Larry & Autumn Ross: Board Members of The Joshua Fund | Charity Review
Board members of The Joshua Fund, Larry and Autumn Ross, speak out in an extended charity review.
- Larry and Autumn Ross, at the "Epicenter Briefing," Naples, Florida, in 2022. Larry and Autumn, it's so great to be with you, and it's been wonderful to have you guys here at the "Epicenter Briefing" this week. And I just wanted to ask a simple question: what are you guys gonna take away from the "Epicenter Briefing" this week?
- I have got four things that I learned that are very practical, and the first one is to learn about what's going on, and I feel so educated having been here. And then the next thing they ask of us is to pray, and whatever I'm praying for, I ultimately wanna give towards, if I'm praying about it a lot. And then the last of the four is go. And I think those really sum everything up. What The Joshua Fund is doing is amazing, and those four things makes you wanna jump in.
- Jump in. Learn, pray, give, and go.
- That's right.
- I love that. I love that. Larry, how about you?
- This is our second "Epicenter Briefing." We were at the one in DC last year.
- Right, yeah.
- And it was there that I, having worked now for nearly 10 years with Joel, helping him on publicity of his best-selling books. I've taken several trips to the Epicenter, to the Middle East, meeting with leaders with Joel, so my relationship has been more personal. But to take a deep dive into the many tentacles of The Joshua Fund in the Epicenter throughout the Middle East was very enlightening to me and encouraging because I've been involved in global evangelism for nearly 35 years with evangelist Billy Graham as his personal media spokesperson, and you're equipping and encouraging pastors who are already working. They're partnering with them, and then most specifically, and this is what I just didn't know, the humanitarian work, over 80 million dollars now in people with dire need living at substance level. We learned this morning that the people most at risk, or one of the groups at risk, are pregnant women because Israel has the highest abortion rate in the world, and they're using these abortions as birth control if they can't afford the baby, what have you. And so Joshua Fund's intervention may be saving the lives of some of these kids that might otherwise not make it.
- As the hands and feet of Jesus.
- That's right.
- That is, I love that expression, and when you see it lived out in the staff that we have and in the volunteers that we work with and the ministries that we support, you really do realize this is what it looks like to be incarnational in ministry, to actually be the hands and feet of Jesus in these places, so.
- And one of the things that we're all cognizant of. I've been involved in ministry for more than 45 years, and of course, succession is on everyone's mind at my age, and you go, "Well, the next generation, are they gonna fill the gap?" And one of the things I learned from my good friend Os Guinness recently, he asked me a question. He said, "Do you know what Moses, the last thing Moses said to the children of Israel before they entered the Promised Land, the night before?" And I didn't, and he said, "It was the Shema, to, you know, teach these precepts to your children. Wear 'em on your head, and their children's children's."
- Doorposts, yeah.
- And he said, "The reason the Jewish people have survived all these years is because of the importance they put on education, training up their children in the precepts of the faith.
- And so kudos to Joel and Lynn. They're not only, have founded this ministry. They are creating a succession by raising up the next generation, who are gonna be taking this far into the future.
- Yeah, I'm so glad you mentioned that because, you know, the succession of leadership is one of the greatest reasons that organizations fail. When an organization doesn't have a good succession. Now, we're not in any way, shape, or form seeing Joel or Lynn.
- That's right.
- They're just moving into their great season of influence. I think the hand and favor of God is on them in a very unique way, but if you look down the road, if you look down the road 10, 20 years from now, you can see that these young leaders that we have on our team, these people that God is raising up, they're gonna be able to take on that mantle of leadership in the-
- And they're in the trenches. They are the hands and feet of Christ every day, and they know it from the ground floor all the way up, and it is impressive, the articulate nature of how well they know about this ministry and what the plans are for the future.
- So true, Autumn, so true. A lot this weekend. We heard something, and maybe we can pull up a little bit to a higher view of The Joshua Fund overall, but we heard a lot about this concept of both/and ministry. Tell me, what does that mean to you, when we talk about The Joshua Fund as a both/and ministry?
