Paper Pusher for Jesus
Almost three years ago a very special Jews for Jesus newsletter arrived in my mailbox. I wish I could remember the exact day it was, because it changed my life!
It was not that I was looking for change. I always seemed to find plenty to keep myself busy, even in the small South Dakota town where I was living. I had left a responsible position in a large city to get back to basics. I was satisfied with my lifestyle, but then I started to realize that God was calling me to fulltime ministry.
Immediately I thought minister.” The first thing I did was check out several Bible colleges in the area to see what they had to offer. The more I thought and prayed about it, though, the less I could see myself behind a pulpit or doing those other things that “ministers” do. So I bided my time.
I was interested in Jewish evangelism. Through some friends of mine who were Jewish believers in Jesus I had learned about Jews for Jesus and the rich heritage I had because I was “grafted in.” My next concern was obvious. I wanted my unbelieving Jewish friends to know Jesus as their Messiah too. Jews for Jesus really encouraged me in both of those areas. I looked forward to their mailings. Whenever I received a piece of Jews for Jesus mail, I always opened it last because I knew that whatever it contained, it was the best.
That day in 1984 when I opened the Newsletter, I saw something that really caught my eye. The title was “Would You Like to Join our Staff?” and was followed by the words, “Salaried positions at San Francisco Headquarters…hard, challenging work…a family atmosphere.…” eyes filled with tears as I read. Then I said out loud, “Lord, you know there’s no group of people I’d rather work for than Jews for Jesus. And you know there’s no city I’d rather not live in than San Francisco! So change me.” Fortunately, he changed my, opinion about San Francisco rather than about Jews for Jesus.
I knew that San Francisco was a very liberal city, pleased to tolerate lifestyles that Christians did not find acceptable. When I complained to God about it, he seemed to give me an answer he’s given me more times than I care to remember: “You don’t change it by staying away.”
After much prayer and procrastination, I called the Jews for Jesus office and said, “I don’t suppose you still have any openings, do you?” I was assured that there were openings, and that Jews for Jesus was always looking for workers. They sent me an application. After I returned it, they checked my references and had my pastor administer a series of clerical tests they sent him. After a time I was brought out to San Francisco for a two-week candidacy period—a system that was used at that time. For two weeks I worked with those who would be my co-workers. I watched them, and they watched me.
That trial period resolved many of my questions, like “Will I have to join a Jews for Jesus church?” I was pleased to learn that all staff people were required to attend a Bible-believing church, but were not told what church to choose. Instead, we were encouraged to spread our membership to many churches in the area, so there would not be a “Jews for Jesus block” in any one body.
I found it interesting that many of the staff members at headquarters had moved to San Francisco from another area for the specific purpose of working with Jews for Jesus. It told me that most of the other staff would understand the bittersweet pain I would feel if I chose to leave my relatives and friends behind. Just knowing that made my decision a little easier.
I also found other support systems within the staff. On Monday mornings we all began our week together with prayer. Tuesday night was “family night” for staff, spouses and children. We had a family-style meal followed by a program like a Bible study, personal testimonies from our co-workers, or a speaker from another local ministry describing their work for the Lord.
I must admit that my biggest concern as I considered my decision was crass and unspiritual: Could Jews for Jesus pay me enough to even get by in San Francisco? I wasn’t earning a fantastic wage in South Dakota, but I knew that I’d have to earn much more in San Francisco in order to maintain a modest lifestyle. I could tell by what I saw during my candidacy that Jews for Jesus was careful as to how they handled God’s money; and to be honest, I didn’t know if I was wise enough to be that careful with my own living allowance.
I was blessed to have a sister here in San Francisco to help me evaluate matters. I discussed my requirements at length with her. Together we worked out a budget dealing with bare essentials. We decided on a minimum I could ask for in salary.
As my candidacy progressed, I sensed that this was God’s place for me. It wasn’t because everything seemed so perfect. (If it were, it would have lost that status as soon as I came on board.) Nor did the idea seem totally logical. I just knew, but I wanted to be prudent. All I could think of as a sign from God was that he would meet the financial minimum I had decided upon.
The day came for my “hire” appointment—my last time to talk with management. Guess what they offered to pay me for a living allowance? Exactly what I had determined I would need! I was hired to work in our data entry department. I’ll admit that it wasn’t my first choice for a position, but I wanted God’s best for my life, so I accepted the position.
Soon I was secretary to the office manager. I learned many interesting things wherever I worked. One thing I learned was that I didn’t have to look for projects to keep me busy. There was always something or someone who needed help. I also learned how much the secretaries really ran the organization. It’s been almost three years since I started working here, and even a few days ago my boss was surprised at the kinds of phone calls I handle.
I also learned how much the board of directors and the management team really cared about the staff. At one point I was overwhelmed to realize that Moishe Rosen really listened to what I had to say about our health insurance policy, to the extent that they implemented the plan I had recommended. They listened to me—just another paper pusher for Jesus—a rookie on staff!
And now there’s been another change. I am assistant office manager. The ministry has not kept me at a bare sustenance level. As I’ve shown myself to be serious about caring for them, they’ve shown themselves to be concerned that they do right by me in return.
I’ve already mentioned my apprehension about moving to San Francisco because of its reputation as one of the most sinful, secular cities in the country. But I found things to like about San Francisco. Besides its agreeable climate, it is a city for music lovers. Next to New York City, it has the most by way of performing arts. Most important, spiritually speaking, San Francisco is a city where an individual’s church attendance is counted as a victory. Every believer is needed just to help the church survive. Since there are so few believers, they don’t seem to take their faith for granted. Christians have a sense of interdependence as they depend on God together. In addition to being able to serve the Lord, in many other respects I received more than I had hoped for by moving to San Francisco.
One of my duties as assistant office manager is personnel recruitment. I’m always looking for people who want their work to contribute to furthering the gospel more than it might in the secular marketplace.
Have you ever thought that you’d like to work full time with a Christian ministry, but you can’t see yourself behind a pulpit or doing those other things that ministers are supposed to do? The gift of administration is listed in I Corinthians 12:28 as one way of serving God. Maybe that’s your ministry!
You might be surprised at the kind of workers we need at Jews for Jesus. Right now one of our most urgent needs is for an art director. The art director who designs this Newsletter has been accepted on our missionary staff, but she can’t go until we replace her with someone of like background and experience. We also need people who would enjoy scheduling our missionaries and singing teams in churches. We need someone with experience on the IBM System 38 and in RPG III programming language to help with our data processing. We need a replacement for our Liberated Wailing Wall’s bus driver/sound man, who will soon complete his term of service. We also need an experienced pressman, some manual laborers and a manager for our shipping department/print shop. Last, but not least, we need the secretaries and clerks who keep things humming, so that our Jewish brothers and sisters can minister the gospel to their people.
Why don’t you drop me a line if you’re interested, and maybe you too can be a paper pusher for Jesus. Write to me—LOIS—at Jews for Jesus, 60 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 941025895. Mark down the date you read this article. It may change your life!