Just When It Seemed the Answer Was No…
One thing that missionary work teaches us is that God continues to work, even when we can’t see it. Even so, many of us need reminders of His grace.
Amanda called to tell us about a Jewish friend she had been witnessing to at work. Joe was interested in hearing from someone Jewish who believed in Jesus, so Amanda called to give us his phone number.
Joe seemed genuinely pleased when I called. He lived quite a distance from our office, so we agreed to continue meeting” by telephone. He gave me his address and asked me to send him something to read before our next conversation.
Over the next few months, Joe and I continued to talk about Jesus. We looked at messianic prophecy and we looked at the Gospel of John. We talked about who Jesus claimed to be and what the Scriptures said about Him.
After a few months, our contact ceased. I called Joe to say hi, to see how his Bible reading was going and what he was thinking about Jesus. He wasn’t home, so I left a message. Joe did not return my call. I called again to invite him to our High Holiday services. Once again, I left a message on his machine. And once again, he did not return my call. I felt bad that Joe, who had been so eager to explore the issue of Jesus, had come so far only to abandon his search.
I left Boston to take up a new assignment in Florida. One evening, after handing out tracts at Hollywood Beach for several hours, I came into the office to do some phoning. Ordinarily, I would make calls until about 9:00, making contact with Jewish people and arranging to visit them in person. However, I’d been out in the sun too long and was not feeling well. I decided to call it quits at 8:30 and was just leaving when the telephone rang. My first impulse was to let the machine answer. But I had left messages with some people that night, and someone might be returning my call—so I answered the phone.
It was Joe, calling from Boston to tell me that he had accepted Jesus as his Messiah a month earlier. I could hear the smile in his voice as he said, “You won.”
“No, Joe,” I said. “God won. You won.” For the next hour, he told me how he had come to faith. Apparently, during the time he didn’t return my calls, he had sought answers from rabbis regarding Scriptures we had read. Their answers did not satisfy him. Instead, a growing conviction that Jesus is the Messiah prevailed.
I rejoiced with Joe in his newfound faith. The sincerity of his decision was apparent in his increased awareness and sensitivity to his sin—and in the fact that he had already begun to tell other Jewish people about Jesus. We prayed for God’s continued guidance in his life. I’m glad we have answering machines to talk to these days. I was thrilled to have Joe finally return my call. And I am thankful for Christian friends like Amanda, who make it possible for us to have a part in leading their friends to Jesus.