- Well, if I could just say personally, it's very encouraging because our involvement in the Middle East began back in the mid-'90s, when we had the opportunity to represent the Jordan Tourism Board, the next door neighbor of Israel, Jordan. And we took about 25 familiarization trips, pastors and media, over to Jordan and emphasized that it's the rest of the Holy Land. It's where Jesus went on vacations, but it's also the rest of the Holy Land. You have Israel, then you have Jordan. And so we used to say that you take the pictures home in your camera, but you take the people home in your heart, and that's true whether you're in Jordan, whether you're in Israel. You know, people go on tours of Israel, and I've, anyone hasn't had the opportunity, it makes the Bible come alive. You'll never see the Bible the same.
- It's the go of learn, pray, and go, right?
- It is. It's the fun part.
- That's right.
- And that's one of the things The Joshua Fund does is introduces people from the West to Israel and the truths of the Bible. But in addition to seeing the dead stones, and, you know, that's very important to see where Jesus walked, you're dealing with the living stones, the people who are there on the ground, both Jewish and Arab. So what's most encouraging to me, having gotten to work with these Muslims for so long, to now see the other side and the integration and the fact that, as Joel said in his vision address this morning, we're dealing with both/and, and that, to me, is very encouraging. It's unique because there aren't many organizations doing that, and in and out, working inside Israel and the Epicenter, but also educating churches and people outside on how to pray and how to better be informed to equip the church in the Epicenter moving forward.
- And I would venture to say that that's what most strikes us as a couple because we have invested personally in friendships not only with Jewish friends, but with Arab friends and have stayed in their homes and in other countries in this region, and so for us to be able to be a part of something where Christ's love is to all people, and so it's a great way to be educated about how Jesus loves everyone, and when we are able to be one-on-one with them and help them with their need, they will hear about Jesus and know Him.
- If I could just say this, to a listener out there who thinks, "Well, how can you minister both to Jews, or care for the Jews and the Arabs, the Muslims at the same time?" I have a Jewish rabbi friend of mine. We were, worked together with the prayer breakfast at The International Foundation. He made a statement to me that was transformative in my thinking. He said, "The difference between the three Abrahamic faiths, Jews observe the faith of Jesus. He was a Jew. He was a rabbi.
- Muslims practice faith with Jesus. They see Him as a prophet. And then of course, we as followers of Jesus see Him, we put our faith in Jesus as the Son of God."
- Yeah, that's agreed.
- So it's the faith of, with, and in Jesus, but He's the common denominator, not the differentiator.
- That is good.
- And so our role as a believer is to help find someone. Anyone you meet has an experience. Even an atheist may say, "Well, He was a good man. I'll give you that, but He was just a man." So whether you see someone as a man, a teacher, prophet, Son of God. John 9, the story of healing the boy blind from birth. In several verses, he describes Jesus in those four ways. So we have been, I've always in my career, my motto has been, "Suit up and show up, and let God do the rest."
- But recently, I've added a third caveat, and that's, "Lift up the name of Jesus," and I've been so encouraged by the opportunity now, six or seven of these evangelical delegations, to go into these Gulf Region countries, meet with these Arab leaders, and we talk about Jesus. They want to know. They ask about Jesus. And in fact, we met. I don't think I'm talking out of school here because we asked if we could quote him. When we met with MBS, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, I asked, "What message," 'cause I'm a communications man, and the media, and we had media, radio, television crews represented in our group. "What's the message you would like us to take back to the faith community, the 60 million evangelicals in America?" Here's what he said. This is MBS, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. He said, "That Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world. He's in both of our books, and when He returns, He's coming to judge the whole earth." And we said, "Can we quote you on that?" He said, "Absolutely."
- Wow. Yes.
- And yes, and so it's been, it's so encouraging to have these conversations, and we closed the meeting in prayer, a pastor in our group, in Jesus' name. And so God is, Jesus, God is on the move in the Epicenter, and the Lord is opening up opportunities for Joel as the tip of the spear for The Joshua Fund to meet with these leaders and share the hope that's within him. And, you know, we all, all of them are looking and working towards peace, this elusive concept of peace, whether it's peace among men or peace in our hearts. But we know that that isn't possible without the Prince of Peace, Jesus.
