It could have been me
A salvation story by Joshua Turnil
It could have been me. Right there next to the bullet-ridden door and behind the police tape that cordoned off the Bataclan Café. For many the café was a place of life and joy and music. For me, it was a place of ministry. I’d sat there, not long before the attack, talking about Jesus with an Israeli Jew who was searching for the truth.
Immediately following the three attacks in November, so many Parisians were saying, “It could have been me.” My colleague Karl deSouza said, “It could have been my daughter.” She’d wanted to go with her friends to that very same concert that was invaded by terrorists, but her parents put their foot down. My brother-in-law, Ariel, lost a friend to the bullets on that fateful evening. The daughter of a friend of mine was also at the concert, and was trampled as people rushed to escape the building. She was released from the hospital shortly after, and thankfully, is fine.
With so many people saying, “It could have been me,” we’re keenly aware that the gospel says something similar. The Scriptures point to Yeshua’s death with the message, “It should have been you.” Jesus died in our stead, so that we might live and have forgiveness of sins.
A man named Philippe finally understood this within days of the November attacks. We had hosted a spontaneous Shabbat prayer meeting for those who needed comfort and a place to talk. Very few came out, as many people were still afraid to leave their homes at night. Philippe, however, was not afraid.
In fact, Philippe had come to a previous meeting after seeing our large Juifs pour Jésus sign. He grew up in a rather religious Jewish home, but never felt like he quite fit in. He was always attracted to poetry and to a wider cultural life than what his religious upbringing offered. When he saw our bold Jews for Jesus sign on the window display, he couldn’t help but stop in. (After the attacks in January 2015, which included the murder of four people at a kosher deli in our neighborhood, many Jewish groups stopped using public signs to identify their meeting places. Philippe took note that we did not hide who we are and what we believe.) Our dear brother and colleague Karl deSouza has since been faithful in studying the Bible with him.
But it was the November terrorist attacks that helped Philippe understand that Jesus died for him, in his place… not in a senseless unwilling manner, but as a willing sacrifice for his sins. At our special Shabbat service, Philippe surrendered his heart to Jesus. Out of the darkness, and in these dark times, the light of the Messiah still shines “so that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Peter 2:9).
Please pray for Philippe to grow in the Lord, and that many more people will understand what Yeshua (Jesus) has done for them.
Editor’s note: ministry in Paris has always been challenging, but now a new layer of resistance and resentment exists toward any who are perceived as using recent tragedies to further their agenda—be it political or religious. Please pray for safety as well as great wisdom as our Paris team has a heart to shine the love of Jesus. May His perfect love cast out all fear and pierce through the darkness!
Joshua Turnil is the leader of the Paris branch of Jews for Jesus. Josh will fill you in on what is happening in Jewish evangelism in France. Joshua was born in New York and has a bachelors degree in French literature. His wife, Delphine, who is French, has a degree in American literature. He has three children, Ilan, Lilya and Levia. Josh has also produced a music album, “Praise and Glory,” and several evangelistic videos.