It was the next to last day of my deputation tour in early April of 1994, and I was tired and homesick. I had been presenting Christ in the Passover at various Florida churches for nearly three weeks. I arrived early at the church in Ocala. I had been there for a Christ in the Passover presentation just two years prior. I sat quietly in the darkened sanctuary and prayed, Lord, why do You have me back here with the same presentation on the same day only two years later? Many in the congregation have already seen it. Why give it again? Why not something else?”
When the rector arrived, he gave me a big bear hug. He was truly glad to see me again. My presentation was graciously received by the congregation, but only a few people stopped by the literature table afterward to ask questions. One woman bought a copy of our book, Yeshua, The Jewish Way to Say Jesus. She was going to give it to her daughter-in-law, Samantha. I offered to answer any of Samantha’s questions if she wanted to talk with a Jewish believer in Jesus.
Three months later, on July 14th, the phone rang in our Ft. Lauderdale office. Samantha was on the line. She had called our San Francisco headquarters to get my number. Without my knowing it, Samantha had been in attendance at that Passover presentation in Ocala. It had all seemed confusing to her, so after the presentation, she had started to read the New Testament as well as the Yeshua book that her mother-in-law had given her.
When Samantha went to her rabbi with questions, he angrily said he would not speak with her about the possibility of Jesus being the Messiah. Now she was looking for someone who would answer her questions—without getting upset! Samantha came from an Orthodox Jewish background and firmly believed in God. The more she read, the more she could not understand why the New Testament was rejected. She clearly saw how Jewish it was and what Yeshua had done to bring salvation to Israel, as well as to the world.
Samantha had been told about Messiah but only that there would be one coming, a King who would bring peace to earth. When I showed her in the Old Testament that two comings are portrayed, including the Suffering Servant as shown in Isaiah 53, she wanted to know even more. We read many scriptures together, and I shared with her how I, too, had wrestled with the Bible.
Gently I told her, “Jewish tradition told me I shouldn’t believe in Yeshua, but God says I should. Whom or what should we follow?” Over the phone that day, Samantha took God at His word and prayed with me to receive His gift of salvation.
I am most grateful to God and to our Department of Mobile Evangelism in San Francisco that made the arrangements for me to be back at that church in Ocala. God had an appointment for Samantha to speak with me, though it took a few months to come together. Now she will spend eternity with Him.
When I get weary of repeating the same message, I often remind myself of that experience and others like it. While the information I bring is not new to me, it may be to those who attend. I am encouraged that God has His timing in mind as to who will hear and respond.