City of Light or Missionary Graveyard?
Did you know that Paris is often referred to as “the missionary graveyard”? Yet our Paris team is privileged to be part of His redemptive work in that very difficult city.
Where to turn? by Joshua Turnil
A couple of years ago, Josette was looking for something more than what her Orthodox Jewish tradition had offered. She began a search on the Internet, and many different options popped up, including “Jews for Jesus.” Fascinated, she actually picked up the phone to call us, but hung up when someone on the other end said, “Shalom, Jews for Jesus.” A couple of years later, Josette’s daughter, Hélène was in the hospital, dying of cancer. Josette did not know where to turn, and she remembered Jews for Jesus. Again she picked up the phone but this time did not hang up. I received the call asking if I would visit Hélène. I asked my wife, Delphine, to pray that Hélène would be awake, and was on my way to the hospital within fifteen minutes. I arrived to find Hélène not only conscious, but staring right at me. I introduced myself and explained why I was there:
“In a few minutes, I will leave this room. Going out the door, I will turn left, take the elevator to the garage, get in my car and go home. Soon, you will also leave this room. Do you know where you are going? You CAN know.” Then I explained the gospel and invited her to repeat the prayer of repentance and salvation. She struggled to speak, but she clearly understood and made the effort to repeat the prayer. At the end, she mustered all her strength and gave a resounding “AMEN!” I added a prayer and a blessing and as I prepared to leave, she again made another huge effort, and lifted her hand. As I gave her mine in return, she squeezed it hard. The following week Josette attended our Hanukkah event. During the evening, she heard the gospel and asked several questions. That very night, she too prayed to receive Christ in her heart. But there is more…. Apart from the leading of God’s Spirit, I can’t explain what prompted me to bring Josette to a specific church that I’d had very little contact with. When I called the pastor and explained Josette’s situation, he told me of a woman that he wanted Josette to meet. A retired teacher, Irène had known and loved many Jewish pupils and often prayed for their salvation.
When Josette and I arrived at the church, the pastor and his wife, along with an older woman, greeted us at the door. Josette whispered, “I know that woman!” The two women fell into each other’s arms and cried. The pastor and I looked at each other, perplexed. We later learned that Irene had taught all of Josette’s children when they were young! As soon as Irene saw Josette, she realized that the little Hélène she cherished as a child was in the hospital, dying. After the worship service, she and Irène spent the day together. Josette is in good hands with this congregation. Meanwhile, as the family began preparing themselves for Hélène’s demise, Josette asked me to officiate at the funeral. Other family members were opposed, even though they’d seen a change in Hélène. In fact, her father said to Josette, “She is luminous! What happened?” What happened? God brought eternal life to a woman on her deathbed – praise God that He can bring life from the dead! But there’s more. I was flying to the U.S. for a Jews for Jesus leadership meeting when the call came that Hélène had passed peacefully into the Lord’s presence. I felt torn not being with the family, though I was sure I would not have been allowed to officiate at the funeral. However, the day I returned home, another message awaited me. The funeral had been postponed, and the rabbi had backed out of officiating. Perhaps he had even heard that Hélène had been associating with Jews for Jesus. Josette was not sure where to turn. I had just enough time to get home, shower and make it to the graveside, where I was allowed to conduct the service after all. I chanted the customary liturgy and prayers. Then, as I spoke about Hélène experiencing a dramatic change that brought her peace, heads nodded, and I was able to give a clear gospel presentation. Please keep this family in your prayers, that God will continue His work in their hearts.