JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Today, I am deeply encouraged to announce that Dr. Jack Graham is joining the ALL ISRAEL NEWS advisory board.
Based in Dallas, Texas, Graham is the senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest Evangelical congregations in the U.S. with some 45,000 members. When Graham came to Prestonwood in 1989, the congregation had some 8,000 members.
An author of numerous books about the Bible and Christian living, he has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country with more than 14 million members. He has also served as honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer.
Over the years, I have had the joy and honor of preaching and teaching the Bible at Prestonwood numerous times and we have forged a wonderful friendship.
Graham has always asked me to focus on helping his congregation better understand God’s love and plan for Israel and the people of the Middle East, the threats facing Israel, and how Evangelicals can strengthen the Church in the Middle East and pray faithfully for the peace of Jerusalem.
Over these years, I have been impressed by this pastor’s deep love for Christ, for the Bible, and for the nation of Israel – as well as his love and compassion for Israel’s Arab and Muslim neighbors.
So, I could not be more grateful to have him now join our advisory board.
Here are excerpts from our recent conversation (lightly edited for clarity):
ROSENBERG: Jack Graham, it was great to be with you in Dallas in September, and a true honor to speak at Prestonwood Baptist Church about my new book, "Enemies and Allies." And now we are very honored to have you join the ALL ISRAEL NEWS Advisory Board. Thank you.
Let me ask you first of all: where does your love for Israel come from?
PASTOR JACK GRAHAM: It starts really from my study of Scripture. God gave us a book – the Bible – and primarily the people of Israel are the content of this book. My Savior and Messiah is Jewish. The first disciples are Jewish. God gave us a book, and it is primarily written by Jewish authors. So, let's start with that.
Then, over the years, I had the opportunity to visit the Land of Israel and to meet the people and to experience the nation of Israel up-close-and-personal. And the presence of God in that place is palpable, as far as I'm concerned, and not only because of what God did there in the past, but because of who God is and what is to come and knowing that God's hand is on Israel and all that history over the years. It gives me just a keen interest in knowing what is happening, what's going on in the Land of Israel, and Israel’s impact around the world.
ROSENBERG: I appreciate that, Jack – thanks so much for your deep love for Israel.
You see the extreme bias against Israel, against the Jewish people, in the media. What role do you think that ALL ISRAEL NEWS should be playing – can be playing – in the future as we build out this media site?
GRAHAM: Joel, you have a tremendous amount of credibility with people in the United States, and everywhere you have been around the world. Your latest book, "Enemies and Allies," testifies to your influence and your commitment to Israel. To bring your family to Israel, and to make it literally your home base for a world ministry – that’s remarkable. So, it's my confidence in you, and the way you go about communicating about Israel and the people of Israel, and the Arab world, that is fair and balanced, and certainly it is biblical.
So many people don't know, really, what's happening in the Middle East. They close their eyes to it. And there needs to be a valued, credible news source such as you are providing that would give Christians in America, and others, a look into the life of Israel, the lifestyle of Israel and the people of Israel and the purposes of Israel, so that you can make good decisions regarding how you're going to view Israel and the people of Israel, both Jews and Arabs.
ROSENBERG: How can we be helpful in the world of Southern Baptists? Obviously, there are many Baptists who love Israel, but they may not necessarily know where to get good solid information from. What can we do to help more people within the Southern Baptist world know what’s happening in Israel and the broader Middle East and to get connected to what’s happening in the epicenter?
GRAHAM: Well, I'm looking forward to introducing you to more and more of my Southern Baptist friends. You are loved by Southern Baptists, but there are more who need to know you.
I would love, for example, to see and hear you speak at our seminaries. We have six seminaries in the United States, and it is going to be important if young Southern Baptists, in particular, could hear your insights and gain more understanding as to the biblical and modern importance of Israel. They need to understand what's happening outside of American media, outside of the secular media. They need a news service that is honest and trustworthy and ALL ISRAEL NEWS can help these young people a great deal. So, I'm personally looking forward to connecting you and this news service to Christians in America and certainly to Southern Baptist Christians.
ROSENBERG: I appreciate that a great deal, Jack. Thank you so much. I very much hope that ALL ISRAEL NEWS can be a trusted source of news and analysis for Southern Baptists, and I would be honored to speak at your seminaries. Just let me know when!
I also want to ask you about something else. You have spent a lot of time praying for Donald Trump. You knew him before he entered politics. You prayed for him and shared the Scriptures with him many times while he was in office. And you’ve seen him and prayed for him since he left office. You certainly saw that he was attacked mercilessly as someone who would never be able to make peace in the Middle East. And yet you saw him broker four historic peace normalization deals between four Arab countries and Israel. In fact, we recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords. So, I’m just curious on your take on the importance of those Accords and what people – Christians – need to know about the significance that they may not be getting from the mainstream media.
GRAHAM: Well, President Trump from the very beginning strongly supported Israel. This wasn't a political position of his, but rather it was a heartfelt appreciation and understanding of the importance of Israel, the significance of Israel. His son in law, Jared Kushner, was very involved in the president’s peace strategy, along with Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and others in the administration in terms of guiding these peace deals through to completion. So, I would say the president had tremendous amount of confidence in his team. And, of course, the first big move they made was moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That was huge.
ROSENBERG: Many American presidents had said they would do it but they never really did it, in part because so many people – so many so-called “experts” – said that doing so would “blow up” the Middle East.
GRAHAM: That’s right. The experts said moving the Embassy to Jerusalem would destroy the Middle East, and yet President Trump did it. And again, a lot of that was Vice President Pence and others around the president. The president received good counsel regarding Israel from his closest advisors, and he listened to them. I was with the president many times, and with members of his cabinet, his advisory team, people like Ambassador David Friedman over in Israel, for example. And I can tell you that they truly wanted to advance peace not just for the U.S. and Israel, but for the Arab people, as well. They understood that the old ways of rejecting and isolating and opposing Israel was not advancing the cause of the Arab people, it wasn’t improving the lives of the Arab people, especially the lives of young people. And so the Trump team took a different approach. And, to their credit, several of these Arab leaders were ready to take a different approach, as well. And I truly believe that these new accords, the Abraham Accords, will give Arab people and young people in particular a new vision for their future. And it's a great thing that needs to be emphasized. More Christians in the United States and around the world need to understand how big of a deal these accords are. And personally, I believe that more Arab nations can and will be joining in.
ROSENBERG: I couldn’t agree more, Jack. Thank you so much for your vote of confidence by joining the advisory board of ALL ISRAEL NEWS. We are grateful your wise counsel and look forward to working closely with you. God bless you and thank you again.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.