I’m putting together this edition of Havurah in late October with the images and impact of September 11, the war in Afghanistan and bio-terrorism at home fresh on my mind.
Our very own Jews for Jesus office in Toronto was the recipient of a letter with some white powder (praise God, it wasn’t anthrax) not too long ago. And even though you are reading this in early 2002, I think the issues we’re covering are still relevant and timely for all of us.
Our days on earth are a mixed bag of births, deaths, natural disasters, building homes, memorable vacations, family celebrations, career shifts, marriages and divorces. While nothing on earth is ever totally secure or certain, one thing remains true: in times of crisis, many, many more people than ever cry out to God…some with fists raised in defiance, others with heart-wrenching anguish, and still others with hope for answers.
During the weeks after the tragedy in America, I heard several reports of the opportunities Jewish believers had to share the good news of our Messiah with unbelieving family and friends. Doors that had previously been closed to witnessing attempts were suddenly opened. Realizing one’s mortality does that.
Some believers boldly witnessed in ways they never had before. I’ve decided to share just a few of these interactions with you now.
A 20-year-old Jewish believer who lives near the United Nations building in Manhattan wrote the following mass e-mail to both unsaved and believing friends and family: Please, do not be afraid, the Lord is in control of this situation, and in the end, He will reign. He tells us in Isaiah 54:10, ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.’ I hope that the people who are responsible for this will repent for what they did.” This young woman moved out of her comfort zone of gospel communication, and was able to speak into the hearts of both believers and unsaved Jewish friends and family.
Another Jewish believer told us that his mother expressed her dismay over the crisis in a phone conversation with him. While she has been generally closed to talking about the gospel, he told her how the Bible gives him an anchor to keep going in difficult times, that it is only within its pages that we can find God’s comfort and His perspective on difficulties. He said with hope, “My mother agreed for the first time that the Bible presents situations and people in very realistic terms. It’s a start.”
One of our Jews for Jesus missionaries in New York City wrote: “I’ve received so many calls from those who are fearful and in need of comfort and assurance. Gail, an unsaved Jewish woman, has become even more open as her fear has increased; she desperately wants the sense of safety and certainty about God that I have. She’s reading the Bible and I feel hopeful that she’ll come to know the Lord soon.”
Yet, some Jewish people are reacting with anger rather than openness. One messianic leader in the Midwest writes: “Believe it or not, among the unbelieving Jewish people I’m interacting with I find plenty of closed hearts and a desire for revenge. They’re latching onto a form of spirituality to find a feeling of comfort, but it’s more like a cream for a rash than a medicine for the soul.”
The need for answers in times of crisis comes as a cry from the deepest place of the heart. And we have the one answer that is truly medicine for the soul. While the “mountains are shaken” and “cities are removed,” we can offer people the truth that God is an unshakeable Rock of comfort and strength. I pray that we will all be faithful to bring the gospel to our people in every life situation. Whether it’s a time of crisis or blessing, may we direct others to reach out to God, and to rest in faith in His Son Yeshua.