Bits from the Branches
The Jewish Post and Opinion, a Jewish newspaper, regularly features movie reviews of current films. Recently they printed one rabbi’s review of Shadowlands, the story of Christian philosopher/writer C. S. Lewis’s friendship and marriage to Jewish believer Joy Davidman. The rabbi spent more space tearing apart Joy Davidman than dealing with the movie.
In a letter to the editor, Chicago branch leader Jhan Moskowitz charged that the rabbi’s agenda seemed to be not to critique the film but to defend Judaism from a sympathetic portrayal of Jewish Christianity in the major media. Jhan pointed out that character assassination is a frequent ploy of the Jewish community to deal with Jews who become Christians. Jhan’s letter was published, along with the Skokie address of our Jews for Jesus office. He is praying that it will provoke serious thought and that some Jewish people will write and enter into a discussion about Jews believing in Jesus.
On a speaking tour, missionary Valerie Hanick met Kurt, a Christian who had just met a Jewish man named William in a copy shop. As Kurt was making copies of a tract called “Who Is the Christ?” William walked by and asked for one. Kurt used the opportunity to witness. He said that after making the copies, he was going to church to hear Valerie present I, and he invited William to come along. William was busy that evening but did want to meet Valerie. He asked Kurt to give Val his phone number. Val called William the next day and got to talk to him and his wife— and they both prayed to accept Y’shua as Lord and Savior.
Branch leader Bob Mendelsohn wears his bright red Jews for Jesus T-shirt to his health club where he often plays racquet ball. One of the men who also frequents the court is Glen. Bob never knew whether Glen was Jewish, but Glen never entered a discussion with him as some of the others did. One day, when Bob visited Stephen, a new Jewish believer, Glen was at Stephen’s house! Stephen and Glen were high school friends. Surprised that Stephen and this Jew for Jesus knew each other, Glen asked how this had come about. When Bob mentioned the “Y’shua connection,” Glen quickly left. “Stay tuned,” says Bob. “I’m sure the story is not even close to being over!”
Last spring, missionary Richard Harvey ran an evangelistic ad in a London paper. A Jewish woman made a decision for Christ, and the ad also garnered some criticism. One notable, Richard Harris, the bishop of Oxford, labeled it “misconceived and harmful.” This led to a lively debate on a Sunday radio program between Richard Harvey and Richard Harris. Our Richard did quite well, proving the old adage, “Every knock is a boost.” Meanwhile, a correspondence battle raged in the paper. Amid the fray, The Council of Christians and Jews was criticized by the retired bishop of Birmingham, Hugh Montefiore (who is a Jewish believer in Jesus). Montefiore charged that the CCJ could be “more accurately named ‘the Council for Gentile Christians and Jews’” and stated that he had felt unwelcomed by the council. A rabbi wrote that he had always found Jews for Jesus “sincere, committed, evangelical—and of a childlike theological naivete.” To which Richard Harvey responded, “We happily agree, knowing that the Scriptures tell us to come to Jesus as little children and that He has ‘confounded the wise in the imagination of their hearts.’”
Missionary Stan Meyer was broadsiding (handing out tracts) at Santa Barbara City College when a student remarked, “Jews for Jesus? No, thank you!” Stan showed her the pamphlet title: “Everybody Needs a Chance.” At that, the girl smiled and took one after all.
Missionary-in-training Jenifer Hall was handing out tracts on the Queens College campus where we have had problems in the past with security officers. Soon Jenifer was asked to leave. She didn’t leave but merely changed locations. That put her right in the path of some Jewish students headed for a seminar on “revealing the hidden codes in the Torah.” Aaron, one Jewish student, stopped to talk to Jenifer. A girl who was handing out fliers for the seminar chased him down, presumably to contradict whatever Jenifer had said. Then the rabbi/speaker brought a group of people to make Jenifer leave the campus. It must have been strange to see all those grown men screaming at one five-foot-tall woman. Pray that Aaron will truly search for the truth and that soon we will be able to hand out tracts unhindered on this very Jewish campus.
Volunteers have been busy addressing envelopes and mailing out the Questions and Answers booklet to those who responded to four ads placed in Moscow, Minsk, Kiev and Odessa papers. Missionary Avi Snyder reported that in just the first few weeks, they had received 807 inquiries from Jewish people and 1,403 from Gentiles.
The police continue to harass our broadsiders in the Moscow Metro stations. However, they have discovered that sometimes a little notoriety can unbend the iron arm of Moscow law. Missionary Vlad had appeared on a television program to discuss Passover and Easter with a Catholic monk, a Greek Orthodox priest and a Protestant minister. A day or two later, while Vlad was broadsiding in the Metro, a policeman ordered him to leave. Then, taking a closer look at Vlad, the officer asked, “Did I see you on television?” “Yes,” Vlad replied. The policeman paused and said in a softer tone, “OK, continue your work.” Then, after walking a few paces, he stopped and returned. Did he want Vlad’s autograph? Not exactly. “When you’re finished,” he ordered, “pick up the trash!”
Missionary David Mishkin reports “sorties without broadsides,” a new approach to Cal-Berkeley students who seem jaded by all the literature various groups are constantly handing out. Our staff has made several Jewish contacts by just walking up to someone and asking questions about the campus and student life. Eventually our worker turns the conversation to our bookstore and the Bible and asks, “Who do you think Jesus is?” Students have seemed more willing to talk to chatty people than to tract passers.