What’s Been Happening in New York Since BYG?
Many of you asked over the summer whether there would be any follow-up reports after BYG. Thanks to our New York staff for getting back to us about some of what has been happening with the follow-up. We hope you’ll be encouraged by these reports and that you will pray for our continued ministry to these people in the coming year.
Note: Please be patient with our ultra-Orthodox reports; we have been asked not to use any names or information that could be used to identify those who are in contact with us. There were so many ultra- Orthodox in this report (which is an answer to prayer!) that rather than giving them each an alias, we simply assigned them initials.
Karol Joseph reports on a series of visits she made along with another staff member, Jonathan. “Jonathan and I met with a Hassidic Jewish man, ‘A’ who very recently came to faith in Jesus. After introductions, Jonathan opened the Bible to do a study on the Sermon on the Mount, focusing on the nature of the ‘upside-down kingdom.’ As Jonathan described each beatitude, ‘A’ would often reply approvingly, ‘That’s the same as what we have,’ or else he would say ‘Yes’ to indicate that he understood. Whenever he felt that what Jesus said was an improvement upon his traditional beliefs, he would say, ‘That’s a good bargain.’
But occasionally when Jesus’ words countered his rabbinic understanding in a way that he didn’t quite like, he’d say, ‘Now we could bargain on that one.’ Clearly, he needs to resolve more and more that Jesus is his true authority. Please pray to this end!
“Then there was ‘B’ who agreed to see us before going to shul for his morning prayers. ‘B’ spoke very little English, but Jonathan speaks Yiddish, and he spent a half hour sharing the gospel through the Messianic prophecies. ‘B’ smiled every so often, and also waved his hand to communicate his disagreement now and then, but he listened attentively to most of what Jonathan had to say. In the end, however, he said that he wasn’t interested in having us come back to share more. Sadly, he understood but rejected the good news.
“Our next visit was to ‘C’ who has been meeting with Jews for Jesus on and off for more than 20 years. He first began visiting with Peter Rice, and even professed faith back then, but has since backed away. I had visited with ‘C’ a few years ago, and spoke with him on the phone after that. However it seemed as though he was more interested in spending time away from the Hassidic community and lifestyle than he was in Jesus, so I stopped meeting with him. But through BYG, we’ve had renewed contact. This time it seems as if ‘C’’s heart is truly changing and seeking, I think in part because he’s hearing of other Hassidim who are making the choice for Jesus. The cost of following Jesus would be very high for him, and I think he has grown comfortable with thinking he’s simply included Jesus on the periphery of his faith. Please pray that ‘C’ encounters Jesus in a way that helps him take those final steps and firmly plants him in the Kingdom.
“Later that afternoon we met with ‘D,’ a ‘secret’ Hassidic believer who helped orchestrate our use of the Jesus film in Yiddish. ‘D’ has been a believer in Jesus for some time now. What a treat to sit across from this man and talk to him about reaching his community for Jesus! During the campaign he had asked for some women to drop in on his wife, and we did. She didn’t invite us in, however, so we could only speak to her briefly from the stairs, leaving her a New Testament. Later ‘D’ asked if I would send her more literature and include my phone number, which I did. According to ‘D’ his wife ‘knows but doesn’t want to know’ about his faith. He hopes that I will continue to reach out to her and that she will come to faith as well. Please pray for ‘Mrs. D.’
“Then we drove a ways to meet with new Jewish believer, ‘E’, and this was perhaps the sweetest of all the visits as he was very eager to know, ‘So, what do I do now that I believe in Jesus?’ ‘E’ was nodding his understanding as we studied from the Sermon on the Mount, and as we discussed the difference between the requirements of the rabbis versus the Scriptures, and the need to distinguish between the two. I could see in ‘E’ the zeal to follow Jesus as well as the desire to share Him with his community!
“Our final contact for the evening was brief. ‘F’ is an 18-year-old Hassidic man who had called the ‘Days of Moshiach’ number and made contact with Jonathan for a visit; at the same time he had given his name and contact information on our website and I made a visit with him for that night. . . then Jonathan and I realized we had both scheduled visits with the same man! ‘F’ was going to be in Brooklyn for a wedding and would be there until midnight; we arrived at 11:45. (Who would have ever thought we’d have traffic problems at 11:30 p.m!)
“We arrived at the agreed upon place, then called ‘F’’s cell phone to ask him to meet us. I can’t describe his expression when we met—other than to tell you of the huge grin that covered his face and the joy in his eyes at receiving the Gospels of Matthew and John. He was overjoyed that we brought him a copy of the Jesus DVD in Yiddish, too! He had received one at his home, but his father had destroyed their copy. . . now he had one of his own. We could only talk with ‘F’ for a few minutes, but it seemed clear that this would be the first of many times that we would talk with him about Messiah.”
