Would it surprise you to know that all the Jewish families in my hometown are believers in Jesus? Well, my hometown is Swakopmind, Namibia, and ours is the only Jewish family! Still, I find it quite remarkable that so many members of my family have come to faith in such a relatively short time.
I accepted the Lord in September 1990. I suppose the first gospel seeds were planted when I was only four years old, and my friends innocently asked me, Why don’t Jews believe in Jesus?” I had no answer other than, “My mother said I may not,” which seemed to suffice at age four. However, as a teenager I decided that I needed to find out for myself why Jews were not supposed to believe in Jesus. My search was prompted by a schoolteacher who posed the question, “Who knows they are going to heaven?” Up till that point I was certain I was, since I was a good Jewish girl. But this teacher shocked me by quoting John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”
I realized that if this was true, my family and I were in trouble. I determined to find answers, and almost drove my mother crazy with my many questions—but not quite. In fact, it seems that my questions actually drove my mom to Jesus, and she accepted the Lord before I did! I was stunned, for while I had concluded that Jesus was the Messiah, I also felt I first wanted to “enjoy life,” before giving my heart to Him. My mother’s dramatic turn-around changed my plans. I couldn’t resist His arms drawing me closer, and just four months later, I too came to faith.
Sharing our faith in Messiah with my grandparents was something I resisted at first. When I finally got around to it, what a surprise it was to find out my grandfather had believed Jesus was the Messiah since 1949! But he had never accepted Him personally by faith, and what a privilege it was to pray with him to do just that. My grandfather called an old friend who had witnessed to him fifty years earlier only to find that his friend had been praying for him all that time! My grandmother followed, coming to faith just eight months later, and more recently (just last year) my step-dad came to faith as well as my step-mom and sister. Now we are trusting the Lord for the salvation of my real dad Bernd and his brothers, Nils, Sean and Maximillian.
I’ll never forget when Andrew Barron (then the leader of our South Africa work) visited my home congregation. I made it very clear that I never wanted to be a missionary with Jews for Jesus. One reason was that I was dead-set against handing out tracts. Andrew did not seem the least bit put out. A year and a half later, I became an approved student with Jews for Jesus and was awarded a scholarship for my theological studies at Rosebank Bible College. Following graduation, I became a missionary trainee.
I had many opportunities to hand out tracts while I was a student. I remember well the first time: the Lord really convicted me, helping me to realize that He died publicly for me, taking on scorn and shame so that I could receive eternal life, yet I was too embarrassed to publicly stand up for Him. I was truly humbled and agreed to hand out tracts with Andrew. On my first “sortie” (tract-passing expedition), I received the names and addresses of four Jewish people who wanted to hear more about Jesus.
That’s what I appreciate about Jews for Jesus—that I’m always pushed beyond my comfort zone to be effective for His Kingdom. That is certainly the case for me as a trainee in New York City. Please pray for me to learn all that He has for me during this time!