Not Much of a Witness? Not!
I love the little ironies of life; especially those that show how God’s been at work in our lives all along.
I was not yet a follower of Yeshua while in college. At one point, I began a friendship with a coed named Gail, taking her to a couple of campus social events. Before the friendship had progressed far, she invited me to attend church with her. Startled, I responded rather bluntly by asking, Why would I do that?” Gail told me how much she loved her church and the people who attended. She explained, too, how she appreciated her pastor’s clear biblical teaching and encouraged me to come see for myself.
I tried to deflect her a second time, expanding my original response ever so slightly. “No, why would I do that since I’m Jewish?” She didn’t really have an answer regarding my Jewishness; she simply told me that Jesus meant a lot to her. I was closed to the gospel and decided at that point to end the relationship.
The irony is that 39 years later, I was filling the pulpit at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood for their Missions Sunday. This was the very same church that Gail attended when we were in college…the very same church she had invited me to visit…the very same church I had refused to attend. And there I was, representing Jews for Jesus. How’s that for a beautiful little irony?
I shared the story about Gail with the interim pastor early in the day. During the last of four services, I was encouraged to tell it to the congregation.
And, yes, Gail was in church for the fourth service that Sunday morning. She, along with her daughter Robin, came after the service to extend a greeting. It was a blessing to see her telling the interim pastor, “I was the coed.” Gail knew that I had become a Christian back in the early 1970s. She told me that she did not recall being “much of a witness” in college, but she did remember praying. Well, she was enough of a witness that I avoided her at the time, but as a result of her prayers and the prayers of others, I was unable to avoid Jesus.
Thanks to God for His grace! And thanks to God for Christians who are not ashamed to invite unbelievers to their church, or to risk a relationship in the hope of seeing a friend come to faith in Jesus.
Tuvya Zaretsky is one of the founders of the Jews for Jesus ministry. He was the first field missionary beginning his service in February 1974. Tuvya continues to serve the Lord, now as the Director of Staff Development internationally, based out of the Los Angeles office. He also chairs the Board for the Jews for Jesus branch in Tel Aviv, Israel. Tuvya was raised in Northern California in the institutions of American Judaism. During his bar mitzvah at age thirteen, Tuvya read from Isaiah 6:1-8 and declared with the prophet, Hineni-Here I am, send me!" However, his search for God and spiritual truth didn't come into focus until ten years later, when a Christian colleague encouraged him to seek God in the pursuit of truth. Tuvya came to believe in Y'shua (Jesus) on December 7, 1970. Ever since, he has been joyfully saying to God, "Hineni-Here am I." The full story is available by that title, in a booklet form here. Tuvya has provided the leadership of Jews for Jesus branches and evangelistic campaigns in major cities of the US and in Israel. He headed up the Las Vegas Behold Your God (BYG) campaign in 2005 and co-led the 2006 BYG outreach in New Jersey. He is now also an administrator for the website www.JewishGentileCouples.com. In April, 1989, Zaretsky was present at the Willowbank Consultation on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish people, that produced the watershed Willowbank Declaration. Tuvya has presented missiology papers at the Evangelical Theological Society, the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) and at the Global Diaspora Missiology Consultation in 2006. He currently serves as president for the International Coordinating Committee of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism, a networking body of Jewish mission agencies. He was editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper 60, Jewish Evangelism" A Call to the Church in 2004. He was a contributing author of Israel the Land and People edited by H. Wayne House (Kregel Publishers, 1998). His doctoral dissertation, co-authored with Dr. Enoch Wan, was published as Jewish-Gentile Couples: Trends, Challenges and Hopes (William Carey Library Publishers, 2004). He authored or edited articles for the June 2006 issue of MISHKAN themed, "The Gospel and Jewish-Gentile Couples" (Jerusalem) . And in 2008 he was coordinator and contributor for the World Evangelical Alliance Consultation that produced "The Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism in Europe Today". In 2013 Zaretsky was appointed to serve as the Senior Associate for Jewish Evangelism by the International Lausanne Movement. Tuvya has an M.A. in Missiology concentrating in Judaic Studies from Fuller Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies and the Doctor of Missiology degree from the Division of Intercultural Studies at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is married to Ellen, who is also a Jewish Believer in Jesus. They have three young adult children: Jesse, Abbie and Kaile.