Sometimes It Takes a Little Longer
Morris is 64 years old, one of three brothers. First generation Americans, they came from Russia 50 years ago. They lived and played in the Jewish areas of Chicago, attending Hebrew school, skipping bar mitzvah lessons, occasionally embarrassing their family as boys will do, and then they went off to fight in World War II. Morris was totally unaware of Jesus, of Christianity or of God’s plan for his life. While he was in the service in Europe, Morris met his first Christian friend.
Many people had witnessed to Morris in the ensuing 40 years. A Christian man or woman had sent Morris’s name to various Christian organizations. Morris’s Lutheran wife and baptized children participated in church programs. They invited him, and he often attended. Once in a while a letter would arrive at his mailbox with some gospel story and an encouragement to consider the claims of Christ.
In December, 1987, our full-page Jesus for Jews ad appeared in the Chicago Tribune. After reading the very lengthy copy, Morris decided to send in the coupon to receive Ruth Rosen’s book, Jesus for Jews. When as a staff worker I received a copy of that coupon for follow-up in our Chicago Jews for Jesus office in suburban Skokie, I called Morris. He sounded very excited.
What can I do for your organization?” he queried.
“Wait a minute,” I began, “are you a believer in Jesus?”
“Not really,” Morris answered, “but I do know that he was Jewish, and we Jewish people need to respect him and.…”
“It sounds like you have drawn some conclusions about religion,” I said. I suggested that we should get together. Although Morris lived about 40 miles away, I thought it would be worthwhile. He declined. Maybe if he were coming up this way to our office to visit a relative or was in the neighborhood.…
Every once in a while I would call Morris to talk about a special meeting or to see about his possibly getting together with me, but it was always to no avail. Nevertheless, I felt it wouldn’t be long before he came to personal faith in Yeshua.
Last December, I called Morris again, this time about our special Hanukkah celebration. He had received our branch newsletter with the announcement and had even considered joining us, but it looked like things were going to be busy for him. We continued in our conversation, and he told me that he had been thinking more about Jesus and believed he might be the Jewish Messiah. I told him more about the gospel again, reminding him about the message of salvation through the cross of Christ and the need for everyone to accept him as savior. Morris seemed so close, but again the conversation ended without a decision.
The first week of January, I called Morris, and he told me he wanted to see me. I made an appointment with him to meet me at our office and we would talk. With my new trainee Mark Landrum, who came along for his training, we conducted a Bible study about Messiah and our need for receiving him. At the end of our time together I asked Morris if he wanted to accept Yeshua for himself. The answer was a resounding “Yes!” We prayed, and he became a follower of the Master, 44 years after first hearing about and considering the person of Christ.
What an encouragement this would be to the people who first witnessed to Morris and first prayed for him, or to those who are continuing to pray for him after 44 years. I hope it is an encouragement to others who may have a “Morris” in their lives—someone who seems open, but does not join them in their fervor and does not seem to respond within a “reasonable” time length. What an encouragement it is to us, as we continue to follow up on those who respond to our ads in Time, Newsweek, and hundreds of other periodicals. May we continue to find dozens of “Morrises,” and may they continue to find Yeshua as their Messiah and Lord.
Bob Mendelsohn is the leader of Jews for Jesus' work in Sydney, Australia. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Kansas City, but became a college drop-out when he decided to look for the meaning of life in the counterculture of the '60s. He found meaning and relevance in Jesus which caused him much trouble at home. But he says, It was worth the cost." Bob has worked for Jews for Jesus since 1979, and served as the leader of our work in Washington DC and New York City before moving to Sydney in 1998. Bob and his wife Patty both graduated from the University of Kansas and Fuller Seminary. The Mendelsohns live in Sydney near their son. Their two daughters and one grandson live in the US.