Many are writing about Dr. Jack Hayford. It is remarkable how many leaders see him as a personal friend. Many are writing about him and their connection. I have such a story as well.
My connection with Jack began indirectly in the Spring of 1995 when Rabbi Marty Waldman received the vision for a second Jerusalem Council and the project he first called Jerusalem Council II. It later became Toward Jerusalem Council II. Marty shared this vision with the three other Executives of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations of which I was one. Marty was the President. We confirmed the vision. Marty said that God spoke to him to fly to Israel where Jack was doing a seminar for Pastors. If Jack confirmed this, then he was to work to bring it about. We confirmed Marty going and the Union put up money for the trip. Jack enthusiastically embraced the vision. He said we could use his name, his stationary, and more to foster this vision. He eventually became the President of the International Church of the Four Square Gospel. Their executive eventually signed the Seven Affirmations of TJCII.
I first met Jack in person at a Promise Keepers planning meeting after Coach Bill McCartney became convinced to include Messianic Jewish leaders. Jack was warm and welcoming to us. Subsequently, Coach and Raleigh Washington sponsored a great conference of thousands in Palm Springs, The Road to Jerusalem. I was a speaker as was Jonathan Bernis, other Messianic Jews, and Jack Hayford. It was a great conference where I gave the message that is to this day my most listened to, Messianic Jewish Theology in 15 Minutes. Jack enthusiastically endorsed this message.
Jack sent a wonderful video greeting for my 40th anniversary of ministry in May of 2012 at the Tikkun national conference.
The real lasting fruit came when Jonathan Bernis and met with Jack and the leaders of the newly formed The King’s College and Seminary (now The King’s University.) We approached him to consider having a Messianic Jewish joint program with our school, Messianic Jewish Bible Institute. Jack was enthusiastic. We even interviewed key faculty to vet their understanding of the continued Jewish calling of Messianic Jews. I became a visiting professor and taught at the Van Nuys campus annually, Messianic Jewish Theology, Apologetics, New Testament, and Eschatology. Most years Jack and I would have dinner together. The school was at the Church On The Way campus. Before the real estate meltdown in 2007-8 Jack gave me a tour of the hospital he was planning to buy for the school. It would have dorms, classrooms, offices, and more. Alas, the meltdown ended those plans. Jack’s vision of the school as a school that was flexible in the way of offering courses, academically solid, and which would empower in the Spirit. Jack eventually transferred the school to Gateway Church under Robert Morris. The King’s University thrives and the Jewish program continues under the able leadership of Dr. David Rudolph. And yes, I am still a visiting professor.
One year I was so very privileged. Jack sponsored an annual leadership conference at the Church on the Way. Amazingly I was invited to present two keynote addresses to over 1000 leaders. One was, What Kind of Church Must there Be to Make Israel Jealous and to see the Return of Jesus? The second was, What kind of Messianic Jewish Movement Must There Be to see the return of Jesus? Jack graciously embraced these messages and endorsed them at the meeting.
When Jack spoke, he said that he never sought to build a mega-church but a faithful church. And so it was, and it became mega. Jack had a deep integrity, humility and how we need more like him! As Jack was aging, he recommended Pastor Jerry Dirman to carry on his work in the Four Square for the Jewish connection. He was again preparing the way.
In 1986, 1,100 gathered at the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia at the Sheridan Hotel. The Friday Erev Shabbat service began with Israel’s Hope leading the worship. There was a processional of Torah Scrolls from the regional congregations. We sang Jack’s hymn, Majesty. Harvey Smith, our treasurer, turned to me and said, we might as well go home now because nothing is going to be better than this. The presence of the Spirit was amazing. Now Jack arrives in heaven and no doubt hears the human and angel choirs singing Majesty. Goodbye, for now, you were a great friend and friend to the Jewish people and the Messianic Jewish Community especially.