lasting effects on all of us." he said. "So instead of saying 'good bye,' I'll just say, 'until then - I'll see you in the sky.'"
Rosen is survived by his wife, Cecil, daughters Lyn Bond and Ruth Rosen, and two grandchildren, Asher and Bethany Bond.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to Jews for Jesus. A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. June 1, at First Baptist Church in San Francisco. For more information, please click here to go to the Moishe Rosen Tribute Web page.