Bits from the Branches
Tuvya Zaretsky reports, “Michael* called me yesterday. I hadn’t heard from him in almost two years. In the fall of 2011, I performed the marriage for his daughter. Michael had been hostile toward Christianity at the time. His wife, Sherry,* was a fervent and lovely Christian who’d born up under that hostility through nearly 30 years of marriage. She’d come to faith after they both nearly died from substance abuse. Michael saw the enormous change that Jesus made in Sherry’s life, but struggled against the gospel from his cultural resistance to change.
“The wedding was a wonderful story to Michael, and the Holy Spirit took over from there. In March 2012, Michael and Sherry met with my wife, Ellen, and me. He confessed his faith in Jesus with all the confusion of a new believer who did not yet know what it all meant. He just knew that Jesus had saved him. He and Sherry have been attending church together, but he called to ask for help so he could learn how to study his Bible. He told me, ‘Christ lives in me!’ Now Michael wants to know how to study the Word of God and keep growing in Messiah Jesus. Please keep him in prayer.”
Ruth Rosen reports, “Whenever we speak at a church we submit a report for our records, and if we’ve been there before, it’s helpful to look at past notes. One of our missionaries, Susan Perlman, had made such a note about a Christian whose unbelieving Jewish husband (and their children) regularly attend church with her. Thanks to her note, when I was scheduled to speak at the same church a couple of years later, I asked the pastor if the family still attended, and I told him that I would love to meet with them after the service. He arranged for me to get together with them for lunch.
“Susan had given Jerry* a copy of our Y’shua book, which shows how Messianic prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures points to Jesus. At the church, Jerry handed me the book with a smile and asked me to return it to Susan. Once we got to the restaurant and had ordered, I turned to Jerry and said, ‘What would you like me to tell Susan when I return the book?’ A bit startled, he replied, ‘You mean besides thank you very much?’ ‘Well,’ I smiled, ‘do you want me tell her whether or not you read it, or if you had any comments?’
“Yes, he’d read it, and we had a very meaningful conversation during our hour and a half lunch. Jerry has received plenty of information and is not really looking for more. He told me he’s willing to know if what we believe is true… but fears that if it’s not, it would be idolatry for him to believe—plus he fears the reaction of his 90-year-old grandmother should he become a believer. It’s really a matter of the Holy Spirit convicting him of the truth he’s already heard. Hopefully my time with him was another step along his way to faith—it felt that way to me, but we’ll see. Please pray for Jerry and remember this story whenever a Jews for Jesus speaker is scheduled to visit your church. We love sharing the gospel from the pulpit, but having one-on-one time with Jewish seekers who attend your church is golden!”
Stephen Pacht, who heads our missionary work in Switzerland, reports, “We do street evangelism in Zurich, Basel and Lausanne without any interference from the police. But in Geneva, over the past three years the police have consistently told us that it is illegal to distribute literature without official authorization. Our lawyer has written a couple of strong letters to the police chief insisting that officers who interfere with this activity are acting illegally. Both the Federal Constitution and Geneva cantonal legislation specifically allow the freedom to distribute literature without seeking prior authorization (which, on the one occasion we did request it, was refused).
“Recently we had an informal, private meeting with the police chief. I’d asked our missionaries around the world, as well as other friends, to pray for the meeting beforehand. The Secretary of the French Swiss Evangelical Association assured me of the prayers of the Swiss EA, stating that the importance of the meeting goes well beyond the scope of the work of Jews for Jesus and will affect all evangelistic work in Geneva. The churches in Geneva are facing increasing opposition by city authorities who are regularly refusing approvals for outdoor events such as street market book tables, outdoor carol services, etc.
“The Lord graciously answered prayer. He blessed our meeting with the head of the Geneva Municipal Police, Mr. P., who is also a lawyer, and his deputy, who grants permits for all public events. The meeting was very friendly and relaxed.
“Mr. P. mentioned an unpleasant situation last year, picked up by the local press, when it was discovered that a permit was granted to an Islamic association that supports jihad! The police chief stated that they now have a blanket policy of refusing permits for religious organizations. That doesn’t explain the difficulty we’d encountered prior to that incident, and the police are presently facing a few court cases with Christian organizations appealing the police’s refusal to grant permits.
“Mr. P. insisted that while no authorization is required for political tract distribution, this does not cover religious literature. We are adamant that the law does not make that distinction. We agreed to differ while awaiting the courts’ verdicts, which should be given in spring 2015. In the meantime he told me that we would be free to distribute literature!
“So, praise God that the meeting was held in good spirit. Praise God for allowing us to continue handing out gospel literature. And please pray for the spring court cases to uphold the constitution, and allow Christians the right to free speech in the public domain.”
Barry B. reports, “I have been visiting Derek, an elderly South-African born Jewish man who was raised with no Jewish upbringing or education. Now he enjoys anything Jewish, at least culturally. As far as religion, Derek has been steeped in the stronghold of Scientology for years. Derek’s main objection to Jesus over the years has been that he’s merely an example of Scientology’s teaching that people can become gods.
“Recently, I’ve noticed a change in Derek. He’s stopped telling me about Scientology, and is more engaged in our discussions about God during our visits and Bible studies. I’ve also noticed Derek getting physically weaker (he is 89 years old). Finally, I saw surrender in Derek that I had never seen before. I’d asked him more than once over the years if he wanted to receive Jesus, but he’d always declined. At a recent visit, when I asked him he said ‘Yes!’ So Derek repented of his sins and prayed to receive Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.
“The desire to maintain the illusion of ‘control of their lives’ is a stumbling block to salvation for most people. Derek had it in abundance. He believed that he could control the weather, the environment, people and even life and death! Most people unwittingly behave as if they can take the place of God in their lives, but Derek actually believed he was ‘a god!’
“It is the hardest thing to come to the end of ourselves, to acknowledge God’s control and to surrender to His will. Previous generations have dealt with constant threats of war, illness, persecution—their only hope was God being in control. But today, millions of people who are complacent and comfortable are actually at a disadvantage. Most don’t want the vulnerability of admitting and trusting in God’s control and aren’t willing to surrender or submit to Him.
“Please join me in praying that Derek’s faith takes root and grows. He took a huge step to surrender and acknowledge God alone is God and that he (Derek) is subject to God’s power and authority, not his own! As believers, we need to do the same every day.”