Jews for Jesus got our official start in the UK in January of 1992 when Stephen and Deborah Pacht opened our London branch. However, they left in April that same year to open our Paris branch. Several other Jews for Jesus missionaries have run the branch in their absence. Fourteen years later, the Pachts have returned to London.
Rather than simply introducing you to the staff (who’ve all been introduced before and whom you can read about on their website at: http://www.jewsforjesus.org.uk), we wanted you to get a feeling for what it’s been like for the Pachts to be back in London after more than a decade. Here are some of Stephen’s thoughts:
Deborah and I left with no children—and returned 15 years later with four. God answered our housing prayers by (seemingly miraculously) leading us to a house halfway between school (one school for all four children!) and the Jews for Jesus office—not to mention right by the church we are attending.
So we find ourselves now in the heart of Jewish North London—near family and Deborah’s old friends. This is very much her old stomping ground as she grew up in a “nice Jewish home” in North London and attended the Jewish Free School in Camden Town. But for the best part of her 20 years as a Christian, she has been married to me and living abroad. So it is a new start for Deborah, as she resumes old friendships in a role which is new to many of her old friends—as a Christian and wife to the UK director of Jews for Jesus.
As we searched for a home, all the real estate agents Deborah contacted happened to be Jewish—some referred by her old Jewish friends. Before seeing any of the properties, she felt it her duty to let each agent know that I was the new director of Jews for Jesus and to ask whether this would pose a problem to the agency or the landlord. One agent asked if that meant that I thought I was the Messiah!
Another told us how she had lost her faith in God after her niece was murdered in Israel by a suicide bomber. I later met her and told her that while suffering is often inexplicable, amazingly God was with us through our suffering—to the point of allowing His only Son to suffer and die for us. To my surprise she seemed to agree with me.
I have been encouraged by our contact with Jewish people here in London: old friends, like Rick and Alix, both very open but heavily influenced by the New Age; my sister, Marianne and her Gentile husband Darrell; and Deborah’s family (she’ll tell you some about this herself), David and Nigel; Daniel Katz, a Jewish accountant, and his elderly mother Sylvia, to name but a few.
Our public meetings have been a tremendous encouragement—450 people attended our Rosh Hashanah service in September, 100 people came to our Hanukkah celebration in December and 150 attended each of our two “Jewish Day” seminars. I thank God for the support from our administrative staff which makes it possible to host these events.
But our missionary staff is still very small. Deborah works part-time, as she also keeps busy with our children, Samuel, Hannah, Gabrielle and Jessica. We are joined by Julia Pascoe, a London native who is completing her missionary training after spending six months in New York. Our prayer is the same one we took with us to France many years ago: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Please pray that God would raise up more missionaries for the 350,000 Jewish people in the UK, 250,000 of whom live in London.
A Different Meaning to “Child Evangelism”
by Stephen Pacht
Jews for Jesus missionaries meet many of the people we minister to as we hand out tracts on the streets, or from referrals by Christian friends, or from people who are curious when they walk by our shop. However, as those of you with children know, the relationships that they form tend to bring parents together as well. And these can become some of our best opportunities to witness in the context of ongoing relationships. Such was the case with Danny.*
It has been some time since a rabbi visited our home, but Danny was even more surprised to find himself at the home of the UK Director of Jews for Jesus. He had come with his girlfriend Rebekah* to pick up her son, Zeph,* who is a friend of our oldest child, Samuel.
Rebekah and Deborah have become friends, but Rebekah had not told Danny who I was. I thought he responded quite well.
As Deborah chatted with Rebekah and Samuel played with Zeph, Danny and I talked. He was relaxed and not afraid to ask questions, including the inevitable question: “So, where does Jews for Jesus get its money?” A very practical question, but not the one I wanted to discuss with him! So after explaining a little about who we are and what we do, I asked Danny who he thought Jesus was. He admitted to never having read the Gospels and seemed to realize, perhaps for the first time, that the New Testament was a collection of mainly Jewish writings.
