Why This German is Dedicated to Serving the Jewish People

In this episode of Inside The Epicenter, Carl interviews Dr. Juergen Buehler at the 2023 NRB convention. 

They discuss the heart of God’s plan for the Jewish people and how the church in America can stand with Israel. 

Want to learn how someone of German descent is serving the Jewish people in Israel? 

Listen to this episode to find out!

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- [Carl] But it's beautiful to think how God weaves people's lives into what He's currently doing. And there's no place more evident that that weaving takes place than in the Holy Land, in Israel.

- [Juergen] Absolutely, that's where everything comes together. It's, you know, like the Book of Joel. It's the epicenter of the whole world.

- [Carl] How can the church in America stand with Israel and the church around the world stand with Israel and connect to the heart of God's plan for the Jewish people? Hi, and welcome to this very special episode of "Inside the Epicenter" podcast, a podcast of The Joshua Fund, a ministry dedicated to blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I'm Carl Moeller, executive director of The Joshua Fund, and I'm joined today by the head of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, Juergen Buehler. Juergen, such a privilege to have you with us, and thank you for joining us here at the National Religious Broadcasters.

- [Juergen] Yeah, Carl, thank you so much for having me, and let me first say it's such a privilege to be part of The Joshua Fund, part of this broadcast, and we dearly very much respect the ministry of Joel Rosenberg. It's such a powerful ministry.

- [Carl] Well, it's such a blessing to us to be partners with you, and it's a blessing for me to hear a good German accent from my old German past with my grandparents.

- Amen.

- So, tell me a little bit about your story. Before we get into the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and the work that they do, tell me about how you got to this work and came to Jerusalem.

- [Juergen] It's a long story in a way. You know, I'm born in Germany, and my father was a Pentecostal pastor in Germany, and he had a very unique encounter with God in Russia. He was a soldier in World War II, was fighting in Hitler's army, became a prisoner of war in the last year of the war. And he spent 4 1/2 year in very horrible conditions in a Russian prison camp. Most of his comrades died. And one day also he got fatally sick, and the doctor told, "Buehler, you are going to die tonight." And he remembered his mother was a godly woman, and she was praying, and he cried out to God with a loud voice. He says, "If you really exist like my mother said, and if you bring me out of here, I'm going to become a pastor." The next morning, the doctor came by, and he said, "Buehler, you look much better," but he said, "You need a second miracle because the food that we give you is not enough to survive on." And then a few days later, a doctor came in, and she was a Jewish lady. She was in charge of all the prison camp of, well, thousands of German prisoners there. And she walked through the hospital hall and stood in front of the bed of my father and asked the attending doctor, "What does this man get for food?" And he said, "Well, like everybody else." And she said, "You need to put him on special ratio. This man need to survive." And he always told us as kids, he says, "Juergen, we owe our lives to the Jewish people. Number one, we have a Jewish Messiah. And then secondly, there was this Jewish doctor who had every reason to make sure that this German soldier would die."

- Wow.

- "But she saved me." We were raised up always to honor and to bless the Jewish people, not just because of the Bible, but it was a very personal story for us to say thank you.

- Sure. Sure, so, I mean, that's an incredible story. And you know, I mean, to make that historical connection from a soldier in Hitler's army saved by a Jewish doctor, and then his son comes to serve the Jewish people in Israel. And-

- And you know, not only that, but our children, his grandchildren, my dad's grandchildren, he was a Nazi soldier. And our two boys, they are serving right now in the IDF in the Israeli Army.

- [Carl] Wow, wow, that is a full-circle story. One day you and I can talk more about some of the family connections that I have to that story.

- Wow.

- [Carl] But it's beautiful to think how God weaves people's lives into what He's currently doing, and there's no place more evident that that weaving takes place than in the Holy Land, in Israel.

- [Juergen] Absolutely, that's where everything comes together. It's, you know, like the Book of Joel. It's the epicenter of the whole world.

- [Carl] That's right. Well said, Juergen, well said, considering this is the "Epicenter" podcast. Let me ask you a little bit then. So as the son of this Pentecostal pastor in Germany, what gave you the first inklings that God was calling you to work in Jerusalem because you've been in Israel now over two decades, right? I mean...

- It's true, we have been. My wife and I, we moved the day after our wedding. In August, 1994, we moved to Israel. I actually started as a student of physics. I'm a physicist. I studied at the Weizmann Institute. I did my PhD in chemistry at the Weizmann Institute, and then the Lord called me into ministry. And I remember I was walking on the street in Jerusalem, and I heard the audible voice. God told me, "You are going to serve me here in Jerusalem."

