The Unseen Team
Part of the fun of being a missionary is seeing God work through many people to reach just one. That was the case with a Jewish woman named Dana.
Dana was born in my hometown, San Jose, California. In fact she received some of her religious training at Temple Emmanuel, where our family attended. Dana’s family moved to Southern California when she was still in elementary school. Like many Jews who moved to the growing suburbs, they did not pursue further Jewish education or congregational affiliation.
By the time she was thirty, Dana was married and the mother of two small children. Like the majority of Jewish people married since 1990, she had married a non-Jew. She and her husband were undecided about their children’s religious upbringing. On her thirtieth birthday, Dana began calling out to God for direction.
About that time she also decided to get back into physical shape. A neighborhood church advertised an aerobics class complete with child care. Dana, determined to get in shape despite any Christian agenda that might be presented, signed up.
Gina, the instructor, was a vivacious, enthusiastic and competent church member. She used contemporary Christian music for the class.
The prayers and the words of encouragement that Gina offered were salted with gracious statements about the love of Christ. Dana tried to ignore the religious stuff.” She tried to block the words of the songs, too, but she couldn’t. Dana found her heart longing for more knowledge of God.
It turns out that Gina was already plugged into the Jews for Jesus ministry. She had heard one of our missionaries speak at her church and had been encouraged to witness to Jewish people. As she noticed Da-na’s growing interest in the things of the Lord, she provided Dana with some of our literature and a copy of the Yeshua book, a messianic prophesy primer by Moishe Rosen. Dana gladly received the information, and in July of 1996, she came to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Dana spends most of her time at home with her young children, but she uses the Internet to stay connected with various people and ideas. She was looking for information to help her integrate her Jewish identity with her new faith when she came across our Jews for Jesus web page. Browsing through the index of Jews for Jesus offices, she discovered the e-mail address for our Los Angeles branch. She sent me a note and within 24 hours we connected. She was a six-week-old believer looking for fellowship with other Jewish Christians. Annette Sofaer, one of our Los Angeles-based missionaries, contacted Dana by telephone the next day.
By “coincidence,” I was scheduled to speak in Dana’s hometown of Corona five days later. Annette invited Dana to the meeting and arranged to meet her there.
Dana has a home church (where she met Gina). She’s getting discipleship help from one of our missionaries, plus she met another mature Jewish Christian at the church where I spoke for added encouragement in the faith. Isn’t it great how God puts together a whole team to draw one person to Himself?
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.