Hebrew Roots and Christian Beginnings
I find it really exciting to present the message of Christ in the Passover” in churches. The congregations are usually glad to know the history of this Jewish feast. They are pleased to see the elements of a modern Jewish celebration, and, of course, are thrilled to understand the relationship between communion and this ancient holy day. It is a rich experience for them and for me.
I remember one such time in the spring of 1987. I had been to a certain church in Irvington-on-the-Hudson, New York a few years earlier to present the Christ in the Passover program. Over the years since that initial visit, the pastor had become my good friend, and we had served together on an evangelism committee. Then I was invited to return to the church to speak in this special service.
The pastor had begun a lecture series in Sunday school on “Hebrew Roots and Christian Beginnings.” Attending that class was Stuart, a Jewish man. The son of a synagogue official, and father of three children, he was a worldly success. He had had a typical Jewish upbringing, and had been privileged to have his grandparents living with him. After college came marriage and a career. Stuart was successful and was climbing the corporate ladder. Then decay set in as he sought for answers to life’s unsettling questions.
Stuart became restless and unfulfilled, the kind of story that we often hear. Divorce from family and job left him curious and groping for meaning in life. He described it later as a time when he was “stalled in a metered parking space.” He felt that God was watching that meter, and when it turned red, his time would come.
In 1977 a Christian lady began to witness to Stuart. She gave him enough information so that he could come to believe in Jesus. He prayed and invited Jesus to be his Lord.
Years passed. Stuart remarried, acquired a new profession and saw his work as service to the Lord. As the months turned to years, he began to see the impact of his completion in Christ—not that he had a full understanding, but rather that its meaning was still unfolding.
When I came to the church that day, Stuart was there. He and his wife had enrolled in the class on “Roots.” Not yet members of the church, they had been attending the class for months. It was now Palm Sunday, and I was to bring the message on Christ in the Passover.
Later, Stuart said of that day in an address to what was now his new church, “For ten years I tried to deal almost alone with the experience and meaning of my conversion. And even with outstanding revelations from God, there remained a substantial amount of real loneliness.…(I was) stalled, parked again in one of those metered places. The red flag went up again, and here I am in fellowship with you.”
It was seeing Jewish customs, a Jewish celebration, and meeting another Jew for Jesus at the church that prompted Stuart and his family to join the sweet fellowship of that believing community. There are many others like Stuart who find a spiritual home because of a program like “Christ in the Passover.” Rejoice with us for them and pray for the many who first consider Christ because of one of our programs. Praise God for the many who finally say “yes” to Jesus because of a loyal Christian friend like you who prays and brings them to one of our programs.
We are looking forward to seeing many of our Christian friends as we present the gospel, especially “Christ in the Passover,” in many churches this spring.
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.