Eighteen Years and Still Counting
Seventh grade was a meaningful year for me. Mr. Hefley, our social studies teacher, asked the class where we would choose to go if we had a time machine. For some reason, I thought it would be nice to go to the first century to see who Jesus really was. Then, in science, we learned about the theory of evolution. I remember thinking that even if evolution was the way it happened, if you took things all the way back to the beginning, there still had to be God to get everything started.
That summer, Howie Goldstein drove up to our summer bungalow colony in upstate New York in a gold Torinado (a super-fancy car). To my young mind, that was the epitome of success. I found out that Howie was an accountant, and at that point, I made up my mind that I would become one, too.
When I was a sophomore in college (studying for my accounting degree), a Gentile Christian friend of mine challenged me with, “If you get where you want to go and do everything you want to do, what will you have, and where will you be?” In other words, what is the meaning of life?
It was at that time that God broke into my life with the answer. I knew that there had to be a God and that I needed to find out what He wanted from me. I was impressed by God Himself. I knew that He did exist and that I needed to love and serve Him.
I accepted the Lord all alone in my room. I didn’t understand very much at that point. I just knew from God that I had to give my life over to Him and submit to Jesus as the Lord of my life. Afterward, as I was taken in and nurtured by the Body of Christ, I quickly learned what God had done for me and the blessings we have as believers.
When I accepted Y’shua (Jesus), my first impulse was that I should quit school and go off to become a preacher. Fortunately, my friend told me that God needed godly accountants as much as He needed preachers. With that encouragement, I stayed in school for another three years, growing in my faith and earning my accounting degree.
When I was praying about what to do after I graduated, the Lord led me to apply for work with Jews for Jesus. I happened to know Susan Perlman. (When I was growing up, Susan and her family used to go to the same bungalow colony where my family went.) I knew that Susan was working with Jews for Jesus in San Francisco, so I wrote a letter.
I explained that I was a Jewish believer who was graduating with a degree in accounting, that I was trying to figure out what I should do with my life and that I knew Susan Perlman. Within a week of my sending that letter, Susan was on the phone asking me what was up. After a brief conversation, she put Moishe Rosen on the phone. He asked me if I wanted to come out and see what the work was like, and at the same time, they would take a look at me. I said, “Sure!”
A week after graduation, I flew to San Francisco and worked in the Jews for Jesus office. (At that time, they were in San Rafael, a suburb north of the Golden Gate Bridge.) In the middle of that week, Moishe asked me if I wanted to take care of the books for the New York Summer Witnessing Campaign. Again, I said, “Sure!”
Three–quarters of the way through the Campaign, Moishe asked me if I wanted to come out to California to be on permanent staff as the ministry’s accountant. Once again, my answer was, “Sure!”
Well, that happened 18 years ago. At the time, my contacting Jews for Jesus seemed to be merely a logical job-seeking strategy. It was not until I had been on the Jews for Jesus staff for about three years that I felt maybe it was God who had really called me to this position as my service to Him. Then looking back, I could see that God had been preparing me all along for the work that I was doing with the ministry.
As I think about my years of service with Jews for Jesus, there are a couple of things that stick out in my mind. I remember coming to work on the streetcar in San Francisco every morning in 1978. I remember there was an older woman who rode on the same streetcar. One day as we were talking, she told me she wouldn’t be seeing me much longer because she was retiring. She had been with her company for 25 years. I remember thinking, “Boy, it would be neat to retire some day from the Jews for Jesus ministry after being there for 25 years.”
At that point, I was twenty-three years old and had been with the ministry only three years. Now that I am almost forty, I realize that I probably will not retire from the ministry after 25 years. Hopefully, it will be more like after 40 years of service (provided the Lord doesn’t return first). What a nice thought.
When I first joined this ministry, Jewish people used to tell me, “You can’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus.” Now they say, “You shouldn’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus.” I like to think that this organization had a part to play in making that difference. I am also looking forward to a day when they will say, “Since you are Jewish, surely you must believe in Jesus.”
There is something that has not changed over the years, and I hope it never will. The primary focus of Jews for Jesus has always been evangelism. Whenever something is proposed around here, the questions that are always asked are, “How will that work toward evangelism? How will it help to get more people saved?”
What a blessing it has been to me to be associated with the Jews for Jesus ministry all this time and to hear the stories of hundreds of Jewish people who have come to faith. It is happening in part because we have made ourselves available, in part because our friends and supporters have stood with us over the years, and in a large part because God is continuing to do a mighty work among my Jewish people.