You can learn a lot about people from the context of their courtship and marriage. Did you know, many many couples have met in various ways through the ministry of Jews for Jesus? I thought it might be nice to share one couple’s story at length, and to highlight a few others.
Jeanne and David Waterman
Jeanne began working with Jews for Jesus as the art director at our San Francisco headquarters when she was a fairly new believer. As she grew in faith, she was challenged to consider becoming a front-line missionary. She took that step and moved to New York.
After her training, Jeanne planned to serve in one of our branches . . . after an 18- month detour with the Liberated Wailing Wall (LWW), our mobile evangelistic music team. So she boarded the bus and . . . she and David can tell you what happened:
David: The Liberated Wailing Wall came to our church in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I was teaching a young adult Sunday School program and the man who taught the young married class invited us to join them to hear Jeanne Kimmel give her story. I declined his invitation, but he persisted and I agreed to ask my class. They overwhelmingly voted to listen to the “Jew for Jesus” instead of me. She walked into the classroom, and that was where we met.
Jeanne: After I shared my story, several had questions, including David. He began with the story of the first girl he proposed to, who was Jewish. (He began “dating” her in kindergarten and they moved away when he was in the second grade.) We all chuckled but the story was quite long, so when David raised his hand again, I called on others. Eventually, David had a chance to talk again. He clearly was interested in Jewish evangelism and demonstrated a love for the Jewish people. After the presentation, I gave him information to contact Cecilia Butcher who, at the time, was in charge of our Co-Laborer In Messiah (volunteer) program.
David: Cecilia made sure that I was able to keep in contact with Jeanne after the Liberated Wailing Wall left Grand Forks. She advised me about when the team would be disbanding, and explained there would be no guarantees about where Jeanne might go after that.
Jeanne: Shortly after I met David, I went to California for a Jews for Jesus Council meeting. During a break, Cecilia peeked her head out from the kitchen and asked, “So Jeanne, who is this David Waterman? Are you interested?” I said, “No, but I’m open.” (I didn’t even know what that meant.) A month later, while back on the road with the LWW, I received a letter from David. After another month he called and asked if he could visit me when I returned to California in November.
Shortly after my return to San Francisco, I had the privilege of picking up Moishe Rosen (then executive director) at the airport. As we waited for his luggage, I mentioned that a man from Grand Forks, was going to be flying out to visit me.
David: I was also in the process of applying to be a Co- Laborer. My Co-Laborer application became the first occasion for Jeanne’s friends to get to know this stranger from Grand Forks who was showing so much interest in her. Moishe, his daughter Ruth (one of Jeanne’s best friends), and David Brickner (then minister-at-large and overseer of the LWW) made a conference call to my pastor, who vouched for my character. Jeanne was a treasured jewel at Jews for Jesus, and their display of concern for her only verified my strong feeling that I had discovered a very special woman, whom the Lord had chosen to be my bride.
Jeanne: David’s love for Jesus and his passion for the Church and the lost was so attractive to me, that I knew, despite the fact that Grand Forks was way outside of my comfort zone, David was the man that God had for me!
David: In addition to our work (Waterman Video Productions) we recently began a home church with a couple of other families. Our family also writes and distributes gospel tracts in our community. Our middle son Samuel (9) doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, so when we are in public places, he frequently asks a waitress or cashier, “Do you believe in Jesus?” When he knows that Jeanne or I will be meeting with someone, he generally challenges us as we’re leaving the house, “Will you ask him/her if they believe in Jesus?” He keeps us on our toes!
Jeanne: My main ministry is in raising (and home schooling) my three marvelous boys, Jonathan (11), Samuel (9), and Aaron (6). We hope to provide them with Bar Mitzvahs. Although the Jewish community here is small, there is a synagogue and the Lord has provided Jewish friends to whom I’ve been able to give my story.
I so dearly miss my family at Jews for Jesus, but they are still my family. God has blessed me so much in giving me the greatest adventure with Him from the time I was saved and discipled through Jews for Jesus, to the life and family He’s given me here in a little town called Grand Forks, with the godliest man I know. And the adventure isn’t over yet!
More ministry matches:
Jeannie and Efraim Goldstein first met during the 1975 Jews for Jesus Summer Witnessing Campaign in New York City. After the summer Jeannie and Efraim had occasional contact as Jeannie was living in Los Angeles and Efraim came to visit his brother and friends (who comprised the first of the Jews for Jesus branches) also living there. Efraim eventually moved to L.A. and began studying theology at Talbot Seminary. By then Jeannie and I (Ruth) were roommates, attending Biola Bible College (now University). We lived down the street from Efraim and several other single, male Jews for Jesus, most of whom were Bible school or seminary students. Efraim’s and Jeannie’s friendship continued to deepen and it was no great surprise when they became engaged. They were married at the very house the guys were sharing (we called it the Kibbutz) and have been serving the Lord together ever since. They pioneered our work in Tel Aviv, Israel, where they both continue to serve.
