A pastor friend of mine once wrote a sermon titled, Just Because You’re Breathing, Doesn’t Mean You’re Alive.” In other words, sin yields death, and real life doesn’t happen until people know Jesus.
Scott T. was one of the walking dead. His understanding of sin, like that of many Jewish people, was rooted in the traditional idea that deeds, whether good or bad, determine who is righteous and who is a sinner.
Problems with drugs led to incarceration and Scott realized that he was guilty of sin, because he knew his deeds were evil. At one point he even prayed, in the hope that Jesus would give him strength to overcome his addiction. But he didn’t really understand the condition of his heart, or who Jesus was—and he knew nothing of the resurrection power in Christ. After his second felony incarceration he was released from jail, only to succumb to his old habit.
During his time in a rehabilitation facility Scott met a Christian nurse named Liz. She kept in contact with him when he left the facility, praying with him and encouraging him to seek a real relationship with God. Through her urging, Scott ended up calling our Jews for Jesus office. The first time I met with him, it was simply to discover the nature of his interest. After that he came to a Jews for Jesus Bible study. Then one rainy, windy Thursday evening in December, we met at a local restaurant. We sat in a back booth and discussed the nature of sin. Scott already had an idea that Jesus came to die on the cross for him from having attended a church revival service. But he had never thought of sin as the condition of his heart. He had not understood that the resurrection power of Christ could change that condition and give him a new life—until that night.
Scott realized that he was incapable of overcoming his addiction or his sin by his own strength. He called on Jesus Christ, confessing Him as Lord, and believing in his heart that He had been raised from the grave. Scott chose life in December 1997, and was raised to new life in Christ.
Not all of Scott’s choices have been good since coming to faith. He disappeared for five months in 1998, back into the world of drugs. When he learned that his father was dying, he rededicated his life to the Lord and has been clean ever since. Scott led his father, Jacob, to Christ two days before he died, just this past December. I’ve been in regular contact with Scott and he continues trusting the Lord daily.
I ask your prayers for Scott as he looks for the grace to continue living each day as the new creation the Lord intended.
Tuvya Zaretsky is one of the founders of the Jews for Jesus ministry. He was the first field missionary beginning his service in February 1974. Tuvya continues to serve the Lord, now as the Director of Staff Development internationally, based out of the Los Angeles office. He also chairs the Board for the Jews for Jesus branch in Tel Aviv, Israel. Tuvya was raised in Northern California in the institutions of American Judaism. During his bar mitzvah at age thirteen, Tuvya read from Isaiah 6:1-8 and declared with the prophet, Hineni-Here I am, send me!" However, his search for God and spiritual truth didn't come into focus until ten years later, when a Christian colleague encouraged him to seek God in the pursuit of truth. Tuvya came to believe in Y'shua (Jesus) on December 7, 1970. Ever since, he has been joyfully saying to God, "Hineni-Here am I." The full story is available by that title, in a booklet form here. Tuvya has provided the leadership of Jews for Jesus branches and evangelistic campaigns in major cities of the US and in Israel. He headed up the Las Vegas Behold Your God (BYG) campaign in 2005 and co-led the 2006 BYG outreach in New Jersey. He is now also an administrator for the website www.JewishGentileCouples.com. In April, 1989, Zaretsky was present at the Willowbank Consultation on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish people, that produced the watershed Willowbank Declaration. Tuvya has presented missiology papers at the Evangelical Theological Society, the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) and at the Global Diaspora Missiology Consultation in 2006. He currently serves as president for the International Coordinating Committee of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism, a networking body of Jewish mission agencies. He was editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper 60, Jewish Evangelism" A Call to the Church in 2004. He was a contributing author of Israel the Land and People edited by H. Wayne House (Kregel Publishers, 1998). His doctoral dissertation, co-authored with Dr. Enoch Wan, was published as Jewish-Gentile Couples: Trends, Challenges and Hopes (William Carey Library Publishers, 2004). He authored or edited articles for the June 2006 issue of MISHKAN themed, "The Gospel and Jewish-Gentile Couples" (Jerusalem) . And in 2008 he was coordinator and contributor for the World Evangelical Alliance Consultation that produced "The Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism in Europe Today". In 2013 Zaretsky was appointed to serve as the Senior Associate for Jewish Evangelism by the International Lausanne Movement. Tuvya has an M.A. in Missiology concentrating in Judaic Studies from Fuller Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies and the Doctor of Missiology degree from the Division of Intercultural Studies at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is married to Ellen, who is also a Jewish Believer in Jesus. They have three young adult children: Jesse, Abbie and Kaile.