She Discovered She Could Be Jewish
Barbara is 25. She works full-time for a large financial corporation in New York City. Though zealously Jewish in identity, she never was interested in God. Her parents, Russian in life and culture, did not teach their daughter about God. Part-time attendance at a college near our New York Jews for Jesus office brought Barbara into our neighborhood. There I handed her a tract one day. After a while, she called our office to make an inquiry.
It just happened that I was manning the telephones that afternoon, and I was the first to speak with her.
Her question was honest: How can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?”
As I found out her background and level of interest, I became excited about her genuine curiosity. We made an appointment to meet, and from that time on we met weekly for about three months.
At those meetings we discussed many things: the Book of Genesis, God, the Jews as a people, Barbara’s new Christian boyfriend, falafel (a popular Mid-Eastern sandwich), the Gospel of Matthew and redemption. During this time, I gave Barbara “homework.” She fulfilled her assignments, kept up with her regular college work and still performed well enough at work to earn a raise.
One rainy noontime, we sat in a concrete-laden park near the office and I explained to Barbara how to be born again. We talked about the three stages of spiritual gestation. I pointed out to her that the first stage is realization, where one begins to investigate the claims of Christ. When one even realizes that there is a God—a concerned God—there comes an awareness of sin. Realization takes different shapes for different people. Barbara recognized that for her realization involved reading the Bible, calling Jews for Jesus, and meeting with a missionary.
I showed Barbara that the second stage is reformation. This is usually characterized by trying to “clean up” in some measure, i.e., praying more, loving people more, maybe fasting, contributing time or money to social justice causes, or giving up personal immorality. It is an attempt to “get righteous with God” so that he will not have to forgive as much as he would have before the person entered the “new birth” process. I pointed out that trying to clean up for God is much like wiping a greasy countertop with a wet dishrag. It merely spreads the stain that much further. At this stage we realize all the more that our own righteousnesses are like filthy rags, and that our attempts at reformation are stained with sin. Then finally we come to stage three: rebirth.
At this point Barbara understood what I was telling her, and that God would actually come inside her to live in her. He would clean her up enough to make her acceptable to him. He would do it! What a freedom that brought her.
So that noontime Barbara and I sat under an umbrella in the park and prayed that God would wash away her sins and cause her to be born again to a living hope by the power of Jesus. Since that time, Barbara has entered into regular attendance at the Tuesday Bible studies in New York and has testified to her family and co-workers about the wonderful love of God in Yeshua. Now she is complete in her zeal to be Jewish because she has found Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah. We know that you, our friends who read this Newsletter, will rejoice with us and with Barbara for her diligence in investigation, and for God’s kindness in giving her new life.
Editor’s Note: Since this happened, Bob and his family have taken a new missionary assignment with our Jews for Jesus Chicago Branch. We know that the Lord will continue to use Bob in Chicago as he did in New York.
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 two grandsons live in the US. Their son has a son and is expecting another in 2019.