Barry, a Messianic Jewish friend, also happened to be there and it was good for Danny to hear his story. As they left I suggested we talk further over coffee, but Danny hesitated. “Rebekah’s got your telephone number,” he said, a polite way of telling me, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Rebekah and Deborah have been keeping in touch, and we have all been invited to spend Erev Shabbat with Rachel, Zeph and Danny—so do keep them in your prayers.
For Deborah, who was raised in London, there are many “readymade” relationships—namely family members.
Deborah says, “Finally, after three months back in London, I met up with my cousin. We have always been very close, but since joining Jews for Jesus I sensed her reticence at getting our families together. We talked for hours, catching up on family news. But when I asked her outright what she felt about our return to the UK due to Stephen’s appointment as UK Director of Jews for Jesus, she admitted that her Orthodox husband and eldest son were very opposed.
It would be truer to say that they feel threatened by our faith. On the one hand, she would love our two families to gather together and the seven children to have the opportunity of getting to know one another. On the other hand, they are fearful, not only that we might influence their children, but also that they themselves might find that the community around which they have built their lives may have got it wrong about Jesus.
by Julia Pascoe
“Well, certainly it does,” you might say, “but it is so easy to forget. The London branch was recently reminded of this fact, so I thought I would pass on the reminder.
At the end of 2005, Stephen and I prayed specifically that the Lord would create more opportunities for us to minister to Jewish people. Shortly afterwards, I returned a call that had come in earlier that day. It was from a new Jewish believer called Natalie, who had asked Jesus into her heart only three months previously. Natalie had been raised in a very Orthodox home, and was encountering great difficulties and rejection from her family because of her new faith. She readily accepted my invitation to visit in her home and pray and study the Bible with her. It was clear that Natalie was experiencing spiritual attack and we asked the people who receive the UK newsletter to pray for her. We asked them to pray for her 20-year-old daughter Elana, who seemed to be open to the gospel. We also prayed for Natalie and Elana in our weekly staff meetings when we set aside time to pray for the people to whom we are ministering.
We were delighted when both Elana and Robert (Natalie’s son) attended Natalie’s baptism. Elana joined Natalie and me in one of our Bible studies. We continued asking people to pray for Natalie and her family: that Natalie would continue to grow in her knowledge of Christ and that Elana and Robert would also soon come to faith. It wasn’t long before I had the honor of praying with Elana to receive Jesus. And when I made a follow-up call the next week, I was delighted to find that she had taken her decision seriously and was still eager to pursue a relationship with God.
So now we are asking that you pray for Natalie and Elana to continue to mature in their knowledge and love of Him, and that Robert will also take a step of faith. Pray that this family will shine like a beacon to their friends and family and be a witness of God’s love for the Jewish community in London.
Important Behind the Scenes People in our London office:
Wendy Burton was born into a believing Gentile family in Wales, UK. She is a widowed mother of two (Matthew and Annabelle), and joined our London team in 1993, as a muchneeded administrator. She set up our first shop and office on the Finchley Road and organized lots of volunteers. Wendy’s heart for evangelism has given her opportunities to lead people to faith in the Lord—even in the midst of all her paperwork!
Gwyn Vollans began with Jews for Jesus in 1995 as a volunteer and now coordinates church relations for our missionary speakers. Gwyn is married to Paul and has three grown children, Anna, Mark and Samuel. Tony Metliss was born into a Jewish family in London and became a believer in Jesus in 1982. He began working with Jews for Jesus in 2001. He maintains our London databases and sends the newsletter to our supporters each month. He says, “Our office is the sort of place where you do a bit of everything, so I could be networking computers one minute and setting out chairs for an event the next. And there are things that we do here that most office workers don’t do, like praying in our staff meetings or sending out correspondence that tells people about Jesus.”
Ruth comes from a Christian family and made the decision to follow Jesus herself at the age of six. She spent some time working with the London branch fresh out of university, and then worked at our San Francisco headquarters for three years. She is now back in London as the personal assistant to the UK Director.
Remember, to learn more about the staff and work of Jews for Jesus in London, go to: