As I picked up the telephone at our Johannesburg office I was blasted by a woman’s angry voice. How could you send this stuff to me? My name is Elaine and I’m Jewish—and more than that, I’m offended that someone gave my name to Jews for Jesus!”
Before she could say anything else, I quickly responded with, “My name is Laura, and I’m also Jewish. One of your friends cared enough about you to ask me to contact you. She is a devoted Christian and thought that you might be interested to hear how a Jewish person came to believe that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel.”
I paused, half expecting another tirade, but Elaine hesitated and said, “Well, I only wanted you to know that I’m hurt that a friend of mine would have literature like this posted to me.”
I asked Elaine to explain exactly why she felt hurt, and then I questioned her as to what she thought of Jesus. I was surprised when she said that she had read much of the New Testament and was not quite sure what to think. A number of Christians had witnessed to her, but she had always assumed that it was natural for them to believe in Jesus because they were Gentiles. I could tell that Elaine couldn’t quite accept the fact that I was Jewish.
After a 20-minute conversation I told Elaine that I enjoyed talking to her, but would prefer to speak to her in person. Maybe my Jewish face would convince her that I was Jewish and that I had the shalom (peace) of Yeshua in my heart. We made arrangements to get together the following morning.
When we met, Elaine was just as skeptical as she had been on the telephone, but she wanted to continue our conversation about spiritual issues right away. By the time our visit was over, she had agreed to read the first chapter of the Gospel of John on her own and had allowed me to pray for her.
After that first visit I phoned the Christian woman who had given me Elaine’s name. I learned that the first link in this chain of events had happened when that lady had seen one of our missionaries give a Christ in the Passover presentation at her church. She had taken one of our newsletters from the free literature table and had decided that maybe our ministry could have some influence on her Jewish friend, Elaine.
The woman also told me that Elaine had phoned her immediately after our visit and in her own words had reported, “We had quite an interesting conversation.”
So much for what began as a hostile response to my letter of witness! I do not very often receive responses to letters I send to unbelieving Jewish people. Moreover, when I do hear from them, quite often the responses are negative, with requests to remove their names from our mailing list. This time what I thought was a hostile response actually provided me with an opportunity to tell a curious listener the good news of Yeshua.
May Elaine’s curiosity grow into an ever-ripening seedling that will yield a fruitful harvest for the kingdom. And may our presentations in the churches continue to bless and motivate Christian hearers to send us the names of their Jewish friends!