God was really working on Steve that fall at the University of Texas. Steve, a business student at U.T., was involved with Hillel, the Jewish student organization on campus. He came from a nominally Orthodox background. Steve said he wanted to know the truth about what the Bible taught, and in his search he began coming to the Jewish-Christian fellowship meetings that my friend Lori and I had organized on campus.
There Steve met Judy, a Jewish believer. He became friends with Lori and me and began dating Judy. Like many Jewish people whom God draws, Steve saw in our group a love and a true faith that he had not found in the seemingly meaningless ritual of his background. Steve saw that God was very real to Judy. She seemed to trust God in all things. He thought surely Judy’s God must be the real God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet how could this Christianity be Jewish?
Steve prayed again and again, What is the answer?” He seemed to hear the same answer each time: “Torah. ” He knew that Jesus claimed to have come not to abolish the Law (Torah) but to fulfill it. Steve was confused, but God continued to use Judy in his life. In all of Steve’s striving for answers, Jesus seemed more real.
Finally Judy asked, “Steve, what would it take to show you that Jesus is real, that he is the promised Messiah?”
“I’d have to know from God,” Steve said. “If this is all real, he has to show me. Can he heal me?” (Steve had been sick that week.)
“God can do anything,” Judy said, “but do you want to test God, or do you really want to know if he’s there?”
Judy prayed with Steve, and he agreed that if this were really true, God would heal him that very night.
A few days later I asked Judy, “How’s Steve coming along?” “Oh, he’s been seriously praying that God would show him the truth,” she said.
“But he was sick and you prayed with him, “I said. “What finally happened? Did God show him? Is he still sick, or did he get better?”
“Well,” Judy replied, “he asked me not to tell you.” God had made himself very real to Steve. Steve had seen Jesus first in Judy, then in the common love of the Christian fellowship, and finally in God’s direct answer to his prayer, “Jesus, if you are real, heal me.”
The next day Judy took Steve to see a professor of “Judaic Christianity,” that is a Christian Bible expert. But Steve, though he seemed to want to believe, still could not part with his old ideas of what had to be true according to his Jewish tradition of not believing in Jesus.
When I came out to New York to work with Jews for Jesus, I lost track of Steve and Judy—until a few weeks ago. One day I received in the mail a 30-page polemic from someone in Austin, Texas.
“Hmmm,” I thought. “Here’s another ‘novel’ from my old Chabad rabbi friend back at the University of Texas telling me that I’m an apostate.” But when I looked again, I was dismayed. The letter was signed not just by the Chabad rabbi, but by his new secretary, Steve! Chabad is an active anti-missionary group on many college campuses, and seeing that Steve was now mixed up with them almost made me cry.
Since he wrote me that letter Steve has left Austin to attend the Lubavitch yeshiva in Morristown, New Jersey, about an hour and a half drive from Manhattan. The Lubavitch yeshiva is Chabad’s training center from which they send out their anti-missionaries.
Sadly, Steve’s story is a frequent one. Sometimes my people want to know, yet they don’t really want to know. Sometimes they want God to tell them what is true, but they don’t really want God to tell them because such truth can be very uncomfortable and can demand more than they are willing to give. Sometimes we lose such seekers, and sometimes…I decided to call Steve in New Jersey.
“Hello, Steve? This is Stan. How are you doing?”
“Hi, I’m fine,” he responded. “How are you?”
“Wonderful,” I said. “How was the drive? How do you like ‘Yankeeland’?”
“It took me three days just to get here, and it was cold the whole way, “Steve said. “So how do you like New York?”
“It’s an exciting city, but it’s not Texas. Steve, listen, you have your car with you. When will you get some time off?”
“Oh, soon. Why?” he asked.
“Well, come up to New York and I’ll show you around,” I said.
“Man, that sounds great,” Steve responded. “I have your phone number, too. I’ll give you a call soon. How does that sound?”
“Great!” I said. “I’ll look forward to seeing you.”
I hope he meant what he said about coming to New York to see me. Please pray for Steve, that the Lord would continue to draw him no matter where he runs.