Karol has continued to have regular visits with both “A” and “F.” She says, “‘A’ is really growing in his faith—praise God! He even asked if we could study together twice a week, as once just isn’t enough. ‘F’ is also showing signs of growth. One week, he admitted that while he was convinced that Jesus died for his sins and rose from the dead, he wasn’t quite ready to ask Him into his heart. The following week he said that he definitely believes and that he knows he has Jesus in his heart!”
Larry Stamm reports, “I was doing Queens BYG follow-up calling and spoke with an older Jewish woman named Beverly. She had contacted us requesting the Jesus for Jews book and had already read some of it when I called. She explained that she had never met a Jewish person who believed in Jesus, and was curious. I shared the gospel with her, then was surprised to hear her reply that she’d been visiting a Christian church for six months last year, but had stopped going. I shared a bit of my story with her and tried to schedule a visit. She wasn’t interested in meeting in person yet; however she was open to me calling her again. I also invited her to a Queens Bible study that I’ve recently started. Please pray that Beverly would ask God about the Messiahship of Jesus and the truth of His Word.”
Robyn Wilk reports on another contact who ordered the Jesus for Jews book. She says, “David received the book, and is making his way through it. I took the subway up to see him and I also met his wife. He had several questions, and was willing to listen to my answers. He said he really wanted to know the truth, and that a friend of his had prayed for someone to help him find the answers he was seeking. David thought I might be the answer to that prayer and he wants to continue meeting.”
Shaun Buchhalter reports, “Jim (not his real name) also responded to our mailer offering the Jesus for Jews book as part of our BYG campaign. He had been trying to get his life in order after 40 years of wild living. He has been sober for over eight months and part of his process was to investigate seriously if there was a God—a question he had not really considered since before his bar mitzvah about 50 years ago. When I called to follow up, Jim was in the process of reading the book we’d sent. A week later we met up at a coffee shop in the upper West Side, where he shared his many reservations and doubts, not just about Jesus, but about the existence of God. But he assured me that for the first time ever in his life, he really wanted to know. His exact words were, ‘I spent the last 40 years living in a cloud. I do not want to live the next season of my life sober yet only to find out when I die that there was one more step to go.’ Please pray for me as I continue to meet with Jim and talk through some of his doubts; and pray that he will want to begin studying the Bible together.”
Leonid Vasserman (one of our leaders of the CIS work who stayed in New York for BYG follow-up among Russian-speaking Jews) reports:
“We ran into a purely Russian mentality here. People believe everything they see on TV and what they read in papers; it is extremely important to them what the rabbi and other leaders claim to be true. They all know very well what Jewish leaders say about us Jews for Jesus. Many contacts, even those who prayed to receive Christ, have been intimidated by what they hear. Some have refused to talk to us at all, asking us not to call or write to them. But we know that FAITHFUL IS THE ONE WHO PROMISED! Otherwise, why would He have brought us here and given us success in this campaign?
“We began to see a ‘break in the wall’ so to speak around the High Holidays in September and October. It was special to see Alla, an elderly Jewish woman who recently prayed with Mira, join us for fellowship and to hear more about Jesus. She relies greatly on the assistance of a home attendant, Kristina, a Gentile whom she led in a prayer to receive Jesus! So they came to fellowship together.
“Five years ago, I ministered to a Jewish man named Alexander in Odessa. I then encountered him during a sortie on Brighton Beach on the New York Summer Campaign in 2004. During the BYG campaign this year, he prayed with Leonid Krouter to receive the Lord—and now I am again meeting with him in New York! We have been reading the Bible together, and he attends our Tuesday Bible studies and our Shabbat meetings.
Olga Vasserman (Leonid’s wife) reports: “We held a two-week intense time of visiting campaign contacts. Elvira Meyer was my teammate. We came to visit Genya and rang the door. A kind, elderly woman opened the door. I asked her if she’d received the book we sent by mail. She answered positively and invited us in. We read together Isaiah 53. ‘Who is this talking about?’ I asked Genya. She answered immediately, ‘Oh, it’s about Jesus!’ We continued our talk about spiritual things, and then she told us about herself. As we parted, I set up the next visit. I called her before the appointed visit and it was as though I was talking to a different person. Genya yelled at me and scolded me. It seemed that she had recently gone to synagogue and was warned to stay away from Jews for Jesus. She said, ‘Don’t come or call me anymore,’ as well as a few other rude things.
“On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, I made a visit to someone in Genya’s building. In my heart, I felt a strong desire to visit Genya as well. She opened the door and her countenance changed as soon as she saw me. I wished her a happy New Year and offered her a postcard with an invitation to our holiday service. I told Genya that people have different opinions but that it is important to hear what God is saying. Genya asked me to come in. She told me that she was going to undergo a surgery that she would perhaps not survive because of her weak heart. I realized that this could be our last meeting and I offered her to reconcile with God through Messiah Jesus. And we prayed. Praise God! As I was leaving, Genya apologized to me for the rude words she’d said over the phone. Please pray that she will survive the surgery and grow in God.”
A big thanks to all of you who took part in Behold Your God New York through your prayers and finances. We will try to keep you updated from time to time.