- Amen, amen.
- That's right.
- You know, you all have had experiences with some of the most prominent names in evangelical history: Dr. Billy Graham, Rick Warren. I'm sure I'm missing a dozen of the other leaders that you've had a chance to work with on the communication side, Larry, and I'm just curious for both of you, where would you place Joel and Lynn Rosenberg in terms of not big name/little name, that kinda thing, but in terms of the favor that God has on them for unique things. And obviously, there's a lot of different giftings that are out there, but just describe that a little bit.
- Well, I would say, I would put him at the top of the list because this isn't something Joel sought. It's not, I'll tell you, these trips to the Middle East, it came when he went to hear President El-Sisi, the President of Egypt, in New York, and at the end, he wanted to go meet him, and he figured there'd be a long line. Nobody was there, so he just went up and talked to him, and they got to speaking, and no one stopped them, so he kept going, and so finally, he said, "Have you ever met an evangelical?" He said, "No." "Would you like to?" "Yes. Will you come and bring a delegation with you?" And that's how it started.
- And once we had these meetings with President El-Sisi, we talked about, we thanked him for the work that he's doing, and rebuilding churches there that were destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood, and what they're doing to provide safe harbor for other faiths in this majority Muslim nation. And word got out, and some of his fellow friends, the Crown Prince of the UAE, of Abu Dhabi, called and said, "I wanna meet with them," and then MBS, and it just snowballed from there.
- And so I think that, much like I saw with Billy Graham, I heard many people would say, "Well, I can't do that. I'm not Billy Graham." But what I observe up close and personal with Mr. Graham, God used him not for his ability, as legion as it was, and his ability to convey the gospel around the world, but He more used him for his availability.
- And whether he was sick or whatever, he suited up, and God used him, and I think Joel is the same thing. God is using him for his availability, and he's just being faithful in what God's called him to do. God's honored that faithfulness, continues to open these doors that have not been available to anyone prior. And Joel is like Dr. Graham, just doesn't understand why the Lord picked him. I mean, he even said to President El-Sisi when he invited him to come, he said, "Your Excellency, I hope you can realize how disorienting this is for me, to have the head, the president of the largest Muslim nation tell me, a Jewish boy, let my people come." And so he has a good sense of humor about it all, and I think Joel takes his work very seriously, but he doesn't take himself seriously, and I think God knows that whatever opportunities come his way, he's going to handle it responsibly and give all of the praise and the glory and the honor to the Lord, and so it's been a privilege to be a friend with Joel these many years, have a front-row seat on what God, and accompany him to some of these countries and then see the, what God is doing, some of the things that in the aftermath on the global stage that are happening as a result of some of these conversations.
- Yeah, for sure.
- And on a personal level, I have been so impressed with Joel and Lynn because they literally left the United States as American citizens and moved their entire family to Israel at great sacrifice when their kids were at an age. I grew up on the mission field, and I went to the mission field at age 12, and it was hard. It was very difficult, so I have a lot of empathy for the kids, and yet they all stuck it out, and now, the entire family is helping The Joshua Fund and this ministry go where God always wanted it to go, and there are great things ahead, and if it hadn't been for their sacrifice as a couple and as a family, we wouldn't be sitting here today, and who knows what wouldn't have happened?
- That's true. Autumn, I couldn't agree more, and I would love for people to get your perspective as well. You have several ministries, and some of them are really quite unique. You do some really unique things, and I have a question. Describe some of your ministries, and then I have a question for you.
- Well, at the age of 54, I'm the mother of three boys, and boys leave and cleave. And girls call their mommas.
- So I realized that I needed to pour my life into some new things, and God placed a ministry in my life to fight trafficking and raise awareness for women and children that are trafficked in Third World countries, so I'm involved with the Freedom Challenge, and we do that by climbing mountains and doing climbs. So I've climbed Kilimanjaro and across the Himalayas to Everest Base Camp and 100 miles across the Alps and across the Salkantay Trail in the Andes and on and on.
- Then I wanna go with you!
