Missionary work is full of questions—those that people ask us, those we ask others to get them to think about the gospel, and those we ask ourselves. These experiences of some of the members of our Liberated Wailing Wall Mobile Evangelistic Team represent some of the queries we encounter.
I met Eric at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival in Florida while my team, The Liberated Wailing Wall, was doing evangelism there. Wearing just a T-shirt and loose cotton trousers, Eric was barefoot. He looked like he had not bathed for a while, and he had open sores on his face and hands.
He came up to me and asked, What are you handing out?”
I explained a little about Jews for Jesus and what I was doing.
“Are you Jewish?” he asked.
I sensed a genuine interest. “Yes,” I said. “And are you Jewish?”
“This body was born Jewish,” he answered, indicating himself.
I detected something cultic and evasive about his answer and tried to get more information. After a few questions, I learned that Eric had been born into a Jewish family and at 13 had celebrated his bar mitzvah (Jewish confirmation ceremony). He had left home, his family had no idea where he was, and for some reason he had no intention of ever letting them know. He lived on the streets, and recently had been ill with chicken pox.
When I first asked his name, he said, “Names don’t matter. They’re not important.”
“You don’t have a name?” I pursued.
“My friends call me ‘Air’—short for Eric.”
“Where are your parents, Air?” I asked.
He looked at me suspiciously, but responded, “They’re up north.”
“When last did you see them?”
He was becoming agitated by my questions, so I changed the subject.
“Air, have you made peace with God?” I asked.
He indicated that he had not.
“What do you think about Jesus?” I asked.
Eric had heard about Jesus, but he spoke about Him in nebulous, indirect terms. Whatever his religious experience had been since he left home, it had involved Jesus in some way, so he was open to hearing more. I explained the message of the gospel to him and he appeared to understand.
“Air, do you want Jesus to come into your life and forgive your sins?” I asked.
“Yes,” he responded.
“Would you like to pray now to ask Him into your life?”
“Yes,” he said again, and I asked him to repeat the sinner’s prayer after me. He prayed and then we talked a while longer.
I left Eric feeling I had done all I could at that point. Yet I was somewhat uncertain. Had it been a sincere commitment? He said he had no contact address, so there was no way I could get in touch with him to follow up on his decision. His pain and fear were great, and he was obviously running away from someone or something. I wondered what would become of Eric. Only God knows, but that is enough because God cares.