About a year ago, a Jewish believer named Stanley asked me to phone Rose, an older Jewish woman who might be open to hearing about Jesus. I telephoned Rose and was delighted when she readily agreed to meet with me. However she had one condition, and that was that her best friend, Gerty, could also come. I happily agreed to Rose’s terms and set a time for the following week.
I told Stanley the good news—and it was particularly good news for him because Gerty “happens” to be his mother! I discovered that he had been witnessing to her about the Messiahship of Jesus for many years. He has a desperate desire for her to receive Y’shua as her Messiah and Savior.
You see, an idea started to form in Stanley’s mind at the funeral of a believing friend whom Rose and Gerty also knew. On one level, a funeral marks a loss as we mourn the passing of a loved one, the death of a friend. However, the Lord can use these occasions to bring forth life. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24 NASB). In this case, God used the story of this believer and the faith of her friends to speak new life to those who do not yet know Him. Rose was simply amazed that so many attending the funeral were certain of eternal life. She began asking questions about Jesus and wondered if her friend’s son, Stanley, had something that she could read. Stanley agreed to give Rose some literature, but said he could offer her something even better: someone from Jews for Jesus to come and visit her. Stanley was excited when Rose agreed to this. He doubted that his mother would have agreed to such a meeting if he asked her directly, but maybe, just maybe she would also be there when the Jews for Jesus missionary visited Rose.
As Stanley had hoped, his mother joined in on my visits with Rose. Gerty explained how Stanley had been telling her about Jesus over the years, urging her to receive Him as her personal Savior and Messiah. But Gerty felt that she needed to find out for herself if Jesus is indeed the Messiah. It had to be at her own initiative, not his, that she explore this road. I now saw Stanley’s wisdom and patience in asking me to visit Rose, rather than asking me to visit his own mother.
Rose and Gerty both grew up in traditional Jewish homes; they are both in their eighties and have always been taught that Jews do not believe in Jesus. However, both are now seriously reconsidering this assumption as we study the Bible together. Each time we get together, my octogenarian pupils take notes and are often astounded by the visible links between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Gerty brings her Bible to work (covered in brown paper, lest her Orthodox Jewish employer see her reading the New Testament). Her questions often revolve around how one experiences God, while Rose asks how God can be one but also three, and why Jesus had to die.
As we began reading through the Gospel of John, both women were startled by how Jewish this book is. They were especially intrigued by the interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus. I think that they were able to relate to this religious Jewish man who encountered Jesus in his mature years. And just as Nicodemus did, they are grappling with the issue of what it means to be born again.
It is a pleasure for me to meet with these two ladies who are genuinely seeking God. I think how Stanley had so patiently witnessed to his mother over the years. Yet it was Rose whom he referred to us, as he faithfully followed through an opportunity God put in his path. And in his faithfulness to see Rose’s spiritual needs met, we have been able to minister to his mother, Gerty, as well. My prayer is that the Lord will continue to soften Rose and Gerty’s hearts, and bring them under His saving grace.