Campaign and a Russian Immigrant’s Search for Truth
One exciting aspect of last summer’s witnessing campaign was the overwhelming response from recent Russian Jewish immigrants to the United States. After years of being told what not to believe, now they want to find out who Jesus is and if He is the way they can know God.
Helena was one Russian Jewish immigrant who gave her name and address to one of our campaigners. She indicated that she, too, was a believer in Jesus and wanted to know more about our group.
As campaign follow-up began, I contacted Helena and set up an initial visit. It was a time to find out what Helena’s spiritual needs were and gauge how we might help her.
As we sat in the Jews for Jesus office, I heard the colorful story of Helena’s search for truth about God. When Helena began to be rebellious, her mother, originally from Peru, had taken her to some sort of mountain monastery. There Helena had had a mystical experience, but not an encounter with Jesus. She believed in a Jesus she had created in her imagination. He was a Jesus she had discovered from modern books that embellished and twisted the gospel and made Him less than the one and only Savior of the world. Our time together was short, but Helena agreed to meet with me again to study the biblical perspective on Jesus.
The next time we met, I took Helena through the first chapter of John, and she began to understand the exclusivity of Jesus’ claims. Then we read numerous other passages about humanity’s desperate need of a Savior, specifically Jesus, the redeemer God Himself has provided.
I saw Helena struggling with that concept. The Scriptures pointed to such a narrow way! Yet Helena strongly sensed her own sin and knew that she had not yet found a way to rid herself of that guilt. Within a few minutes, she prayed to accept the forgiveness guaranteed only through the atonement of Jesus our Messiah!
Helena had started her search for truth years earlier. The road led her all the way to Manhattan. Now, at last, she can rejoice that she has been found by the God of her forefathers. Pray that Helena will grow strong in her new faith and be a bold witness to her parents—and that this year’s witnessing campaign will
Annette grew up in Fresno, CA in a Jewish Christian home. Her grandparents were the first people in her family to come to faith in Jesus. Annette came to faith at a young age and was baptized at age 13. She graduated from Biola University with a bachelor's degree in music and a minor in Bible. After college she toured the U.S., parts of Europe and South Africa with Jews for Jesus' mobile evangelistic music team, the Liberated Wailing Wall. In 1993 she moved to New York City to begin training as a missionary with Jews for Jesus. It was there that she met and married, Josh, who was also a Jewish believer from California and was a Brooklyn College student at the time. In their early married years Josh and Annette served as missionaries with Jews for Jesus in New York City, then for another five years in Los Angeles. They felt called to return to New York so that Josh could develop Jews for Jesus' youth and camp ministries on the East Coast, so Josh and Annette served in New York from 2000-2011, during which time their daughters Eliana and Taliah were born, and Josh became the branch director. During those years Annette was a full-time mom, with side duties such as leading a moms Bible study and helping wives of missionary trainees transition to life in ministry. In 2011, the Sofaer family moved to Portland, Oregon so that Josh could complete a master's degree at Western Seminary. In August 2012 the Sofaer family moved back to Los Angeles so that Josh could begin directing the Jews for Jesus work in Southern California. Though the family is still very much in the midst of transitioning to a new area, Josh and Annette are excited to see what the Lord will be doing through Jews for Jesus there. In 2015, Annette returned to part-time staff with Jews for Jesus, first in the church relations department, and now as a missionary to the Jewish women in the Southern California area.