Bishop Paul Lanier — Joining God’s Conversation with Israel and the Jewish People
On today’s podcast, Fellowship Board Chairman Bishop Paul Lanier talks about the life-changing moment when he entered into God’s ongoing conversation with Israel and the Jewish people. As Bishop Lanier tells podcast host Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, he was watching late-night television and saw her father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, visit an elderly Holocaust survivor in Ukraine. “Watching him interact with this woman, I could feel the aloneness. I could feel the cold,” Bishop said. “And the more he talked, the more he had me. He invited me to be part of her conversation and God’s conversation with her. I knew I wanted to be a part of that.” That was 17 years ago, and Bishop Lanier talks about how being involved with The Fellowship and helping Jewish people “is the most Christian thing I can do.” Listen now to this inspirational message.
It was a Sunday night after a day of preaching, and Bishop Paul Lanier couldn’t sleep. The day’s service was running through his mind, so he got up and turned on the TV. As he flipped through the channels, he saw a man on the TV with an elderly woman in Ukraine. “I didn’t know at first that he was a rabbi until the graphic came up and introduced him. And he’s with this elderly woman, maybe in her 90s, and a Holocaust survivor,” Bishop Lanier recalls. “And you can feel the aloneness. He talks about the stench of the place, being so destitute and broken and hurting. And you can feel the cold even sitting on the sofa.
“The more he spoke, the more he had me. It’s an odd thing to say, but your father [Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein] was saving my soul because he was not simply introducing me to this horrible situation. He was lovingly, tenderly, giving me a chance to leave my couch and step into Ukraine and to walk into this little cold, frozen space. He invited me to be part of her conversation and God’s conversation with her,” Bishop Lanier continues. “I told my wife I want to do this; I want to get involved in helping these people, and she was all in. And then I shared it with our congregation.”
It’s been 17 years since Bishop Lanier first saw Rabbi Eckstein on television. In 2019, Bishop Lanier was named Board Chairman for The Fellowship, and he has continued to be a strong supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. As Bishop Lanier told Yael, “Supporting Israel and the Jewish people is the most Christian thing that I can do.”