When I became a Jews for Jesus CLIM (Co-Laborer in Messiah) in 1986, I never dreamed I would eventually be doing a little missionary work of my own. But that’s exactly what happened.
As the chartered host of the San Antonio, Texas chapter I started to receive names of unbelieving Jewish people from their Christian friends and relatives. I prayed that God would move Jewish believers to contact them and gave out a couple of referrals, but six weeks later I learned with dismay that they had not been contacted. I sensed God was calling me to the task. I had the time and commitment, but could I be effective?
I recalled painful experiences as I had tried to confront Jewish friends with the Four Spiritual Laws, and later only partial success as I won only Gentile people to the Lord. Gradually, through Scripture, the Lord showed me that he expected me to do my part, but I needed special training to reach Jewish people.
After two years as a Co-Laborer in Messiah, my grasp of Judaica had taken a giant step forward. Still, I read all the "how-to’s" I could find in the Jews for Jesus publications, especially Share the New Life With a Jew.
Then in 1989, after much prayer, things began to happen. I met Heidi, a young Jewish woman who had inquired at a local church about the messianic claims of Jesus. Married to a Gentile believer, Heidi had always carefully side-stepped Jesus to avoid offending her family. Finally a local pastor talking about Israel on Christian television had aroused her curiosity. When Heidi visited that pastor, he referred her to Ezra, a member of our Co-Laborer chapter, who then called me.
I invited Heidi to look at some Scriptures with me in the Hebrew Bible that prove Jesus is the Messiah, and I set a time limit for our discussions: 30 minutes one night a week for six weeks. Heidi accepted my offer and was impressed when I used a kitchen timer to stick to the agreed upon 30 minutes. In our sessions I covered the most critical issues—the covenants, particularly the Mosaic Covenant, the Trinity and messianic prophecies.
After our third lesson, Heidi opened up with many questions and lingered after the timer went off. At the end of the six weeks, she asked for the "graduate course."
After two more months of study I said, "Heidi, all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed to accept Yeshua as Messiah. When you think you have something that size, let me know."
What a thrill it was when several weeks later she said, "Mary, I’ve got faith the size of a mustard seed now." She prayed right then to accept Yeshua as her Messiah and Lord. She finds time now in her busy schedule to help with a special chapter program we call "A Night of Yiddishkeit." Her powerful story during one of those evenings brought another Jewish unbeliever to inquire, and he is now my student.
Right after Heidi came Allen. Oddly, we met at a Christian home show where Allen was on an errand for his believing wife. Ezra, who was working at one of the booths, pointed him out to me. "See that man?" he said. "I think he’s a Jewish believer."
I caught up with Allen and said, "Hi! Someone just told me you are a Jewish believer in Jesus."
"I’m Jewish, but I don’t believe in Jesus," he snapped.
"Have you heard of Jews for Jesus?" I asked softly.
"Yes, I know all about them. I’m from New York," he responded.
After some small talk and a little kidding about why a good Jewish boy was at a Christian home show, Allen gave me his address and phone number and agreed to receive our local newsletter—"but just the local one," he warned.
A few weeks later I sent Allen a note offering a quick study in the Hebrew Bible to prove the messiahship of Jesus. Several months passed before he accepted my offer. He arrived at my home somewhat apprehensive, but with an open heart to discover the truth about Jesus.
With each lesson Allen’s amazement grew. "It’s all here in our own Scriptures!" he exclaimed with conviction. "How can it be denied?"
Six weeks later Allen accepted Yeshua and continued to study with me for several months. He didn’t waste time before getting baptized. His obedience to Scripture on this point reminds me of the Ethiopian who asked Philip to baptize him as soon as he understood Isaiah 53.
Like Heidi, Allen is also an active member of our chapter. His favorite line in our Night of Yiddishkeit program is, "God made me a Jew. No one can take that from me."
Shortly after Allen became a believer, Susan arrived in San Antonio and was hired as Allen’s coworker in the field of occupational therapy. Discovering that Susan was Jewish and had a desire to know more about Jesus, he asked me to call her. She agreed to meet for Bible study. Within weeks, Susan also prayed to receive Jesus!
