Excuse me, could you please tell me what this is all about?” said a voice. I turned around, a bit startled by the sincerity of the man’s remark. I had just come onto the Jews for Jesus staff in Los Angeles after working in the New York Summer Witnessing Campaign. After those four weeks on the streets of brusque New York City I was accustomed to insults, and this man’s politeness caught me off guard.
“Uh, what do you mean?” I replied. It was my first time handing out gospel tracts in downtown Los Angeles, and I was feeling a bit bewildered.
“What is Jews for Jesus?” the man asked.
I explained that we are Jewish people who believe that the Hebrew Scriptures are true, that Jesus is the promised Messiah, and that by receiving him we have forgiveness for our sins and a relationship with God.
His name was Harold, and I guessed him to be about 60. He said that he had never heard of such a thing before, but he believed that it was true. I promised that I would contact him again soon so that we could further discuss spiritual matters.
Just a few days later, Harold was on my mind. All day I had thought of our conversation and had prayed that the Lord would open his heart. That night I called him. Harold was greatly distressed. He said that he had been crying all day in his hotel room, and he poured out his problems to me. I took the opportunity to tell him that God had allowed me to get to a low point in my own life a few years earlier. I described how he had used that situation to show me my need for him. I told Harold how finally I had prayed and asked Yeshua to come into my life, and I described the wonderful, lasting peace and wholeness that the Messiah gives.
Harold understood. He believed it was all true, but he was too distraught at that moment to make a personal commitment to Yeshua. I promised Harold that I would check up on him the next day.
However, when I called Harold’s hotel room the next day, the clerk informed me that he had been rushed to the hospital with a heart attack that very morning. I panicked. What would happen to Harold? Was he still alive? Would he leave this world without another chance to receive the Messiah? And if he did receive another chance, would he pray to make the commitment? After about an hour of phone calls, I finally found someone who could tell me how Harold was doing. He was in intensive care in critical condition and could not receive any visitors. Frustrated, I began asking as many people as I could to pray for Harold. It would be two or three days before I could see him. Prayer was the only means I had to reach him with God’s love.
Later that week I cautiously entered Harold’s hospital room. “Hey, Harold, remember me?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, come in, come in,” Harold chimed, putting down the newspaper he had been reading.
“So, how are you? I have been trying to contact you for days,” I blurted out. “Tell me what has happened.”
Harold began to describe how his life was really turning around. The last time I had talked to him it had seemed like there was no hope, but since then, many things had fallen into place. He described how one day shortly before his heart attack, a stranger, Richard, had picked him up by the roadside and had helped him across town with his luggage. The man was a Gentile believer in Jesus, and he had told Harold of God’s love for him. They had remained in contact with one another, and after Harold’s heart attack, Richard had offered Harold a room in his home and help in finding a job as soon as he could work again.
“Why do you think all this happened, Harold? What do you think God is trying to tell you?” I asked, barely able to hide my excitement.
“I think it’s just what you said,” Harold answered. “God really cares for me. How could it be anything else?! know what has happened in the last few days, and it could only be one thing!” Harold said that he believed in Jesus, and that he had prayed to accept him as Messiah and Savior with his new friend Richard the day before.
“Well, that’s great,” I exclaimed. “Do you know what that means? It means that he’s already in your heart and your sins are forgiven, and you have received eternal life!”
Together we prayed and thanked God that he had put Harold’s life back together as a demonstration of his love, and we thanked him for working out all of the bad circumstances for his purpose—to bring Harold into an eternal relationship with his Creator. When we looked up, we both were wearing big grins, and Harold remarked, “I feel so different! I’m so relieved. I’m so thankful to God!”
As this goes to print, Harold is recuperating at Richard’s house. Soon after his heart attack, Harold suffered a stroke that left his right hand paralyzed. Please pray that he will get well quickly, and that he will grow in the faith and knowledge of the One who can heal both his body and his life.