- I know. It's so much fun. And it's just been amazing to me as an older woman that whatever you put your mind to, you can do. It's not too late to jump in and give your life away for the work of God in all different flavors, and doing it in a way that fits your personality.
- So that is so good, and so with that passion and background, when you see the work that The Joshua Fund is doing in this Epicenter region, with some of these communities that we heard about today, what does your heart tell you? What do you get from all of that?
- Well, I love those four calls. You know, some of us can only learn and maybe pray. Some of us, a lot of us, can give, and then there are times when the best thing we can do is go, and so to, just to recount those again, I would say that people that feel called to go should go and jump in and volunteer. Call. Ask, you know, how you can be of help.
- And give yourself away because if we just stay home and watch television or watch what other people are doing or scroll on our phone, we're missing out on real life and connection one on one with others, and people around the world are hungry just to be with an American.
- It's true.
- And so we have a lot to offer.
- [Carl] It's true. It's really true.
- And Carl, we were privileged to go to Israel and Jordan and Palestine, visit them in June. We were there for three weeks, two and a half weeks, and we were actually with Joel for about a day and a half. He came over to Jordan with us, but we attended the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast together. I'd been to the one in Dallas, but this is the first one that we'd attended in Jerusalem. Was privileged to pray for the peace of Jerusalem there in the Knesset as part of the breakfast, and Joel, we had lunch with Joel the day that he had gotten word about this new TV program, "The Rosenberg Report," doing it weekly. October 5th, the first episode, we'll be watching. Already set my recorder.
- Set your DVRs. That's right.
- Yeah, and so it's so exciting to get that updated report. You know, it's in three blocks. The first block will be current events filmed hours before broadcasting at the latest. The second will be a profile interview with a leader there making a difference, and then the third will be more of a spiritual look at prophecy or something about, you know, the land of the Bible, if you will, and again, a unique broadcast that's not being done like anywhere else. But one of the things I learned today or this visit for the "Epicenter Briefing," I'm a word guy, and so to get a handle of, I think, the phrase, it's a "spiritual venture capital fund," if you will. That's terrific, and everybody knows venture capital, Silicon Valley, but from a spiritual standpoint, that's a new concept to me, and I have worked with All Israel, All Arab News, placing stories. I'm privileged to write some op eds for them recently, and I found out that while it may not be a part of The Joshua Fund, The Joshua Fund helped to provide seed money to get that started, and now, "The Rosenberg Report," and Joel is really, is such a gifted writer, and being able to inform people outside the Epicenter what's going on, I think, is very important, and hopefully, we will see, with support of The Joshua Fund, that grow because it's so needed. You know, one thing hit me: as we're sitting here talking, over lunch today, we were talking about how Joel's first book starts out in the cockpit of a plane, going after a building in a big American city, written nine months before 9/11. And as we were privileged to do publicity for several of his bestsellers, we would use the line that Joel writes, and he takes pages ripped out of tomorrow's headlines.
- And it's a clever line, but, you know, he has written some things that have, it's art imitating life, if you will, or maybe life imitating art 'cause it happened after his book came out.
- Right, right.
- And yet, what we're seeing with these trips, these evangelical delegations, some of the things that Joel is involved in, the Abraham Accords and these discussions of peace, and then the Abraham Accords come about, maybe, what I realize now is what we see in his writing on the, you know, on the literary side is also happening spiritually through The Joshua Fund. And there's a prophetic aspect to this ministry, even though you don't position it as such, but I think that just shows the favor of God on the Rosenbergs and their faithfulness and the special place that this ministry has in, you know, what's happening in the Epicenter that really is ground zero for affecting the rest of the world.
- Yeah, well, I love talking to you guys. This is really so, it's inspiring, and it's encouraging, and I think you just nailed it. I think you just totally nailed exactly where the heart of The Joshua Fund is. So Autumn, Larry, thank you guys so much for just talking and chatting on this way.
- Thank you.
- So thanks for-
- Thank you, Carl.
- Thanks for being friends.
- God bless you, brother.
- God bless you.
- Hey, I'm Joel Rosenberg. On your left, you'll find some videos we've chosen specifically for you. We look forward to partnering with you to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.