You probably do not remember Harry, but if you’ve been receiving the Jews for Jesus Newsletter for three or more years, there’s a good chance that you prayed for him. Back in October, 2004, we had a brief article about our Johannesburg branch. At the end there were several prayer requests, and one of them was for Harry. It didn’t say much about him . . . just a bullet point at the end of the article: “please pray for Harry’s salvation.”
I first met Harry about four years ago at the suggestion of a Christian friend. In fact, the majority of Jewish seekers we meet with come through friends like you. Harry had experienced much pain and disappointment that he wanted to discuss. My times with Harry helped me understand that God is not always in a hurry, but He is very compassionate with those who are broken in heart. I met with Harry regularly, did some talking, a lot of listening, some praying and always read some of God’s Word to Harry. I told Harry about God’s love, and His forgiveness that can be ours through the sacrifice of Jesus, His Son.
Over the course of time I began to see how the Lord was working with Harry (and me!) gently, slowly and patiently. Harry began to understand that he could receive reconciliation with God through Jesus—and that he, Harry, could also forgive others for his past hurts. I watched him come to trust in Jesus, slowly but surely. He began to attend a local church (which was very difficult for him). That church embraced him with all his rough edges. Harry began to ask me about baptism, and soon afterward he took that step at his local church. I could not point to one moment of a dramatic turn around, but rather had been privileged to watch a slow dawning of God’s light in Harry’s life.
Harry recently invited me to attend his 80th birthday celebration. There were about 50 people there, including his family members who do not yet know Jesus, as well as many friends from his church family. They had all known Harry before he surrendered his life to the Lord. Believers and unbelievers alike acknowledged with gratitude the changes they have seen in Harry’s life.
I was caught by surprise when Harry invited me to be among those he’d chosen to stand and address the other guests. I wondered for a minute what I should say. I related something along the following lines:
In the beginning of Genesis, we see that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters of the earth. This was a beautiful picture of God, almost like a mother hen, about to give birth to the beauty of His creation. A formless, dark void was about to be transformed with God’s life! God would take the chaotic mess and form and shape it into a very good creation.
In the same way, the Spirit of God has been brooding over Harry’s life. He has hovered over what had been dark and chaotic and has been forming and shaping a new creation. He has said “Let there be light,” and the life-giving and healing light of Jesus entered into Harry’s life. God has slowly but surely transformed Harry into a new creation.
I have been amazed to watch and see this process, and I think Harry’s family and friends who received this witness at his 80th birthday party recognized that God has created something new in this older man.
It is never too late to enter into a relationship with Jesus. He is willing to restore us, to heal us, to come and have fellowship with us. He is willing to transform the chaos in our lives into the harmony of His beautiful order. He is so patient and good. May we also be patient as we sow His seed, proclaim His word and meet with those whose hearts may one day open to Him.