I first met Valerie on the hot summer streets of New York during our 1980 Summer Witnessing Campaign. She had noticed me in my Jews for Jesus T-shirt as I stood on my corner at 42nd Street, handing out broadsides. We got into a conversation about prophecy and Jews, and she became interested enough to give me her home telephone number in Brooklyn.
Valerie was an aspiring young actress. Raised more religiously than most Jewish young people today, she had been sent to a yeshiva (Jewish religious academy). Because of this early training, she was very much aware of her Sephardic Jewish traditions; yet somehow she had become turned off” to the Judaism to which she had been exposed as a child. When I met Valerie that summer, she barely believed in God anymore.
After our meeting on the street, Valerie and I got together for a couple of Bible studies that summer. We began to develop a friendship, and over the next three years, my wife Martha and I saw Valerie regularly. We had her over to our apartment, taught her the Bible and encouraged her to attend our Friday services for Jewish believers. All too often, however, it seemed as though our words were falling on deaf ears.
Then in 1983, Valerie moved from New York City to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. She made contact with our Los Angeles branch and met with Avi Snyder, the head of our work there. Avi is an actor as well as a missionary, and he was able to relate well to Valerie because of this common interest.
While Valerie was there in Los Angeles, God started to bring many Christians across her path. She was confronted time and again with the claims of Yeshua. Finally, after some four and a half years from the time I had first met Valerie on the street, she came to believe in Yeshua. That was the winter of 1984.
There had been many times during those four and a half years when Martha and I almost gave up on Valerie. We were not seeing any noticeable change in her thinking, and she seemed as far as ever from faith in God, let alone Yeshua. We couldn’t know it, but God’s Spirit really was working in her heart all that time, preparing her and drawing her to himself.
Valerie’s story is a good reminder to me that sometimes the gospel seed gets buried very deeply—so deeply that it’s almost like hibernation. In those cases, the seeds don’t sprout immediately; but years later, they germinate and poke their heads up after the Spirit of God has produced just the right conditions. Then they break through to produce that tiny sprout that flowers into eternal life.