Forty Feet of Goodness
Thinking about a title for my report one month, I came up with Forty Feet of Goodness in a World That Is Not So Good.” People who have experienced the adventures of the Liberated Wailing Wall, especially life on our 40-foot bus, might disagree with me about that first part (and I wouldn’t be surprised). However, the truth remains, and if travel on the bus does not fit the above description, everything possible should be done to make it so.
I find it amazing that people take things for granted and don’t appreciate what God provides. I had been traveling on the bus with the team for a year before I realized how fortunate we are. We are fortunate to be equipped with a computer, a microwave oven, a refrigerator, a shower, a sink and toilet and bunks for everyone! We also have closets, drawers, cupboards and pantries. We even have a generator that supplies us with heat or air-conditioning, depending on the season. I mean, seriously, we are blessed!
Apart from being full of wonderful things, this bus is also full of great people, every one of whom is a child of God. I believe that is very special. A well-known Psalm says, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (133:1). It is very encouraging to me to know that when I have had a bad day or have met a hostile person while distributing tracts, I can get back on the bus and be among those who will comfort me.
Someone might say that it is quite impossible to be “a great person” in 40 feet of space with six other human beings around you. I agree with that. In fact, I believe it is quite impossible to be a great person even in 120 feet of space, unless you are there alone. The question is, what do we mean by “great”? The truth is, apart from God we can do nothing, but with Him, we can do everything as we allow Him to work through us.
As long as the team is willing to share our 40 feet of bus space with Jesus, we will not feel too crowded. And as long as we allow God room in our hearts, our rolling residence will qualify for that title: “Forty Feet of Goodness.”
One of the truly great things about being on the bus and leading The Liberated Wailing Wall is the learning and trusting experience of coming up against a situation where there seems to be no way out, until God makes a way. I won’t go into too much detail, except to describe just one of those bus incidents. It happened when I ruptured the oil pan in the middle of the Missouri countryside. God graciously allowed us to get the problem fixed so we could carry on with our schedule without even missing a meeting. Actually, He didn’t just get the oil pan fixed. He provided a new one. We found it in Amarillo, Texas, in an out-of-the-way diesel shop we weren’t even looking for. That happened after I had called around and had been told that no one anywhere between Chicago and Phoenix had what we needed.
In our travels we come up against many difficult situations. I see each one as an exciting new opportunity for God to pull me/us through the impossible. (Admittedly, sometimes I first get a little carried away with depression before I get overwhelmingly excited!) I often need to remind myself that King David had a lot of confidence when he faced Goliath because he had already seen God bring him victory against lions and bears when he was a shepherd. Each time I see God work in a seemingly impossible situation, it gives me more faith that He will work in the next challenge. Then sometimes I even remember to turn straight to Him and forget about first wallowing in the “woe is me” phase.
I could not even begin to number the ways God has answered prayer since I’ve been leading the Liberated Wailing Wall. He has answered prayer from the smallest things like, “Please can we get a van to go on a sortie tomorrow,” to the big things like the oil pan incident. Even in the interpersonal area, I have seen God work in truly amazing ways. Sometimes things seem to go backward, but that is just another opportunity to exercise perseverance and faith. I can view even those things that do not yet appear to have resolutions or the challenges that lie ahead as opportunities to see God work in a wonderful way.
Before I was a believer, I could never imagine that God, if He existed at all, would care enough for me to be involved in my life in such a detailed and personal way. It is an amazing thing to have this relationship with Him through Jesus. To those who do not yet know Him I can say with honesty as I look back on my own life: you do not have even the slightest idea of the depth of relationship you can have with God through the Messiah He sent. To those who do know Him but sometimes get discouraged by thinking they cannot deal with adverse situations, I can say: God always has a way forward through every situation. The more impossible it seems, the more glorious it is to watch Him at work.
—Jonathan Bernd, Team Leader
Cold Calling, Warm Response
We were on tour in Federal Way, Washington. It was only my second time calling people with Jewish surnames from a local phone directory, so I was still a little nervous. It was the middle of the afternoon, so most of the recipients of my witnessing efforts were polite but uninterested housewives. I also got to “speak” with several answering machines. With every recorded invitation, I made a conscious effort to sound natural, as though I really expected to see that person at our presentation.
That evening, when we met the pastor of the church before prayer time, he said that a young man was looking for an “Anna.” I recognized his name, Lloyd Rosen, as one of the calls I had made that morning. The pastor was quite excited that the man had responded to my invitation to attend our presentation, and we prayed for him before the meeting. Gene, the team’s sound man, met Lloyd first and got a positive response from him when he presented the gospel to him.
Lloyd seemed really enthusiastic about our presentation. He clapped vigorously during the fast songs and laughed heartily at the confrontational “Saved Schmaved” skit. Afterward, I introduced myself. He told me what God had been doing in his life during the past few years.
Much to his parents’ chagrin, Lloyd had been married to a Gentile woman, but was now divorced. Recently he had also given up his established career to start a private investigator business, and the business had failed. Along with his unsuccessful marriage, Lloyd was newly unemployed. He was feeling quite helpless when a friend who had been witnessing to him suggested he read the Gospel of John. While reading that at the airport as he waited for a flight, Lloyd was approached by a retired minister who also began witnessing to him. That same day on the flight Lloyd completed the Gospel of John and decided in his heart that it was all true.
Lloyd said he believed that Jesus was the Messiah who was promised in the Hebrew Scriptures, that He came to die for our sins so we could have eternal life and that God raised Him from the dead. When I asked Lloyd if he had ever prayed to ask Jesus into his heart as Savior and Lord, he said no, but that he would like to do that. We prayed together, and Lloyd asked Jesus into his life based on what He had done for him.
It was difficult to leave Lloyd. He was so on fire and so happy to speak with other Jewish believers. I pray that he will continue to grow in his faith.
A Lot Can Happen in Five Days
At a large Lutheran church in Houston, a Christian woman introduced someone to team leader Jonathan Bernd after the meeting with, “This is Bob. He has a question.” Bob was Jewish and wanted to know how one could be Jewish and believe in Jesus. He had come to the meeting after hearing a radio interview. Because he had been to a church only once before, he asked a Christian friend to accompany him.
Bob was really sincere in his questioning. He said he had undergone a spiritual transformation in the last two weeks. His friend had been telling him about Jesus. Bob and Jonathan sat down and read Isaiah 53. Jonathan asked Bob to whom he thought the passage referred, and immediately Bob said, “It sounds like Jesus.” When Jonathan asked Bob what was preventing him from praying to commit his life to Yeshua, he said, “Nothing.” Then and there, Bob prayed to trust Yeshua as his Messiah and Savior.
Five days later, in New Orleans, team member Irina met two Russian Jewish people she had known in Minnesota. They came to the meeting and brought Natasha, a Russian Jewish friend. Afterward Irina introduced all three to Jonathan. Natasha was really open to the gospel and had been touched by the presentation. She agreed with the gospel message and wanted the Jewish Messiah in her heart. Irina translated to make sure that Natasha understood what it was all about. Then Natasha prayed to receive the Lord. Pray for Natasha’s growth. There are not many Russian-speaking believers in the New Orleans area.
Team member Joshua Turnil also prayed with the unbelieving son of a Jewish believer to receive the Lord. In that one five-day period, three Jewish people came to the Lord through the ministry of The Liberated Wailing Wall.