In September 1985, Jews for Jesus brought me to San Francisco to become the voice of Messiah Line.” Our Messiah Line is a nationwide ministry of encouragement and discipleship of Jewish believers by telephone. There are literally thousands of Jewish people around the United States who have been led to faith in Jesus. Many must struggle with their identities as Jews while finding their places in the church and growing in faith and service to God. I spend about half of my time calling Jewish believers, helping them meet other Jewish believers and find church homes. I also teach and encourage them through the Scriptures and prayer. Frequently I am in a position to help these brothers and sisters in the faith through crisis situations, such as rejection by their families and deprogramming attempts. I am also sharing the gospel with a number of nonbelieving Jewish people who live outside of the reach of other missionaries. My field of ministry is as near and as far as the other end of the telephone line.
One of my Messiah Line “customers” is Barbara. Barbara is a Jewish woman from a rural Illinois area that is a six-hour drive from Chicago. She is active in the Jewish temple many miles from her home. She is a teacher, wife and mother. Barbara’s husband is a Gentile believer, and she attends church with him. Having received and read ISSUES, our special outreach publication for Jewish people, Barbara wrote to us because she was curious about how Jews could believe in Jesus and retain their Jewish identity. She was pleasantly surprised to receive a personal call from me. We talked for a few minutes, and I found Barbara to be articulate and well-informed. She asked good questions, and she agreed to let me send her some literature and to call her again to discuss it.
When I called again a couple of weeks later, Barbara asked me how I got involved with the Jews for Jesus movement. “And don’t tell me you met Jesus,” she said. “As a matter of fact, that is exactly what happened to me,” I replied, and I gave her my story. Barbara was eager to know more about Jewish believers, and I asked her if she would like to meet Susan, another Jewish woman with whom I had been talking for about a year. Barbara agreed.
Susan is a Jewish believer in Jesus, married to a Gentile believer and the mother of two children. She is about the same age as Barbara, in the same profession, and lives about 45 minutes away from her. When I called Susan to ask her to meet Barbara, she was thrilled. Susan had been praying for an opportunity to share her faith with other Jewish people!
Not long after that Barbara and Susan got together and Barbara invited Susan to make the six-hour drive with her to attend our Jews for Jesus Midwest Ingathering near Chicago. The Ingathering is a three-day weekend of messianic fellowship, learning and worship in a quiet country retreat center. Scores of Jewish believers and their families get together to hear popular messianic teachers and performers and to make new friends.
That Midwest Ingathering proved to be a turning point for Barbara. Beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, was an ideal setting for meeting Jewish believers and hearing testimonies and observing the lives of Jewish people who have followed Yeshua. Mealtimes afforded Barbara the opportunity to talk personally with several believers, including Janet Chaiet, one of our Chicago branch missionaries. Barbara found particularly meaningful their stories of a faith that enabled them to endure the rejection of their Jewish families and friends. Also the Jewish music, worship and teaching helped her to see Jesus in a new light.
Not long after the Ingathering, Barbara decided to invite Jesus into her life. What she had not wanted to hear just a few weeks earlier became a reality to her. Barbara has met Jesus. She tells me that she has been talking with him and is getting to know him in a way she never thought possible. It will be exciting to watch God working in the life of this Jewish girl from Illinois.