Office worker Trysch Koester was calling churches to schedule meetings for our missionaries in Florida. She spoke to Pastor Rucker of Christ Community Church in Pompano Beach. Pastor Rucker had learned of Jews for Jesus in 1974. He had read the book, Jews for Jesus, outlining how our ministry began at the tail end of the Jesus Revolution.” The pastor explained that he had always thought of our ministry in conjunction with the hippie movement. His impression of doing personal evangelism out on the streets seemed to fit that perception. He’d never thought to invite us to his church because he had always assumed that we would not fit in or have anything to offer his congregation, who were rather conservative people.
Yet this pastor did not dismiss Trysch’s call. He decided to come down to our Fort Lauderdale office and check us out for himself. The experience was not at all what he’d expected. He was surprised by the office layout and how organized the workplace was. He found our literature winsome, gospel oriented and very catchy. He observed that the tone was direct but not pushy. He explained to our Chief of Station, Steve Cohen, that for years he’d had the impression that all we did was meet with street people. He knew that most of the early Jews for Jesus had come from a sixties counterculture, and he still pictured us in that mode.
God bless that pastor for taking the time to meet us and learn whether his perceptions were correct. He saw that we have indeed grown beyond our beginnings. He wanted to know when we could come to his church because he realized that we did have something to offer his congregation. You see, he lives in a community where there are many Jewish people, yet they have no Jewish believers worshiping with them. He asked Steve Cohen, “Will you come and help my congregation understand the need for reaching out to our Jewish neighbors?” He then offered to help us make contact with other churches in the area.
In November, Steve Cohen spoke at Christ Community Church. Pastor Rucker announced the meeting widely to his congregation and to the public. Steve was delighted that he also had the opportunity to address the adult Sunday school class; the questions they asked were sincere and probing. A few days later, one church member volunteered to help out at our Fort Lauderdale office a couple of evenings a week. The basis for a good friendship and mutually beneficial ministry now exists.
Pastor Rucker could have easily held on to his opinions without ever meeting us in person. It takes a godly person to do what he did. There are many good pastors who could bless and be blessed by Jews for Jesus. Some of them have not yet taken the time to see that we are indeed family and co-laborers with them in Christ. Won’t you pray that more of them will take the time to see for themselves what the ministry of Jews for Jesus is about?