One of my most exciting ministry opportunities has been the process of starting and overseeing a new branch of Jews for Jesus in South Africa . I recently returned to my Chicago branch ministry from a trip to Johannesburg , where I was able to introduce Andrew and Laura Barron, our newly appointed missionaries to South Africa . I see a vibrancy and vitality to this new work. It reminds me of the beginnings of our Jews for Jesus ministry back in the early seventies.
Everything was new then. We had to feel our way as we went. We had more zeal than experience, but because of that we felt a greater dependence on God. We were not too sure of what we were doing, but we knew that God was doing something, and we were glad just to be a part of it.
That is the way things are in South Africa right now. Andrew and Laura haven’t had a great deal of experience. Though Andrew has been a qualified missionary for some years, he has never led a Jews for Jesus branch. Laura only recently began serving as a missionary. Newly married, Andrew and Laura are living in a new country and beginning a new work—a challenging set of circumstances. But God is doing something in South Africa , and I know that Andrew and Laura are glad to be a part of it. Their inexperience will not be a handicap. It will drive them to more dependence on God. Already he is showing himself faithful. Many Christians have come alongside to encourage and offer assistance.
The very first time Andrew went to the Witwatersrand University campus to hand out tracts, security guards made him leave. It made no difference to the administration that they allow Hare Krishna devotees to chant, and political extremists are given every opportunity to promote their causes. Jews for Jesus is not welcome to preach the gospel there, not even to quietly pass out our pamphlets. Are we discouraged? No. The final chapter has yet to be written concerning Wits campus. If there is one lesson we have learned through our experiences here in the United States , it is that many battles lie ahead as we serve God. But we are also confident that he will lead us from victory to victory. It would be foolish to assume that Satan and his forces would simply yield upon our arrival on the scene. No, we expect Satan to wage a fierce battle for the souls of Jewish people in South Africa , and we will need all the prayers and encouragement of God’s people to help us persist in the struggle.
In the meantime, we have encouraging news. In the first month of the new South African ministry, Laura led someone to the Lord. She is a lady in her 50’s whose religious outlook has been one of openness to New Age thought. Many had witnessed to her, including her niece, Professor Elizabeth Block, a member of our South Africa Board of Directors. Laura said, "I just came along at the right time."
They have instituted a Friday night Bible study in Rosebank, a suburb of Johannesburg , and already scores of Jewish believers as well as some unbelieving Jewish people have started to attend. Andrew and Laura are also visiting with unbelieving Jewish people in their homes. The work has really begun!