Recently I had the strangest experience, and suddenly I feel a degree of personal fulfillment in this ministry I have not felt for a long time.
Most of our ministry friends know about the personalized letter of witness that we send to Jewish people whose names are given to us by those who are already believers. I say that these letters are personalized” because even though I write and have revised one original letter as part of a computer program, the individual letters are sent out by the faithful correspondents in our mail room. Some months we send out hundreds of these, along with a sample copy of ISSUES (our publication for unbelieving Jewish people) and a postage-paid response card so the individuals can indicate whether or not they want to keep on hearing from us.
One day the Communications Department relayed one such response card to me, and it had two familiar names on it. As I looked at the names, I thought, “These names are the same as two of my favorite cousins, but it must be someone else because it’s such a common Jewish name. They might as well be Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.”
I turned the card over to read the response. Like many Jewish people who receive this first outreach, they indicated that they did not want to hear further from us, but there was a personal note at the bottom. Indeed, these were long-lost cousins of mine. They were not immediate family. Betty’s mother had been my mother’s first cousin, so I guess that made us second cousins. Nevertheless, I had felt particularly close to Betty and her husband Sam. They were about ten years older than I, and Sam had been a pilot and a navigator in the Air Force during World War II. A Jewish officer! There were not too many of those. And Betty? Well, I thought she was as pretty as a movie star, and when I was 12 and she was 21 I had a terrific crush on her.
Now, while reading that response card, I received deep satisfaction from the personal note on the bottom, because one of my dreams had been realized. When I had first heard God’s call for me to go into the ministry, I felt that this would enable me to do something toward telling my family and friends about Yeshua. Actually, because of my acceptance of God’s call, I lost my place of acceptance in their lives. Most of them were willing to make polite excuses about why they did not want to see me; others didn’t even bother to be polite.
It was obvious from their response that my cousins Betty and Sam understood what I was saying in my letter of witness, because in answer to the question of whether or not we should continue sending them our Jews for Jesus material they had firmly indicated that we should not. Nevertheless, here was a kind personal note about their recent visit to our hometown of Denver, and a kind of reaching out.
I don’t know that this small incident will ever develop into any kind of witness, but it cheered me to know that at least some of my relatives have come to know what I stand for, and though they don’t want to consider it for themselves at this time, they still want to recognize me as their relative.