Steve and Janie-sue Wertheim met at a Jews for Jesus Bible study the day after Janie moved to Los Angeles. She came to join Israelight, a Jewish gospel music group that was part of the L.A. branch. Steve couldn’t wait to meet Janie because he had heard her audition tape and thought she sounded like his favorite folk singer, Joni Mitchell. Janie moved in with me shortly after Jeannie and Efraim got married—and Steve was one of the guys down the street who attended Talbot Seminary! They became best friends . . . and it didn’t take long for their friendship to blossom into something deeper.
Steve currently serves as an administrative assistant to David Brickner at our SF headquarters. Janie, who has served in the area of children and youth ministry, is seeking the Lord about how to best use this next season in her life for Him. Janie says, “It’s a great thing to marry your best friend, and an even greater thing to keep growing together so you stay best friends. It’s possible through Y’shua (Jesus)!”
Martha and Loren Jacobs met at Moody Bible Institute where Jews for Jesus had encouraged them both to enter the Jewish Studies program.
Martha had been part of the Jews for Jesus Summer Witnessing Campaign in 1975, and had then traveled with the New Jerusalem Players, our mobile evangelistic drama team. Meanwhile, Loren had come to faith through exploring the Bible on his own and began buying books to evangelize everyone he met. (He bought 100 Late Great Planet Earth books to give everyone who got into his taxi when he was working as a cabby!) He was often in the local Christian bookstore, which is where he met Barry Rubin (then the leader of our Chicago branc h) and his wife, Steffi. Loren was discipled by Jews for Jesus and he loved handing out broadsides (tracts) with us so much that, according to Martha, he enrolled in Bible school because Barry said that if he didn’t, he would have to stop handing out tracts with us!
Martha and Loren presented “Christ in the Passover” in local churches, and often teamed up to do street evangelism as well.
They married a little over a year after they met and served together with Jews for Jesus for many years before moving to a Jewish suburb of Detroit. There they pioneered (and continue to lead) a Messianic congregation.
Delphine and Joshua Turnil met at a family dinner. Joshua was a missionary intern at our Paris branch. Some Jewish believers who’d come to faith through our ministry there had a party and invited Jews for Jesus to come and meet some of their non-believing friends, including Delphine Teboul’s dad. Josh tried to talk to him about Jesus. Mr. Teboul was not very interested, but he enjoyed Josh’s company enough to want to see him again. He and his wife invited Josh for dinner with the same Jewish believers who had organized the party. Delphine said, “I had other plans that evening, but my mom encouraged me to stay, so I did. Josh did not know I was a believer and started witnessing to me pretty much right away. As soon as he found out that I was already a believer he started to recruit me for the next Paris summer campaign. That’s how we met. Jews for Jesus gave us the opportunity to serve the Lord together on the Paris summer campaign. Later on I decided to become a missionary and moved to New York for my training, leaving Josh in Paris. It is difficult to maintain a long-distance relationship, but thanks to the Jews for Jesus network, we were able to maintain it and we got engaged during that time. When Josh decided to become a missionary as well, he also moved to New York. The ministry kept me there a little longer in order to see Joshua while he began his own training. We came back to France in January 2002, were married on February 17 and we have served together in Paris ever since.”
Newlyweds David and Joanie Abramsky met at the Jews for Jesus “Shalom Hospitality House” in June 2004. Joanie had just finished her second consecutive tour with the Liberated Wailing Wall and David was just starting training for his tour. Joanie joined David’s team for many meals and activities and was a great support to David while he was on the road, having just experienced the challenges and victories of that life for herself. Joanie was just starting a job with Jews for Jesus at headquarters and she says everyone around her was very encouraging and supportive of the relationship. David’s teammates were also very excited—everyone seemed to feel that God was involved in the timing of their getting together. David finished his tour with the Liberated Wailing Wall and began working part-time at our headquarters. (He still works there part-time, using the rest of his week to write music.) Joanie is a social worker. They married in November 2006. David says, “Being married for such a short time, we’re not sure what pearls we can offer. But some may be encouraged to know that each of us had reached the point where we felt it was a real possibility that we would never get married. I am 45 and Joanie is 42. God was SO good: He knew who each of us needed to wait for.”
Soon to be wed Sara Herr and Matthew Friedman met on Project Joshua, a Jews for Jesus program for college students to spend two weeks in Israel, doing evangelism and traveling around the Land. They continued their friendship after the trip. Matt was part of our associate student program in New York and Sara was finishing school at the University of Nevada in Reno. Sara says, “After I decided to apply for [Jews for Jesus] staff we began dating—at first long-distance and now in New York (where Sara is a missionary trainee and Matt is an associate staff member and student at Hunter College.) We both knew before we began dating that we wanted to serve God at Jews for Jesus and it’s been a perfect opportunity for us to serve God together. We’ve been given lots of opportunities to be partners, particularly working on the youth program together.” Matt and Sara plan to be married this August.
Happy Valentine’s Day, and I hope you’ve enjoyed these glimpses of staff, past and present, who found their matches through service with Jews for Jesus.