Losing Through Intimidation
I was supposed to be intimidated. After all, his voice had a definite note of menace to it.
If you continue to hand out those pamphlets of yours on campus, then I’m going to have my people take counter measures,” he said.
“What kind of counter measures did you have in mind?” I asked.
“This is a free country. If you want to be an idolater and worship your carpenter from Galilee, that’s your business. But when you insult Torah-true Judaism—by using Jewish symbols, and by still calling yourselves Jews, and by handing out those pamphlets which distort everything that Judaism teaches, then you’d better be prepared to face the consequences.”
“Such as?” I asked.
“Every time your people are out there, we’ll be out there handing out our own literature.”
“Well,” I said, “that’s certainly your prerogative.”
There was a momentary pause at the other end of the phone line. And then the caller said, “You won’t like what we hand out.”
“Oh?” I asked.
“I happen to have in my possession a pamphlet—very well written—which raises the question of whether or not this carpenter of yours ever even existed. It just so happens there’s a lot of evidence in this pamphlet to show that this person you worship was invented by a Roman.”
Another pause on the line, and then the caller’s tone took on a note of mock concern. “Now, we’ll try not to hand these out to your Gentile friends, because we’re not looking to do to them what you’re looking to do to us. But you know, we really can’t tell if everyone who gets a pamphlet is Jewish, so I suppose some of our literature will fall into the hands of your Gentile friends. If that gets them upset, well, there’s nothing we’ll be able to do about it.”
I imagine I was supposed to be more intimidated at that.
“Well, do what you want, ” I said. “I don’t think too many will get upset.”
“Oh, people will get upset,” the caller assured me. “People will get upset, because we just might take some of these pamphlets around to some churches and let your pastor friends know the truth about this Jesus.” My friend at the other end of the line paused once more, thinking perhaps to allow the full impact of his words to register. After giving me what he probably thought was sufficient time for reflection, he asked, “Now, are you going to continue handing out those pamphlets which distort everything that Torah—true Judaism—teaches?”
“Whether our pamphlets are a distortion is one thing,” I said. “You think they are; I think they aren’t. Whether what you teach is true to Torah is another thing. You think it is; I think it isn’t. But if you want to know whether we’ll continue to hand out our literature, let me assure you that we will.”
“Then you’re forcing me to take action,” my caller said.
“I’m not forcing you to do anything, my friend,” I responded. “You can do what you want. You said it yourself. It’s a free country.”
Then he delivered his final warning. “I think you’d better check with your leader, Moishe Rosen. I happen to know he wouldn’t like it if our pamphlets about your carpenter got into the hands of some of his friends. You know, the friends who give him all his money. So, I think you’d better check.”
“I don’t have to check,” I told him. “I don’t intend to check.”
“Are you going to continue handing out your pamphlets?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“Then you’re forcing me to take action.”
“Forgive me for saying so,” I said, “but we’re beginning to repeat ourselves, which leads me to think that we don’t have anything more to say to one another.” I said good by, and my caller hung up the phone.
I imagine I was supposed to be intimidated. But I couldn’t be, for two reasons. In the first place, God has told us through the prophet Isaiah, “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of men, neither be afraid of their revilings.” (Isaiah 51:7)
And in the second place, how could I be intimidated when my caller only confirmed what I knew to be true—that we were having an effect?
Perhaps my caller got a glimmer of understanding from my perspective. You see, whatever happens, God will use it to his glory. If no opposition arises, we preach the gospel unimpeded. If opposition does arise, the added din arouses the attention of those who have not yet noticed the issue we seek to raise.
The call was meant to intimidate me. Instead, I was encouraged.
I thought of 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.