Latino Evangelical Leaders Meet in Jerusalem for Summit on Israel

The Western Wall, bottom, and Dome of the Rock, top, in Jerusalem’s Old City on March 13, 2019. The former temple area is considered sacred by the Abrahamic faiths. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

In mid-May, one year after the United States relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, nearly 200 evangelical Latino leaders from the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean attended a festive rooftop ceremony in the Old City of Jerusalem.

They were joined by Jewish leaders from Israel and abroad.

Although it was hot enough on that roof to fry an egg, the leaders — dressed in business attire for the occasion — took solace in the heart-stopping view of the Temple Mount a mere 300 feet away.

Below it, the Western Wall was crowded with worshippers.

On a mission organized by the Latino Coalition for Israel, the participants listened intently as speakers described the Jews’ “return to the Land of Israel” and musicians played “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Hatikva (the Hope),” Israel’s national anthem.

The bilingual English-Spanish mission culminated in a daylong summit attended by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. The summit was the latest expression of the American evangelical Latino community’s support for Israel and its warming ties with Diaspora Jewish communities.

As the number of evangelical Christians has swelled within the Latino community in the United States, so too has the community’s support for Israel and Jews around the world.

Maria Antonetty, foreground, joins others in a Spanish
Easter service at the Primitive Christian Church in New
York on April 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

Its leaders believe Israel’s creation is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and biblical passages that call for blessing the Jewish people.

“It is a miracle to see the return of Israel after 2,000 years of exile and Christian persecution,” said the Rev. Mario Bramnick, LCI’s president, who noted “an unprecedented rise of anti-Semitism” in the U.S.

Like many evangelical Christians, Bramnick, pastor of New Wine Ministries Church in Cooper City, Fla., believes that President Trump’s support of Israel, and especially his decision to bring the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, was divinely inspired.

“It is a miracle that God appointed Donald Trump to be a modern Cyrus,” Bramnick said, referring to Cyrus the Great, the first king of the Persian Empire, who in the Hebrew Bible allows Jews to return to Jerusalem from Babylon. Some evangelicals see Trump as a Cyrus-like figure, who comes to the aid of God’s people — even though he is not particularly religious.

Successive Israeli governments have reached out to the Latino community in the hopes of fostering not only trade relations but political support for the Jewish state.

“One of the first things I did was instruct our consulates to hire Hispanics specifically to bring together Israel and the Hispanic community,” Danny Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2002-2006, told Religion News Service. “I realized the great political, economic potential and human potential of the growing Hispanic community in the United States.”

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Source: Religion News Service