- Wow.

- And I didn't actually know what is the Christian Embassy, but somebody told me, said, "Juergen, you might want to apply. There is an open position for a German translator." And I did that, and to cut the story short, today I have the privilege to serve as the President of the ICEJ.

- [Carl] And it's such an incredible ministry. You know, we've had the opportunity at The Joshua Fund, and Joel has been there many, many times, to be able to see the work that you do. But maybe you could tell our listeners a little bit about how the ICEJ really expresses the love of Jesus to this entire area.

- [Juergen] Well, in a way, our mission is to show a new face of Jesus to the Jewish people. You know, they saw for 2,000 years of Christianity a face of hatred. They experienced the time of the Crusades, where Jews were massacred not only in Jerusalem but already on the way to the Holy Land. You have the Inquisition, the pogroms, all across Eastern Europe. And then, of course, the country I come from, Germany, six million Jews were killed in the country of Reformation. So if you would tell anybody in Israel today, "Oh, I have good news, Jesus loves you," they say, "You are crazy. This Jesus, he killed us for 2,000 years." So our main mission is to show them that there is a God who loves them, that there are Christians around the world who without any strings attached uncompromisingly stand with the Jewish people. And we do this in almost every possible way. We have very active branches. We are working in more than 90 countries.

- [Carl] Nine-zero?

- Nine-zero countries.

- Wonderful.

- [Juergen] And we have people, I believe, in 130 or 40 countries that pray with us. So we have 90 countries, offices, and some of those where it's political possible, they are fighting antisemitism. They are lobbying for the government.

- Sure.

- In Israel, we have many projects. One of the things which is super dear to me as a German, we have a home for Holocaust survivors in Haifa-

- Wow.

- That we started in 2010, and it's one of the most amazing places. I believe we helped more than 190,000 Jews to make aliyah to Israel. Right now, you know, we just had this barrage of rockets again in the Gaza Strip. We built some 200 bomb shelters in the Gaza envelope. And, you know, those actions, they impact people. I remember very well, I was at a conference in Germany speaking, and we built those bomb shelters. And honestly, in the beginning, I wasn't sure. You know, it's not really a Christian ministry-

- Yeah, right.

- To build bomb shelters. And as I was speaking at that conference, and the Israeli number called me, and I picked it up. "Am I talk to Juergen Buehler?" And I said, "Yes, that's me." He says, "I'm Shai Hermesh. I'm a member of the Israeli Knesset." And he says, "You just saved my life." And I said, "How can this be? You know, I'm speaking in Germany right now." He says, "I'm living at Kfar Aza just at the border to the Gaza Strip. We had a red alert. I had to run to a bomb shelter. This bomb shelter took a direct hit of a missile."

- Wow.

- "And I see inside it was donated by the International Christian Embassy." And we have become very good friends, close friends since then. So it really impacts in a great way people in Israel.

- [Carl] That is an incredible story. We're gonna take a quick break right here, Juergen, but I want our listeners to be thinking what would it feel like to be in a country where one of the ministries would be to build bomb shelters so that people in public places could be saved from rockets? We're gonna take a quick break. We'll come back to that in a second. Our verse of the day today is found in the Book of Isaiah 40:1. "'Comfort, comfort my people' says your God." And our prayer requests today are, number one, pray that Israel keeps progressing despite all the odds against it. And secondly, pray that more people, countries, and ministries are willing to come together to support what God is doing in Israel. Well, we're back with Juergen Buehler of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and over 90 countries around the world. We're gonna break down some of the different ministries that you just brought up in sort of machine-gun fashion before the break. But I wanna ask first of all about prayer, about how does the ICE bring together people from different nations to pray for Jerusalem and for the peace of Israel.

- [Juergen] Well, you know, the very first mandate if you look at our mission statement that goes back to 1980 when the embassy was established was to mobilize prayer around the world for the peace of Jerusalem. And in a way, we always have done that. We had an Isaiah 62 prayer campaign, you know, Isaiah 62 where it is called, "On your walls, I have set watchmen and shall never let the Lord at peace and at rest until He reestablishes Jerusalem as a praise on the earth." So we were mobilizing since the last 12, 13 years Christians around the world to pray with us. And during COVID, when COVID hit the world, first of all, for us, this looked like a major crisis that could harm the ministry. The Feast of Tabernacles was in question and all that. And out of this COVID, a prayer revolution started where we have now since then every week, we have a global prayer gathering on Zoom where every single week around four to 500 people from China, Fiji Islands, all over the world are joining together to pray for Israel. And on every beginning of the Jewish month, it's called Rosh Chodesh, we are gathering people. I believe we have grown now to almost 300 hours of ongoing prayer. I think 80 countries are joining there, and they are taking over hour after hour just to pray for Israel. And I tell you, you know, I believe in the power of prayer. And you might not know that, but I'm sitting here, and we can do this interview because people prayed for me seven years ago when I was fatally sick. The doctors in Israel, they said, "There is no hope for Juergen Buehler." I had a cancer where they said, "This is incurable," but people around the world, they prayed for me.

