by Susan Brown
Michael Bryan never thought he’d move to Israel to work in a Christian church. But God’s call through circumstances and world events has drawn him back to the promised land, a small personal step in what he sees as the unfolding fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy.
Raised in a Reformed Jewish home in the U.S., he learned to keep the High Holy Days and recite the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…” He was taught that belief in Jesus as Messiah was meshuga – just crazy.
Now, as a believer, he brings the richness of his Jewish heritage into a traditional Passover Seder that points to Jesus as the Christ. It is an opportunity to experience the Passover celebration as Jesus and his disciples experienced it just before his crucifixion.
The Messianic Passover Seder is planned for Saturday, April 23, 2016 (16 Nissan 5776 on the Jewish calendar) at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Bryan and his wife, Patricia, plan to return to Baton Rouge from Israel, sensing God’s call to use their gifts of teaching and hospitality. Some 110 people attended the Seder last year.
The event is hosted by Wild Olive Branches Institute of Christian Studies, King’s Harvest Fellowship Church in Walker, Grace & Truth Church in Baton Rouge, Lighthouse Church in Grand Isle, and Crossroads Church in Belle Chasse, among others. The cost is $48 for adults and $26.50 for children under 12.
“It will be a time of refreshing and celebration of Yeshua (Jesus) as our Passover Lamb-Redeemer and Coming King,” Bryan said. “We welcome all who want to know more about prophetic scripture.”
“As followers of Yeshua, Israel is our measuring line,” Bryan explained. “If we in America as a nation stand with Israel, we will stay under God’s umbrella of blessing and protection: ‘I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you’ (Genesis 12:2, 3). God means what He said in His Word.”
On God’s timeline, Bryan explained, Israel’s feasts (Leviticus 23) represent both milestones in Israel’s history and God’s work through Jesus. Four prophetic feasts have been fulfilled in world history: The Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread represent Jesus’ redemptive blood and the harvest of souls fulfilled in his crucifixion. The Feast of First Fruits was fulfilled in Jesus’ resurrection, as the Bread of Life and the male lamb without blemish.
“The Feast of Shavuot (Festival of Weeks) was fulfilled at Pentecost after which Peter preached and 3,000 Jews gave their hearts to Yeshua (Jesus),” Bryan said. It commemorates the annual wheat harvest and the time the Lord gave the Torah (Word) to the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai.
“We’re waiting. At some point we’re going to hear a trumpet blow, there’s going to be a day of judgment and then we’re going to dwell with the Lord for a millennium. And that picture is the last three feasts,” Bryan said. In the meantime, believers should be encouraged because God is always up to something.
“Doing nothing is impossible with God. He is actively doing something,” Bryan said. “God can work through the unrighteous, through the situations. We believers get our eyes on the natural more than we should. Instead, we should be focusing on the promises of God. If God says give thanks in everything, then give thanks.”
While the role of the Jewish people has always been to bless the nations, the role of the Gentiles is to provoke them to jealousy – a desire for God, Bryan said (Romans 11:11). Their personal experience illustrates these roles. While working for Dow Chemical in Houston, Texas, he and Patricia became friends. Then, Patricia’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was amazed at the peace and security her family felt as her life neared its end. “They had perfect peace, because mom was going to be with Jesus,” Bryan said. “I couldn’t get my head around it, I couldn’t.”
Patricia, who was saved at age 9, was a member of an Assembly of God church in Houston. She quickly asked God to remove him from her life when she realized he did not believe Jesus was deity. “And the Lord said to me, ‘but I love him and I want him, and if you will be still, I will have him.’ Those words went into my heart – how much he loved the Jewish people.”
The next day, he called and asked to go to church with her. “I was provoked to jealousy and in my arrogance I didn’t care what the truth was – either Jesus is the Son of God or he’s not, I don’t care much which it is, I just want to know,” Bryan said. After church one Sunday, the congregation joined hands to sing worship songs, forming a circle around the couple who remained seated with a sleeping 6-year-old.
“I was an unbeliever and I knew the Spirit of God was in that room,” he said. He asked God for a sign – a very Jewish thing to do – and soon afterwards, sitting in the car, had an unexplainable experience that removed all doubt.
Since then, Bryan has pastored churches in Houston, Texas and Maryland. When the couple returned to Patricia’s Baton Rouge roots five years ago, Michael resumed work as an accountant and conducted Messianic Awakening Seminars. Their youngest son, Chad Holland, who was sleeping in his father’s lap that day, is now the senior pastor of King of Kings Community, a large messiah-centered church in Israel.
“God’s word tells us there will be a regathering of his ancient chosen people, the Jews, before Yeshua returns for his bride. Many Jews from all over the world have been going home to Israel,” he said, partly as a result of the threat of terrorism demonstrated in recent events in London and Paris.
“More Jews ‘made Aliya’ [return] to Israel last year than in the last 25 years because anti-Semitism is rising again in Europe. And they’re not going to sit around and go to the ghettos or the camps. It isn’t going to happen.”
“Because Israel is predominately a secular society, it’s a very fertile mission field,” Bryan said. “I’m going to work a job for my son in the administration of that community, but I don’t think that’s why God is sending us. He’s sending us to be us, to meet people and engage them to share the good news. Hopefully, to let the light of Yeshua shine through us.”
To arrange speaking engagements or receive the email newsletter, contact the Bryans at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about Messianic Awakening Seminars, contact Pastor Jim Woodard, The Crossroads Church, at email@example.com.
 The complete Shema is found in Dt 6:4-9, 11:13-21; Nu 15:37-41