The Results are Worth the Risks
“Are you Jewish?” the young man asked me. He’d been watching me hand out my tracts in the Konkova metro station in Moscow during our “Life from the Dead” campaign.*
“Yes, I am.”
“Aren’t you afraid to be here?”
“No,” I said with a shrug. Then I offered him one of my tracts.
He shook his head. “I’m a Nazi,” he said.
“Take it anyway,” I suggested. “It’s about Jesus.”
“No, thanks,” he said with a politeness that seemed a little eerie, maybe even menacing.a
I went back to handing out my tracts. But I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was making a call on his mobile phone. It’s not unusual for those who wish to intimidate us to call for reinforcements and I had no way of knowing if that’s what this young man was doing. Then he left. I suppose I could have found a nearby spot to finish handing out my tracts, but I did not want a Nazi to determine where, when or how I would offer the gospel.
A few minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder from behind. I half expected to look into the faces of the young Nazi’s “friends.” Instead, I met the gaze of an older Jewish man. He introduced himself as Semyon, and asked to see what I was handing out. As I gave him a tract, I asked my standard question. “What do you think about Jesus?”
“What should I think?” he asked rhetorically. “My parents kept some of the Jewish traditions, but I was raised as a Communist and an atheist, like everyone else.”
“I believe He’s our Messiah, promised to us by Moses and the prophets,” I began. He listened carefully as I went on to explain the gospel message. When I offered to send him more free information, he gladly gave me his full name, address and telephone number.
What about the young Nazi? He never came back.
Are the dangers that we Jews for Jesus face real? Sometimes. All of us have had the privilege of sharing in His sufferings in some form or another. So why do we take the risks and make ourselves vulnerable? Because it’s what Jesus did, and He’s commanded us to follow His lead.
We’d be hard pressed to find evidence in the Scripture that suggests that God only sends His messengers into fields that are “safe.” There are two reasons for this. First of all, the burning issue isn’t the safety of the messenger, but the salvation of the lost. If Jesus had played it “safe,” then all of us would still be destined for an eternity separated from God. The second reason is this: we are safe, whether we live or die, because we belong to Him. He has His hold upon our lives, whether in life or in death, whether in peace or in tribulation. Like King David, we can exclaim with perfect confidence, “The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1b)
God blessed the 2013 Moscow outreach with wonderful results, despite occasional police detentions and some minor, sporadic physical assaults. By the end of the campaign, the team of 25 people had handed out over 250,000 gospel tracts; they’d gathered the names and address of 558 Jewish and 361 non-Jewish people for follow-up; and 38 Jewish people and 33 non-Jews had prayed to receive the Lord.
The results are always worth the risks.
* We’ve just finished another Moscow campaign that you can read about in our June edition of RealTime at http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/realtime
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.