- Amen.

- [Juergen] And God is a prayer-answering God. And we feel this power-

- Amen.

- [Juergen] Of prayer in our ministry every single day.

- [Carl] Amen. You know, it's funny because Joel, Joel always says as a quote of his mentor, spiritually, an Indian pastor named Pastor Koshi, he says, "Joel, we serve a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God."

- Absolutely.

- And your example of that is amazing and your call to prayer for the nations around the world to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, to pray for the healing of the land.

- Absolutely.

- That's beautiful. That's beautiful. I'll tell you a quick story from my background. A dear friend of mine is now living in Jerusalem. His name is Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein. And he and I worked in religious liberty work here in the United States. He's orthodox. He's a Torah scholar. He was the former head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center interfaith dialogue in Los Angeles, where we got to know each other. And he had my wife over and I for Shabbat dinner one night. And he was so moved by being a... My family background is German, as you know, Carl Moeller.

- It's very German.

- That's right, exactly. But he said, you know, again, "Who would have imagined," this was his words to us as he raised a toast at the beginning of Shabbat where welcomed us. He said, "Who would've imagined even a generation ago a German evangelical having Shabbat dinner with a Jewish Orthodox rabbi in the United States."

- That's unbelievable.

- And it is so good. Tell me a little bit of maybe some of your experiences as a German coming to Israel and showing in a very real way that the love of Jesus and the presence has made us one new man, one reconciled body.

- [Juergen] You know, one of the most powerful ministries for me as German, you know, we are a global ministry for many countries, but I happen to be from Germany. We have a home for Holocaust survivors in Haifa. And I'll never forget when one of the leaders in Haifa, he was running a small soup kitchen for Holocaust survivors. And it really hit my heart that there are Holocaust survivors who went through hell when they were young, and they are now in Israel, have to stand in line for a soup kitchen to get their food. And I talked to Shimon, "We need to change that. We have to build a house for Holocaust survivors." He invited me one day. He says, "You know, I found this little apartment. We could host there maybe 13 Holocaust survivors." I think he could have never hosted 13 Holocaust survivors there. But I looked at that apartment, and I said, "Shimon, why don't we purchase the entire building?" And I told him, I said, "You know, we will go to our people. We will raise funds." This was January, 2010. I said, "Maybe on Yom HaShoah, on the International Holocaust Memorial Day, we will have the funds together to purchase that building." And I left that place, and the next day, the news came out, and it was the big earthquake in Haiti. And I told our people and said, "You know, probably everybody now gives funds to Haiti. It might take a little bit longer." And in my great faith, I never checked our bank account because everybody spoke just about Haiti. A week later, I checked our bank account, and within seven days, we got the entire money together to purchase that building.

- Praise the Lord.

- [Juergen] And Yom HaShoah, when it came, we actually had enough money to purchase two buildings.

- Oh my word.

- Today we have, it's a street. It's a whole community for 70 Holocaust survivors. You know, one of the thoughts that I had, how will it be if you put 70 traumatic people, traumatized people together in such a building? And when you visit that, I want to invite you to see that.

- Love to see that.

- It is one of the most joyful houses you can be because those people, they might have never talked to their children about their experiences. And all Israel, they know Holocaust survivors, they don't want to tell their stories. If you come today, they almost compete who is going to tell his story for us.

- Wow.

- [Juergen] It became a place of healing, a place of joy.

- Of restoration.

- And to do this as a German, I tell you, whenever I go there, it puts tears into my eyes.

- [Carl] I'm sure it does. Even just hearing it brings a deep sense of this is bringing a smile to the Lord's face.

- Amen.

- I hope if anybody listening to this podcast is smiling right now to think about a German believer in Israel bringing healing and restoration to Holocaust survivors. Only God can do that work.

- Amen.

- Only God can be behind that. Praise the Lord for that. I must say, now, you're also involved in this... You mentioned the word, "Make aliyah," and I know many of our listeners will know what that means, but what does that mean, and what kind of work are you doing through the international Christian Embassy to help promote that?

- [Juergen] Well, aliyah is a Hebrew term. It literally means to go up, to ascend. And if you come from any nation outside of Israel, going to Jerusalem, says you go up. It's not you go over there or to go...

