I love to see the trees in the metropolitan DC area, which is especially known for its cherry trees. When I see them I am reminded that evangelism and trees have a few things in common: both start with a seed that is planted. Both need to be watered in order for the seed to grow. And both take time before that growth becomes apparent.
With a physical seed, you can predict when signs of growth should appear, when the tree will mature and when you can expect to see fruit. But with evangelism, it takes an unspecified amount of time for that gospel seed to grow—and sometimes there are false starts along the way.
Recently, I met a man, Shlomy*, who was born and reared in a Jewish home. Now Shlomy is elderly, but during his childhood, he observed his parents trying to follow the religion of the rabbis—and he was quite aware that his parents lacked hope and peace. Therefore, he decided not to walk in the way of traditional Judaism.
It didn’t take Shlomy long to realize something was missing from his life and he began seeking ways to fill the void. As a young man, he joined the local Ethical Society, attended their gatherings, studied their materials and tried to embrace their worldview. But he found no hope and peace with the Ethical Society.
One Sunday morning Shlomy noticed a group of people going into a building. They were dressed well and looked like decent, well-balanced people. So he followed them into the building and found himself participating in a Unitarian community group. Before long, Shlomy concluded that he would not find hope and peace as a Unitarian, so he moved on. He became interested in Buddha’s teachings . . . and searched for peace and hope within those teachings for thirty years. After that great span of time, Shlomy realized that he still had found not a trace of hope or peace.
Shlomy has a friend, a police officer who attends a Bible church. For more than two years, Shlomy attended his friend’s church as someone who does not think that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Jewish Messiah. Still, Shlomy participated in Bible studies, worship services and prayer meetings. He spoke with church leaders and found the gospel message compelling. But though Shlomy abandoned the Jewish religion many years previously, he certainly never abandoned his Jewish identity . . . which, he was taught, does not allow him to follow Yeshua.
Once again, he must move on. But now, the true seed has finally been planted… and watered.
So one day as Shlomy is driving in metro DC on a cold winter day, he notices a sign (by the way, did somebody say that Jews long for signs? 1 Corinthians 1:22) above a store in a strip mall. He reads the words, “Jews for Jesus.” He is curious about Jewish people believing in Jesus, enough so that he parks his car and enters the store. He begins a conversation with the Jews for Jesus DC office manager, Shannon, and leaves his contact information with her.
Within a few days, I connect with Shlomy by phone. After a few conversations, we begin to meet in person. And within a matter of weeks, Shlomy acknowledges that he is a sinner and that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. At last Shlomy receives God’s free gift of salvation (Romans 6:23) and finds peace and hope!
It’s just like the Apostle Paul said: one person plants, another waters and God brings the increase. (See 1 Corinthians 3:6.)
Editor: Do you have a friend who needs Jesus, but seems to be committed to a different spiritual path as Shlomy seemed to be at various times? We hope this story encourages you to keep praying and looking for opportunities to share your faith… and wait to see what the Holy Spirit will do!
*Not his real name
Larry Dubin leads our branch in Washington, D.C. Find out more about Larry