This is an account of opportunity and availability and of being used by God at the right spiritual place in someone’s life. The person was Greg, and I was the missionary God called to be available to help answer Greg’s spiritual questions.
Greg was a Jewish college student who had grown up in upstate New York. His Jewish upbringing had not been very strong, due in part to a divorce between his parents when he was young. During the summer of 1986, Greg had left the college he had been attending because he had wanted to make a break with the people and lifestyle with which he had become involved.
Greg’s first step toward change was a summer he spent in West Virginia. There he coincidentally” found himself living with a group of Christians. He would later remark that he had been drawn to the way they lived and to their faith in God and the Scriptures. After that encounter Greg began to read more Bible-oriented material as he found himself asking serious questions about real faith in God. As he continued to read more Christian literature, Greg still had some major questions. But as he later told me, “Everything kept telling me that Jesus was the way.”
After that summer Greg came to the San Francisco area and began to attend classes at the University of California at Berkeley, a campus that is known for its open thinking. One of Greg’s first stops in Berkeley was a Christian bookstore.
Eager for knowledge but not wanting to stand out as a Jewish person with questions about Jesus, Greg developed a bit of a story. He told the clerk that he was a Christian seeking information on how he could share Jesus with a Jewish friend. He just “happened” to buy a book called Share the New Life With a Jew, a book written by Moishe and Ceil Rosen.
Greg read through that entire book, and at the end he found the address for our Jews for Jesus headquarters here in San Francisco. After looking up the phone number, he called and was referred to the Shalom Center, our Bay Area missionary branch.
Greg’s follow-up was assigned to me, and I received a message with his telephone number. I called and we agreed to meet just before our Friday worship service at the Shalom Center. Greg immediately began to ask some serious and involved questions about God and Jesus, and we set up a time to get together on the Berkeley campus the following week and also the week after that.
At the first of those meetings we had a very good exchange of questions and answers. At our second meeting on the campus, I suggested to Greg that he read certain passages in the Bible and pray about what God would reveal to him concerning Jesus.
After that visit, Greg came to our Friday night service at the Shalom Center again and struck up a conversation with another member of our Jews for Jesus staff. That co-worker approached me later with some very startling news. He encouraged me to talk with Greg—who had just accepted Jesus that past Tuesday! I was surprised, even shocked, because at our meeting on Tuesday Greg had not mentioned that he wished to accept Jesus.
I quickly searched and found Greg and asked him what had happened on Tuesday. He explained that he had gone home that day after our visit and had read from the Bible. Then he had prayed to accept Jesus into his life. Joyfully, I gave Greg a big hug and saw to it that he had a complete Bible of his own to study.
Greg’s story is the kind that brings special encouragement to a missionary’s heart. As God moves in people’s hearts, their desire for truth depends on their openness. Sometimes it takes days, or sometimes it can take years before they open their hearts fully and accept God’s gift of life in Yeshua. For Greg it was a matter of a few months, as he desired answers to some very big questions. He admitted that he still didn’t have all the answers to his questions, but he knew for certain that he had gotten the most important issue answered, and that was that Jesus was his Messiah and Savior.
Now, like us all, Greg has begun his walk with God and needs to read and learn from the Scriptures. I know that whatever God shows him will strengthen his faith.