Shortly after this I received a call from a young Jewish woman named Beth. Mark, a Gentile seminary student in San Antonio, had been talking to Beth about Jesus. She wanted to meet someone Jewish who believed in Jesus, and had gotten my phone number from a local Christian radio station. She was disappointed that I was a Gentile, but I promised her she would meet a number of Jewish believers at our chapter meeting. When she attended one, God arranged for eight or nine, including a young man her own age, to be there.
Next I drove Beth to Austin, Texas to talk to more Jewish believers. I also called Mitch Glaser at Jews for Jesus, and he had one of our missionaries call her. Then Beth wanted to visit a messianic congregation, so I arranged that, too. There Beth accepted Yeshua as her Messiah.
Toward the end of 1989 a Liberated Wailing Wall contact from the previous year agreed to a short Bible study with me. Many Christians had witnessed to her before and she had even taken an extensive Bible course. She was always polite and on time. She took a few notes but said little. She did not ask questions, and promptly left when the session ended. When six weeks were over, she said she was not ready to accept Yeshua and declined further study.
I said, "I think you know that Yeshua is the Messiah, but you’re afraid to accept him. Is it because of your father?"
She stared at me for a moment, then smiled and said, "You’ve hit the nail on the head, Mary."
I gave her all the reasons she should accept Yeshua, the only one who could make a difference in her life and that of her father, but she couldn’t do it. While it was a sad note on which to end 1989, she did ask me not to give up on her. You can believe I won’t!
In January, 1990, our chapter gave another Night of Yiddishkeit for a singles group at a well-known church near the Reform Synagogue. Allen quickly let me know that an unbelieving Jewish man was present. As the visitor moved to the coffee area, I strolled over and asked if some of the things we had said were new to him. He said it had not been what he had expected. He was glad he had come and had enjoyed it.
"Do you go to church here?" I asked, knowing he probably did not.
"No," he responded. "I’m Jewish, but the pastor here is friendly toward the Jewish people, so I visit once in a while." He handed me his business card, letting me know that I was talking to a physicist with a Ph.D.
"And what about you? Are you friendly toward Yeshua?" I asked.
My question caught him off guard, but he managed a smile. "Well, yes, but I don’t believe he is the Messiah."
"But you are open-minded, aren’t you? Suppose I could show you from your own Hebrew Scriptures proof that Jesus is the Messiah, and suppose I could do this in just six lessons, just once a week for 30 minutes. Would you believe if I could do that?"
"If you could do that, yes, I think so. But I would have to make up my own mind—just six weeks, huh?"
We set a time to begin. Then he phoned to say he wouldn’t take my class unless I let him tape everything. I said if he came the first time without his tape recorder, I’d let him tape the rest of the sessions.
Then I called him the day before his second lesson and said, "I’ve decided not to teach you." He was shocked.
"But why?" he demanded.
"I don’t think you’re really interested in knowing the truth about Yeshua. Otherwise, you would not have insisted on taping the sessions and threatened not to come if you couldn’t have your way. I know I said I’d let you tape the rest—that is if I teach you the rest. I don’t want to do that—so I’m not going to teach you any more.
"Look, I didn’t know you were so sensitive about being taped," he said. "I’m sorry. But I am interested. I wouldn’t have come if I wasn’t interested." "Well," I hesitated—"if you are sincere and really want to study, OK."
"I’ll be there tomorrow without the tape recorder," he promised.
He told me I was a difficult woman, but after the next lesson he said I was smarter than a rabbi’s wife. After our fifth lesson, I doubted that he would continue. I asked the Lord to guide me about the final evening. I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit as an idea came to me. I would confront him with the words of Yeshua—things he didn’t know Yeshua had said—and let him see that there was a penalty for rejecting God’s provision for atonement.
"Tonight we’re going to look at some things Yeshua said that concern you," I began.
"Oh-oh, you’re going to scare me now," he responded. "You’ve already got me scared enough."
He was visibly stirred after our opening prayer, which was my earnest plea to God for him. Each Scripture had been carefully considered. A hush came over the room.
At the end of the lesson, his comment warmed my heart. "You’ve shown me things I never knew, and I’m glad you insisted that I not use a recorder. You made me listen."
He agreed to further study and promised to seek God about Yeshua. Though he was not ready then to accept him, we know from Scripture that those who seek shall find.