The neon sign of a cross with the words “Jesus Saves” has glowed from the tower of the Gospel Chapel at 2500 Roosevelt Road for decades.
After being broken for about a year, it was recently repaired and revamped by the church. The sign has been altered to relay a slightly different, but meaningful message.
To honor Christianity’s Jewish roots, the sign now reads “Yahushua Delivers.”
“We’re looking at our Hebrew side of belief and ultimately we’ve all come from a Jewish Messiah, who had Jewish belief and a Jewish life,” explained the Rev. Buddy Barker, pastor. “He said he didn’t come to destroy or do away or put an end to any of the Jewish word that was in existence at his time, but rather to bring it to fulfillment.”
“So we have been endeavoring to seek out our Jewish roots as a Gentile believing church,” Barker said.
Barker has led the church that his parents Charles and Ila Barker founded there about 1967 for two tenures totaling 21 years.
Questions from the public about the sign’s alteration have given Barker an opportunity to share the reasons behind the change.
“Looking for truth is the reason we changed the sign. We want to speak truth to people,” Barker said.
Gospel Chapel uses the Hallelu Yah Scriptures exclusively for its teachings, which are texts translated from Hebrew into English.
Hallelu Yah Scriptures uses the original names of those named in the Bible.
Yahushua is Jesus’ original Jewish name. After researching and studying the issue, Barker said, the congregation decided to use this spelling of the name.
“There are many variations of that (Hebrew) name; at least four that I know of,” Barker said. “The full name of Yahushua is the most proper.”
The problem, he says, is the Bible’s translation from Hebrew into Greek, from Greek into Latin, from Latin into English.
In the Hebrew language there is no letter “J,” Barker said, and “Hallelu Yah” can be translated into English as “you praise Yah.”
Basic tenets of the church’s doctrinal followings, including belief in the Trinity, follow mainline Protestant denominations, but the use the Hebrew terms of Yahweh, Yahushua and Rua Ha Qodesh.
Swapping out the word “saves” for the word “delivers” on the sign also bears special meaning and also comes from the teachings of the Hallelu Yah Scriptures.
It refers to Yahushua — Jesus delivering mankind in perpetual deliverance.
“It is continual, in a moment by moment I am ever being saved,” Barker said. “He is saving me in an overflowing continuous salvation. We are being delivered continuously.”
For Barker, who was raised in the conventional full gospel belief all of his life, looking at the scriptures in this way has been enlightening.
“All of my life, I always felt like there was something missing, and now I’ve come to understand the Hebrew side of our Messiah, the Hebrew side of our scriptures and the word, the Hebrew side of the thinking, I find that the thing that was missing has been supplied.
“While I did have belief with all my heart, the portions of the word I used to struggle with have been made clear.”