JERUSALEM, Israel — A Jews for Jesus missionary who lived briefly in Portland last year with his wife is the first representative of that ministry to be deported from Israel.
Barry Barnett, 50, was arrested by Israeli immigration officers Nov. 21 and spent several days behind bars before being ordered by an immigration judge to leave the country by Dec. 3.
Barnett, a Messianic Jewish native of Great Britain, was volunteering at a Jews for Jesus campaign around the city of Be’er Shiva when he was arrested.
Dan Sered, Israel director for Jews for Jesus, said the ministry was outraged by the arrest and deportation. Sered said the action against Barnett was totally unjustified because missionary activity is legal in Israel. But Israeli officials contended that such activities were not authorized under Barnett’s regular tourist visa.
The Jews for Jesus team present at the time of the arrest was made up of Israeli citizens except for Barnett.
Barnett and his wife, Alison, briefly attended Western Seminary in Portland last year and also attended St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Portland.
Deportation carries with it a 10-year ban from returning to Israel. In an e-mail received by David Humphrey, pastor of St. Matthew’s, Alison Barnett wrote that Jews for Jesus will seek to overturn the expulsion order and file a lawsuit over the arrest as well as Israeli officials’ confiscation of the ministry’s banner.
The Barnetts returned to Britain on Dec. 2. “We are currently on sick leave for two weeks as we come to terms with what happened and have some time to reflect and spend with God,” Alison wrote in another e-mail in late December.
Barry also e-mailed his thoughts.
“I can’t emphasize how important it was that so many of you were praying for me in prison,” he wrote. “I know it was a great comfort to me and Alison and I know messages of support really helped.”
The Barnetts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.