- Go there.

- You go up. And in Israel, the highest place where you can ascend is making aliyah to Jerusalem, to the temple. And there is, a matter of fact, there are Psalms. It's Psalm 121 all the way to Psalm 136, I believe. They're called the "Shir Hama'aloth", the "Pilgrimage Songs." And that's the songs that people were singing when they were coming up to Jerusalem. And so the Jewish people who immigrate today to Israel, they make aliyah. They are ascending up to Zion. And the Christian Embassy, we had the privilege over the last, since 1990, actually, we started, that's 33 years now, to help Jewish immigrants coming back to Israel. As a matter of fact, when the Soviet Union fell apart, and everybody was praying to bring Jews and to pray for the Jews to go out from Russia, you know, there were a so-called Mordecai call they called it.

- Yes.

- [Juergen] And they were prophesying to the Russian embassies, "Let my people go," like Moses did back then. They laughed at them. They said, "This never happens." When the gates were opened, the Christian Embassy paid for the very first charter flight out of Russia back to the land of Israel. And since then, many, many other planes followed. I believe we helped today more than 170, 180,000 Jews to make aliyah back to Israel.

- [Carl] That's incredible. That's incredible.

- And they come from everywhere, you know, not only Russia. Last week we just helped a plane to come back from Ethiopia, 250 new immigrants, and it's an amazing story.

- [Carl] Well, you know, even Joel tells a story of Jewish communities in Iran and encouraging people. And we see this in the Bible too. Ezekiel prophesies that there would be this great gathering in of all Jewish people.

- [Juergen] Yeah, and you know, it's not only prophesying that the Jews would come back. Isaiah 49 says, he says, "I'm gonna raise up a banner to the nations, to the Gentiles."

- Oh, yes.

- "And they will bring your children on their arms back to the land," and that's being fulfilled right now. There are thousands and thousands of gentile believers who says, "We want to be part of what God is doing, bringing the Jewish people back."

- [Carl] Wow, that's incredible. Juergen, we're gonna have to close, unfortunately, pretty soon here. But I just want you to share if you would just a little bit of your personal prayer, your heart for your work in Israel with the Jewish people and throughout the region, throughout the world, really, about praying and working for peace.

- [Juergen] Yeah, you know, one big prayer is really the prayer for reconciliation. And you know, Joel is doing such an amazing work meeting those Arab leaders in the region. And I think really the Lord is using him in a powerful way to write history in our midst and in the moment. And he's bringing together what belongs together since the time of Abraham where, you know, there was this one tent of Abraham and Ishmael, and they dwelled together in that tent. And for 4,000 years, there were two nations that were fighting each other, and now God seems to bring them back together in harmony. And, you know, we always like to pray for Israel, but I want to ask also all the listeners, please pray for revival in the Arab countries.

- Wow, yes.

- I had a meeting with the late Rabbi Benny Elon. He was at that time the tourism minister, and he told me, "Juergen, I have one question." It was the very first meeting I had with him. "I have one question to you as a Christian." And I thought, "Oh, what does he want? Maybe donations for a special project." And he says, "I want you to send more missionaries into the Arab world." And I couldn't believe my ears. I said, "You are a rabbi, and you want us to send missionaries in the Arab world?" He says, "Yes, it's very simple. If they believe what you believe, we will have peace in the Middle East."

- That is so true.

- And so, pray for revival in the Arab world, and I think this will bring forth a new season in the Middle East.

- [Carl] Wow, that is the very same answer that one of my spiritual mentors, Brother Andrew, used to say. He said, "Pray for them that they become Christ-followers."

- Absolutely.

- And if they do, we'll have peace.

- Absolutely.

- [Carl] Juergen Buehler, this has been a remarkable conversation. And I would encourage all of our listeners to go to Israel. And if you can't go, pray, of course. Pray every day for Israel, for the peace of Jerusalem, as we say, and for the entire work of organizations like The Joshua Fund and the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem because it's through those organizations, what Juergen and your work is doing, that hope and healing are being done. And for all of you who'd like to learn more about what The Joshua Fund is doing to bring hope and healing to this critical epicenter region of the world, go to our website at joshuafund.com. And there you can learn everything that God is doing and we're doing in partnership with partners like the ICEJ and others to bring healing to this critical region of the world. And as always, if you heard something on this podcast that you'd like more information on, you can check out our show notes. So on behalf of Joel Rosenberg and for Juergen and myself, I'm Carl Moeller. Thanks for listening to this episode of "Inside the Epicenter with Joel Rosenberg."

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