Bits from the Branches
Julia Pascoe reports, “Elsie* is an elderly Jewish lady introduced to us by Christian friends some years ago. She is still not a believer, but a couple of years ago she introduced us to Richard* and Nancy,* a Jewish couple also living in North London. Richard asked lots of questions and was intrigued to know why I believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Yet he couldn’t seem to grasp that there are Jews who believe in Jesus.
“Nothing spiritually significant seemed to be happening. But during my last visit, to my surprise and delight, Richard and Nancy told me that they’ve started attending a church lunch club! Trying hard to control my excitement, I replied, ‘That’s great! And what do you talk about?’ Richard replied, “All sorts of interesting things. You should come along sometime.’ Please pray that as I join them, God will open up deeper opportunities to discuss Yeshua.”
Alison Barnett reports, “Lisa is a Jewish woman in her 30s who has been searching for meaning in various religions. As we studied Luke’s Gospel, Lisa was moved by the angel’s announcements of the miraculous pregnancies to both Zechariah and Mary. Zechariah, though religious and a priest, had doubted the angel, while young Mary, far less schooled in religion, had obediently accepted Gabriel’s message.
“Lisa could also see how God had directed world events right from Jesus’ birth and how He orchestrated the fulfillment of various prophecies, including His sacrificial death to atone for our sins.
“She told me that she did not feel worthy of what Jesus did. I agreed that none of us is worthy, but God loves us so much that He made the ultimate sacrifice. We prayed together as Lisa confessed her sin and surrendered her heart to Jesus. Praise God for Lisa!”
|Deborah & Stephen Pacht|
Stephen Pacht reports, “Rabbi David,* whom I’ve written about in the past, (see our March 2014 Bits from the Branches) had returned from an Orthodox rabbis’ conference and made a point to fly in via Geneva because he wanted to meet my family. This was the first time an Orthodox rabbi had visited our home. He was dressed in a traditional black suit with tzitzit (fringes) hanging from his tallit katan (Orthodox undergarment) under his impeccably white shirt. He took off his large black hat, tucked his peyos (side curls) behind his ears, adjusted his kippa (skullcap) and flopped down onto the sofa. He and our children chatted comfortably over a vegetarian supper, prepared by my wife Deborah to avoid offending his kosher sensibility.
“The following morning, David and I sat down and pored over a couple of Bible texts. The arguments and texts did not seem to penetrate. David referred to Buddha and, as he has done in our past conversations, he also referred to Mohammed. He wants to believe that all roads lead to Rome—that all paths lead to God—but perhaps realizes that some roads are rockier and their destinations uncertain.
“After David left, he texted me to say how much he had enjoyed his time with our family. A couple of days later he texted again. Could I remind him of the title of a book I’d recommended about Mohammed? I was discouraged and puzzled. What could I possibly have recommended about Mohammed? Then I remembered; it was a book called Jesus and Mohammed, a wonderful story by a former imam, Marc Gabriel. I sent him the reference. The same day he replied: the book was on order. Could it be that the story of a former Muslim cleric from Egypt will be a steppingstone to an Orthodox rabbi turning to Jesus? Please pray for Rabbi David.”
From Kata Tar, “‘I am an atheist,’ the red-haired Jewish lady in her mid-50s calmly announced to me.
“‘I see. And what made you contact us Jews for Jesus?’
“‘I like to meet other Jewish people,’ Anita* answered.
“‘I too used to be an atheist and was raised by Communist parents.’ As I told my story, Anita listened carefully. And when I suggested, ‘Maybe we can meet again to look at some relevant passages from the Bible?’ she replied, ‘Why not?’
“Since then we have been meeting regularly and Anita’s husband has joined us. Lajos is from a Catholic family and served as an officer in the Communist era. At our last visit I asked them very directly:
“‘So, Anita and Lajos, where are you right now with Yeshua? Are you ready to repent and recognize Him as Lord over your lives?’
“Anita replied, ‘I still don’t feel anything’ and Lajos added, ‘Back in my youth the Catholics wanted me to repent, but I decided not to.’
“‘Anita, you don’t need to feel anything in order to repent. If you are convinced that the gospel is true, and that you are a sinner and need forgiveness, that is enough reason to repent. Emotions will follow your decision. Lajos, what repentance have you said no to?’
“‘I don’t exactly know,’ Lajos admitted—which gave a platform to explain the gospel once again.
“This time tears filled Anita’s eyes. As she prayed, her voice faltered. God gave her the emotions she had been missing! Lajos then prayed to receive Jesus into his life as well. All this happened on April 4, the very day when, in 1945, the second World War came to an end in Hungary and the Communist era began. Sixty-nine years later these two children of Communism entered the Kingdom of God! Please keep them in your prayers.”
Alex Bearshtein reports, “I was making follow-up calls to people who’d expressed an interest in knowing more about Yeshua. Between my outgoing calls I received a call from Benjamin.* Was he returning my call? No, his name was not on my outgoing call list. This was a brand new call. Benjamin said to me, ‘Tell me about Yeshua.’ I explained God’s plan of salvation and after an hour and a half of questions and answers Benjamin told me, ‘I believe that. What do I need to do?’ I read to him the parable of the pearl of great price and explained his need to give up everything to live for Yeshua. He understood, and I asked him, ‘Do you want to pray to receive Yeshua as your Lord and Savior?’ He agreed and we prayed together. He asked me for my private phone number because he wanted me to talk to his brother, Jonas. Then we finished the call.
“Within a couple of minutes I received another call from a man named Moshe.* Without even saying hello he dove right in: ‘What’s this? Your Facebook page says that Yeshua was born of a virgin?’ I immediately started from Genesis 3:15 and explained to him how God prophesied from the beginning about the seed of the woman. Moshe understood and agreed.
“I asked him to open his Bible and read to me Isaiah 53, which he did. He was shocked but did not fully understand, so I explained the gospel and that the only way into God’s kingdom is through the blood of Yeshua. We talked about the high priest and the sacrificial system. After over an hour of questions and answers, like Benjamin, Moshe also prayed with me to receive Yeshua. I sent him a copy of the New Testament. Moshe told me he was from a Hasidic home and that all of his life he knew something was true about Yeshua.
“The following day, Jonas called me and asked a lot of questions about Yeshua and I gave him answers from the Word of God. After a long conversation, he told me, ‘I want to pray like my brother prayed yesterday.’ And we did! I got together with the two brothers (both in their 30s), and we began looking into the Word of God. We plan to get together on a weekly basis.
“A Jewish man sent me a message through Facebook apologizing that he had cursed us on Facebook. Daniel* said he wanted to know more about Yeshua, but when his friends saw him talking to us on Facebook, he hid his interest. He has been attracted to Jesus for a long time. I explained the gospel, asked if he believed that Jesus is the Messiah and if he wanted to start fresh with God, and he answered yes.
“Please pray for Benjamin, Jonas, Moshe and Daniel, that they will grow in their faith and persevere through the persecution from their families.
*Not their real names