Kathy walked in the door with big, funny glasses and a clown nose—which was absolutely appropriate since we were hosting a Jews for Jesus Purim party. As we began reading through the Megillah (the book of Esther), whirling our graggers (noisemakers) loudly at every mention of the evil villain Haman, I could see Kathy’s shoulders visibly relax. Her body language seemed to say, This is okay; this is familiar and I’m having fun.”
Later we mingled over hamantaschen (traditional Purim pastries) and I found out that Kathy’s father came from an Orthodox Jewish family of Holocaust survivors. However, he chose to marry out of the faith. Kathy’s aunts, uncles and cousins on her dad’s side were still Orthodox, but her mother, a Christian, brought her up attending Sunday school.
Kathy remained “spiritually uncommitted.” She was in Toronto to finish up her coursework for a doctoral degree and “happened” to be rooming with a Jewish believer I know, which is how she “happened” to attend our Purim party. The interesting thing is, the Book of Esther is filled with “just so happens” that show how God works through seemingly random circumstances to save people.
I called Kathy a week after the party to see if we could visit over coffee. Though hesitant, she agreed. Since her masters degree was on the subject of the Holocaust, I brought along our Survivors Stories DVD as well as our booklet Questions & Answers.
Throughout our hour together, she seemed open and curious. When I asked who she thought Jesus was at this juncture in her life, Kathy replied that her biggest problem was the issue of the Resurrection, which she recognized as being crucial to the Christian faith. I followed up our time together by emailing her links to our ISSUES articles on the Resurrection and other resources with the challenge that if this was really the struggle she was having with faith, we could confront it openly and honestly.
When I contacted her to meet again I was surprised and delighted by her response:
I had the chance to watch the movie tonight with a friend. I was struck by Isaiah 53, and I am looking forward to connecting with you after my last exam on April 20th. I’ve decided to read the entire Bible after my exams, both the Old and New Testaments. I haven’t done so since I was in Sunday School.
When we met again after Passover, she gave me a hug. I could see that she had prepared for our time together by bringing a Bible and notebook, along with the literature I’d given her. We got right down to business and she told me that the articles I forwarded and the literature I gave her answered the questions she’d had. Kathy opened her notebook and showed me a new list of questions. As we went through them together I sensed that these were not her main issues, so I asked what was really keeping her from following Jesus. She replied simply, “I think everything you’re telling me is true and that Jesus really is the Messiah of Israel, but if I make a commitment of faith, my bubbe and zayde (grandmother and grandfather) will be very hurt and upset. I don’t think I can do this to them after all that they’ve been through.”
I did not leave that visit discouraged or downhearted. I know God is calling Kathy and she cannot resist the tug. It’s visible in everything she says and does. Kathy finished her degree and her time in Toronto, but we agreed to visit together via Skype. Please pray with me for Kathy!
Laura Barron, married to Toronto branch leader Andrew Barron, keeps busy with their three children, Rafael, Ketzia and Simona—in addition to meeting with Jewish seekers and editing our Canadian as well as our South African newsletters!