Divinely Arranged Encounters
Fact #1: Being a student at Moody Bible Institute is not easy. It takes a lot of time and dedication.
Fact #2: Being a missionary with Jews for Jesus is not easy either. It also takes a lot of time and dedication.
Fact #3: Being both of these is a lot of fun!!
For the past three years I have been a full-time student at Moody and a missionary at the Chicago branch of Jews for Jesus. Being enrolled in the Jewish Studies major has trained me to know more about the Bible and doctrine, but the specific classes in my major have given me more insight into Jewish history and life.
At times it was difficult for me to remember if I was a student working as a missionary or a missionary going to school. God showed me many times that I was a missionary going to school in order to learn more of his Word.
I remember my first year at Moody. I had just arrived from Argentina, and I only knew a few things about America. I spoke very broken English, and I often had to tell people to speak more slowly so I could understand them. I also had to use a Spanish/English dictionary in all my classes in order to understand what the teachers were asking on the exams. During my first semester I flunked almost all my mid-terms!
Also my first experiences as a missionary were surprising. The first time I went to hand out broadsides (gospel tracts) an angry Jewish man stopped to tell me I should be ashamed of myself. I could not understand half of the things he was saying, but I was smart enough to figure out that he was not telling me how cute I was! Another missionary who was also handing out tracts tried to help me, but the man just wanted to talk to me. Finally I got to share my story, and the man left, saying that I had to learn to speak English before handing out those pamphlets.”
Months and years went by. Now I am in my last semester at Moody and probably my last year at the Chicago branch. During this time not only has my speech improved, but I have had the opportunity of sharing the gospel with many Jewish people in Chicago and New York City as well. I have often felt the grace of God helping me in my double role of student/missionary as I tried to get everything done on time.
One of the most important things God has taught me in these three years has been to appreciate the value of time. Jesus knew how to take the most advantage of his time here on earth. He rose early. He was busy all day. He went from one place to another, ministering, healing, and preaching. He didn’t have an appointment book, but he was always at the right place at the right time.
I believe that there are “divine encounters” that the Lord arranges so that someone may hear the good news. This has happened to me several times during the last few months.
I usually serve in our Chicago branch, but last year I was assigned to go to New York City to speak in some Spanish-speaking churches. I had to take a taxi to get to our office. I started talking to the cab driver and found out he was Jewish. He was a Russian immigrant and had never heard that there were Jewish people who believed in Jesus. I had not only the opportunity to tell him that Jewish people could believe in Jesus because he was the Jewish Messiah, but I also got his name and address. One of our missionaries in New York followed up on him and had the opportunity to talk to him several times.
Last Christmastime I had the opportunity of working at our San Francisco Headquarters for a while. As I took my seat on the plane, the man next to me introduced himself. When I heard his last name I immediately figured out that he was Jewish. As soon as the plane took off, I started praying and thinking how to start the conversation. In the middle of this, he started talking to me again and asked me what company I was with. I immediately answered, “Jews for Jesus.” I found out that he was from Kansas City, and that although he did not observe everything in Judaism, he was giving his kids a Jewish education. Again I had the opportunity of telling how I became a believer in the Messiah of Israel.
While I was working in San Francisco, I received a call from one of our branch missionaries telling me that she had met a Jewish person from Argentina while handing out tracts downtown. She had set up an appointment to meet with him to talk about Messiah. Since I am from Argentina, she asked me to go with her. I was very happy to do so. You don’t often find Jews from Argentina on San Francisco street corners. Our missionary Susan and I had a great time talking to this man. He had left Argentina two months earlier and was taking a trip around the world. We witnessed to him and prayed for him that he might know that Messiah has come. He said he would be looking forward to seeing me when I got back to Argentina.
In all those situations I had no way of knowing that I was going to meet those people. I had no way of knowing what was the right taxi in New York. I had nothing to do with selecting my seat on the plane, and by no means could I have imagined that I would find a Jewish person from Argentina in San Francisco. I believe that it all happened because God is sovereign and in total control of everything in this world. God wills that everybody should hear the good news of salvation, and in order to accomplish that, he will do anything at any time, anywhere. Anywhere means New York, San Francisco, Chicago, or any other place. Anytime may be while riding a cab, flying in a plane or handing out tracts on the street.
God might want to use you as he uses us in Jews for Jesus to tell a Jewish person that Messiah has come. Would you be willing to be his instrument? I hope you will always be ready if you find yourself in one of those “divinely arranged encounters.”