A Very Special “CHRIST IN THE PASSOVER” Presentation
I had been preparing to conduct a special “Christ in the Passover” presentation at Peninsula Bible Church, my home church. Having presided over the previous year’s Maundy Thursday service, this time I wanted to do something different. I decided to add more of a musical emphasis by using the local training team for the Liberated Wailing Wall.
For several months this group had been based in San Francisco. Besides learning the music, their goal was to forge a team spirit, gain confidence in their ability to be used of God and acquire a vision for what he might do through them.
I was delighted to gain permission to involve this team in the presentation at my home church. They learned a couple of new songs, and for more than a month we rehearsed choruses the team could teach to the congregation, as well as pieces they would sing as their contribution to that evening’s ministry.
The afternoon of our combined presentation the team drove down to Palo Alto, home of Peninsula Bible Church. Intending to hand out tracts at Stanford University, they were a bit dismayed to discover that no one was on campus because of spring break. As an alternative to redeem the time, they went to a small shopping district in downtown Palo Alto.
While the foot traffic hardly compared with the commercial centers in major metropolitan areas where we like to distribute tracts, it was a very profitable afternoon for the gospel. The team leisurely strolled down magnolia-lined streets, past trendy shops, bookstores, and international restaurants, handing out our broadsides. Stan Meyer handed one to a perky redhaired woman. We learned later that her name was Eleanor. She said nothing to Stan at the time she received the tract, but continued to walk down the street with it.
The team had been trying some innovative ideas, one of which was to stamp the tracts with the dates, times and locations of their upcoming church meetings. Upon reading that the group would be singing at Peninsula Bible Church that night, then and there Eleanor decided to attend the service with her husband.
That evening the church sanctuary filled up early. The program went as we had planned. I was proud of the way the Liberated Wailing Wall trainees gave of themselves. I knew it was a growing experience for them.
As usual, at the conclusion of my Passover presentation I gave an invitation to accept Christ. We do this because we know that in evangelical churches Christians often bring their unbelieving friends to our presentations. Sometimes neighbors drop by, and occasionally a true seeker who has heard about the meeting will come as his or her heart is being drawn to the Lord.
I asked for people to indicate their desire to receive salvation. They merely needed to lift their hand and look up at me. With the invitation extended, my eyes searched the congregation. Off on the right a gentleman with salt-and-pepper hair, wearing a black sweater and glasses, was the first to raise his hand. It was a firm, clear signal. He continued to hold it aloft as I asked him if his intention was to receive Jesus Christ that night. He nodded. At the same time I noticed that the woman sitting next to him also had her hand raised.
Then toward the center of the congregation, a well-dressed woman with fierce, determined eyes raised her hand. From the platform I asked her also if she intended to receive Christ. She likewise nodded her head in clear affirmation. That was three!
Looking further to the left in the congregation, I saw a young woman, perhaps a college student or a young mother. She was wearing a bright red sweater, and her blonde hair was tied back in a pony tail. I asked if she, too, wished to receive Jesus. With her hand in the air she nodded her head up and down, and I saw the young woman sitting next to her put her hand over her mouth to soften the response of her emotions. Tears of joy came to her eyes, and she turned away from her friend so as not to be a distraction. I was told that at least one other, a high-school age girl, prayed as I led a prayer of salvation shortly afterwards.
At the conclusion of the service Jay, the gentleman in the black sweater, came up to me. He wanted to affirm the decision he had just made. He introduced himself and smiled as he saw my reaction upon hearing his Jewish last name. “Yes, now I’m a Jew for Jesus too!” he said. When I asked Jay if he had considered Jesus prior to that evening, he responded, “Since 1978. Now I know this is it.”
Jay introduced his wife Eleanor. She was the well-dressed, red-haired woman who had been sitting next to him and who had also raised her hand to receive Christ. Not only that, but Eleanor was the red-haired woman who had received the broadside from Stan that afternoon in downtown Palo Alto!
How wonderful are the ways of the living God! He is capable of meeting so many needs in one moment; encouraging so many people through one opportunity; and touching so many lives in a significant way–all on one occasion. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his mercy endures forever.
Editor’s Note: In December of 1970 through a series of events Tuvya Zaretsky met his Messiah and gave his life to the Lord. God’s plans for Tuvya’s life included a ministry of Jewish evangelism, and Tuvya has been on our Jews for Jesus staff since February of 1974. Over the years he has led the Liberated Wailing Wall, the Chicago branch and the Boston branch. Most recently he has been serving as Director of Development at our San Francisco headquarters.
Soon Tuvya, his wife Ellen and their two children, Jesse and Abigail, will be moving to Los Angeles where Tuvya will continue with Jews for Jesus as the new leader of our Los Angeles branch. (L.A. branch leader Avi Snyder will be going to Russia for a two-year evangelistic mission to Russian Jews.) God has blessed Tuvya with much fruit for his labors, as evidenced by the preceding account. We know that Tuvya will appreciate the prayers of God’s people as he continues his ministry in Southern California.
Tuvya Zaretsky is one of the founders of the Jews for Jesus ministry. He was the first field missionary beginning his service in February 1974. Tuvya continues to serve the Lord, now as the Director of Staff Development internationally, based out of the Los Angeles office. He also chairs the Board for the Jews for Jesus branch in Tel Aviv, Israel. Tuvya was raised in Northern California in the institutions of American Judaism. During his bar mitzvah at age thirteen, Tuvya read from Isaiah 6:1-8 and declared with the prophet, Hineni-Here I am, send me!" However, his search for God and spiritual truth didn't come into focus until ten years later, when a Christian colleague encouraged him to seek God in the pursuit of truth. Tuvya came to believe in Y'shua (Jesus) on December 7, 1970. Ever since, he has been joyfully saying to God, "Hineni-Here am I." The full story is available by that title, in a booklet form here. Tuvya has provided the leadership of Jews for Jesus branches and evangelistic campaigns in major cities of the US and in Israel. He headed up the Las Vegas Behold Your God (BYG) campaign in 2005 and co-led the 2006 BYG outreach in New Jersey. He is now also an administrator for the website www.JewishGentileCouples.com. In April, 1989, Zaretsky was present at the Willowbank Consultation on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish people, that produced the watershed Willowbank Declaration. Tuvya has presented missiology papers at the Evangelical Theological Society, the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) and at the Global Diaspora Missiology Consultation in 2006. He currently serves as president for the International Coordinating Committee of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism, a networking body of Jewish mission agencies. He was editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper 60, Jewish Evangelism" A Call to the Church in 2004. He was a contributing author of Israel the Land and People edited by H. Wayne House (Kregel Publishers, 1998). His doctoral dissertation, co-authored with Dr. Enoch Wan, was published as Jewish-Gentile Couples: Trends, Challenges and Hopes (William Carey Library Publishers, 2004). He authored or edited articles for the June 2006 issue of MISHKAN themed, "The Gospel and Jewish-Gentile Couples" (Jerusalem) . And in 2008 he was coordinator and contributor for the World Evangelical Alliance Consultation that produced "The Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism in Europe Today". In 2013 Zaretsky was appointed to serve as the Senior Associate for Jewish Evangelism by the International Lausanne Movement. Tuvya has an M.A. in Missiology concentrating in Judaic Studies from Fuller Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies and the Doctor of Missiology degree from the Division of Intercultural Studies at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is married to Ellen, who is also a Jewish Believer in Jesus. They have three young adult children: Jesse, Abbie and Kaile.