Bits from the Branches

Small meeting, big impact

Larissa Savelieva reports from Odessa: "People talk about being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes we do not see until after the fact that God has placed us just that way.

"When I arrived at a church to speak on behalf of Jews for Jesus, I was surprised that only eight people were attending, including the pastor. I confess I was a little disappointed. I prayed to be able to do my best for that church.

"It was clear the people all knew one another, and I assumed they were all believers. So I was surprised when I asked one man, Anatoliy, how long he had been a member of the church and he replied, ‘I am not a church member.’ I said, ‘Oh, so you have just repented recently,’ and he replied, ‘No, I did not repent.’ By now everyone else was listening to our conversation. I began to ask him questions as I normally would when witnessing, and based on his answers finally asked if there was anything to prevent him from repenting and receiving Christ.

"Anatoliy replied, ‘There is no obstacle.’ At this point, the pastor’s wife got on her knees and the others followed her example. All were silent as Anatoliy repeated a sinner’s prayer. After he prayed, there was great rejoicing. It turned out that he was an old school friend of the pastor! Situations that may seem like a disappointment can soon become God’s appointment! Please pray for Anatoliy to grow strong in the Lord."

A false start … keep praying for this man’s heart

Kata Tar reports from Budapest: ”’Maybe my destiny is not to get saved but to stay independent and meet wonderful people like you,’ Béla said to me in a recent telephone conversation. Two months ago this elderly Jewish poet eagerly prayed with me to receive Jesus as his Messiah and Savior. He wept when Avi Snyder had him read Psalm 139. ‘This is my life! How could you find such an accurate description of my life?’ he said in amazement. But now he was telling me that many Christians have been trying to see him saved – with no success. He was kind of proud of that.

"’So Béla!’ I said, ‘What did you mean by those words of repentance that you prayed with me in the street?’ ‘They were expressions of momentary emotions,’ he replied. Béla reminds me of a girl who was loved by a king. He sent her gifts and wrote her poems which were sung to her by the king’s messengers. She took the gifts and enjoyed the songs and was so touched by them that it seemed like she was accepting the king’s proposal. But when it came to moving to the king’s residence and marrying him, she shrank back. She treasured her independence more than the king’s unfathomable love for her. This is how our rebellious hearts are fooled. Please pray for Béla!"

Team evangelism

Rob Wertheim (seen above, sporting his Hanukkah hat for the holiday outreach) reports from San Francisco: "My co-worker, Eric, works in our church relations department. He met a Jewish man at a party in Sacramento (about 100 miles from San Francisco) and began to share the gospel with him. Larry* had many questions, so Eric mentioned our ministry. Larry said he’d be open to hearing from us.

"I called Larry and we set up a phone appointment. The appointment went well but since then it has been difficult to connect, between Larry’s work schedule and health issues. Please pray that we will be able to meet again soon and that he will open his heart to Yeshua." 

What can brighten a dentist’s smile?

Bob Mendelsohn reports from Sydney: "I asked an orthodontist if he could recommend a Jewish dentist near me and he referred me to Phil. He has been my dentist for three years. Born in the former Czech Republic, Phil grew up in Sydney. He was a yeshiva and Talmud student whose father was a chochem (genius), but Phil became fairly irreligious after he and his first wife broke up a couple of decades ago.

"During our first session Phil told me of his religion and of his unbelief. All because on the medical chart Phil saw that I was with Jews for Jesus. That was intriguing to him. He’d read the New Testament in his teens, but gave it no second thought.

"We carried on a conversation about Jesus at each dental appointment, and even on the golf course, where he and I played a couple of years ago with his wife. Last year he and I sat in my office and discussed at length many issues regarding faith in Messiah. It was awesome, but he was reluctant. He pointed out that it’s costly to come to such a conclusion, and he was right. Jesus said we should count the cost… . that’s what Phil was doing, to be sure. We continued discussing Jesus on the phone and in person.

"I gave him a copy of the Complete Jewish Bible and he put it at his bedside to read regularly. He found the teachings of Jesus brilliant. I also gave him a copy of our discipleship booklet so that he could read ‘the fine print.’ I wanted him to know what would be ahead if he were to embrace Jesus as his Messiah. Baptism, congregational involvement, telling others about his profession … all of these are included in the booklet.

"Phil’s friend Ian was also guiding him toward Yeshua. Ian first saw Phil professionally some years ago and they have kept up a friendly relationship. Ian also is a keen golfer and a lover of the Jewish people and Israel.

"Finally, Phil rang me one Friday morning. ‘I did it!’ he said, and he told me how he had prayed with Ian to receive Jesus. It was awesome. He talked about peace and joy and how Yeshua changed everything, but nothing had changed. In other words, he was still Jewish. But now he had a peace that passes understanding. 

"Phil told me what really got him thinking about Jesus, and how this might be ‘for him.’ His thinking began to change when he was in hospital for an operation in 2011 and I went to visit and pray for him. I prayed in Hebrew the traditional prayer from the Jewish prayer book and Phil says of that day, ‘You were the only person to pray for me in hospital. You prayed in the name of Yeshua. It got me started on this path.’

"Phil has already begun telling others about his faith, including his wife, who was concerned about whether they would have to give up Jewish holiday traditions. He has assured her that believing in Jesus will not make their household any less Jewish. Please pray for Phil to continue to grow in his faith."  

Arielle and the matzah

Every picture tells a story!

Arielle Randle and Elli Marks of our Chicago branch were in New York leading Halutzim, a short-term missions project for high schoolers. Here you see Arielle holding a piece of matzah. She explains, "Our Halutzim group was walking around in the Lower East Side, taking in the Jewish culture after a big lunch at Katz’s Deli. We wanted to pop into a local matzah factory but they were closed. However, we saw one of the employees locking up and I asked if he would take a few moments to tell us really quickly what it was like to work in a matzah factory. Not only did he stay and chat with us, he went back inside and brought us out a whole box of freshly baked matzah! We ate our matzah right there on the sidewalk, and several Jewish people walking by even stopped to chat and ask what we were up to! This photo catches me sharing with the kids and a few bystanders about the significance of matzah for believers in Yeshua."


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