Missionary work is a mixed bag of joys and sorrows. One family to whom we have ministered in South Africa is kind of a microcosm of how the two go hand in hand. The names of the family members have been changed to protect their privacy.
Beginning with the younger generation, there are two sisters, Paula and Jill. Next there is Anne, their mother. Anne’s brother is Richard and her husband is John. Then there is Anne’s mother, Faye.
Anne was the first in her family to come to faith. She had been attending a Bible study in her area and through the supernatural healing of her daughter, Paula, she put her faith in Jesus. Paula also became a believer. Anne was a dynamic witness to her brother, Richard, as well as to her mother (Faye) and to her other daughter (Jill). Faye and Jill both professed faith in Jesus.
Our contact with this family came through Paula, who called our Johannesburg office. Paula was struggling. While her mother was quite adamant about her belief in Jesus when speaking to family members, she was equally adamant that the family keep silent about their faith within the Jewish community. Paula was confused about this double standard and felt that if she couldn’t be more open about her faith perhaps she ought to abandon it. She was especially interested in meeting other Jews who believed in Jesus. One of our missionaries began to visit with her and Paula rededicated her life to the Lord. We began having monthly meetings with the family, who lived quite a distance from our branch. Through these meetings Paula’s uncle, Richard, came to faith in Jesus. Eventually her father, John, came to faith as well.
Various Jews for Jesus staff members had a ministry to this family for some two-and-a-half years, during which time we urged Anne to be open about her faith. This woman, who had been so influential in bringing family members to faith, justified her position saying that Nicodemus was also a secret believer.” Obviously, we could not affirm this view and showed her scripture verses that plainly state the importance of taking a stand for Jesus. Richard took these admonitions to heart and Paula seemed likely to do the same. Anne was displeased with our influence on the two of them. Eventually she asked us not to return and to remove her name from our mailing list.
Anne’s daughters continue to struggle with their faith. Jill married an Orthodox man who does not even know she believes in Jesus. Paula, who still lives with her mother, continues to waver.
Richard, on the other hand, married a Christian woman and has been walking strongly in the faith. In fact, he and his wife have hosted Jews for Jesus Bible studies in their home. They are the only family members with whom we have been able to remain in contact.
It is a joy for us to see Richard continue to grow strong in his faith. It is painful to know that Jill’s faith seems to be slipping away. We are saddened that Paula, the one who first contacted us to help her grow stronger in her faith, is spiritually stunted as she complies with her mother’s wishes to keep silent about Jesus. Anne remains a mystery. She is a strong woman who had a powerful influence in bringing her family members to faith. However, she is the primary factor in their inability to grow as she continues to insist that their beliefs remain a secret, known only to family and a select group of Christians who sympathize with her “secret believer” stance.
Please pray that God will work in this situation. Perhaps as the others see the joy and fulfillment Richard experiences as he grows in his faith they will become jealous. All we can do at this point in time is commit this family to the Lord in prayer and hope that the Holy Spirit will work powerfully in their hearts.